These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2019


We analyzed over 80 places in Iowa to determine the cream of the crop.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fifth time ranking the best places to live in Iowa.

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Where are the best places in the state of Iowa?

To the untrained eye they are the places that have awesome economies. They’re the places in Hawkeye State where people have the best jobs, residents are all above average, and the sun shines the most.

However, here at HomeSnacks, we don’t trust the untrained eye and instead look to data to understand the best places to call home in Iowa.

There might be some surprises on this list, but when you look at the unbiased data, it’s hard to argue against.

After analyzing 76 places in Iowa, we came up with this list of the best places.

Well, it looks like you should check out Asbury if you’re thinking of moving to Iowa — it’s the best the Hawkeye State has to offer according to the data.

Follow along as we provide more insight into how we reached our overall best places to live in Iowa.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Iowa

The Pressing Question: Size

Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Des Moines with a population of 212,859 against places with a population of 18?

We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.

So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:

  • Cities — Populations over 5,000
  • Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
  • Small Towns — Populations below 1,000

This left us with 76 cities, 213 towns, and 645 small towns.

We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best places have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.

Now we also realize that city living might not be your cup of tea, so we ran the following analysis on towns and then again for small towns.

You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.

How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Iowa

Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.

We ranked each place in Iowa across a number of criteria from one to 76, with one being the best.

We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Iowa”.

The criteria we looked at were:

  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Population Density (Higher better)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Commute Time
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data.

After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Iowa? That would be Asbury.

If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Iowa.

Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Asbury at the end of the cul-de-sac.

The 10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2019

Asbury, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 5,201
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $229,800 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (4th best)
More on Asbury: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Asbury makes a case for being one of the best places to live in Iowa mainly because of a low crime rate and a higher than average household income level.

And when school spending is higher than the national average and only 1.0% of folks are jobless, you can bet Asbury residents are glad to live where they do.

North Liberty, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 16,984
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $188,400 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
More on North Liberty: Real Estate | Data | Photos

North Liberty is feeling the love as it ranks as the 2nd best city to live in Iowa for 2019.

It ranked highly because of its high incomes (8th overall) and low crime (5th overall and one of the best in the top ten).

We think the city should probably change its motto at this point to something like “The Place To Be In Iowa”.

Review Of North Liberty by HomeSnacks User

This city is a part of the Iowa City community. It has a wide spectrum of economics, which makes it a great place to learn about people, and gives plenty of opportunity to help others or be helped. It is a “bedroom” community with a rapidly growing population. The schools are bursting and a new elementary school is being built. A high school was just opened in 2017.

North Liberty is convenient. Biking is an option because of a great trail, and also because two grocery stores, banks, rec center, gym, post office, car repair…. are in such close proximity to much of the city.

Urbandale, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 41,578
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $204,700 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (34th best)
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Urbandale is a cute little city where crime is far below the state average, and where it’s affordable. The schools are also solidly rated.

Home prices clock in at $204,700 and households earn a median salary of $81,862. One could get used to that.

Sioux Center, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 7,370
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $186,000 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (1st best)
More on Sioux Center: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Sioux Center is another great city in Iowa with a low unemployment rate and where residents earn high salaries.

Said one reviewer on City-Data.com: ” We feel incredibly safe in Sioux Center. The houses and neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are friendly, and it’s wonderful to have such good neighbors. People watch out for each other here, they teach their children to be respectful of others and things.”

Enough said.

Algona, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 5,496
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 7)
Median Home Value: $115,400 (41st best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
More on Algona: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Algona has been called one of the best small towns in America. If you live here, you’re most likely already aware of how great it is to live there.

Just about everyone who wants a job in Algona has one; the unemployment rate is hovering at about 0.7% and lowering. And the Algona police department is doing a solid job, as crime is the 6th lowest in the state here.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like this?

Johnston, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 19,491
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $237,600 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (32nd best)
More on Johnston: Real Estate | Data | Photos

If you want to live in Iowa, you can’t go wrong if you decide to make the Johnston area your home. However, everyone and their mother wants to live here.

Can you blame them? It’s a beautiful place with really low crime, where a majority of residents are wealthy (a $95,565 median income will do that).

Plus, the residents are really involved with helping to make Johnston as great as possible. You can’t get it much better than in Johnston.

West Des Moines, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 61,624
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Median Home Value: $195,500 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (16th best)
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Say what you want about cheap living. The fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s A LOT of demand to live in West Des Moines.

West Des Moines ranked impressively high for its crime rate (36th overall) and its short commute times (40th).

We think that’s worth the price of admission.

Pella, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 10,280
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $175,300 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (26th best)
More on Pella: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Let’s take a look at why Pella is a great place to call home for 2019.

There’s low crime in Pella, and the residents here are gainfully employed (3.3% unemployment rate).

You can make Pella your home for only $175,300 which won’t be too hard on a $60,568 household salary.

Carroll, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 9,990
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $137,600 (31st best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (7th best)
More on Carroll: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Carroll comes in 9th in our best places to live in Iowa analysis.

Ranking highly for its exceptionally low unemployment rate (7th overall) and crime rate (30th overall), Carroll is the exact kind of place you’d want to live with a family.

Several large companies call the surrounding area home which should keep Carroll in our lists for years to come.

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 53,413
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Median Home Value: $186,200 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (24th best)
More on Ankeny: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Things can’t get much better than in the town of Ankeny. The crime is the 14th lowest in the entire state, and the residents who live in Ankeny make huge salaries, and almost all of them have great jobs.

The median home costs a cool $186,200 and households make $76,760 which is good for 9th in Iowa.

Wrapping Up The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Iowa

If you’re looking at areas in Iowa with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

Asbury made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Iowa for 2019.

Best Towns To Live In Iowa

  1. Fairfax (Pop. 2,418)
  2. Walford (Pop. 1,428)
  3. Mount Vernon (Pop. 4,487)
  4. Robins (Pop. 3,434)
  5. Farley (Pop. 1,688)
  6. Atkins (Pop. 1,713)
  7. Dike (Pop. 1,309)
  8. Roland (Pop. 1,312)
  9. Ely (Pop. 2,133)
  10. Gilbert (Pop. 1,183)

Best Small Towns To Live In Iowa

  1. Westwood (Pop. 96)
  2. Halbur (Pop. 243)
  3. Lawton (Pop. 900)
  4. Swisher (Pop. 846)
  5. North Washington (Pop. 161)
  6. Long Grove (Pop. 952)
  7. Underwood (Pop. 808)
  8. Orleans (Pop. 459)
  9. Oakland Acres (Pop. 116)
  10. Lambs Grove (Pop. 200)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Iowa according to the data:

  1. Red Oak (Pop. 5,547)
  2. Centerville (Pop. 5,404)
  3. Keokuk (Pop. 10,628)

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live In Iowa

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Asbury 5,201 1.0% $229,800
2 North Liberty 16,984 0.7% $188,400
3 Urbandale 41,578 4.0% $204,700
4 Sioux Center 7,370 0.4% $186,000
5 Algona 5,496 0.7% $115,400
6 Johnston 19,491 3.8% $237,600
7 West Des Moines 61,624 2.7% $195,500
8 Pella 10,280 3.3% $175,300
9 Carroll 9,990 1.6% $137,600
10 Ankeny 53,413 3.2% $186,200
11 Decorah 7,985 2.4% $160,500
12 Clive 17,022 3.3% $237,200
13 Marion 37,198 3.9% $154,900
14 Bettendorf 35,048 4.3% $194,800
15 Norwalk 9,944 5.4% $169,900
16 Eldridge 6,122 6.5% $205,000
17 Cedar Falls 40,828 4.7% $171,400
18 Waverly 10,049 3.3% $160,300
19 Altoona 16,692 4.7% $168,100
20 Sheldon 5,015 2.8% $142,200
21 Waukee 16,955 1.0% $191,900
22 Le Mars 9,826 3.8% $139,400
23 Coralville 20,078 2.9% $202,800
24 Hiawatha 7,160 4.5% $138,200
25 Grimes 10,422 3.2% $188,900
26 De Witt 5,264 4.7% $139,700
27 Ames 64,073 6.0% $176,500
28 Vinton 5,166 2.9% $115,000
29 Spencer 11,172 3.6% $119,700
30 Pleasant Hill 9,406 2.0% $186,400
31 Nevada 6,796 4.9% $123,400
32 Iowa Falls 5,176 4.8% $90,000
33 Cedar Rapids 129,537 4.7% $136,700
34 Bondurant 5,079 1.1% $170,700
35 Manchester 5,083 2.6% $102,700
36 Grinnell 9,112 4.1% $138,500
37 Independence 6,005 2.6% $118,900
38 Boone 12,609 4.7% $104,400
39 Glenwood 5,233 3.0% $134,600
40 Dubuque 58,535 5.0% $133,400
41 Knoxville 7,236 6.3% $93,800
42 Clear Lake 7,644 2.2% $135,800
43 Creston 7,877 3.4% $83,100
44 Mount Pleasant 8,491 2.8% $107,900
45 Indianola 15,343 7.5% $151,400
46 Fairfield 9,942 8.9% $100,900
47 Shenandoah 5,030 2.2% $85,200
48 Winterset 5,158 7.6% $139,500
49 Washington 7,368 6.7% $102,900
50 Muscatine 23,909 5.1% $109,000
51 Harlan 5,008 2.7% $95,200
52 Atlantic 6,817 1.9% $92,000
53 Newton 15,090 5.8% $98,100
54 Storm Lake 10,768 5.8% $111,700
55 Perry 7,876 2.4% $84,900
56 Oelwein 6,195 4.0% $67,300
57 Marshalltown 27,637 7.1% $98,800
58 Davenport 102,305 5.1% $122,700
59 Anamosa 5,459 8.5% $96,600
60 Council Bluffs 62,326 5.4% $113,500
61 Clarinda 5,431 5.2% $77,300
62 Oskaloosa 11,538 7.3% $95,800
63 Estherville 6,027 6.5% $81,200
64 Cherokee 5,113 3.6% $78,600
65 Des Moines 212,859 7.1% $119,800
66 Denison 8,326 6.2% $95,000
67 Fort Madison 10,769 8.2% $79,500
68 Burlington 25,492 6.9% $87,200
69 Fort Dodge 24,626 7.7% $84,700
70 Maquoketa 6,025 8.3% $87,800
71 Waterloo 68,357 8.3% $106,800
72 Clinton 26,148 5.6% $92,600
73 Ottumwa 24,709 7.4% $73,200
74 Red Oak 5,547 12.3% $72,500
75 Centerville 5,404 7.8% $66,000
76 Keokuk 10,628 10.3% $66,400

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