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:

The 10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2019

Asbury, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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’s unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the state and the median income is the 2nd highest, making Asbury a great place to work and settle down if you’re look for a stable job with a stable income.

Additionally, Asbury has above average education and low crime, making this place a safe place to live.

North Liberty, IA

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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 known for having a great education system and has the 72nd shortest commute time.

Additionally, the unemployment rate in North Liberty is the 2nd lowest in Iowa and the median income is the 8th highest in the state.

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


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

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of Iowa, as there were only 67 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 34th lowest in Iowa (4.0%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 5th most expensive in Urbandale ($204,700), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $81,862 a year.

Sioux Center, IA

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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

Looks like little Sioux Center might be a hidden gem in Iowa. The population is shrinking a bit, despite the fact that home values are still rising ($186,000) and crime is really low (1st lowest in the state).

Perhaps the cat’s now out of the bag — quick better move in before prices go up more.

Algona, IA

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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

There’s two types of people who live in Algona. Either the old hold outs who have lived there forever and are watching their home values skyrocket, or those d who can afford to buy a $115,400 home there.

Either way, you’re set. Your kids go to great schools, there’s a ton of things to do, and you earn a great salary. Algona is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.

Johnston, IA

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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

Johnston comes in 6th in our best places to live in Iowa analysis.

Ranking highly for its exceptionally low unemployment rate (32nd overall) and crime rate (11th overall), Johnston 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 Johnston in our lists for years to come.

West Des Moines, IA

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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

Now, we come to West Des Moines. For a city with such a large population, West Des Moines has a noticeably low crime rate, good schools and low commute times. And an argument can be made that there’s probably lots more to do in West Des Moines than other places on the list as well.

Add that all up and West Des Moines places 7th in our ranking of the best places to live in Iowa for 2019.

Pella, IA

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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

Pella had the 26th lowest unemployment of any place in our research (3.3%) and the 10th lowest crime rate. However, the relative lack of population density and long commute times held it back from being higher on our list.

Pella is home to an exceptional Volunteer Fire Department that represents so much about what it’s like to live there.

Carroll, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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

Well, I guess technically 1.6% of Carroll residents who want to have a job can’t find one, so not everyone has a job, but it’s the 7th closest of any city in Iowa.

You can tell they take business seriously as they have by far the coolest Chamber of Commerce website we came across in our research.

In addition to its incredibly low unemployment rate, Carroll also ranked well for crime (30th) and median income ($45,170).

Ankeny, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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

Crime is something that doesn’t happen very often in Ankeny. Statistically the 14th safest place in the state, there were only 128 violent crimes in the entire city last year.

It’s really beautiful in Ankeny, and new homes continue to replace older homes. Resident earn $76,760 a year, and homes are valued at more than $186,200.

What else could you possibly want if you’re someone who likes the good things in life?

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.

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:

Where Are The 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

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