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:
- Asbury (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- North Liberty (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Urbandale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Sioux Center (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Algona (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Johnston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- West Des Moines (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Pella (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Carroll (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Ankeny (Photos | Homes For Sale)
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.
For more Iowa reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Counties To Live In Iowa
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Iowa
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa
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’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
How We Calculated The Best Place 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
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
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.
Asbury comes in 1st in our best places to live in Iowa analysis.
Ranking highly for its exceptionally low unemployment rate (4th overall) and crime rate (53rd overall), Asbury 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 Asbury in our lists for years to come.
Known for its low unemployment rates and great education, North Liberty is a wonderful place to live in this state.
The relatively stable household incomes and below average crime rates don’t hurt either!
While it may not be as great as some other places on this list, North Liberty still holds its own in in Iowa.
Urbandale is by far one of the best places to live in Iowa: the math proves it! This city has the 34th lowest unemployment rate and the 5th highest median income in all of Iowa.
Plus, the median home values are the 5th highest in the state. And if all of that isn’t enough to convince you, then check this out: their crime rate is the 20th lowest in the state, making Urbandale a safe and great place to live.
We think the motto in Sioux Center should be “Everything is greater in Sioux Center,” and that seems to be pretty close to the truth.
Sioux Center has some of the highest home values in Iowa, and they’re going up fast. Additionally, Sioux Center only has 420.0% of its residents living in poverty.
Crime is also well below the state average, making Sioux Center a solid option for people who value safety. At least those who can afford it.
Algona has a long and illustrious history and its ranking in the top ten of our best places to live is just another notch in its belt.\n\Algona had the 26th highest household median income adjusted for cost of living at $53,388.
Not to mention that its residents have plenty to do on the weekends.
Johnston is feeling the love as it ranks as the 6th best city to live in Iowa for 2016.
It ranked highly because of its high incomes (1st overall) and low crime (11th 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”.
West Des Moines broke into the top ten best places to live in Iowa on the back of a low unemployment and a quality schools system.
It placed 16th overall for its low unemployment rate and the 14th highest median income of any place in our analysis.
However, it only has the 40th shortest average commute time of any place in Iowa.
The Town of Pella consistently ranks as one of the best places to live. There aren’t any surprises here. Which probably adds credibility to our data, right?
Let’s see why Pella ranks so high. First of all, the homes in Pella are the 16th most expensive in the state of Iowa, with the average home worth a whopping $175,300. We’re not elitists, nor are we saying that big homes means a better place to live. But price reflects demand, and simply put, a lot of people want to live in Pella if they can afford it.
Other numbers that stand out: Pella residents have the 19th highest income in the state, and the 10th lowest crime numbers in Iowa.
Carroll has it made. In fact, according to science, it’s one of the best places to live in the state of Iowa.
The unemployment rate is the 7th lowest in the state at 1.6%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $45,170, and the average cost of a home is $137,600. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.
We wouldn’t be surprised if more and more publications call Carroll one of America’s gems.
With the unemployment rate being the 24th lowest in Iowa and very stable household median incomes, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Ankeny.
Plus, the crime rate is the 14th lowest in the state!
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 2018.
Best Towns To Live In Iowa
- Fairfax (Pop. 2,418)
- Walford (Pop. 1,428)
- Mount Vernon (Pop. 4,487)
- Robins (Pop. 3,434)
- Farley (Pop. 1,688)
- Atkins (Pop. 1,713)
- Dike (Pop. 1,309)
- Roland (Pop. 1,312)
- Ely (Pop. 2,133)
- Gilbert (Pop. 1,183)
Best Small Towns To Live In Iowa
- Westwood (Pop. 96)
- Halbur (Pop. 243)
- Lawton (Pop. 900)
- Swisher (Pop. 846)
- North Washington (Pop. 161)
- Long Grove (Pop. 952)
- Underwood (Pop. 808)
- Orleans (Pop. 459)
- Oakland Acres (Pop. 116)
- Lambs Grove (Pop. 200)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Iowa according to the data:
- Red Oak (Pop. 5,547)
- Centerville (Pop. 5,404)
- Keokuk (Pop. 10,628)
For more Iowa reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Live In Iowa
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