10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2019

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

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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When the good people of Iowa aren't rooting for their Huskies or gnawing on a fresh ear of sweet corn at the West Point Sweet Corn festival, they can be found maintaining some of the best places to live in the country.

While the whole place is downright lovely, some spots in the Hawkeye State deserve special attention for standing out as truly extraordinary. This is why HomeSnacks created a list of the top ten best places to live in Iowa for 2019.

Iowa has quite the mix of great places to call home. Cool college towns like Sioux Center, yuppie cities like West Des Moines, and quaint farm towns like Carroll are not only some of Iowa's best places to live, they're also some of the best places to raise a family.

We can also thank some of Iowa's best places for giving the rest of the country businesses like Casey's General Store, Winnebago, and Pella windows. Business is great in Iowa and the economy is strong: we're talking 2.4% unemployment strong. Iowa is also currently one of the least dangerous states. We're not at all surprised. Iowans are so busy making their corner of the country great, they don't have time to be naughty.

So where are these amazing places in Iowa where homes are affordable, jobs are secure, and neighborhoods are safe?

Grab a Maid Rite, some ice cold lemonade, and read on.

Picture rolling hills, cornfields for miles, and good, wholesome Iowans, and you will know what it's like to live in Iowa's number on place.

Where is the best place to live in Iowa for 2019? According to the most recent FBI and Census data, that would be Asbury.

To see Iowa's other best of the best places to live, take a look below. And if you don't find your favorite there, head to the bottom.

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 is another gem in Hawkeye State. The unemployment rate here is 4th lowest in the entire state at 1.0%. Other factors that make Asbury so desirable is the solid education and home prices.

Homes are valued at $229,800, and parents earn a combined $90,781 a year

There's nothing like the American dream.

North Liberty, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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 has some of the most employed as well as the highest earning residents in the entire state of Iowa. Factor in a very low crime rate, and this North Liberty is a real gem.

With high incomes comes a high cost of living, which can been seen in the home prices. Additionally, the commute time for North Liberty residents to work is significantly higher than average.

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

Urbandale 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 34th lowest in the state at 4.0%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $81,862, and the average cost of a home is $204,700. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn't be surprised if more and more publications call Urbandale one of America's gems.

Sioux Center, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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 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 1st overall for its low unemployment rate and the 15th highest median income of any place in our analysis.

However, it only has the 3rd shortest average commute time of any place in Iowa.

Algona, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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

The Algona has the 2nd lowest unemployment rate in Iowa. The population growth here has been 8% over the last 15 years, meaning a lot of people want to live here. If they can afford it; the cost of living in Algona is higher than the national average and households make $53,388 per year.

We'd move to Algona if we could in a heart beat.

Johnston, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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 is just about as close to a perfect area as you can get. Residents here are gainfully employed, and the schools are some of the best in the state. It's safe, and residents get to enjoy the benefits of quality at home living.

It's quite a gem tucked away in Iowa.

West Des Moines, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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

West Des Moines ranks as the 7th best place in Iowa for 2019. Let's take a look at why.

West Des Moines has a lower crime rate than the cities mentioned above. West Des Moines's cost of living is a tick higher, but families also earn much higher salaries - to the tune of $70,906 a year.

The knock? We can't really find one 🙂

Pella, IA

Overall SnackAbility


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

Who doesn't want to live in Pella? Because, according to the data, most everyone should want to.

Crime is lower than the state average, and the unemployment rate sits at only 3.3%. The school systems are generally well funded, meaning lots of personal attention for area kids.

Expect to see more of Pella in the news in the coming months.

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

We think the motto in Carroll should be "Everything is greater in Carroll," and that seems to be pretty close to the truth.

Carroll has some of the highest home values in Iowa, and they're going up fast. Additionally, Carroll only has 1070.0% of its residents living in poverty.

Crime is also well below the state average, making Carroll a solid option for people who value safety. At least those who can afford it.

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

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!

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 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

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.

One thought on “10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2019

  1. There are only two places in Iowa worthwhile – Iowa City and the Airport. This is an Iowa City joke, of course.

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