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, 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 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

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

It ranked highly because of its high incomes (2nd overall) and low crime (53rd 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".

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

With the unemployment rate being the 2nd lowest in Iowa and very stable household median incomes, it's easy to see why someone would want to live in North Liberty.

Plus, the crime rate is the 5th lowest 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

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 has a strong showing in our best places to live in Iowa analysis, coming it at 3rd best.

It ranks highly like many others in the top ten for a low unemployment rate and high adjusted median income. It scored extra points relative to the top ten for its size and things to do.

If you're thinking of moving to Iowa, Urbandale is a great option.

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

If you live in Sioux Center, you probably know how great it is already.

Sioux Center has a stable economy where residents earn a large salary ($70,703). And the crime is really, really low (1st lowest in Iowa).

If we could afford to move here, we probably would.

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 a really low crime rate (6th lowest) and only 0.7% of the people are unemployed. Additionally, residents here have high paying jobs ($53,388). And that goes a long way.

The population is growing at a steady clip, and the cost of living is lower than it should be. So people have an extra incentive to live in Algona.

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

Johnston 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 $237,600 and households earn a median salary of $95,565. One could get used to that.

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

West Des Moines is by far one of the best places to live in Iowa: the math proves it! This city has the 16th lowest unemployment rate and the 14th highest median income in all of Iowa.

Plus, the median home values are the 7th highest in the state. And if all of that isn't enough to convince you, then check this out: their crime rate is the 36th lowest in the state, making West Des Moines a safe and great place to live.

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

Pella 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 Pella. 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.

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 takes 9th place on our list of best places in Iowa for 2019 thanks to a strong showing in unemployment rate (7th overall) and things to do.

Carroll is no stranger to top ten lists, being named one of the best places to live in the country by multiple outlets over the past ten years. And that tends to happen when home prices hit $137,600 at the median.

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

Ankeny isn't just the nicest place to live in Iowa - it's also the one of the fastest growing places in the state. And with good reason.

It's got the 24th lowest unemployment rate, the 9th highest adjusted income, and rates above most places in education.

When you're looking at science and data, Ankeny definitely deserves a spot on the list for 2019.

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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