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.

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

Article continues below.

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:

  1. Asbury (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. North Liberty (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Urbandale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Sioux Center (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Algona (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Johnston (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. West Des Moines (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Pella (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Carroll (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. 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.

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.

Asbury, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/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

Things can’t get much better than in the town of Asbury. The crime is the 53rd lowest in the entire state, and the residents who live in Asbury make huge salaries, and almost all of them have great jobs.

The median home costs a cool $229,800 and households make $90,781 which is good for 2nd 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

In North Liberty, everyone loves to call North Liberty home! The median home value is the 11th highest in Iowa.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 2nd lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Hawkeye State.

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

Well, I guess technically 4.0% of Urbandale residents who want to have a job can’t find one, so not everyone has a job, but it’s the 34th 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, Urbandale also ranked well for crime (20th) and median income ($81,862).

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 ranks 4th on our list of best places to live in Iowa thanks to its low unemployment and high adjusted median income.

Additionally, its crime rate ranks in the lowest 10% of all places in Iowa that we examined.

People have been flocking to Sioux Center over the past years. Goes to show that everyone wants in on this great community.

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

The Town of Algona might be a bit of a surprise to some in terms of how well it ranks according to science.

The crime rate in Algona isn’t amazing, but it’s far below the state average. The homes are valued at $115,400 here, and the schools get some of the most funding in Iowa.

If Algona can get some more of their residents to work, things will look even rosier here. The unemployment rate (0.7% is the 2nd highest in the state.

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

At an unemployment rate of 3.8%, everyone who wants a job can get one in Johnston. And the residents command high salaries ($95,565 a year combined income), and live in big fancy homes ($237,600 each).

We’re not saying money is why these cities are the ‘best’ in Iowa. What we’re implying is that money means safety and peace of mind. And there’s nothing wrong with 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

There’s two types of people who live in West Des Moines. 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 $195,500 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. West Des Moines is exactly what you hoped for when you played that board game, LIFE as a kid.

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 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 $175,300 and households earn a median salary of $60,568. One could get used to that.

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

With the unemployment rate being the 7th lowest in Iowa and very stable household median incomes, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Carroll.

Plus, the crime rate is the 30th lowest in the state!

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 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 Ankeny 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 Ankeny residents to work is significantly higher than average.

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

Like HomeSnacks on Facebook:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *