These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Iowa For 2018


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

Join HomeSnacks
This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it on 4-24-2018 with a video. Article continues below video.

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

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:

Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

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 712 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.

Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

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
  • Crime
  • Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty rates

Sources of criteria include the New Census Data and FBI Crime Data.

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.

Advertisement. Article Continues Below.

1. Asbury

Asbury, Iowa

Population: 5,201
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Home Values: $229,800 (3rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.0% (4th best)
More on Asbury: Real Estate | Data
Asbury takes 1st place on our list of best places in Iowa for 2018 thanks to a strong showing in unemployment rate (4th overall) and things to do.

Asbury 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 $229,800 at the median.

2. North Liberty

North Liberty, Iowa

Population: 16,984
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Home Values: $188,400 (11th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
More on North Liberty: Real Estate | Data
North Liberty 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 $188,400 and households earn a median salary of $77,752. One could get used to that.

3. Urbandale

Urbandale, Iowa

Source: Public domain

Population: 41,578
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Home Values: $204,700 (5th best)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (34th best)
More on Urbandale: Real Estate | Data
Known for its low unemployment rates and great education, Urbandale 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, Urbandale still holds its own in in Iowa.

4. Sioux Center

Sioux Center, Iowa

Population: 7,370
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Home Values: $186,000 (14th best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.4% (1st best)
More on Sioux Center: Real Estate | Data
Sioux Center’s unemployment rates are some of the lowest in the state and the median income is the 15th highest, making Sioux Center a great place to work and settle down if you’re look for a stable job with a stable income.

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

5. Algona

Algona, Iowa

Population: 5,496
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 7)
Home Values: $115,400 (41st best)
Unemployment Rate: 0.7% (2nd best)
More on Algona: Real Estate | Data
Taking its place as the 5th best place in Iowa is Algona. Residents here earn a really high salary each year, and crime is fairly low, in comparison to the rest of Iowa.

It’s considered a cultural community, as it boasts an arts scene, and many ethnic restaurants, too. Which means you can’t be bored here.

An unemployment rate of only 0.7% helps thing too.

6. Johnston

Johnston, Iowa

Population: 19,491
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Values: $237,600 (1st best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (31st best)
More on Johnston: Real Estate | Data
Johnston 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 Johnston is a real gem.

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

7. West Des Moines

West Des Moines, Iowa

Population: 61,624
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 4)
Home Values: $195,500 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (16th best)
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data
In West Des Moines, everyone loves to call West Des Moines home! The median home value is the 7th highest in Iowa.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 16th lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Hawkeye State.

West Des Moines should consider renaming to Paradise Valley in our humble opinion.

8. Pella

Pella, Iowa

Population: 10,280
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Values: $175,300 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.3% (26th best)
More on Pella: Real Estate | Data
Pella is feeling the love as it ranks as the 8th best city to live in Iowa for 2015.

It ranked highly because of its high incomes (19th overall) and low crime (10th 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”.

9. Carroll

Carroll, Iowa

Population: 9,990
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Home Values: $137,600 (31st best)
Unemployment Rate: 1.6% (7th best)
More on Carroll: Real Estate | Data
You might be surprised to see the Town of Carroll so high on the list. Unless you live in Carroll.

The unemployment rate here is really low, and at 1.6%, Carroll residents are some of the hardest working in the state of Iowa. When you factor in high home prices, high incomes and low crime, Carroll is doing quite well.

Let’s be honest — Carroll is the kind of place you brag to your friends on Facebook about.

10. Ankeny

Ankeny, Iowa

Population: 53,413
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Home Values: $186,200 (13th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.2% (23rd best)
More on Ankeny: Real Estate | Data
Ankeny ranks 10th 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 Ankeny over the past years. Goes to show that everyone wants in on this great community.

Wrapping Up The Best Of The Best 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

  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. Corley (Pop. 29)
  4. North Washington (Pop. 161)
  5. Lawton (Pop. 900)
  6. Swisher (Pop. 846)
  7. Long Grove (Pop. 952)
  8. Underwood (Pop. 808)
  9. Oakland Acres (Pop. 116)
  10. Orleans (Pop. 459)

If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Iowa:

  1. Keokuk (Pop. 10,628)
  2. Centerville (Pop. 5,404)
  3. Red Oak (Pop. 5,547)

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:

Facebook Discussion

Leave a Reply

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