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.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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 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.

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

We think the motto in Asbury should be “Everything is greater in Asbury,” and that seems to be pretty close to the truth.

Asbury has some of the highest home values in Iowa, and they’re going up fast. Additionally, Asbury only has 390.0% of its residents living in poverty.

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

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

North Liberty had the 2nd lowest unemployment of any place in our research (0.7%) and the 5th lowest crime rate. However, the relative lack of population density and long commute times held it back from being higher on our list.

North Liberty is home to an exceptional Volunteer Fire Department that represents so much about what it’s like to live there.

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

At an unemployment rate of 4.0%, everyone who wants a job can get one in Urbandale. And the residents command high salaries ($81,862 a year combined income), and live in big fancy homes ($204,700 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.

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 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 1st lowest in the state at 0.4%, and residents make a pretty penny. Median incomes are $70,703, and the average cost of a home is $186,000. Which is an indication that lots of people want to live here.

We wouldn’t be surprised if more and more publications call Sioux Center one of America’s gems.

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 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, 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 ranks as the 6th best place in Iowa for 2018. Let’s take a look at why.

Johnston has a lower crime rate than the cities mentioned above. Johnston’s cost of living is a tick higher, but families also earn much higher salaries – to the tune of $95,565 a year.

The knock? We can’t really find one 🙂

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

When you’re looking at the best places you could live in Iowa, West Des Moines came in 7th. Let’s see why.

It has a low unemployment rate and high incomes.

Plus, West Des Moines has an impressive history for a place of just over 61,624 people. The median home costs a cool $195,500 and households make $70,906 which is good for 14th in Iowa.

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 has been called one of the best small towns in America. If you live here, you’re most likely already aware of how great it is to live there.

Just about everyone who wants a job in Pella has one; the unemployment rate is hovering at about 3.3% and lowering. And the Pella police department is doing a solid job, as crime is the 10th lowest in the state here.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like this?

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

In Ankeny, everyone loves to call Ankeny home! The median home value is the 13th highest in Iowa.

Additionally, the unemployment rate is the 24th lowest in the state. and the crime rates are some of the lowest in Hawkeye 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

  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

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