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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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.

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:

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

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 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

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 really low crime rate (20th lowest) and only 4.0% of the people are unemployed. Additionally, residents here have high paying jobs ($81,862). 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 Urbandale.

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 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 Sioux Center. 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.

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 offers an impressive amount to do while maintaining a small town's charm.

The unemployment rate sits as the 2nd lowest in Iowa and incomes are the 26th highest.

When you come into town be sure to check out the parks as they are a good time for people of all ages.

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

Crime is something that doesn't happen very often in Johnston. Statistically the 11th safest place in the state, there were only 26 violent crimes in the entire city last year.

It's really beautiful in Johnston, and new homes continue to replace older homes. Resident earn $95,565 a year, and homes are valued at more than $237,600.

What else could you possibly want if you're someone who likes the good things in life?

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 had the 16th lowest unemployment of any place in our research (2.7%) and the 36th lowest crime rate. However, the relative lack of population density and long commute times held it back from being higher on our list.

West Des Moines is home to an exceptional Volunteer Fire Department that represents so much about what it's like to live there.

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

The crime rate is much lower here than in the rest of Iowa, as there were only 10 violent crimes in the city limits last year. The unemployment rate is the 26th lowest in Iowa (3.3%), and the public schools are ranked 3rd in the state in terms of spending per student.

Additionally, homes are the 16th most expensive in Pella ($175,300), meaning a lot of people want to live there.

Plus, the residents earn a really great salary: $60,568 a year.

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 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.

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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