These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Iowa


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

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Iowa is quite a wonderful place to live. That’s not just us talking. We ran the numbers a while ago on the best states in America, and Iowa was 2nd, right behind Nebraska.

Seems like there’s a lot of great things going on in the Hawkeye State.

While Iowa is awesome, and everyone there bursts with state pride, there are some places that embrace the finer things in life. The best of the best when it comes to living in Iowa.

So, where are the best places in this awesome place? Where would most people want to call home, if they looked at all of the factors that we all agree are important? That’s the purpose of this post.

After analyzing all 81 places with a population over 5,000, we came up with this list as the 10 best places to live in Iowa:

  1. Urbandale
  2. North Liberty
  3. Ankeny
  4. Marion
  5. Clive
  6. Sioux Center
  7. Orange City
  8. Bettendorf
  9. Coralville
  10. Waverly

Say what? You haven’t even heard of some of these places? Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. Additionally, there’s a chart at the bottom with all of the rankings.

While Urbandale came in as the best city, you might not be surprised to hear that Keokuk is the worst place to live in Iowa, according science.

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How do you decide if a place is awesome or not?

In order to rank the best places to live in Iowa, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.

So we scraped the internet for those criteria and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

How we crunched the numbers for Iowa

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (The higher the better)
  • Lowest Unemployment Rates
  • Highest Home Values
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (High expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
  • Low Crime

If you’d like to see the complete list of place, from best to worst, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the chart.

Hey, the data never lies, does it?

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1. Urbandale

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 39,426
Why it’s great: Urbandale has the 4th highest income ($83,000 a year), and the 5th lowest unemployment rates (2.7%) in Iowa. Plus, homes are valued the third-highest in the state, meaning there’s a lot of interest in living here.

2. North Liberty

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 13,330
Why it’s great: Lots of jobs and low crime. Like Urbandale, the unemployment rate is 2.7%. It’s also the 12th safest place you can live in Iowa.

3. Ankeny

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 45,732
Why it’s great: Ankeny has the lowest unemployment rate (2.3%), which is just about as low as you’ll see in the entire nation. Schools are also well funded here, and homes hold their value.

4. Marion

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 34,750
Why it’s great: Marion ranks 6th in school spending and 5th in population density. So there’s a lot to do in a small area, but crime doesn’t suffer.

5. Clive

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 15,557
Why it’s great: If you believe high incomes and big homes make a place great, then welcome to Clive. These are the highest earners in the state, and practically the biggest homes.

6. Sioux Center

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,055
Why it’s great: This is the safest place in the state, according to the FBI. In addition, lots of people have jobs.

7. Orange City

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 6,054
Why it’s great: Across the board, Orange City looks pretty ‘sweet.’ Almost everyone has a job, the schools aren’t overcrowded, and it’s the 13th safest place you can live.

8. Bettendorf

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 33,347
Why it’s great: This is the 10th safest city in Iowa, where families earn about $70,000 each. It’s not overly populated, but not a ghost town, either. (Not that there’s anything wrong with wide open spaces.)

9. Coralville

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 18,931
Why it’s great: : Coralville always ranks high on lists like this. It’s 5th in the state for jobs, and homes hold their value for a long time.

10. Waverly

Best Places To Live In Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 9,881
Why it’s great: Only two other school districts have higher spending levels, per student. Plus, it’s the 11th safest place in Iowa.

Best Places In Iowa Data

See full data here.

City Population Best Score Rank
Urbandale 39,426 13.08 1
North Liberty 13,330 17.58 2
Ankeny 45,732 18.33 3
Marion 34,750 18.58 4
Clive 15,557 19.5 5
Sioux Center 7,055 22.83 6
Orange City 6,054 23.25 7
Bettendorf 33,347 23.33 8
Coralville 18,931 24.08 9
Waverly 9,881 25.17 10
Hiawatha 7,046 25.67 11
Johnston 17,316 25.67 11
West Des Moines 57,041 26 13
Altoona 14,563 26.83 14
Algona 5,534 27.33 15
Cedar Falls 39,197 27.83 16
Norwalk 9,012 27.83 16
Ames 59,206 28.42 18
Grimes 8,341 29 19
Glenwood 5,276 29.33 20
Carroll 10,057 30.17 21
Waukee 14,108 30.25 22
Iowa City 68,364 31.08 23
Pleasant Hill 8,678 32.33 24
Washington 7,277 33.42 25
Indianola 14,787 33.5 26
Anamosa 5,605 33.58 27
Nevada 6,795 34 28
Decorah 8,097 34.5 29
Perry 7,828 35 30
Boone 12,658 35.5 31
Cedar Rapids 126,921 35.67 32
De Witt 5,299 35.67 32
Le Mars 9,765 36.75 34
Pella 10,365 37 35
Denison 8,253 37.33 36
Eldridge 5,630 38 37
Storm Lake 10,541 38 37
Dubuque 57,727 38.58 39
Sheldon 5,096 38.92 40
Estherville 6,318 39.17 41
Independence 5,988 39.42 42
Des Moines 204,362 40.08 43
Grinnell 9,205 40.17 44
Manchester 5,160 40.67 45
Vinton 5,253 41.17 46
Iowa Falls 5,186 41.5 47
Harlan 5,098 41.75 48
Fairfield 9,462 43.67 49
Spencer 11,204 44.25 50
Shenandoah 5,144 44.75 51
Knoxville 7,353 45.08 52
Muscatine 22,915 45.08 52
Sioux City 82,529 45.5 54
Council Bluffs 61,986 45.92 55
Clear Lake 7,765 46.58 56
Creston 7,821 47.92 57
Winterset 5,170 50.42 58
Newton 15,234 51.25 59
Davenport 99,781 51.42 60
Burlington 25,624 51.75 61
Fort Dodge 25,109 52.42 62
Marshalltown 27,465 52.42 62
Atlantic 7,040 52.83 64
Red Oak 5,710 52.92 65
Mason City 28,012 54.08 66
Charles City 7,600 54.25 67
Oelwein 6,408 54.67 68
Clarinda 5,535 54.75 69
Oskaloosa 11,494 55.17 70
Clinton 26,877 56.25 71
Mount Pleasant 8,737 56.33 72
Maquoketa 6,113 58.92 73
Waterloo 68,248 58.92 73
Fort Madison 11,022 61.33 75
Webster City 8,024 61.58 76
Cherokee 5,196 62.75 77
Ottumwa 24,849 63.25 78
Centerville 5,519 63.42 79
Keokuk 10,757 69.25 80

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