Best Places To Retire In Iowa For 2020


We analyzed over 34 places in Iowa to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

Editor’s Note: Data has been updated for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the best places to retire in Iowa.

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There is more to Iowa than farmers, Hawkeyes fans, and Des Moines, there are a bunch of awesome places for those looking to retire in the great Midwest.

And since a person's golden years can be so unpredictable, you should probably not waste another second. Instead, you should take a look below at HomeSnacks' list of the best places to retire in Iowa for 2020. Did we mention that this is our sixth time ranking the best places to retire in the Hawkeye State? So, believe us when we say that the top ten places that made our list are the cream of Iowa's crop.

To determine Iowa's best places to retire, we looked at the latest FBI and Census reports on crime, demographics, affordable housing, distance to closest international airport, and amenities for 34 cities with over 10,000 residents. And, folks, the numbers don't lie.

We discovered that the best places to retire in Iowa are also some of the state's safest. Secondly, many of the top ten have great rates if you choose to rent. And, the ultimate reason to move to one of Iowa's best places to retire, they house some of the nicest people.

If you're already kickin' up your feet in one of Iowa's best places to retire, congrats. If not, take a look at our list below before you make any life changing decisions.

Why did Boone take the top spot? And where are Des Moines and Cedar Rapids?

If you ask any Iowan, they will tell you that their corner of corn country is the best. And while they might be right, there are places in Iowa that are better than others if your retirement requirements include safe, affordable neighborhoods, great places to wine and dine, and an airport to bring your family to you.

So, where is the number one, best place to retire in Iowa for 2020? Well, that would be Boone according to the most recent data.

If you want to know where the rest of Iowa's retirement gems are located, take a look at the list below. If you don't find what you are looking for there, head to the bottom.

For more Iowa state reading:

The 10 Best Places To Retire In Iowa For 2020

Boone, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 12,529
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Rent: $713
Distance to Closest Airport: 37 miles
More on Boone: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Boone is a city in Des Moines Township, and county seat of Boone County, Iowa, United States. It is the principal city of the Boone, Iowa Micropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Boone County. This micropolitan statistical area, along with the Ames, Iowa Metropolitan Statistical Area comprise the larger Ames-Boone, Iowa Combined Statistical Area. The population of the city was 12,661 at the 2010 census.

Oskaloosa, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 11,505
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Rent: $622
Distance to Closest Airport: 55 miles
More on Oskaloosa: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Oskaloosa is a city in and the county seat of Mahaska County, Iowa, United States. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was a national center of bituminous coal mining. The population was 11,463 in the 2010 census, an increase from 10,938 in the 2000 census.

Fort Madison, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,614
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Rent: $648
Distance to Closest Airport: 72 miles
More on Fort Madison: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fort Madison is a city and a county seat of Lee County, Iowa, United States along with Keokuk. Of Iowa's 99 counties, Lee County is the only one with two county seats. The population was 11,051 at the 2010 census. Located along the Mississippi River in the state's southeast corner, it lies between small bluffs along one of the widest portions of the river.

Newton, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 15,167
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Rent: $724
Distance to Closest Airport: 34 miles
More on Newton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Newton is the county seat and most populous city in Jasper County, Iowa, United States. Located 30 miles east of Des Moines, Newton is in Central Iowa. As of the 2010 Census, the city population was 15,254. It is the home of Iowa Speedway, Maytag Dairy Farms, and the Iowa Sculpture Festival.

Clinton, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 25,637
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Rent: $663
Distance to Closest Airport: 30 miles
More on Clinton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Clinton is a city in and the county seat of Clinton County, Iowa, United States. The population was 26,885 as of 2010. Clinton, along with DeWitt, Iowa, was named in honor of the sixth governor of New York, DeWitt Clinton. Clinton is the principal city of the Clinton Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is coterminous with Clinton County. Clinton was incorporated on January 26, 1857.

Review Of Clinton by HomeSnacks User

I have lived in Clinton pretty much my whole life

Bettendorf, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 35,793
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Rent: $902
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Bettendorf: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Bettendorf is a city in Scott County, Iowa, United States. Bettendorf is the fifteenth largest city in the U.S. state of Iowa and the fourth largest city in the "Quad Cities". It is part of the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 33,217 at the 2010 census, and was estimated to be 35,505 by July 2015. Bettendorf is one of the Quad Cities, along with neighboring Davenport and the Illinois cities of Moline, East Moline and Rock Island. The Quad Cities has a population estimate of 382,630. In 2011, Bettendorf was named U.S. 95th Best Town by CNNMoney.

Spencer, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 11,092
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Rent: $655
Distance to Closest Airport: 134 miles
More on Spencer: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Spencer is a city in the state of Iowa, and the county seat of Clay County. It is located at the confluence of the Little Sioux and Ocheyedan rivers. The population was 11,233 in the 2010 census, a decline from 11,317 in the 2000 census. Spencer has a notable Clay County Fair, held annually in September, which averages more than 300,000 visitors each year.

Clive, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 17,195
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $893
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
More on Clive: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Clive is a city in Dallas and Polk counties in the U.S. state of Iowa. As of the 2010 Census the population is at 15,447. It is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area. Clive is known for its Greenbelt Park and trail system running through the entire community. Clive serves as the axis of the western Des Moines suburbs, being located between Urbandale, Waukee and West Des Moines along the major transportation corridors of I-35, I-80 and I-235. The City of Urbandale is to the north to northwest, the City of West Des Moines is to the southeast to southwest, the City of Waukee in Dallas County is to the west.

Norwalk, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,568
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $795
Distance to Closest Airport: 3 miles
More on Norwalk: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Norwalk is a city in Warren County, with some small portions extending into Polk County, in the U.S. state of Iowa. The population was 8,945 at the 2010 census. The city is part of the Des Moines-West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area and is located just south of the Des Moines International Airport.

Fairfield, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 10,216
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 5)
Median Rent: $661
Distance to Closest Airport: 81 miles
More on Fairfield: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Fairfield is a city in, and the county seat of, Jefferson County, Iowa, United States. It has a population totaling 9,464 people according to the 2010 census. It is a Midwestern city surrounded by rolling farmlands filled with corn, soybean, cattle, and hogs with a median family income of $46,138. The city became the county seat in 1839 with 110 residents and grew to 650 by 1847. Its library was established in 1853, and it held its first fair in 1854. Early architecture includes work by George Franklin Barber and Barry Byrne, who trained under Frank Lloyd Wright.

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Hawkeye State for 2020

To create our list of the best places in Iowa to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Hawkeye State -- 1002 cities and towns.

We then narrowed it down to places with at least 10,000 people that weren't townships. This left us with 34 places from across the state.

For these 34, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI's Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:

  • Low cost of living as measured by rent
  • Low crime
  • Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
  • Nice weather
  • Distance to the closest international airport
  • Other retirees (High median age)

We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 34, with the lowest number being the best.

Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Boone, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers. You can download the data here.

Maybe You're Not Ready To Retire In Iowa Yet...

So there you have it, the best place to retire in Iowa goes to Boone.

If you're not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:

  1. Council Bluffs
  2. North Liberty
  3. Coralville

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In Iowa?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Boone 12,529 $713
2 Oskaloosa 11,505 $622
3 Fort Madison 10,614 $648
4 Newton 15,167 $724
5 Clinton 25,637 $663
6 Bettendorf 35,793 $902
7 Spencer 11,092 $655
8 Clive 17,195 $893
9 Norwalk 10,568 $795
10 Fairfield 10,216 $661

How Is The Area In ?

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.