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

We analyzed over 67 places in Iowa to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

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When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.

But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of Iowa.

But where exactly in Iowa? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.

To that end, we have tried to identify the places in Iowa that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.

What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Boone don’t mind us spreading the word.

Here are our top ten places in the Hawkeye State to retire for 2018:

  1. Boone (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Fort Madison (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Oskaloosa (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Newton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Bettendorf (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Clinton (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Clive (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Pella (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Keokuk (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Spencer (Homes For Sale)

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

Read on to see see all the golden parachute level details. Or check out the purely worst and best places to live in Iowa.

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

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 with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’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.

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1. Boone

Boone, Iowa

Population: 12,609
Median Rent: $621
Distance to Closest Airport: 37 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,720
More on Boone: Homes For Sale | Data
Coal mining played an important part in the early history of the Boone area. Local blacksmiths were already mining coal from the banks of Honey Creek south of what became Boone in 1849.

2. Fort Madison

Fort Madison, Iowa

Source: Public domain’

Population: 10,769
Median Rent: $598
Distance to Closest Airport: 72 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,816
More on Fort Madison: Homes For Sale | Data
Fort Madison was founded at the location of the first U.S. military fort in the upper Mississippi region. A replica of the fort stands along the river. Sheaffer Pens were developed and made in Fort Madison for many years. The city is the location of the Iowa State Penitentiary?the state’s maximum security prison for men. Fort Madison is the Mississippi river crossing and station stop for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief. Fort Madison has the last remaining double swing-span bridge on the Mississippi River, the Fort Madison Toll Bridge. It has a top level for cars and a similar level for trains; it is also the world’s largest . The Fort Madison Downtown Commercial Historic District is a collection of well-preserved historic storefronts from the late 19th century. Along with this is the . The Historic Park to Park District is a seven block long, three block wide section of homes that represent the Gothic, Victorian, and Tudor era. With a rich variety of architectural styles like Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Eastlake Stick, Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Tudor. With two of the six parks within the District. It is on the National Historic Registry.

3. Oskaloosa

Oskaloosa, Iowa

Source: Public domain’

Population: 11,538
Median Rent: $593
Distance to Closest Airport: 55 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,042
More on Oskaloosa: Homes For Sale | Data
Oskaloosa derives its name from Ouscaloosa who, according to town lore, was a Creek princess who married Seminole chief Osceola. A local tradition was that her name meant ‘last of the beautiful.’ (This interpretation of ‘last of the beautiful’ is not correct. ‘Oskaloosa’ in the Mvskoke-Creek language means ‘black rain,’ from the Mvskoke words ‘oske’ (rain) and ‘lvste’ (black). ‘loosa’ is an English corruption of the Mvskoke word ‘lvste’. See for example the Wikipedia entry for Tuskaloosa, eponym of the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In addition the Mvskoke word ‘Ouscaloosa’ means ‘Black Water’). The first European-American settlers arrived in 1835, led by Nathan Boone, youngest son of frontiersman Daniel Boone. Acting on instructions from Stephen W. Kearny, he selected this as the first site of Fort Des Moines, located on a high ridge between the Skunk and Des Moines rivers. The ridge was originally called the Narrows.

4. Newton

Newton, Iowa

Source: Public domain’

Population: 15,090
Median Rent: $707
Distance to Closest Airport: 34 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,412
More on Newton: Homes For Sale | Data
Newton was founded in 1846 as Newton City, the name was changed to Newton in 1847 and Newton was incorporated as a city in 1857. In the late 19th century, Newton’s growth was fueled by the development of coal mines in the region. The first significant mine in the area was the Couch mine of the Jasper County Coal and Railway Company, opened in the 1870s. It was, for a while, the largest mine in the county, producing 70 tons per day. William Snooks opened a mine near Newton in 1886. In the early 20th century, large scale mining in the Newton area had declined, but there were still several mines in the area that were worked intermittently.

5. Bettendorf

Bettendorf, Iowa

Source: Public domain’

Population: 35,048
Median Rent: $865
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
Crime Per 100k: 168
More on Bettendorf: Homes For Sale | Data
Bettendorf lies in the original Wisconsin Territory, which the United States bought from the Sac and Fox Indians after defeating them in the Black Hawk War. The territory was ceded in the Black Hawk Purchase of 1832. The first European-American settlers established a village they called Lilienthal, after an early tavern and dance hall. The village of Gilbert developed alongside Lilienthal in 1858, honoring Elias Gilbert, who platted the original site. At that time, the residents were predominantly German immigrants and worked as farmers, skilled laborers, and small business owners. The two villages eventually combined to become the town of Gilbert.

6. Clinton

Clinton, Iowa

Population: 26,148
Median Rent: $637
Distance to Closest Airport: 30 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,312
More on Clinton: Homes For Sale | Data
Among the first settlers of European origin in the Clinton area was Elijah Buell, who built a log cabin on July 25, 1835 and in 1837, established the town of Lyons, named after the French city of the same name. Buell partnered with a John Baker in a successful ferry service across the Mississippi River, at a location called ‘the Narrows,’ between Lyons and what would become the City of Fulton, Illinois. Although Lyons grew rapidly and prospered, it eventually merged into the City of Clinton.

7. Clive

Clive, Iowa

Source: Public domain’

Population: 17,022
Median Rent: $933
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
Crime Per 100k: 152
More on Clive: Homes For Sale | Data
Clive was platted in 1882 but did not incorporate as a city until August 18, 1956. While the exact origin of the city’s name is unknown, it is believed to have been named after Robert Clive.

8. Pella

Pella, Iowa

Population: 10,280
Median Rent: $787
Distance to Closest Airport: 39 miles
Crime Per 100k: 1,118
More on Pella: Homes For Sale | Data
In 1847, 800 Dutch immigrants led by Dominee (Minister) Hendrik (Henry) P. Scholte settled the area known as Pella. The name ‘Pella’ is a reference to Perea, where the Christians of Jerusalem had found refuge during the Roman?Jewish war of 70; the name was selected because the Dominee and the rest were also seeking religious freedom. It was the childhood home of Wyatt Earp, whose father Nicholas Porter Earp had settled on a farm near Pella. His brothers Warren and Morgan were born in Pella.

9. Keokuk

Keokuk, Iowa

Population: 10,628
Median Rent: $549
Distance to Closest Airport: 85 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,758
More on Keokuk: Homes For Sale | Data
Situated between the Des Moines and Mississippi rivers, the area that became Keokuk had access to a large trading area and was an ideal location for settlers. In 1820, the US Army prohibited soldiers stationed along the Mississippi River from having wives who were Native American. Dr. Samuel C. Muir, a surgeon stationed at Fort Edwards (near present-day Warsaw, Illinois), instead resigned his commission rather than leave his Indian wife and crossed the river to resettle. He built a log cabin for them at the bottom of the bluff, and became the area?s first white settler.

10. Spencer

Spencer, Iowa

Population: 11,172
Median Rent: $640
Distance to Closest Airport: 134 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,139
More on Spencer: Homes For Sale | Data
European Americans did not settle in what became Spencer until after the American Civil War; the first house was built in 1866, and the first store was opened in the area in 1869.

Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire 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:

  • Council Bluffs
  • North Liberty
  • Cedar Falls

For more Iowa reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In Iowa

City Rank Population Median Rent Distane To Airport Crimes per 100k
Boone 1 12,609 $621 37 1,720
Fort Madison 2 10,769 $598 72 3,816
Oskaloosa 3 11,538 $593 55 3,042
Newton 4 15,090 $707 34 3,412
Bettendorf 5 35,048 $865 8 168
Clinton 6 26,148 $637 30 5,312
Clive 7 17,022 $933 8 152
Pella 8 10,280 $787 39 1,118
Keokuk 9 10,628 $549 85 5,758
Spencer 10 11,172 $640 134 2,139
Indianola 11 15,343 $735 12 2,887
Burlington 12 25,492 $694 54 4,836
Johnston 13 19,491 $1076 10 1,292
Waverly 14 10,049 $611 102 2,308
Fort Dodge 15 24,626 $599 72 4,560
Urbandale 16 41,578 $850 9 1,844
Muscatine 17 23,909 $779 29 2,881
Marion 18 37,198 $658 69 1,814
Marshalltown 19 27,637 $633 52 3,531
Ottumwa 20 24,709 $624 73 4,755
Dubuque 21 58,535 $728 73 3,488
Waterloo 22 68,357 $685 94 3,843
Storm Lake 23 10,768 $603 109 3,510
Davenport 24 102,305 $715 8 5,621
Cedar Rapids 25 129,537 $711 70 4,173
Des Moines 26 212,859 $775 3 4,875
Altoona 27 16,692 $805 12 3,318
Ankeny 28 53,413 $906 13 1,655
West Des Moines 29 61,624 $934 6 2,697
Ames 30 64,073 $835 34 1,847
Coralville 31 20,078 $802 58 3,586
Cedar Falls 32 40,828 $793 92 1,895
North Liberty 33 16,984 $1054 60 1,018
Council Bluffs 34 62,326 $781 115 6,437

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