10 Best Places To Retire In Iowa For 2019

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 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the best places to retire in Iowa.

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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 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.

Where exactly in Iowa is the best place to retire? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data — which returns Boone as the best place to hang up your cleats.

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.

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.

For Iowa state reading:

Boone, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 12,609
Rank Last Year: 41 (Up 40)
Median Rent: $621
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.

Fort Madison, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,769
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Rent: $598
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.

Oskaloosa, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,538
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 15)
Median Rent: $593
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.

Newton, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 15,090
Rank Last Year: 24 (Up 20)
Median Rent: $707
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.

Bettendorf, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 35,048
Rank Last Year: 72 (Up 67)
Median Rent: $865
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.

Clinton, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 26,148
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 2)
Median Rent: $637
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

Clive, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,022
Rank Last Year: 61 (Up 54)
Median Rent: $933
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.

Pella, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,280
Rank Last Year: 68 (Up 60)
Median Rent: $787
Distance to Closest Airport: 39 miles
More on Pella: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Pella is a city in Marion County, Iowa, United States, with a population of 10,352 at the time of the 2010 U.S. Census. Founded by immigrants from the Netherlands, it is forty miles southeast of Des Moines. Pella is the home of Central College, as well as several manufacturing companies, including Pella Corporation and Vermeer Manufacturing Company.

Keokuk, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,628
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 8)
Median Rent: $549
Distance to Closest Airport: 85 miles
More on Keokuk: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Keokuk is a city and a county seat of Lee County, Iowa, United States, along with Fort Madison. It is also the most southerly city in Iowa. The population was 10,780 at the 2010 census. The city is named after the Sauk chief Keokuk, who is thought to be buried in Rand Park. It is located in the extreme southeast corner of Iowa where the Des Moines River meets with the Mississippi. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 61, 136 and 218. Just across the rivers are the towns of Hamilton and Warsaw, Illinois, and Alexandria, Missouri.

Spencer, IA

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,172
Rank Last Year: 44 (Up 34)
Median Rent: $640
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.

How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Hawkeye State for 2019

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.

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. Cedar Falls

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Where Are The Best Places To Retire In Iowa?

Rank City Population Median Rent
1 Boone 12,609 $621
2 Fort Madison 10,769 $598
3 Oskaloosa 11,538 $593
4 Newton 15,090 $707
5 Bettendorf 35,048 $865
6 Clinton 26,148 $637
7 Clive 17,022 $933
8 Pella 10,280 $787
9 Keokuk 10,628 $549
10 Spencer 11,172 $640

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.