These Are The 20 Best Small Towns In Iowa For 2018


We used science and data to determine which small towns in Iowa are the best of the best..

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Data updated for 2018.

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You’ve seen these lists before: Best places to live in Iowa, Most Beautiful Downtowns, etc., etc. But all of them focus on major cities and towns in the Hawkeye State and no one pays attention to the little guy.

Well, that’s all about to change as we put together a list of the best small towns in Iowa based on numbers–not opinions or hearsay.

We’ll dive right into our methodology in the next section; but first, we thought you might just want to know which places in Iowa ranked the based–you know, based on science.

Before we get to the top 20, here’s a look at the 10 Best Small Towns To Live in Iowa for 2018:

  1. Fairfax (Homes For Sale)
  2. Atkins (Homes For Sale)
  3. Walford (Homes For Sale)
  4. Mount Vernon (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Robins (Homes For Sale)
  6. Dike (Homes For Sale)
  7. Roland (Homes For Sale)
  8. Ely (Homes For Sale)
  9. Gilbert (Homes For Sale)
  10. Van Meter (Homes For Sale)

If you live in one of these small towns like Fairfax, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you–keep reading and we’ll get to just why these small towns made our list.

For more reading on the Hawkeye State check out:

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How We Determined The Coolest Towns In Iowa

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent data from the Census’s 2012-2016 American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Lowest Unemployment Rates
  • Housing costs (Higher is better. More demand.)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Higher is better)
  • Highly Educated Adults (Higher is better)
  • Insurance Rates (Higher is better)
  • Commute Times (Lower is better)

We looked at places with populations lower than 5,000 people and greater than 1,000, of which, there were a lot – 213 to be exact.

We then ranked each place in each category with scores from 1 to 213, averaged them out, and the lowest scores went to our Best Small Towns in Iowa. Top of that list — Fairfax.

Keep reading to find out more about our top 20 best small towns in Iowa.

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1. Fairfax


Population: 2,418
Median Income: $91,964 (4th Best)
Median Home Value: $216,200 (5th Best)
More on Fairfax: Data| Homes For Sale

2. Atkins


Population: 1,713
Median Income: $82,222 (10th Best)
Median Home Value: $204,200 (8th Best)
More on Atkins: Data| Homes For Sale

3. Walford


Population: 1,428
Median Income: $96,528 (2nd Best)
Median Home Value: $208,700 (7th Best)
More on Walford: Data| Homes For Sale

4. Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, IA

Population: 4,487
Median Income: $72,188 (20th Best)
Median Home Value: $201,600 (9th Best)
More on Mount Vernon: PhotosData| Homes For Sale

5. Robins


Population: 3,434
Median Income: $119,583 (1st Best)
Median Home Value: $268,600 (3rd Best)
More on Robins: Data| Homes For Sale

6. Dike


Population: 1,309
Median Income: $76,250 (15th Best)
Median Home Value: $166,600 (22nd Best)
More on Dike: Data| Homes For Sale

7. Roland


Population: 1,312
Median Income: $71,979 (21st Best)
Median Home Value: $140,800 (50th Best)
More on Roland: Data| Homes For Sale

8. Ely


Population: 2,133
Median Income: $95,804 (3rd Best)
Median Home Value: $192,500 (14th Best)
More on Ely: Data| Homes For Sale

9. Gilbert


Population: 1,183
Median Income: $87,917 (6th Best)
Median Home Value: $172,400 (19th Best)
More on Gilbert: Data| Homes For Sale

10. Van Meter


Population: 1,256
Median Income: $80,000 (12th Best)
Median Home Value: $148,200 (42nd Best)
More on Van Meter: Data| Homes For Sale

11. Slater


Population: 1,617
Median Income: $69,457 (27th Best)
Median Home Value: $153,400 (29th Best)
More on Slater: Data| Homes For Sale

12. Garner

Garner, IA

Population: 3,091
Median Income: $59,207 (51st Best)
Median Home Value: $133,700 (56th Best)
More on Garner: PhotosData| Homes For Sale

13. University Heights


Population: 1,255
Median Income: $61,042 (42nd Best)
Median Home Value: $273,300 (2nd Best)
More on University Heights: Data| Homes For Sale

14. Denver


Population: 1,814
Median Income: $60,391 (47th Best)
Median Home Value: $152,100 (34th Best)
More on Denver: Data| Homes For Sale

15. Polk City

Source: Public Domain

Population: 4,115
Median Income: $90,216 (5th Best)
Median Home Value: $228,700 (4th Best)
More on Polk City: Data| Homes For Sale

16. Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake, IA

Source: Public domain

Population: 4,992
Median Income: $57,008 (65th Best)
Median Home Value: $141,800 (47th Best)
More on Spirit Lake: PhotosData| Homes For Sale

17. Farley


Population: 1,688
Median Income: $78,333 (13th Best)
Median Home Value: $153,900 (28th Best)
More on Farley: Data| Homes For Sale

18. Epworth


Population: 2,068
Median Income: $70,526 (24th Best)
Median Home Value: $160,000 (25th Best)
More on Epworth: Data| Homes For Sale

19. Durant

Durant, IA

Population: 2,032
Median Income: $61,435 (40th Best)
Median Home Value: $145,500 (45th Best)
More on Durant: PhotosData| Homes For Sale

20. Sergeant Bluff


Population: 4,399
Median Income: $74,871 (17th Best)
Median Home Value: $184,900 (16th Best)
More on Sergeant Bluff: Data| Homes For Sale

Science Can Tackle Any Issue, Even Small Ones

We said it once and we’ll say it again — this list: it’s just science. We did the research, we crunched the numbers, and it turns out, these 20 small towns in Iowa are the best, in which to live.

And who can argue with that?

If you’re curious, here are the worst small towns in Iowa:

  1. Villisca
  2. Leon
  3. Toledo

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Small Towns In Iowa

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Value
1 Fairfax 2,418 $91,964 $216,200
2 Atkins 1,713 $82,222 $204,200
3 Walford 1,428 $96,528 $208,700
4 Mount Vernon 4,487 $72,188 $201,600
5 Robins 3,434 $119,583 $268,600
6 Dike 1,309 $76,250 $166,600
7 Roland 1,312 $71,979 $140,800
8 Ely 2,133 $95,804 $192,500
9 Gilbert 1,183 $87,917 $172,400
10 Van Meter 1,256 $80,000 $148,200
11 Slater 1,617 $69,457 $153,400
12 Garner 3,091 $59,207 $133,700
13 University Heights 1,255 $61,042 $273,300
14 Denver 1,814 $60,391 $152,100
15 Polk City 4,115 $90,216 $228,700
16 Spirit Lake 4,992 $57,008 $141,800
17 Farley 1,688 $78,333 $153,900
18 Epworth 2,068 $70,526 $160,000
19 Durant 2,032 $61,435 $145,500
20 Sergeant Bluff 4,399 $74,871 $184,900
21 Alton 1,325 $64,635 $122,000
22 Moville 1,587 $60,769 $119,600
23 Earlham 1,523 $65,893 $134,000
24 Center Point 2,507 $83,235 $152,900
25 Hudson 2,414 $83,036 $178,400
26 Solon 2,399 $73,750 $199,600
27 Dyersville 4,180 $54,766 $149,600
28 Le Claire 3,931 $80,580 $200,800
29 Peosta 1,881 $87,875 $213,000
30 Rock Rapids 2,569 $54,891 $113,000
31 Lake Panorama 1,097 $63,482 $408,800
32 Lone Tree 1,482 $61,382 $150,300
33 Park View 2,718 $69,821 $171,600
34 St. Ansgar 1,087 $49,063 $105,400
35 Adel 4,030 $58,321 $157,900
36 Prairie City 1,973 $60,978 $124,100
37 Dallas Center 1,851 $69,474 $152,600
38 Danville 1,079 $49,821 $111,500
39 Emmetsburg 3,803 $44,672 $91,400
40 Urbana 1,444 $77,404 $150,300
41 Wilton 2,808 $55,439 $124,200
42 Granger 1,461 $72,222 $194,100
43 Hull 2,146 $55,446 $136,100
44 Huxley 3,474 $65,471 $164,700
45 Remsen 1,824 $54,479 $108,700
46 Mediapolis 1,536 $52,847 $95,600
47 Carlisle 4,031 $58,299 $149,700
48 Palo 1,036 $68,125 $149,400
49 Windsor Heights 4,980 $53,482 $180,300
50 Sloan 1,192 $54,659 $121,800
51 Story City 3,423 $53,893 $146,500
52 West Branch 2,581 $61,493 $139,500
53 Williamsburg 3,144 $46,188 $157,300
54 Madrid 2,585 $60,457 $122,200
55 Fairbank 1,168 $59,545 $124,600
56 Conrad 1,073 $44,063 $129,400
57 Rock Valley 3,623 $61,944 $141,800
58 Jewell Junction 1,230 $60,234 $105,500
59 Tiffin 2,530 $58,750 $186,000
60 Osage 3,631 $52,500 $96,700
61 Fruitland 1,196 $75,417 $152,600
62 Oakland 1,544 $66,607 $106,700
63 Reinbeck 1,765 $56,579 $119,800
64 Marcus 1,146 $50,714 $87,300
65 Lisbon 1,908 $56,382 $149,900
66 Logan 1,540 $58,688 $98,600
67 Elk Run Heights 1,006 $54,583 $128,000
68 Jesup 2,809 $58,269 $144,800
69 Mechanicsville 1,052 $56,372 $104,200
70 Parkersburg 2,019 $44,000 $135,700
71 State Center 1,337 $49,375 $101,400
72 Alta 2,104 $50,677 $96,900
73 Wellman 1,365 $57,125 $111,800
74 Kingsley 1,436 $64,286 $105,500
75 Cascade 1,978 $49,167 $135,800
76 Kalona 2,479 $48,077 $152,200
77 Monona 1,495 $47,917 $106,800
78 Paullina 1,034 $57,574 $82,800
79 Saylorville 3,445 $71,078 $195,100
80 Holstein 1,416 $51,927 $84,600
81 Blue Grass 1,563 $71,058 $146,000
82 Baxter 1,081 $53,816 $114,900
83 Victor 1,026 $46,528 $84,600
84 Elkader 1,325 $45,000 $84,200
85 Tipton 3,201 $54,719 $125,200
86 Springville 1,070 $59,613 $121,800
87 New Hampton 3,478 $39,455 $101,000
88 West Point 1,020 $52,500 $118,700
89 Odebolt 1,016 $47,039 $68,900
90 Humboldt 4,602 $44,276 $112,400
91 George 1,007 $49,417 $73,800
92 Woodbine 1,645 $48,409 $98,600
93 Grundy Center 2,705 $52,625 $107,600
94 Calmar 1,023 $50,929 $113,000
95 Milford 2,991 $47,044 $132,500
96 Glidden 1,422 $64,688 $96,100
97 Laurens 1,272 $46,667 $62,800
98 Forest City 4,043 $49,309 $95,900
99 Newell 1,070 $53,750 $81,500
100 La Porte City 2,403 $51,047 $116,400

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