Best Small Towns In Iowa For 2020


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

This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. This is our sixth time ranking the best small places to live in Iowa.

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 15, here’s a look at the 10 Best Small Towns To Live in Iowa for 2020.

What’s the best small town in Iowa? Mount Vernon is the best small town in Iowa based on the most recent Census data. If you live in one of these small towns like Mount Vernon, 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:

The 15 Best Small Towns In Iowa For 2020

Mount Vernon, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 4,454
Median Income: $82,656 (16th Best)
Median Home Value: $216,800 (10th Best)
More on Mount Vernon: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Garner, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,059
Median Income: $72,903 (32nd Best)
Median Home Value: $138,800 (52nd Best)
More on Garner: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,596
Median Income: $100,329 (4th Best)
Median Home Value: $214,400 (12th Best)
More on Fairfax: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,001
Median Income: $80,125 (20th Best)
Median Home Value: $172,400 (23rd Best)
More on Lawton: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,471
Median Income: $106,563 (3rd Best)
Median Home Value: $208,900 (14th Best)
More on Walford: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 3,414
Median Income: $129,081 (1st Best)
Median Home Value: $301,700 (1st Best)
More on Robins: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,235
Median Income: $84,167 (15th Best)
Median Home Value: $195,300 (17th Best)
More on Dike: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 1,206
Median Income: $67,321 (41st Best)
Median Home Value: $279,600 (2nd Best)
More on University Heights: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 4,669
Median Income: $82,449 (17th Best)
Median Home Value: $214,200 (13th Best)
More on Sergeant Bluff: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,233
Median Income: $74,271 (28th Best)
Median Home Value: $139,800 (51st Best)
More on Roland: Data | Homes For Sale

Solon, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,581
Median Income: $76,731 (23rd Best)
Median Home Value: $239,100 (4th Best)
More on Solon: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,489
Median Income: $74,250 (29th Best)
Median Home Value: $150,900 (45th Best)
More on Earlham: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,078
Median Income: $94,063 (7th Best)
Median Home Value: $214,500 (11th Best)
More on Ely: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,007
Median Income: $106,750 (2nd Best)
Median Home Value: $252,100 (3rd Best)
More on Long Grove: Data | Homes For Sale

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 3,395
Median Income: $65,893 (44th Best)
Median Home Value: $150,900 (45th Best)
More on Story City: Data | Homes For Sale

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 2014-2018 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 – 205 to be exact.

We then ranked each place in each category with scores from 1 to 205, averaged them out, and the lowest scores went to our Best Small Towns in Iowa. Top of that list — Mount Vernon. You can download the data here.

Keep reading to find out more about our top 15 best small towns in Iowa.

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 15 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. Eldon
  2. Villisca
  3. Leon

For more iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Small Towns In Iowa

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Value
1 Mount Vernon, IA 4,454 $82,656.0 $216,800.0
2 Garner, IA 3,059 $72,903.0 $138,800.0
3 Fairfax, IA 2,596 $100,329.0 $214,400.0
4 Lawton, IA 1,001 $80,125.0 $172,400.0
5 Walford, IA 1,471 $106,563.0 $208,900.0
6 Robins, IA 3,414 $129,081.0 $301,700.0
7 Dike, IA 1,235 $84,167.0 $195,300.0
8 University Heights, IA 1,206 $67,321.0 $279,600.0
9 Sergeant Bluff, IA 4,669 $82,449.0 $214,200.0
10 Roland, IA 1,233 $74,271.0 $139,800.0
11 Solon, IA 2,581 $76,731.0 $239,100.0
12 Earlham, IA 1,489 $74,250.0 $150,900.0
13 Ely, IA 2,078 $94,063.0 $214,500.0
14 Long Grove, IA 1,007 $106,750.0 $252,100.0
15 Story City, IA 3,395 $65,893.0 $150,900.0
16 Hull, IA 2,044 $66,429.0 $145,200.0
17 Huxley, IA 3,672 $90,393.0 $184,500.0
18 Atkins, IA 1,861 $95,469.0 $218,200.0
19 Dyersville, IA 4,110 $62,330.0 $156,000.0
20 Epworth, IA 1,939 $75,086.0 $162,600.0
21 Windsor Heights, IA 4,990 $64,337.0 $181,000.0
22 Alton, IA 1,299 $70,417.0 $121,300.0
23 Le Claire, IA 3,949 $91,114.0 $193,500.0
24 Moville, IA 1,669 $64,792.0 $137,500.0
25 Durant, IA 1,717 $62,625.0 $155,000.0
26 Sloan, IA 1,186 $62,656.0 $136,200.0
27 Center Point, IA 2,534 $80,938.0 $155,100.0
28 Polk City, IA 4,481 $95,738.0 $229,000.0
29 Peosta, IA 1,746 $86,806.0 $225,100.0
30 Farley, IA 1,742 $77,647.0 $154,300.0
31 Hudson, IA 2,470 $86,875.0 $192,800.0
32 Emmetsburg, IA 3,771 $49,307.0 $113,000.0
33 Wilton, IA 2,833 $51,528.0 $119,000.0
34 Prairie City, IA 2,204 $74,063.0 $132,500.0
35 Van Meter, IA 1,192 $91,979.0 $159,400.0
36 Slater, IA 1,556 $71,250.0 $159,200.0
37 Denver, IA 1,676 $65,139.0 $161,300.0
38 Tiffin, IA 3,008 $76,250.0 $231,300.0
39 Rock Rapids, IA 2,556 $59,628.0 $123,200.0
40 West Liberty, IA 3,749 $55,682.0 $119,500.0
41 Madrid, IA 2,584 $64,046.0 $131,000.0
42 Woodbine, IA 1,585 $55,682.0 $109,900.0
43 West Branch, IA 2,061 $61,667.0 $146,400.0
44 Calmar, IA 1,017 $58,333.0 $129,900.0
45 Lone Tree, IA 1,236 $63,250.0 $150,400.0
46 Urbana, IA 1,477 $85,057.0 $153,300.0
47 Mediapolis, IA 1,713 $60,203.0 $109,200.0
48 Jesup, IA 2,894 $70,109.0 $155,200.0
49 Adel, IA 4,316 $61,250.0 $170,800.0
50 Remsen, IA 1,748 $56,477.0 $121,500.0
51 Parkersburg, IA 1,913 $50,441.0 $136,100.0
52 Reinbeck, IA 1,492 $56,000.0 $121,900.0
53 Williamsburg, IA 3,150 $59,904.0 $156,800.0
54 Grundy Center, IA 2,700 $58,929.0 $116,300.0
55 Bellevue, IA 2,267 $55,882.0 $132,100.0
56 Danville, IA 1,042 $52,969.0 $111,800.0
57 Holstein, IA 1,354 $57,237.0 $94,500.0
58 Traer, IA 1,603 $52,426.0 $113,800.0
59 Granger, IA 1,819 $85,250.0 $204,600.0
60 Sanborn, IA 1,452 $53,934.0 $91,600.0
61 Alta, IA 2,152 $57,500.0 $106,300.0
62 Lisbon, IA 2,281 $71,932.0 $153,700.0
63 Elkader, IA 1,381 $49,821.0 $85,500.0
64 Harlan, IA 4,883 $48,867.0 $111,200.0
65 Fruitland, IA 1,050 $81,250.0 $160,400.0
66 Palo, IA 1,182 $73,636.0 $169,900.0
67 Jewell Junction, IA 1,265 $63,095.0 $108,200.0
68 Blue Grass, IA 1,473 $75,568.0 $161,900.0
69 Carlisle, IA 4,134 $67,009.0 $152,500.0
70 Dallas Center, IA 1,733 $67,885.0 $167,900.0
71 Conrad, IA 1,053 $45,000.0 $115,900.0
72 Park View, IA 2,755 $76,830.0 $170,100.0
73 St. Ansgar, IA 1,237 $52,813.0 $115,100.0
74 New Hampton, IA 3,445 $43,333.0 $105,500.0
75 Springville, IA 1,093 $63,125.0 $125,800.0
76 Kingsley, IA 1,581 $59,615.0 $113,400.0
77 Fairbank, IA 1,154 $64,911.0 $127,900.0
78 Glidden, IA 1,177 $62,344.0 $104,600.0
79 Buffalo, IA 1,184 $51,927.0 $125,500.0
80 Osage, IA 3,574 $52,379.0 $96,100.0
81 Humboldt, IA 4,583 $52,472.0 $121,000.0
82 Tipton, IA 3,196 $59,596.0 $128,000.0
83 Lake Mills, IA 2,082 $49,402.0 $103,500.0
84 Rock Valley, IA 3,712 $70,625.0 $137,400.0
85 Sigourney, IA 1,922 $46,346.0 $87,400.0
86 Baxter, IA 1,029 $56,217.0 $122,100.0
87 State Center, IA 1,595 $58,464.0 $112,700.0
88 Milford, IA 2,989 $51,131.0 $138,000.0
89 Monticello, IA 3,835 $51,316.0 $117,900.0
90 Logan, IA 1,592 $61,293.0 $104,100.0
91 Sheffield, IA 1,101 $51,188.0 $97,900.0
92 Mitchellville, IA 2,304 $64,423.0 $136,400.0
93 Odebolt, IA 1,011 $50,625.0 $71,300.0
94 New Sharon, IA 1,146 $62,639.0 $106,700.0
95 Brooklyn, IA 1,549 $54,450.0 $99,000.0
96 Waukon, IA 3,716 $41,075.0 $100,200.0
97 Nora Springs, IA 1,523 $58,750.0 $94,700.0
98 Shell Rock, IA 1,396 $53,015.0 $124,000.0
99 Tabor, IA 1,254 $57,500.0 $109,300.0
100 Wellman, IA 1,333 $60,000.0 $119,100.0

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.

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