These Are The 10 Most Affordable Places In Iowa


We used data and science to determine which places in Iowa go easy on your wallet.

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A wise sage once said “she works hard for the money” and these places in Iowa definitely treat her right.

You see, these are the places in Iowa where the cost of living is the lowest; where your salary goes the furthest. And when if you have the luxury of choosing where to live in the Hawkeye State, then the cost of living should play a role in the decision.

So we did the hard for you and crunched the numbers to find the cities that have lower food, energy, and housing costs. After the dust settled on our analysis of the 80 largest places in Iowa, we were left with this set of the best value for your money:

  1. Charles City
  2. Centerville
  3. Fort Dodge
  4. Keokuk
  5. Ottumwa
  6. Fort Madison
  7. Oelwein
  8. Iowa Falls
  9. Webster City
  10. Perry

So listen up Bettendorf as we explain how we created this ranking, you could learn some things from the rest of the state.

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How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Hawkeye State

There are basic necessities that you have to buy no matter where in the country you live. Those things include:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Gas
  • Health Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Transportation

You can then compare the cost of these things in each of the places in Iowa to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” that normalizes to 100 for an average place in the United States.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 80 places in Iowa that have more than 5,000 people.

And just so you can better understand how the cost of living index works, 100 is the average cost of a place in the United States. A score of 90 means that the place cost 10% less than average. A score of 90 means it’s 10% less expensive.

San Francisco has a score of 243 meaning it’s almost 2.5 times as expensive as the average place in the country.

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1. Charles City

Charles City, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,600
Services: 94
Groceries: 93
Healthcare: 91
Housing: 46
Transportation: 90
Utiltiies: 93

2. Centerville

Centerville, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,519
Services: 92
Groceries: 93
Healthcare: 97
Housing: 45
Transportation: 91
Utiltiies: 92

3. Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 25,109
Services: 86
Groceries: 91
Healthcare: 97
Housing: 49
Transportation: 97
Utiltiies: 85

4. Keokuk

Keokuk, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,757
Services: 90
Groceries: 95
Healthcare: 94
Housing: 43
Transportation: 91
Utiltiies: 102

5. Ottumwa

Ottumwa, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 24,849
Services: 90
Groceries: 95
Healthcare: 94
Housing: 47
Transportation: 91
Utiltiies: 102

6. Fort Madison

Fort Madison, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 11,022
Services: 90
Groceries: 95
Healthcare: 94
Housing: 47
Transportation: 91
Utiltiies: 102

7. Oelwein

Oelwein, Iowa

Source: Flickr

Population: 6,408
Services: 90
Groceries: 97
Healthcare: 100
Housing: 42
Transportation: 127
Utiltiies: 80

8. Iowa Falls

Iowa Falls, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,186
Services: 86
Groceries: 91
Healthcare: 97
Housing: 53
Transportation: 97
Utiltiies: 85

9. Webster City

Webster City, Iowa

Source: Flickr

Population: 8,024
Services: 86
Groceries: 91
Healthcare: 97
Housing: 53
Transportation: 97
Utiltiies: 85

10. Perry

Perry, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 7,828
Services: 86
Groceries: 91
Healthcare: 97
Housing: 54
Transportation: 97
Utiltiies: 85

Detailed List Of Affordable Places In Iowa

City Rank Population Services Grociers Healthcare
Charles City 1 7,600 94 93 91
Centerville 2 5,519 92 93 97
Fort Dodge 3 25,109 86 91 97
Keokuk 4 10,757 90 95 94
Ottumwa 5 24,849 90 95 94
Fort Madison 6 11,022 90 95 94
Oelwein 7 6,408 90 97 100
Iowa Falls 8 5,186 86 91 97
Webster City 9 8,024 86 91 97
Perry 10 7,828 86 91 97
Fairfield 11 9,462 90 95 94
Cherokee 12 5,196 95 95 102
Algona 13 5,534 94 93 91
Creston 14 7,821 92 93 97
Mason City 15 28,012 94 93 91
Storm Lake 16 10,541 86 91 97
Clarinda 17 5,535 95 95 102
Burlington 18 25,624 90 95 94
Shenandoah 19 5,144 95 95 102
Oskaloosa 20 11,494 92 93 97
Knoxville 21 7,353 92 93 97
Marshalltown 22 27,465 86 91 97
Red Oak 23 5,710 95 95 102
Denison 24 8,253 95 95 102
Atlantic 25 7,040 95 95 102
Carroll 26 10,057 86 91 97
Newton 27 15,234 92 93 97
Boone 28 12,658 86 91 97
Mount Pleasant 29 8,737 90 95 94
Maquoketa 30 6,113 103 98 96
Washington 31 7,277 90 95 94
Nevada 32 6,795 86 91 97
Manchester 33 5,160 93 94 102
Grinnell 34 9,205 92 93 97
Waterloo 35 68,248 90 97 100
Clear Lake 36 7,765 94 93 91
Sioux City 37 82,529 95 95 102
Des Moines 38 204,362 92 93 97
Anamosa 39 5,605 93 94 102
Estherville 40 6,318 104 105 111
Harlan 41 5,098 95 95 102
Vinton 42 5,253 93 94 102
Clinton 43 26,877 99 100 92
Independence 44 5,988 90 97 100
Winterset 45 5,170 92 93 97
Le Mars 46 9,765 95 95 102
Council Bluffs 47 61,986 95 95 102
Indianola 48 14,787 92 93 97
Sheldon 49 5,096 104 105 111
Norwalk 50 9,012 92 93 97
Spencer 51 11,204 104 105 111
Muscatine 52 22,915 99 100 92
Hiawatha 53 7,046 93 94 102
Grimes 54 8,341 92 93 97
Altoona 55 14,563 92 93 97
Pella 56 10,365 92 93 97
Waverly 57 9,881 90 97 100
Ames 58 59,206 86 91 97
De Witt 59 5,299 99 100 92
Decorah 60 8,097 90 97 100
Davenport 61 99,781 99 100 92
Cedar Rapids 62 126,921 93 94 102
Glenwood 63 5,276 95 95 102
Orange City 64 6,054 95 95 102
Dubuque 65 57,727 103 98 96
Ankeny 66 45,732 92 93 97
Cedar Falls 67 39,197 90 97 100
Marion 68 34,750 93 94 102
Pleasant Hill 69 8,678 92 93 97
Waukee 70 14,108 92 93 97
West Des Moines 71 57,041 92 93 97
Urbandale 72 39,426 92 93 97
Sioux Center 73 7,055 95 95 102
Clive 74 15,557 92 93 97
Johnston 75 17,316 92 93 97
North Liberty 76 13,330 93 94 102
Iowa City 77 68,364 93 94 102
Eldridge 78 5,630 99 100 92
Coralville 79 18,931 93 94 102
Bettendorf 80 33,347 99 100 92

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