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 cities and 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 79 largest places in Iowa, we were left with this set of the best value for your money.
So where is the cheapest place to live in Iowa? That would be Iowa Falls.
So listen up Iowa City (the most expensive place in Iowa) as we explain how we created this ranking. You could learn some things from the rest of the state.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Iowa and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Iowa For 2019
Iowa Falls is a city in Hardin County, Iowa, United States. Iowa Falls is the home of Ellsworth Community College. It is also a regional transportation center, located along U.S. Routes 20 and 65 and the Canadian National and Union Pacific Railroads. The population was 5,238 at the 2010 census. A landmark in the city is its movie theater. Built as the Metropolitan Opera House in 1899, it presented plays, operas, and vaudeville in the town during the first half of the twentieth century, and today is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The median income in Iowa Falls comes in at $50,000 and the median home value is $88,300 for 2019.
Cherokee is a city in Cherokee County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,253 at the 2010 Census, down from 5,369 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Cherokee County.
The median income in Cherokee comes in at $45,103 and the median home value is $83,500 for 2019.
Maquoketa is a city in Jackson county in the U.S. state of Iowa. Located on the Maquoketa River, it is the county seat of Jackson County.
The median income in Maquoketa comes in at $46,173 and the median home value is $87,500 for 2019.
Manchester is a city in Delaware County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,179 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Delaware County. Manchester is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and State Highway 13, and is the largest community in Delaware County.
The median income in Manchester comes in at $52,089 and the median home value is $107,900 for 2019.
Clarinda is a city in and the county seat of Page County, Iowa, United States. It is located in Nodaway Township. The population was 5,572 in the 2010 census, a decline from the 5,690 population in the 2000 census.
The median income in Clarinda comes in at $41,566 and the median home value is $80,700 for 2019.
Oelwein is a city in Fayette County, Iowa, United States. The population was 6,415 at the 2010 census, a decrease of 4.1% from the 2000 census. The largest community in Fayette County, it is located at the junction of State Highways 3 and 150.
The median income in Oelwein comes in at $42,074 and the median home value is $67,900 for 2019.
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.
The median income in Fort Madison comes in at $43,631 and the median home value is $80,400 for 2019.
Denison is a city in Crawford County, Iowa, United States, along the Boyer River. The population was 8,298 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Crawford County.
The median income in Denison comes in at $51,122 and the median home value is $100,200 for 2019.
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.
The median income in Keokuk comes in at $38,750 and the median home value is $67,400 for 2019.
Creston is a city in and the county seat of Union County, Iowa, United States. The population was 7,834 at the 2010 census.
The median income in Creston comes in at $42,198 and the median home value is $85,100 for 2019.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Hawkeye State For 2019
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2013-2017 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics 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” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 79 places in Iowa that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Iowa according to the data is Iowa Falls.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Iowa Cheapskate
If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Iowa, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in iowa for 2019.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Iowa according to the data:
- Iowa City
For more Iowa reading, check out: