Everyone wants a home that mixes affordability with comfort and Iowa does this very well. Families love the Hawkeye State’s beaches, midlands, and mountains as tourists before moving here and calling it home.
But before you decide to relocate, you have to do some research into the exact cost of living around the state — and that’s how we’re going to help you.
These are the places in Iowa that cost a pretty penny — the most expensive cities in the state.
After we saved up for months and could finally afford it, we landed on this list of the ten most expensive cities in Iowa for 2019.
So where is the most expensive place to live in Iowa? That would be Iowa City.
So hopefully Iowa Falls (the cheapest place to live in Iowa) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.
And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about Iowa and the most expensive cities in the country:
The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Iowa For 2019
Iowa City is a city in Johnson County, Iowa, United States. It is the home of the University of Iowa and county seat of Johnson County, at the center of the Iowa City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city’s population at 74,398 in 2016, making it the state’s fifth-largest city. Iowa City is the county seat of Johnson County. The metropolitan area, which encompasses Johnson and Washington counties, has a population of over 164,000.
The median income in Iowa City comes in at $45,991 and the median home value is $202,200 for 2019.
Ames is a city located in the central part of Story County, Iowa, United States. It is located approximately 30 miles north of Des Moines, and had a 2010 population of 58,965. The U.S. Census Bureau designates the Ames metropolitan statistical area as encompassing all of Story County; combined with the Boone, Iowa micropolitan statistical area, the pair make up the larger Ames-Boone combined statistical area. While Ames is the largest city in Story County, the county seat is in the nearby city of Nevada 8 miles east of Ames.
The median income in Ames comes in at $42,755 and the median home value is $187,000 for 2019.
Coralville is a city in Johnson County, Iowa, United States. It is a suburb of Iowa City and part of the Iowa City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 18,907 at the 2010 census.
The median income in Coralville comes in at $57,990 and the median home value is $206,800 for 2019.
Hiawatha is a city in Linn County, Iowa, United States. It is a suburb located north of Cedar Rapids and is part of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,024 in the 2010 census, an increase from 6,480 in 2000.
The median income in Hiawatha comes in at $43,280 and the median home value is $140,900 for 2019.
Winterset is a city in Madison County, Iowa, United States. The population was 5,190 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Madison County. Winterset is part of the Des Moines West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area. Winterset is the birthplace of actor John Wayne.
The median income in Winterset comes in at $48,194 and the median home value is $140,000 for 2019.
Grinnell is a city in Poweshiek County, Iowa, United States. The population was 9,218 at the 2010 census.
The median income in Grinnell comes in at $44,525 and the median home value is $133,800 for 2019.
Cedar Falls is a city in Black Hawk County, Iowa, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 39,260 and has the smaller population of the two principal cities in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan area. It is home to the University of Northern Iowa, a public university.
The median income in Cedar Falls comes in at $58,855 and the median home value is $173,600 for 2019.
West Des Moines is a city in Polk, Dallas, and Warren counties in the US state of Iowa. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 56,609. West Des Moines is the second-largest city in the Des Moines metropolitan area and the tenth-largest city in Iowa. It ranked 94th in Money magazine’s list of the “100 Best Places to Live and Launch” in 2008, 77th and 57th on the 100 Best Places to Live in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and 18th on the Hipster Cities of 2015.
The median income in West Des Moines comes in at $73,764 and the median home value is $203,300 for 2019.
Fairfield is a city in, and the county seat of, Jefferson County, Iowa, United States. It has a population totaling 9,464 people according to the 2010 census. It is a Midwestern city surrounded by rolling farmlands filled with corn, soybean, cattle, and hogs with a median family income of $46,138. The city became the county seat in 1839 with 110 residents and grew to 650 by 1847. Its library was established in 1853, and it held its first fair in 1854. Early architecture includes work by George Franklin Barber and Barry Byrne, who trained under Frank Lloyd Wright.
The median income in Fairfield comes in at $36,781 and the median home value is $104,100 for 2019.
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.
The median income in Pella comes in at $64,527 and the median home value is $181,900 for 2019.
How We Determined The Most Expensive 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 most 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 highest cost of living in Iowa according to the data is Iowa City.
Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Iowa For 2019
Well there you have it, the places in Iowa that have the highest cost of living, with Iowa City ranking as the most expensive city in the Hawkeye State.
Here’s a look at the most affordable cities in Iowa according to the data:
- Iowa Falls
For more Iowa reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Iowa
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Iowa
- 10 Safest Places In Iowa
Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Iowa
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