These Are The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Iowa For 2019


We used science and data to determine which cities in Iowa that will put a big dent in your wallet.

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Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the most expensive places to live in Iowa.

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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 Coralville.

Here are the 10 most expensive places to live in Iowa for 2019:

  1. Coralville (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Cedar Falls (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Winterset (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Iowa City (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. North Liberty (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Hiawatha (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. West Des Moines (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Pella (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Ames (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Indianola (Photos | Homes For Sale)

So hopefully Cherokee (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

Coralville, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 20,250
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.6x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 67.4x (26th most expensive)
More on Coralville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

Cedar Falls, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 41,167
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (9th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 71.9x (36th most expensive)
More on Cedar Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

Winterset, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,157
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (10th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.7x (10th most expensive)
More on Winterset: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

Iowa City, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 73,415
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 49.8x (2nd most expensive)
More on Iowa City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

North Liberty, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 17,721
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 9)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.5x (32nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 71.9x (34th most expensive)
More on North Liberty: Real Estate | Data | Photos

North Liberty 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 median income in North Liberty comes in at $80,426 and the median home value is $197,700 for 2019.

Hiawatha, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 7,262
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.3x (4th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 52.7x (4th most expensive)
More on Hiawatha: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

West Des Moines, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 62,999
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (15th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 76.5x (46th most expensive)
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

Pella, IA

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 10,243
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (13th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.8x (45th most expensive)
More on Pella: Real Estate | Data | Photos

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.

Ames, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 65,005
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.4x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 48.8x (1st most expensive)
More on Ames: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Ames is a city located in the central part of Story County, Iowa, United States. It is located approximately 30 miles (48 km) 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 (Boone County, Iowa), 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 (13 km) east of Ames.

The median income in Ames comes in at $42,755 and the median home value is $187,000 for 2019.

Indianola, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 15,489
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 5)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 74.1x (42nd most expensive)
More on Indianola: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Indianola is a city in Warren County, Iowa, United States, 18 miles south of Des Moines, Iowa. The population was 14,782 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Warren County.

The median income in Indianola comes in at $55,634 and the median home value is $155,600 for 2019.

HHow We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Hawkeye State For 2019

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Iowa
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. 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 Coralville.

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 Coralville 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:

  1. Cherokee
  2. Clarinda
  3. Keokuk

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In Iowa

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Coralville 18.67 20,250 3.6x 67.4x
2 Cedar Falls 23.0 41,167 2.9x 71.9x
3 Winterset 24.0 5,157 2.9x 59.7x
4 Iowa City 24.67 73,415 4.4x 49.8x
5 North Liberty 24.67 17,721 2.5x 71.9x
6 Hiawatha 25.67 7,262 3.3x 52.7x
7 West Des Moines 25.67 62,999 2.8x 76.5x
8 Pella 25.67 10,243 2.8x 75.8x
9 Ames 26.33 65,005 4.4x 48.8x
10 Indianola 27.33 15,489 2.8x 74.1x
11 Dubuque 27.67 58,410 2.7x 66.9x
12 Johnston 28.0 20,172 2.6x 84.2x
13 Des Moines 28.67 214,778 2.5x 62.7x
14 Grinnell 30.0 9,028 3.0x 63.2x
15 Eldridge 30.0 6,231 3.3x 92.2x
16 Ankeny 30.67 56,237 2.5x 80.3x
17 Bettendorf 31.0 35,293 2.6x 82.7x
18 Council Bluffs 31.33 62,317 2.3x 62.4x
19 Fairfield 31.33 10,125 2.8x 55.9x
20 Pleasant Hill 31.33 9,608 2.5x 81.7x
21 Davenport 31.67 102,268 2.5x 67.3x
22 Sheldon 32.67 5,060 2.8x 76.7x
23 Washington 32.67 7,358 2.4x 56.7x
24 Waterloo 33.33 68,146 2.5x 62.1x
25 Clive 33.33 17,134 2.6x 103.2x
26 Asbury 34.33 5,338 2.7x 120.3x
27 Bondurant 34.33 5,457 2.4x 78.4x
28 Urbandale 35.0 42,222 2.5x 98.9x
29 Decorah 35.0 7,850 3.0x 92.4x
30 Independence 35.33 6,013 2.4x 69.1x
31 Clear Lake 35.33 7,612 2.7x 83.5x
32 Waverly 36.67 10,052 2.6x 95.6x
33 Sioux Center 36.67 7,450 2.6x 100.3x
34 Muscatine 37.0 23,852 2.1x 63.0x
35 Cedar Rapids 37.0 130,330 2.4x 78.0x
36 Spencer 37.33 11,132 2.7x 73.5x
37 Waukee 37.67 17,980 2.3x 87.4x
38 Carroll 40.33 9,937 3.1x 77.1x
39 Storm Lake 41.0 10,738 2.4x 75.7x
40 Le Mars 41.0 9,861 2.6x 105.0x
41 Mason City 41.33 27,453 2.3x 69.4x
42 Grimes 41.67 11,139 2.2x 91.6x
43 Sioux City 42.0 82,568 2.1x 67.3x
44 Algona 42.0 5,488 2.4x 84.6x
45 Fort Dodge 42.0 24,566 2.4x 61.3x
46 Altoona 42.0 17,354 2.2x 92.1x
47 Atlantic 42.33 6,787 2.4x 62.5x
48 Burlington 43.0 25,330 2.1x 56.3x
49 Mount Pleasant 43.33 8,467 2.3x 72.1x
50 Anamosa 44.33 5,420 2.3x 62.9x
51 Perry 44.33 7,747 2.1x 57.9x
52 Glenwood 45.67 5,271 2.3x 93.7x
53 Newton 46.0 15,085 2.0x 70.0x
54 Centerville 46.0 5,503 2.2x 57.0x
55 Nevada 46.0 6,790 2.2x 91.6x
56 Oskaloosa 46.67 11,531 2.3x 67.7x
57 Norwalk 47.0 10,179 2.2x 106.7x
58 Marion 47.0 38,014 2.3x 103.7x
59 Boone 47.0 12,538 2.2x 77.1x
60 Orange City 47.33 6,123 2.2x 100.3x
61 Clinton 47.67 25,892 2.2x 67.4x
62 Estherville 48.0 5,930 1.8x 64.8x
63 Red Oak 48.33 5,475 2.1x 50.8x
64 Marshalltown 48.33 27,440 1.9x 73.2x
65 Vinton 49.33 5,141 2.4x 84.5x
66 Webster City 50.0 7,830 2.0x 70.8x
67 Denison 51.67 8,361 2.0x 80.4x
68 Ottumwa 52.33 24,705 1.9x 61.3x
69 Knoxville 53.0 7,202 2.1x 73.6x
70 Fort Madison 53.33 10,634 1.8x 69.3x
71 Oelwein 53.33 6,093 1.6x 65.1x
72 Charles City 54.0 7,427 2.2x 73.4x
73 Creston 54.67 7,860 2.0x 71.9x
74 Manchester 55.67 5,047 2.1x 97.4x
75 Iowa Falls 56.0 5,132 1.8x 82.8x
76 Maquoketa 56.33 5,954 1.9x 76.7x
77 Keokuk 57.0 10,484 1.7x 63.3x
78 Clarinda 59.67 5,377 1.9x 75.3x
79 Cherokee 61.0 5,018 1.9x 82.5x

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