Best counties to raise a family in Iowa

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June 3, 2021
Stephen Matthew Milligan // Wikimedia Commons

Best counties to raise a family in Iowa

Known in other parts of the world as shires, provinces, or territories, the United States’ counties (also known in certain states as boroughs or parishes) date back to the 1600s, when settlers first came to find freedom from British rule. Today, those counties remain, with the 50 states divided into several, each with its own unique makeup.

For people looking to find a home to raise a family in, choosing a county is an important decision. Most families place affordable homes, safe neighborhoods, a quality school system, and family-friendly activities at the top of their wishlists.

Stacker compiled a list of the best counties to raise a family in Iowa using data from Niche. Niche ranks counties based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, healthcare, recreation and weather.

The list features counties that boast some of the top schools and fun, family-friendly activities for every season. Keep reading to explore the best counties to raise a family. Maybe you’ll find one that suits your brood.

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Idawriter // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Allamakee County

- Population: 13,813
- Median home value: $130,400 (79% own)
- Median rent: $620 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $52,216
- Top public schools: Kee High School (A-), New Albin Elementary School (A-), Waukon Middle School (A-)
- Top private schools: St. Patrick School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Waukon (B+), Lafayette Township (B+), Fairview Township (B+)
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Ann Sullivan-Larson // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Hancock County

- Population: 10,802
- Median home value: $102,200 (77% own)
- Median rent: $642 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $61,761
- Top public schools: West Hancock Middle School (B+), West Hancock High School (B), Garner-Hayfield-Ventura High School (B)
- Top private schools: Kanawha Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Forest City (A-), Garner (A-), Orthel Township (A-)
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David Wilson // Wikimedia

#23. Black Hawk County

- Population: 132,393
- Median home value: $147,500 (65% own)
- Median rent: $801 (35% rent)
- Median household income: $53,539
- Top public schools: Helen A. Hansen Elementary School (A), Holmes Junior High School (A), Peet Junior High School (A)
- Top private schools: Waterloo Christian School (A), Valley Lutheran School (B+), Columbus Catholic School (B+)
- Top places to live: Cedar Falls (A), Hudson (B+), Waterloo (B)
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Nst101 // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Carroll County

- Population: 20,281
- Median home value: $138,900 (76% own)
- Median rent: $621 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $59,212
- Top public schools: Carroll Middle School (A-), Irwin Elementary School (B+), Coon Rapids-Bayard Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Kuemper Catholic School (B)
- Top places to live: Carroll (B+), Washington Township (B+), Breda (B+)
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Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Shelby County

- Population: 11,606
- Median home value: $121,200 (77% own)
- Median rent: $643 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $58,000
- Top public schools: Harlan Community Middle School (A), Harlan High School (A-), Elk Horn-Kimballton High School (B+)
- Top private schools: Shelby County Catholic School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Harlan (A-), Center Township (A-), Monroe Township (A-)
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Ann Sullivan-Larson // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Hamilton County

- Population: 14,997
- Median home value: $106,100 (72% own)
- Median rent: $709 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $60,910
- Top public schools: Northeast Hamilton Elementary School (A-), South Hamilton Elementary School (B+), Stratford Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: St. Thomas Aquinas School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Webster City (B+), Lyon Township (B+), Webster Township (B+)
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Scott A. Miller // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Buena Vista County

- Population: 20,058
- Median home value: $115,600 (65% own)
- Median rent: $706 (35% rent)
- Median household income: $57,125
- Top public schools: Albert City-Truesdale Elementary School (B+), Alta Aurelia High School (B+), Newell-Fonda High School (B)
- Top private schools: St. Mary's Schools (A-)
- Top places to live: Storm Lake (B+), Hayes Township (B+), Washington Township (B+)
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Joe Elliott // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Crawford County

- Population: 17,034
- Median home value: $93,400 (69% own)
- Median rent: $631 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $55,755
- Top public schools: Schleswig Elementary School (B+), Charter Oak-Ute Elementary School (B+), Ar-We-VA Elementary School (B)
- Top private schools: Zion Lutheran School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Denison (B+), Stockholm Township (A-), Schleswig (B)
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Lolwhynot3498 // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Grundy County

- Population: 12,299
- Median home value: $130,200 (82% own)
- Median rent: $633 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $68,038
- Top public schools: Grundy Center Elementary School (A-), Grundy Center Middle School (B+), Dike Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Timothy Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Grant Township (A-), Dike (A-), Washington Township (A-)
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Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Plymouth County

- Population: 25,068
- Median home value: $163,500 (78% own)
- Median rent: $660 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $67,297
- Top public schools: Le Mars Middle School (A-), Hinton Middle School (A-), Akron Westfield Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Gehlen Catholic Schools (A), St. Mary's High School (B), St. Catherine-St. Mary's Grade School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Le Mars (B+), Union Township (A-), Hinton (B+)
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Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Winneshiek County

- Population: 20,262
- Median home value: $177,300 (79% own)
- Median rent: $702 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $65,263
- Top public schools: Decorah High School (A), Decorah Middle School (A), Carrie Lee Elementary School (A-)
- Top private schools: St. Benedict School (unavailable), CFS (Calmar/Festina/Spillville) Catholic School (unavailable), De Sales School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Decorah (A), Decorah Township (A), Springfield Township (A)
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Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Bremer County

- Population: 24,864
- Median home value: $165,700 (83% own)
- Median rent: $661 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $70,395
- Top public schools: Denver Middle School (A), Denver Elementary School (A-), Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School (A-)
- Top private schools: St. Paul's Lutheran School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Waverly (A), Jefferson Township (A-), Denver (A-)
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en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Marion County

- Population: 33,172
- Median home value: $157,300 (71% own)
- Median rent: $721 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $61,038
- Top public schools: Pella Middle School (A), Lincoln Elementary School (A), Jefferson Intermediate School (A-)
- Top private schools: Pella Christian High School (A-), Pella Christian Grade School (unavailable), Peoria Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Pella (A), Knoxville (B), Lake Prairie Township (A)
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Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Lyon County

- Population: 11,776
- Median home value: $146,900 (85% own)
- Median rent: $696 (15% rent)
- Median household income: $64,982
- Top public schools: Central Lyon Elementary School (A-), Central Lyon Senior High School (B+), West Lyon Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Inwood Christian School (unavailable), Northwest Iowa Protestant Reformed School (unavailable), Doon Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Rock Rapids (B+), Rock Township (B+), Larchwood Township (B+)
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Daniel Hartwig // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Marshall County

- Population: 39,964
- Median home value: $106,000 (70% own)
- Median rent: $689 (30% rent)
- Median household income: $56,437
- Top public schools: East Marshall Middle School (B+), West Marshall Middle School (B+), East Marshall Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Marshalltown Area Catholic School (unavailable), Marshalltown Christian School (unavailable), Clemons Lutheran School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Marshalltown (B), Vienna Township (A-), State Center Township (B)
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Tony Webster // Wikicommons

#10. Woodbury County

- Population: 102,586
- Median home value: $123,300 (66% own)
- Median rent: $787 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $59,224
- Top public schools: Bronson Elementary School (A-), Sergeant Bluff-Luton Senior High School (A-), Woodbury Central High School (A-)
- Top private schools: Bishop Heelan Catholic High School (A), Siouxland Community Christian School (B-), Mater Dei School Nativity Center (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Sergeant Bluff (A-), Sioux City (B+), Woodbury Township (A-)
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Lynn Betts // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Warren County

- Population: 50,076
- Median home value: $187,200 (79% own)
- Median rent: $807 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $77,048
- Top public schools: Irving Elementary School (A-), Norwalk Senior High School (A-), Whittier Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: Victory Christian Academy (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Norwalk (A-), Indianola (B+), Carlisle (B+)
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Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Linn County

- Population: 223,861
- Median home value: $157,000 (74% own)
- Median rent: $761 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $64,903
- Top public schools: Indian Creek Elementary School (A), Westfield Elementary School (A), Oak Ridge School (A)
- Top private schools: Xavier High School (A-), Cedar Valley Christian School (B), LaSalle Middle School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Mount Vernon (A+), Robins (A), Marion (A)
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FluffyGryphon // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Dubuque County

- Population: 96,982
- Median home value: $166,800 (73% own)
- Median rent: $783 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $63,031
- Top public schools: Farley Elementary School (A), Epworth Elementary School (A), Dyersville Elementary School (A-)
- Top private schools: Wahlert Catholic High School (A-), Beckman Catholic School (B+), St. Francis Xavier Elementary School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Asbury (A-), Dyersville (A-), Dubuque (A-)
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formulanone // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Scott County

- Population: 172,446
- Median home value: $163,200 (69% own)
- Median rent: $793 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $61,183
- Top public schools: Hopewell Elementary (A+), Pleasant View Elementary (A+), Pleasant Valley Junior High School (A+)
- Top private schools: Rivermont Collegiate (A+), Assumption High School (A), Morning Star Academy (B+)
- Top places to live: Bettendorf (A+), Le Claire (A+), Eldridge (A-)
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Carl Wycoff // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Story County

- Population: 96,941
- Median home value: $185,800 (54% own)
- Median rent: $905 (46% rent)
- Median household income: $56,756
- Top public schools: Ames High School (A+), Gilbert Intermediate School (A), Gilbert High School (A)
- Top private schools: St. Cecilia Elementary School (unavailable), Ames Christian School (unavailable), Nevada Seventh-day Adventist School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Ames (A+), Gilbert (A), Huxley (A)
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Billwhittaker // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Johnson County

- Population: 148,577
- Median home value: $227,600 (58% own)
- Median rent: $972 (42% rent)
- Median household income: $62,542
- Top public schools: West Senior High School (A+), Iowa City High School (A), Lincoln Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Hillcrest Academy (A), Regina Catholic Education Center (A-), Heritage Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: University Heights (A+), Coralville (A+), North Liberty (A+)
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Josejuan05 // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Sioux County

- Population: 34,827
- Median home value: $167,500 (80% own)
- Median rent: $726 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $69,844
- Top public schools: Orange City Elementary School (A), Hospers Elementary School (A), MOC-Floyd Valley Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Unity Christian High School (B+), Western Christian High School (B+), Netherlands Reformed Christian School (C+)
- Top places to live: Orange City (A+), Sioux Center (A), Alton (A)
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Katie Haugland Bowen // Flickr

#2. Polk County

- Population: 479,612
- Median home value: $179,900 (67% own)
- Median rent: $910 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $67,637
- Top public schools: Ankeny Centennial High School (A), Prairie Trail Elementary School (A), Prairie Ridge Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Dowling Catholic High School (A), Des Moines Christian School (A-), Grand View Christian School (A-)
- Top places to live: West Des Moines (A+), Linden Heights (A+), Urbandale (A+)
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Stephen Matthew Milligan // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Dallas County

- Population: 87,099
- Median home value: $248,100 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,045 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $88,479
- Top public schools: Grant Ragan Elementary School (A), Eason Elementary School (A), Waukee Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: St. Francis of Assisi School (unavailable), St. Patrick's Catholic School (unavailable), Dallas Center Christian School (unavailable)
- Top places to live: Clive (A+), Waukee (A+), Adel (A-)

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