Best places to live in Iowa

Written by:
March 31, 2021
realtor.com

Best places to live in Iowa

What do you look for in an ideal town? Proximity to trails, lakes, and beaches? How about top-ranked schools for your children? Would you like a professional or college sports team nearby, or do you prefer museums and art walks?

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Iowa using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from realtor.com.

On the list, there’s a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.

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#25. Alton

- Population: 1,336
- Median home value: $134,800 (86% own)
- Median rent: $792 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $70,882
- Top public schools: Orange City Elementary School (A), Hospers Elementary School (A), MOC-Floyd Valley Middle School (A)

- Pictured: 806 Park St, Alton ($179,500, 5 bedrooms)
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#24. Robins

- Population: 3,457
- Median home value: $295,200 (96% own)
- Median rent: $1,545 (4% rent)
- Median household income: $131,078
- Top public schools: Indian Creek Elementary School (A), Westfield Elementary School (A), Oak Ridge School (A)

- Pictured: 1715 Maple St, Robins ($955,000, 6 bedrooms)
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#23. Fairfield

- Population: 10,290
- Median home value: $114,200 (58% own)
- Median rent: $681 (42% rent)
- Median household income: $40,920
- Top public schools: Washington Elementary School (B), Fairfield Middle School (B-), Fairfield High School (B-)
- Top private schools: Maharishi School (A+)

- Pictured: 1597 Pleasant Plain Rd, Fairfield ($1.3 million, 6 bedrooms)
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#22. Cedar Falls

- Population: 40,983
- Median home value: $189,100 (63% own)
- Median rent: $875 (37% rent)
- Median household income: $61,420
- Top public schools: Helen A. Hansen Elementary School (A), Holmes Junior High School (A), Peet Junior High School (A)
- Top private schools: Valley Lutheran School (B+)

- Pictured: 4117 Daina Dr, Cedar Falls ($1.3 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#21. Waverly

- Population: 10,094
- Median home value: $173,700 (78% own)
- Median rent: $715 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $64,949
- Top public schools: Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School (A-), Margaretta Carey Elementary School (B+), West Cedar Elementary School (B+)
- Top private schools: St. Paul's Lutheran School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 509 NE 6 St, Waverly ($550,000, 6 bedrooms)
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#20. Huxley

- Population: 3,769
- Median home value: $197,700 (82% own)
- Median rent: $771 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $104,457
- Top public schools: Ballard East Elementary School (B+), Ballard High School (B+), Ballard Middle School (B)

- Pictured: 1820 E 1st St, Huxley ($742,000, 4 bedrooms)
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#19. Gilbert

- Population: 1,013
- Median home value: $206,400 (79% own)
- Median rent: $710 (21% rent)
- Median household income: $88,333
- Top public schools: Gilbert Intermediate School (A), Gilbert High School (A), Gilbert Middle School (A)

- Pictured: 404 Upstill Cir, Gilbert ($425,000, 5 bedrooms)
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#18. Pella

- Population: 10,231
- Median home value: $187,400 (62% own)
- Median rent: $860 (38% rent)
- Median household income: $68,963
- 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 School (unavailable), Peoria Christian School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 505 Vintage Ln Unit 11, Pella ($593,332, 3 bedrooms)
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#17. Sioux Center

- Population: 7,534
- Median home value: $208,900 (73% own)
- Median rent: $815 (27% rent)
- Median household income: $74,313
- Top public schools: Sioux Center High School (A-), Kinsey Elementary School (B+), Sioux Center Middle School (B)
- Top private schools: Sioux Center Christian School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 2410 Ridge Rd, Sioux Center ($1.2 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#16. Decorah

- Population: 7,701
- Median home value: $189,700 (71% own)
- Median rent: $634 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $62,336
- Top public schools: Decorah High School (A), Decorah Middle School (A), Carrie Lee Elementary School (A-)
- Top private schools: St. Benedict School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 2312 State Highway 9, Decorah ($885,000, 3 bedrooms)
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#15. Ankeny

- Population: 61,938
- Median home value: $220,100 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,073 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $86,486
- Top public schools: Ankeny Centennial High School (A), Prairie Trail Elementary School (A), Prairie Ridge Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Ankeny Christian Academy (B+), Ankeny KinderCare (unavailable), Cadence Academy Preschool - Ankeny (unavailable)

- Pictured: 8692 NW 16th St, Ankeny ($1.9 million, 4 bedrooms)
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#14. Iowa City

- Population: 74,950
- Median home value: $215,100 (48% own)
- Median rent: $967 (52% rent)
- Median household income: $49,075
- Top public schools: West Senior High School (A+), Iowa City High School (A), Lincoln Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Regina Catholic Education Center (A-), Willowwind School (unavailable), Cadence Academy Preschool - Iowa City (unavailable)

- Pictured: 4591 SE Sand Rd, Iowa City ($1.2 million, 4 bedrooms)
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#13. North Liberty

- Population: 18,829
- Median home value: $220,800 (69% own)
- Median rent: $1,110 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $83,949
- Top public schools: West Senior High School (A+), James Van Allen Elementary School (A-), North Central Junior High School (A-)
- Top private schools: Heritage Christian School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 2101 Scales Bend Rd NE, North Liberty ($4.0 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#12. Orange City

- Population: 6,127
- Median home value: $171,300 (78% own)
- Median rent: $679 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $72,857
- 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+)

- Pictured: 4830 Ibex Ave, Orange City ($415,000, 4 bedrooms)
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#11. Johnston

- Population: 21,406
- Median home value: $268,300 (72% own)
- Median rent: $1,146 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $96,948
- Top public schools: Prairie Trail Elementary School (A), Johnston Middle School (A), Henry A. Wallace Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Cadence Academy Preschool - Johnston (unavailable)

- Pictured: 10075 NW Beaver Dr, Johnston ($2.8 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#10. Urbandale

- Population: 43,441
- Median home value: $237,500 (78% own)
- Median rent: $935 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $90,858
- Top public schools: Eason Elementary School (A), Waukee Middle School (A), Johnston Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: Des Moines Christian School (A-), St. Pius X. School (unavailable), Gospel Assembly Christian Academy (unavailable)

- Pictured: 14803 Brookview Dr, Urbandale ($1.4 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#9. Le Claire

- Population: 3,971
- Median home value: $224,800 (80% own)
- Median rent: $858 (20% rent)
- Median household income: $86,250
- Top public schools: Pleasant Valley Junior High School (A+), Pleasant Valley High School (A+), Bridgeview Elementary (A+)

- Pictured: 3 Cobblestone Ln, Le Claire ($489,900, 5 bedrooms)
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#8. Ames

- Population: 66,023
- Median home value: $205,900 (41% own)
- Median rent: $930 (59% rent)
- Median household income: $48,105
- 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), Eagle's Left Early Learning Center (unavailable)

- Pictured: 103 S Hyland Ave, Ames ($1.5 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#7. Coralville

- Population: 21,103
- Median home value: $227,700 (51% own)
- Median rent: $896 (49% rent)
- Median household income: $60,321
- Top public schools: West Senior High School (A+), Iowa City High School (A), Lincoln Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Montessori School of Iowa City (unavailable)

- Pictured: 190 Auburn East Ln, Coralville ($850,000, 5 bedrooms)
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#6. Waukee

- Population: 20,785
- Median home value: $238,900 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,130 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $94,580
- Top public schools: Grant Ragan Elementary School (A), Eason Elementary School (A), Waukee Middle School (A)
- Top private schools: The Goddard School - Waukee (unavailable)

- Pictured: 50 Ford Ln, Waukee ($1.2 million, 6 bedrooms)
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#5. Mount Vernon

- Population: 4,451
- Median home value: $203,400 (69% own)
- Median rent: $757 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $71,552
- Top public schools: Mount Vernon High School (A-), Washington Elementary School (A-), Mount Vernon Middle School (A-)

- Pictured: 165 S Highway 1, Mount Vernon ($875,000, 7 bedrooms)
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#4. Clive

- Population: 17,167
- Median home value: $264,300 (76% own)
- Median rent: $984 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $104,839
- Top public schools: Eason Elementary School (A), Waukee Middle School (A), Valley High School (A)
- Top private schools: Cadence Academy Preschool - Clive (unavailable)

- Pictured: 13700 Lake Shore Dr, Clive ($4.0 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#3. West Des Moines

- Population: 65,606
- Median home value: $218,500 (61% own)
- Median rent: $1,017 (39% rent)
- Median household income: $76,368
- Top public schools: Valley High School (A), Waukee Senior High School (A), Brookview Elementary School (A)
- Top private schools: Dowling Catholic High School (A), St. Francis of Assisi School (unavailable), Sacred Heart School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 3700 Fuller Rd, West Des Moines ($3.0 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#2. Bettendorf

- Population: 35,919
- Median home value: $225,300 (75% own)
- Median rent: $914 (25% rent)
- Median household income: $82,153
- Top public schools: Hopewell Elementary (A+), Pleasant View Elementary (A+), Pleasant Valley Junior High School (A+)
- Top private schools: Rivermont Collegiate (A+), Morning Star Academy (B+), Lourdes Catholic School (unavailable)

- Pictured: 3949 Forest Grove Dr, Bettendorf ($1.7 million, 5 bedrooms)
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#1. University Heights

- Population: 1,159
- Median home value: $295,700 (52% own)
- Median rent: $1,500 (48% rent)
- Median household income: $68,533
- Top public schools: West Senior High School (A+), Norman Borlaug Elementary School (B+), Ernest Horn Elementary School (B)

- Pictured: 24 Olive Ct, Iowa City ($414,000, 3 bedrooms)

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