The 10 Best Counties To Live In Iowa For 2021


Using science and data, we can tell you which counties in Iowa have the most for people looking to make the move to Iowa.

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Some of you might be asking yourself, at this very moment: is Iowa a good place?

The answer is unequivocally yes… if you know where to locate the best places to live in Iowa.

Lucky for you, we’re here to help you identify the best counties to live in the Hawkeye State based on the most recently available data from the Census. And this isn’t our first rodeo — we’ve been helping people find the best places to live in America for years.

So, the question becomes, if you wanted to relocate to the best part of Iowa, where would you go? To answer that we looked at crime, cost of living, and demographic data for all 99 counties in the state.

After the analytic dust settled, we identified the 10 best counties to live in Hawkeye State for 2021.

Bremer County is the county to be when it comes to living the good life in Iowa. And you might want to avoid Decatur County if you can — at least according to the data.

So if you’re thinking of making the move Iowa, we’ve got you covered. Keep on reading for a detailed methodology.

Or, check out the best places to live in Iowa and the cheapest places to live in Iowa.

The Best Counties To Live In Iowa For 2021

1. Bremer County

Sumner, IA

Biggest Place: Waverly

Population: 24,864
Median Income: $70,395 (4th best)
Median Home Price: $165,700.0 (12th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.3% (2best)
More on Bremer County: PhotosData

2. Winneshiek County

Decorah, IA

Biggest Place: Decorah

Population: 20,262
Median Income: $65,263 (12th best)
Median Home Price: $177,300.0 (8th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (11th best)
More on Winneshiek County: PhotosData

3. Grundy County

Biggest Place: Grundy Center

Population: 12,299
Median Income: $68,038 (6th best)
Median Home Price: $130,200.0 (33rd best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.2% (17th best)
More on Grundy County: Data

4. Madison County

West Des Moines, IA

Biggest Place: West Des Moines

Population: 16,012
Median Income: $66,316 (11th best)
Median Home Price: $177,500.0 (7th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (3best)
More on Madison County: PhotosData

5. Cedar County

Durant, IA

Biggest Place: Tipton

Population: 18,457
Median Income: $67,795 (7th best)
Median Home Price: $156,000.0 (18th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (46th best)
More on Cedar County: PhotosData

6. Dallas County

Adel, IA

Biggest Place: West Des Moines

Population: 87,099
Median Income: $88,479 (best)
Median Home Price: $248,100.0 (best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.7% (30th best)
More on Dallas County: PhotosData

7. Benton County

Belle Plaine, IA

Biggest Place: Vinton

Population: 25,636
Median Income: $67,729 (8th best)
Median Home Price: $157,200.0 (16th best)
Unemployment Rate: 3.0% (38th best)
More on Benton County: PhotosData

8. Marion County

Knoxville, IA

Biggest Place: Pella

Population: 33,172
Median Income: $61,038 (27th best)
Median Home Price: $157,300.0 (15th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.2% (16th best)
More on Marion County: PhotosData

9. Carroll County

Carroll, IA

Biggest Place: Carroll

Population: 20,281
Median Income: $59,212 (34th best)
Median Home Price: $138,900.0 (26th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.0% (13th best)
More on Carroll County: PhotosData

10. Boone County

Boone, IA

Biggest Place: Boone

Population: 26,370
Median Income: $64,000 (16th best)
Median Home Price: $132,700.0 (30th best)
Unemployment Rate: 2.8% (32nd best)
More on Boone County: PhotosData

How do you determine which Iowa county is the best?

To give you the best county in Iowa, we have to look at a handful of metrics that signal the quality of a place. To do that, we need to make some assumptions about what’s a “best county” and what isn’t. And, for reference, we are trying to make the kind of argument you’d make at a bar using facts, don’t take this analysis to court.

With that in mind, we went to two of the best sources of data on the internet; the American Community Survey data and FBI Crime data for the most recent time period.

We paid particular attention to:

  • Violent Crime Rates
  • Property Crime Rates
  • Median Home Values
  • Median Income
  • Unemployment Rates
  • Adult Education Levels
  • Health Insurance Coverage
  • Poverty Rates

We then ranked each county in Iowa across each of the criteria from one to 99, with one being the best.

Taking the average rank across all criteria, we created a quality of life score with the county posting the lowest overall score being the “Best County To Live In Iowa”.

The result is some of the safest, quiet, and best counties to raise a family in the Hawkeye State.

Read on to see why Bremer County is the best county, while Decatur County is probably in contention for being the worst county in Iowa.

There You Have It – The Best Counties In Iowa To Call Home For 2018

It turns out living in Iowa can vary from one part of the state to the next — who woulda thought?

But now you the know the really good parts and the parts to avoid and that’s why you came here to learn at the end of the day. And for that, you are welcome.

Here’s a look at the worst counties in Iowa according to the data:

  1. Decatur County
  2. Van Buren County
  3. Wapello County

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Counties In Iowa

County Rank Population Median Income Median Home Price
Bremer County 1 24,864 $70,395 $165,700.0
Winneshiek County 2 20,262 $65,263 $177,300.0
Grundy County 3 12,299 $68,038 $130,200.0
Madison County 4 16,012 $66,316 $177,500.0
Cedar County 5 18,457 $67,795 $156,000.0
Dallas County 6 87,099 $88,479 $248,100.0
Benton County 7 25,636 $67,729 $157,200.0
Marion County 8 33,172 $61,038 $157,300.0
Carroll County 9 20,281 $59,212 $138,900.0
Boone County 10 26,370 $64,000 $132,700.0
Warren County 11 50,076 $77,048 $187,200.0
Dickinson County 12 17,127 $59,969 $194,300.0
Iowa County 13 16,189 $61,443 $152,500.0
Sioux County 14 34,827 $69,844 $167,500.0
Buchanan County 15 21,118 $64,837 $142,500.0
Lyon County 16 11,776 $64,982 $146,900.0
Plymouth County 17 25,068 $67,297 $163,500.0
Delaware County 18 17,183 $63,750 $136,100.0
Shelby County 19 11,606 $58,000 $121,200.0
Mills County 20 15,034 $72,079 $168,900.0
Chickasaw County 21 12,026 $60,034 $119,100.0
Jasper County 22 36,971 $58,952 $134,200.0
Hancock County 23 10,802 $61,761 $102,200.0
Jones County 24 20,559 $57,549 $138,400.0
Dubuque County 25 96,982 $63,031 $166,800.0
Mitchell County 26 10,608 $58,302 $119,400.0
Guthrie County 27 10,669 $61,161 $117,900.0
Linn County 28 223,861 $64,903 $157,000.0
Ida County 29 6,901 $58,427 $100,900.0
Palo Alto County 30 9,003 $52,932 $102,200.0
Harrison County 31 14,089 $63,854 $120,600.0
Muscatine County 32 42,889 $58,453 $130,500.0
Hardin County 33 17,061 $54,196 $94,300.0
Greene County 34 8,950 $53,050 $94,700.0
Hamilton County 35 14,997 $60,910 $106,100.0
Fremont County 36 6,946 $56,750 $109,300.0
Butler County 37 14,628 $57,115 $116,700.0
Winnebago County 38 10,534 $49,870 $94,800.0
Johnson County 39 148,577 $62,542 $227,600.0
Story County 40 96,941 $56,756 $185,800.0
Sac County 41 9,802 $58,232 $95,800.0
Kossuth County 42 14,978 $56,073 $102,100.0
O’brien County 43 13,835 $53,703 $107,000.0
Clay County 44 16,211 $50,521 $124,100.0
Humboldt County 45 9,554 $54,575 $103,800.0
Davis County 46 8,920 $63,404 $115,000.0
Polk County 47 479,612 $67,637 $179,900.0
Scott County 48 172,446 $61,183 $163,200.0
Poweshiek County 49 18,388 $53,852 $141,100.0
Henry County 50 19,941 $53,501 $115,500.0
Wright County 51 12,739 $53,333 $85,500.0
Cerro Gordo County 52 42,834 $53,963 $128,600.0
Washington County 53 22,100 $62,556 $151,600.0
Cherokee County 54 11,343 $56,550 $106,700.0
Ringgold County 55 4,964 $55,271 $98,700.0
Worth County 56 7,445 $57,130 $106,700.0
Franklin County 57 10,162 $56,419 $94,100.0
Howard County 58 9,226 $55,060 $107,100.0
Fayette County 59 19,803 $51,128 $104,100.0
Jackson County 60 19,401 $55,967 $128,200.0
Woodbury County 61 102,586 $59,224 $123,300.0
Adair County 62 7,085 $53,363 $104,600.0
Monroe County 63 7,807 $58,269 $100,200.0
Calhoun County 64 9,744 $52,323 $82,000.0
Allamakee County 65 13,813 $52,216 $130,400.0
Keokuk County 66 10,188 $52,881 $90,400.0
Mahaska County 67 22,164 $54,825 $115,300.0
Pottawattamie County 68 93,393 $60,065 $139,800.0
Tama County 69 17,032 $56,037 $110,400.0
Audubon County 70 5,571 $52,055 $79,500.0
Clayton County 71 17,625 $53,152 $121,700.0
Osceola County 72 6,052 $59,725 $93,700.0
Emmet County 73 9,438 $51,563 $89,300.0
Page County 74 15,268 $51,867 $94,400.0
Clinton County 75 46,909 $51,688 $118,100.0
Black Hawk County 76 132,393 $53,539 $147,500.0
Monona County 77 8,730 $47,605 $86,900.0
Cass County 78 13,091 $50,187 $102,100.0
Pocahontas County 79 6,797 $52,448 $76,000.0
Lucas County 80 8,583 $55,205 $96,400.0
Jefferson County 81 18,148 $47,708 $118,300.0
Montgomery County 82 10,053 $51,696 $85,700.0
Clarke County 83 9,360 $54,427 $110,300.0
Buena Vista County 84 20,058 $57,125 $115,600.0
Louisa County 85 11,178 $56,673 $108,800.0
Lee County 86 34,227 $49,564 $94,500.0
Marshall County 87 39,964 $56,437 $106,000.0
Des Moines County 88 39,386 $51,267 $108,500.0
Crawford County 89 17,034 $55,755 $93,400.0
Union County 90 12,358 $49,900 $104,000.0
Webster County 91 36,545 $47,466 $99,100.0
Adams County 92 3,670 $49,255 $87,500.0
Floyd County 93 15,786 $50,406 $106,200.0
Taylor County 94 6,167 $50,431 $80,600.0
Appanoose County 95 12,452 $40,167 $81,400.0
Wayne County 96 6,429 $44,768 $81,100.0
Wapello County 97 35,141 $46,246 $82,100.0
Van Buren County 98 7,150 $48,591 $92,800.0
Decatur County 99 7,979 $44,462 $83,200.0
Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the best counties to live in Iowa.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.