The 10 Best Small Towns In Iowa For 2021


We used science and data to determine which small towns in Iowa are the best of the best.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. This is our seventh time ranking the best small places to live in Iowa.

You've seen these lists before: Best places to live in Iowa, Most Beautiful Downtowns, etc., etc. But all of them focus on major cities and towns in the Hawkeye State and no one pays attention to the little guy.

Well, that's all about to change as we put together a list of the best small towns in Iowa based on numbers--not opinions or hearsay.

We'll dive right into our methodology in the next section; but first, we thought you might just want to know which places in Iowa ranked the based--you know, based on science.

Before we get to the top 15, here's a look at the 10 Best Small Towns To Live in Iowa for 2021.

The 10 Best Small Towns To Live In Iowa For 2021

  1. Mount Vernon
  2. Fairfax
  3. Walford
  4. Garner
  5. Treynor
  6. University Heights
  7. Robins
  8. Roland
  9. Hull
  10. Atkins

What's the best small town in Iowa? Mount Vernon is the best small town in Iowa based on the most recent Census data. If you live in one of these small towns like Mount Vernon, chances are, you're not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you--keep reading and we'll get to just why these small towns made our list.

For more reading on the Hawkeye State check out:

The 15 Best Small Towns In Iowa For 2021

Mount Vernon, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 4,451
Median Income: $71,552 (35th Best)
Median Home Value: $203,400 (17th Best)
More on Mount Vernon: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,680
Median Income: $97,643 (5th Best)
Median Home Value: $221,400 (11th Best)
More on Fairfax: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,385
Median Income: $107,045 (2nd Best)
Median Home Value: $215,000 (13th Best)
More on Walford: Data | Homes For Sale

Garner, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,059
Median Income: $69,831 (41st Best)
Median Home Value: $125,800 (79th Best)
More on Garner: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

5. Treynor

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,022
Median Income: $80,278 (20th Best)
Median Home Value: $162,500 (37th Best)
More on Treynor:  | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 1,159
Median Income: $68,533 (44th Best)
Median Home Value: $295,700 (1st Best)
More on University Heights: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 3,457
Median Income: $131,078 (1st Best)
Median Home Value: $295,200 (2nd Best)
More on Robins: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,408
Median Income: $76,413 (28th Best)
Median Home Value: $146,300 (56th Best)
More on Roland: Data | Homes For Sale

Hull, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,089
Median Income: $70,625 (38th Best)
Median Home Value: $146,900 (55th Best)
More on Hull: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,991
Median Income: $95,455 (8th Best)
Median Home Value: $223,500 (10th Best)
More on Atkins: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 4,798
Median Income: $97,292 (6th Best)
Median Home Value: $229,800 (7th Best)
More on Sergeant Bluff: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,294
Median Income: $83,854 (16th Best)
Median Home Value: $202,500 (18th Best)
More on Dike: Data | Homes For Sale

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,013
Median Income: $88,333 (13th Best)
Median Home Value: $206,400 (16th Best)
More on Gilbert: Data | Homes For Sale

Source: Public Domain
Overall SnackAbility

9
/10

Population: 3,377
Median Income: $77,656 (24th Best)
Median Home Value: $145,500 (58th Best)
More on Story City: Data | Homes For Sale

Solon, IA

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 2,615
Median Income: $81,691 (17th Best)
Median Home Value: $253,800 (3rd Best)
More on Solon: PhotosData | Homes For Sale

How We Determined The Coolest Towns In Iowa

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent data from the Census's 2015-2019 American Community Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is the criteria we used:

  • Population Density (Higher is better)
  • Lowest Unemployment Rates
  • Housing costs (Higher is better. More demand.)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Higher is better)
  • Highly Educated Adults (Higher is better)
  • Insurance Rates (Higher is better)
  • Commute Times (Lower is better)

We looked at places with populations lower than 5,000 people and greater than 1,000, of which, there were a lot - 210 to be exact.

We then ranked each place in each category with scores from 1 to 210, averaged them out, and the lowest scores went to our Best Small Towns in Iowa. Top of that list -- Mount Vernon. You can download the data here.

Keep reading to find out more about our top 15 best small towns in Iowa.

Science Can Tackle Any Issue, Even Small Ones

We said it once and we'll say it again -- this list: it's just science. We did the research, we crunched the numbers, and it turns out, these 15 small towns in Iowa are the best, in which to live.

And who can argue with that?

If you're curious, here are the worst small towns in Iowa:

  1. Villisca
  2. Hamburg
  3. Onawa

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Best Small Towns In Iowa

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Value
1 Mount Vernon, IA 4,451 $71,552.0 $203,400.0
2 Fairfax, IA 2,680 $97,643.0 $221,400.0
3 Walford, IA 1,385 $107,045.0 $215,000.0
4 Garner, IA 3,059 $69,831.0 $125,800.0
5 Treynor, IA 1,022 $80,278.0 $162,500.0
6 University Heights, IA 1,159 $68,533.0 $295,700.0
7 Robins, IA 3,457 $131,078.0 $295,200.0
8 Roland, IA 1,408 $76,413.0 $146,300.0
9 Hull, IA 2,089 $70,625.0 $146,900.0
10 Atkins, IA 1,991 $95,455.0 $223,500.0
11 Sergeant Bluff, IA 4,798 $97,292.0 $229,800.0
12 Dike, IA 1,294 $83,854.0 $202,500.0
13 Gilbert, IA 1,013 $88,333.0 $206,400.0
14 Story City, IA 3,377 $77,656.0 $145,500.0
15 Solon, IA 2,615 $81,691.0 $253,800.0
16 Earlham, IA 1,350 $74,706.0 $169,100.0
17 Lawton, IA 1,105 $75,000.0 $171,600.0
18 Durant, IA 1,880 $65,625.0 $161,600.0
19 Huxley, IA 3,769 $104,457.0 $197,700.0
20 Ely, IA 2,227 $94,009.0 $216,400.0
21 Polk City, IA 4,625 $104,750.0 $249,000.0
22 Prairie City, IA 2,091 $76,827.0 $137,100.0
23 Moville, IA 1,812 $68,631.0 $144,800.0
24 Wilton, IA 2,843 $52,538.0 $121,000.0
25 Tiffin, IA 3,351 $78,713.0 $233,000.0
26 Epworth, IA 1,967 $70,238.0 $167,400.0
27 Bellevue, IA 2,157 $61,071.0 $156,500.0
28 Windsor Heights, IA 4,953 $64,230.0 $186,700.0
29 Dyersville, IA 4,130 $61,400.0 $159,200.0
30 Hudson, IA 2,375 $88,347.0 $194,000.0
31 Le Claire, IA 3,971 $86,250.0 $224,800.0
32 Center Point, IA 2,543 $80,577.0 $164,200.0
33 Farley, IA 1,592 $78,750.0 $160,500.0
34 Alton, IA 1,336 $70,882.0 $134,800.0
35 Sloan, IA 1,215 $64,375.0 $135,400.0
36 Peosta, IA 1,910 $91,563.0 $231,600.0
37 Traer, IA 1,547 $60,673.0 $118,400.0
38 Elk Run Heights, IA 1,009 $60,156.0 $139,000.0
39 Slater, IA 1,585 $74,219.0 $164,300.0
40 Calmar, IA 1,009 $59,250.0 $136,300.0
41 Lone Tree, IA 1,312 $62,137.0 $156,200.0
42 Denver, IA 1,726 $67,228.0 $162,800.0
43 Granger, IA 1,756 $95,590.0 $210,700.0
44 Rock Rapids, IA 2,545 $58,387.0 $140,900.0
45 Emmetsburg, IA 3,728 $49,563.0 $112,900.0
46 Parkersburg, IA 1,940 $55,304.0 $153,800.0
47 Osage, IA 3,568 $54,274.0 $105,700.0
48 Lisbon, IA 2,493 $73,194.0 $154,600.0
49 Reinbeck, IA 1,610 $62,574.0 $123,400.0
50 Van Meter, IA 1,239 $94,375.0 $169,300.0
51 Fruitland, IA 1,036 $79,583.0 $170,800.0
52 Milford, IA 3,004 $53,625.0 $145,700.0
53 Mechanicsville, IA 1,126 $64,704.0 $105,900.0
54 Urbana, IA 1,517 $88,333.0 $151,600.0
55 Madrid, IA 2,578 $63,895.0 $135,700.0
56 Monticello, IA 3,837 $53,068.0 $120,400.0
57 Kingsley, IA 1,593 $61,394.0 $125,000.0
58 Palo, IA 1,044 $76,944.0 $191,900.0
59 Woodbine, IA 1,488 $56,923.0 $109,900.0
60 Alta, IA 2,039 $59,000.0 $111,000.0
61 Mediapolis, IA 1,795 $59,545.0 $118,800.0
62 Newhall, IA 1,029 $61,641.0 $137,700.0
63 Jewell Junction, IA 1,187 $67,188.0 $112,600.0
64 Adel, IA 4,588 $65,000.0 $180,300.0
65 Grundy Center, IA 2,675 $63,819.0 $115,900.0
66 Remsen, IA 1,833 $59,306.0 $133,800.0
67 Arnolds Park, IA 1,009 $48,188.0 $225,000.0
68 Dysart, IA 1,391 $68,500.0 $124,900.0
69 Williamsburg, IA 3,152 $71,055.0 $159,700.0
70 Blue Grass, IA 1,568 $80,455.0 $170,200.0
71 Jesup, IA 2,806 $72,500.0 $156,600.0
72 Kalona, IA 2,520 $58,446.0 $162,800.0
73 Glidden, IA 1,131 $65,625.0 $108,800.0
74 Sumner, IA 2,175 $64,018.0 $88,000.0
75 West Branch, IA 2,249 $61,964.0 $159,800.0
76 Wapello, IA 2,005 $66,429.0 $113,500.0
77 Logan, IA 1,568 $66,944.0 $118,300.0
78 Baxter, IA 1,004 $59,276.0 $127,800.0
79 New Sharon, IA 1,144 $65,341.0 $111,600.0
80 St. Ansgar, IA 1,159 $63,750.0 $122,400.0
81 Buffalo, IA 1,182 $56,250.0 $121,100.0
82 Holstein, IA 1,294 $58,864.0 $98,400.0
83 Sanborn, IA 1,582 $48,750.0 $95,800.0
84 West Liberty, IA 3,757 $54,365.0 $125,300.0
85 Rock Valley, IA 3,812 $68,766.0 $143,600.0
86 Fairbank, IA 1,249 $66,250.0 $139,900.0
87 Carlisle, IA 4,162 $73,380.0 $148,900.0
88 Harlan, IA 4,845 $52,063.0 $118,400.0
89 Elkader, IA 1,376 $48,542.0 $89,400.0
90 Conrad, IA 1,083 $49,107.0 $106,100.0
91 Park View, IA 2,818 $76,939.0 $171,000.0
92 Springville, IA 1,092 $63,365.0 $128,400.0
93 Brooklyn, IA 1,703 $55,224.0 $104,500.0
94 New Hampton, IA 3,421 $46,913.0 $107,100.0
95 Sigourney, IA 1,867 $45,375.0 $83,700.0
96 Dallas Center, IA 1,515 $66,875.0 $165,100.0
97 Humboldt, IA 4,583 $54,801.0 $117,300.0
98 De Soto, IA 1,025 $67,019.0 $143,000.0
99 Nora Springs, IA 1,535 $58,571.0 $95,400.0
100 Tipton, IA 3,207 $64,013.0 $126,600.0

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.