The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In Iowa For 2022


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 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the most expensive places to live in Iowa.

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 2022.

So where is the most expensive place to live in Iowa? That would be Iowa City.
the 2016-2020 American Community Survey for the 80 places in Iowa with more than 5,000 people.

Here are the 10 most expensive places to live in Iowa for 2022:

  1. Iowa City
  2. Ames
  3. West Des Moines
  4. Spirit Lake
  5. Coralville
  6. Cedar Falls
  7. Vinton
  8. Grinnell
  9. Anamosa
  10. Pleasant Hill

What's the most expensive place to live in Iowa? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Iowa City is the most expensive place to live in Iowa.

So hopefully Estherville (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 2022

1. Iowa City

Iowa City, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 75,849
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.7x (most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 49.3x (most expensive)
More on Iowa City: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Iowa City comes in at $48,148 and the median home value is $223,900 for 2022.

2. Ames

Ames, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 66,361
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 4.2x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 53.8x (4th most expensive)
More on Ames: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Ames comes in at $50,783 and the median home value is $213,500 for 2022.

3. West Des Moines

West Des Moines, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7.5
/10

Population: 66,724
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 5)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.1x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 70.1x (30th most expensive)
More on West Des Moines: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in West Des Moines comes in at $74,159 and the median home value is $228,300 for 2022.

4. Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 5,130
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.1x (7th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 61.3x (14th most expensive)
More on Spirit Lake: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Spirit Lake comes in at $52,664 and the median home value is $163,600 for 2022.

5. Coralville

Coralville, IA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 21,630
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.5x (3rd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.0x (4most expensive)
More on Coralville: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Coralville comes in at $68,230 and the median home value is $240,700 for 2022.

6. Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 40,750
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.2x (6th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.7x (27th most expensive)
More on Cedar Falls: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Cedar Falls comes in at $64,809 and the median home value is $204,300 for 2022.

7. Vinton

Vinton, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,075
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 11)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.0x (12th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 53.3x (3rd most expensive)
More on Vinton: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Vinton comes in at $44,053 and the median home value is $130,100 for 2022.

8. Grinnell

Grinnell, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 9,069
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.0x (10th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 68.6x (26th most expensive)
More on Grinnell: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Grinnell comes in at $50,668 and the median home value is $150,700 for 2022.

9. Anamosa

Anamosa, IA

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 5,484
Rank Last Year: 41 (Up 32)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 57.6x (9th most expensive)
More on Anamosa: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Anamosa comes in at $42,122 and the median home value is $124,100 for 2022.

10. Pleasant Hill

Pleasant Hill, IA

Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 9,959
Rank Last Year: 29 (Up 20)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (19th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 71.8x (35th most expensive)
More on Pleasant Hill: Real Estate | Data | Photos

The median income in Pleasant Hill comes in at $74,612 and the median home value is $215,200 for 2022.

Methodology: How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Hawkeye State For 2022

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 2016-2020 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 80 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 Iowa City. You can download the data here.

Summary: Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In Iowa For 2022

Well there you have it, the places in Iowa that have the highest cost of living, with Iowa City 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. Estherville
  2. Osceola
  3. Red Oak

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 Iowa City 4.67 75,849 4.7x 49.3x
2 Ames 7.67 66,361 4.2x 53.8x
3 West Des Moines 16.33 66,724 3.1x 70.1x
4 Spirit Lake 16.67 5,130 3.1x 61.3x
5 Coralville 17.0 21,630 3.5x 75.0x
6 Cedar Falls 17.67 40,750 3.2x 68.7x
7 Vinton 19.67 5,075 3.0x 53.3x
8 Grinnell 23.0 9,069 3.0x 68.6x
9 Anamosa 23.33 5,484 2.9x 57.6x
10 Pleasant Hill 23.33 9,959 2.9x 71.8x
11 Spencer 24.0 11,038 3.0x 65.3x
12 North Liberty 24.0 19,159 2.7x 73.7x
13 Johnston 24.67 22,077 2.9x 82.0x
14 Hiawatha 25.67 7,395 2.9x 69.0x
15 Storm Lake 26.0 10,508 3.0x 69.0x
16 Algona 26.33 5,415 2.8x 62.1x
17 Dubuque 28.33 58,052 2.7x 68.1x
18 Eldridge 29.0 6,678 3.3x 112.6x
19 Ankeny 29.67 64,744 2.7x 80.8x
20 Decorah 29.67 7,615 3.4x 85.8x
21 Des Moines 30.33 215,408 2.6x 62.3x
22 Waukee 31.67 22,598 2.6x 83.3x
23 Winterset 32.0 5,309 2.7x 76.3x
24 Fairfield 32.33 10,327 2.6x 56.3x
25 Bettendorf 32.67 36,214 2.7x 91.5x
26 Davenport 34.33 102,199 2.5x 67.6x
27 Indianola 34.67 15,921 2.7x 77.5x
28 Carroll 35.0 9,823 3.0x 81.6x
29 Newton 35.17 15,160 2.5x 64.8x
30 Pella 36.0 10,279 2.8x 96.3x
31 Altoona 36.0 18,917 2.5x 77.4x
32 Sioux Center 36.0 7,592 2.9x 109.6x
33 Waterloo 36.0 67,671 2.5x 60.5x
34 Clive 37.0 17,246 2.7x 116.2x
35 Clear Lake 37.67 7,594 2.9x 96.4x
36 Waverly 38.0 10,172 2.7x 83.9x
37 Atlantic 38.67 6,600 2.7x 76.8x
38 Urbandale 39.33 43,879 2.5x 101.7x
39 Asbury 39.67 5,931 2.5x 102.2x
40 Council Bluffs 40.0 62,376 2.3x 62.1x
41 Norwalk 41.67 11,467 2.5x 84.0x
42 Grimes 42.67 13,746 2.5x 94.6x
43 Washington 43.0 7,318 2.2x 63.7x
44 Cedar Rapids 44.0 133,125 2.4x 76.8x
45 Iowa Falls 45.0 5,067 2.1x 55.5x
46 Orange City 45.0 6,158 2.6x 105.5x
47 Bondurant 45.67 6,567 2.3x 97.8x
48 Burlington 45.67 24,858 2.0x 56.5x
49 Oelwein 45.67 5,896 2.3x 59.8x
50 Centerville 46.33 5,433 2.2x 51.3x
51 Muscatine 46.5 23,661 2.1x 64.2x
52 Charles City 46.67 7,351 2.5x 70.4x
53 Le Mars 47.0 10,012 2.4x 89.2x
54 Fort Dodge 47.0 24,168 2.2x 66.4x
55 Glenwood 47.33 5,325 2.5x 92.4x
56 Nevada 48.0 6,737 2.5x 85.8x
57 Sheldon 48.67 5,178 2.6x 102.1x
58 Marion 48.67 39,910 2.4x 100.1x
59 Mount Pleasant 48.83 8,574 2.4x 77.5x
60 Sioux City 49.0 82,535 2.1x 72.5x
61 Creston 50.67 7,754 2.3x 74.4x
62 Clinton 51.33 25,290 2.2x 70.7x
63 Independence 51.67 6,085 2.2x 78.8x
64 Mason City 51.83 27,064 2.1x 72.9x
65 Ottumwa 52.33 24,505 1.8x 55.4x
66 Fort Madison 53.0 10,407 1.8x 59.5x
67 Perry 53.33 7,660 1.8x 59.2x
68 Manchester 54.33 5,011 2.3x 79.8x
69 Oskaloosa 56.5 11,727 1.9x 70.1x
70 Knoxville 56.67 7,154 1.9x 74.5x
71 Keokuk 57.67 10,225 1.7x 62.6x
72 Boone 59.33 12,470 1.9x 80.9x
73 Denison 59.33 8,319 1.8x 77.2x
74 Webster City 60.33 7,699 1.7x 70.6x
75 Marshalltown 61.67 26,957 1.7x 76.2x
76 Clarinda 62.17 5,371 1.9x 78.9x
77 Maquoketa 67.0 5,990 1.9x 84.6x
78 Red Oak 69.0 5,323 1.5x 78.1x
79 Osceola 70.0 5,160 1.8x 87.1x
80 Estherville 70.33 5,729 1.6x 82.4x

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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.