The 10 Most Affordable Places to Live in Iowa

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By Michael Yessis Updated June 13, 2024
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Edited by Ashley Simon

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The 50501 zip code in Fort Dodge tops our ranking of the most affordable places to live in Iowa.

We looked at 76 zip codes in the state, evaluating home values, rental costs, energy rates, property taxes, and five other affordability indicators. We used the data we gathered to calculate our proprietary Affordability Score for each zip code.  

Top 10 most affordable places to live in Iowa

RankCity Affordability Score Median home valueRental costs
1Fort Dodge 🥇100$124,996$694
2Waterloo🥈97.2$86,620$870
3Davenport 🥉95.2$157,560$1,021
4Keokuk94.3$82,922$1,157
5Fort Madison94.3$104,670$1,157
6Sioux City94.1$125,541$1,157
7Burlington93.1$118,038$1,157
8Clinton92.7$121,239$1,157
9Des Moines91.3$178,934$1,157
10Knoxville91.3$189,128$1,157
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1. Fort Dodge

Here's why the 50501 zip code in Fort Dodge is Iowa's most affordable place to live.

🔎 Key data about Fort Dodge

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 100 No. 1N/A
Median home value $124,996[1]No. 7 -$105,421.43
Home affordability ratio 2.0No. 4-1.2
Home value five-year change 23.0%[2]No. 4-10.7%
Home value one-year forecast -2.5%[3]No. 310.0%
Rental costs $694[4]No. 1-$462
Rent affordability ratio 1.08%No. 2-0.5%
Median household income $64,013[5]No. 43-$8,814
Property taxes $2,152[6]No. 16-$1,225
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[7]No. 1-$0.02
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Fort Dodge's 50501 zip code is the cheapest place to live in Iowa, leading the 76 markets we evaluated. 

The median home value is $124,996, making it the 7th-cheapest housing market in the state. Forecasts project a -2.5% change in home values in the next year. Rent in the zip code averages $694 per month, which is the 2nd cheapest amount in Iowa.

The median property tax for homeowners in Fort Dodge is $2,152 per household, the No. 16 ranked market in Iowa. 

Residents pay $0.11 per kWh of electricity, which ranks No. 1 among Iowa markets.

2. Waterloo

The 50703 zip code is the 2nd-cheapest place to live in Iowa.

🔎 Key data about Waterloo

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 97.2No. 2N/A
Median home value $86,620[8]No. 2-$143,797.54
Home affordability ratio 1.9No. 3-1.2
Home value five-year change 33.4%[9]No. 38-0.3%
Home value one-year forecast -2.4%[10]No. 450.1%
Rental costs $870[11]No. 7-$287
Rent affordability ratio 1.94%No. 690.4%
Median household income $44,834[12]No. 75-$27,993
Property taxes $1,375[13]No. 2-$2,002
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[14]No. 1-$0.02
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Waterloo's 50703 zip code has a median home value of $86,620, which is the 45th-cheapest housing market in Iowa. You can rent for an average of $870 per month. That's the 7th-cheapest price in the state.

The average household income in the zip code is $44,834, which ranks 75th-highest in the state. 

Homeowners in Waterloo pay a median property tax of $1,375 per year, making it the 2nd-most affordable market in Iowa.

Waterloo ranks No. 1 among Iowa energy markets. You'll pay $0.11 per kWh of electricity.

3. Davenport

The 3rd-cheapest place to live in Iowa is Davenport's 52803 zip code.

🔎 Key data about Davenport

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 95.2No. 3N/A
Median home value $157,560[15]No. 14-$72,857.79
Home affordability ratio 2.6No. 13-0.6
Home value five-year change 27.2%[16]No. 12-6.5%
Home value one-year forecast -3.5%[17]No. 8-1.0%
Rental costs $1,021[18]No. 19-$135
Rent affordability ratio 1.69%No. 590.1%
Median household income $60,420[19]No. 53-$12,407
Property taxes $2,613[20]No. 29-$764
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[21]No. 1-$0.02
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The No. 14 cheapest housing in Iowa is Davenport's 52803 zip code, with a median home value of $157,560. Rents in the market average $1,021 per month, making it the 19th-most affordable rental market in the state.

The median property tax for households in Davenport is $2,613, which makes it the 29th-cheapest place in Iowa. Davenport ranks No. 1 among Iowa markets by energy costs. Residents pay $0.11 per kWh of electricity.

4. Keokuk

The 52632 zip code in Keokuk comes in at No. 4 on our list of the cheapest places to live in Iowa.

🔎 Key data about Keokuk

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 94.3No. 4N/A
Median home value $82,922[22]No. 1-$147,494.89
Home affordability ratio 1.7No. 1-1.5
Home value five-year change 25.2%[23]No. 7-8.5%
Home value one-year forecast -3.7%[24]No. 6-1.2%
Rental costs $1,157[25]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $49,639[26]No. 73-$23,188
Property taxes $1,776[27]No. 4-$1,601
Energy costs $0.18 kWh[28]No. 57$0.04
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The No. 1 cheapest housing market in Iowa is Keokuk's 52632 zip code, where the median home value is $82,922. Renters here pay an average of $1,157 per month. 

When it comes to energy costs, Keokuk ranks 57th among Iowa markets. Residents pay $0.18 per kWh of electricity.

The median property tax for households in the zip code is $1,776, which makes it the 4th-cheapest market in Iowa.

5. Fort Madison

The 52627 zip code in Fort Madison ranks No. 5 among Iowa's most affordable places to live.

🔎 Key data about Fort Madison

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 94.3No. 5N/A
Median home value $104,670[29]No. 3-$125,747.78
Home affordability ratio 1.9No. 2-1.3
Home value five-year change 25.8%[30]No. 8-7.9%
Home value one-year forecast -3.2%[31]No. 13-0.7%
Rental costs $1,157[32]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $56,533[33]No. 62-$16,294
Property taxes $1,742[34]No. 3-$1,635
Energy costs $0.18 kWh[35]No. 57$0.04
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Fort Madison's 52627 zip code has a median home value of $104,670, the 3rd-cheapest market in the state. Forecasts project a -3.2% change in home values in the next year. 

The median property tax per household in Fort Madison is $1,742. It's the 3rd-cheapest market by tax rate in Iowa.

6. Sioux City

The No. 6 most affordable place to live in Iowa is the 51105 zip code.

🔎 Key data about Sioux City

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 94.1No. 6N/A
Median home value $125,541[36]No. 8-$104,876.30
Home affordability ratio 2.7No. 15-0.5
Home value five-year change 52.1%[37]No. 7318.4%
Home value one-year forecast -1.9%[38]No. 640.6%
Rental costs $1,157[39]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $47,018[40]No. 74-$25,809
Property taxes $1,291[41]No. 1-$2,086
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[42]No. 1-$0.02
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The back half of our top 10 kicks off with Sioux City's 51105 zip code, which has the 8th-cheapest home values in Iowa. The median home value is $125,541. Rents average $1,157 per month, making it the 29th-most affordable rental market in the state.

Residents pay $0.11 per kWh of electricity. It's the 1st-cheapest energy market.

7. Burlington

Burlington's 52601 zip code is the 7th-cheapest place to live in Iowa.

🔎 Key data about Burlington

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 93.1No. 7N/A
Median home value $118,038[43]No. 5-$112,379.02
Home affordability ratio 2.2No. 7-1.0
Home value five-year change 20.1%[44]No. 1-13.6%
Home value one-year forecast -4.1%[45]No. 1-1.6%
Rental costs $1,157[46]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $53,827[47]No. 68-$19,000
Property taxes $2,080[48]No. 11-$1,297
Energy costs $0.18 kWh[49]No. 57$0.04
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You'll find the 5th-cheapest home values in Iowa in Burlington's 52601 zip code. The median value: $118,038. Renters in Burlington pay an average of $1,157 per month.

Homeowners in Burlington pay a median property tax of $2,080 per year, which is Iowa's 11th-most affordable market.

The average household income is $53,827, which ranks 68th-highest in the state.

8. Clinton

The 8th-cheapest place to live in Iowa is Clinton's 52732 zip code.

🔎 Key data about Clinton

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 92.7No. 8N/A
Median home value $121,239[50]No. 6-$109,178.62
Home affordability ratio 2.2No. 6-1.0
Home value five-year change 31.7%[51]No. 24-2.0%
Home value one-year forecast -1.9%[52]No. 640.6%
Rental costs $1,157[53]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $55,714[54]No. 65-$17,113
Property taxes $2,138[55]No. 15-$1,239
Energy costs $0.14 kWh[56]No. 46$0.01
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The 6th-cheapest housing market in Iowa is Clinton's 52732 zip code, with a median home value of $121,239. Renters pay an average of $1,157 per month, the No. 29 rental market in the state.

The median property tax for households in Clinton is $2,138, which makes it the 15th-cheapest place in Iowa. The average household income of $55,714 ranks 65th.

9. Des Moines

Des Moines's 50313 zip code sneaks into the top ten of Iowa's most affordable places to live.

🔎 Key data about Des Moines

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 91.3No. 9N/A
Median home value $178,934[57]No. 23-$51,482.90
Home affordability ratio 2.9No. 28-0.3
Home value five-year change 40.9%[58]No. 587.2%
Home value one-year forecast -2.8%[59]No. 22-0.3%
Rental costs $1,157[60]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $61,532[61]No. 50-$11,295
Property taxes $2,706[62]No. 32-$671
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[63]No. 1-$0.02
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The 23rd-cheapest housing market in Iowa is Des Moines's 50313 zip code, where the median home value is $178,934. Renters pay an average of $1,157 per month. It's the state's 29th-cheapest rental market.

The median property tax for households within the zip code is $2,706, which makes it the 32nd-cheapest property tax rate in Iowa. 

10. Knoxville

The final spot on our list of the most affordable places to live in Iowa goes to the 50138 zip code in Knoxville.

🔎 Key data about Knoxville

Data pointValueRank (out of 76 markets)Difference from median or average
Affordability Score 91.3No. 10N/A
Median home value $189,128[64]No. 28-$41,289.17
Home affordability ratio 2.9No. 26-0.3
Home value five-year change 44.7%[65]No. 6811.0%
Home value one-year forecast -2.5%[66]No. 310.0%
Rental costs $1,157[67]No. 29$0
Rent affordability ratio 1.59%No. 250.0%
Median household income $65,341[68]No. 39-$7,486
Property taxes $2,237[69]No. 17-$1,140
Energy costs $0.11 kWh[70]No. 1-$0.02
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The 28th-most affordable market in Iowa is Knoxville's 50138 zip code. The median home value is $189,128. Rent in the market costs $1,157 per month on average, making it the 29th-most affordable rental market in Iowa.

The median property tax for households in Knoxville is $2,237, which is the 17th-cheapest property tax rate in the state.

Knoxville ranks No. 1 among Iowa markets by energy costs, with households paying $0.11 per kWh of electricity.

How we ranked the most affordable places in Iowa

We evaluated 76 zip codes in Iowa with a population over 10,000 on nine metrics. We then assigned each market an Affordability Score based on its weighted and combined rankings. 

✍️ Editor’s note: Our Affordability Score identifies the most affordable places in a state by zip code.

Often the zip code we identify will represent an entire city or portion of a city. 

Occasionally the zip code we identify will encompass an area that includes one or more small towns. In these cases, the data we’ve gathered applies to the entire zip code, not just the single town we’re using to help identify the zip code's location. 

If you’re looking to move to one of these affordable places, we recommend doing additional research to make sure the costs in the area — and the quality of life it offers — meet your specific needs.

Methodology: What is an Affordability Score?

Our proprietary Affordability Score is a score on a scale of 0 (worst in state) to 100 (best in state) that estimates the affordability of a particular zip code. It takes into account these key data points for each zip code.

  • Median home value: The median home value for each zip code comes from the Zillow Home Value Index. The lower the median home value relative to the median value in Iowa, the higher our score on this component. We assign a weight of 23.8% to median home value.
  • Home affordability ratio. The home affordability ratio is the typical median home value divided by the median household income in the zip code, which reveals the number of years of household income needed to afford a home in that zip code. A lower ratio is better because it means more households can afford a home. The data comes from the Zillow Observed Rent Index and the U.S. Census American Community Survey. We assign a weight of 23.8% to the home affordability ratio.
  • Home value five-year change: The home value five-year change is the amount that the median home value in the zip code has risen or fallen during the last five years. Our data comes from the Zillow Home Value Index. We assign a weight of 4.8% to the home value five-year change.
  • Home value one-year forecast: The home value one-year forecast comes from Zillow Forecast data. It projects how much home values in the zip code are forecasted to change in the next year. We assign a weight of 4.8% to the home value one-year forecast.
  • Rental costs. The rental costs are the observed rents in the zip code, sourced from the Zillow Observed Rent Index. The index includes "listed rents that fall into the 40th to 60th percentile range for all homes and apartments in a given region." We assign a weight of 11.9% to rental costs. 
  • Median household income: The inflation-adjusted median household income figures for the zip code comes from the U.S. Census American Community Survey. We assign a weight of 4.8% to median household income.
  • Rent affordability ratio. The rent affordability ratio is the ratio of rental costs divided by median household income, which provides the percentage of household income needed to pay a typical month’s rent in the zip code. The data comes from the Zillow Observed Rent Index and the U.S. Census American Community Survey. We assign a weight of 11.9% to the rent affordability ratio.
  • Property taxes: The property tax figures are the median real estate taxes paid in the zip code, sourced from the U.S. Census American Community Survey. The lower the property tax rate relative to the Iowa average, the higher our score on this component. We assign a weight of 7.1% to property taxes. 
  • Energy costs: The energy costs are the costs of a kilowatt hour (kWh) of residential electricity in the zip code, sourced from the U.S. Department of Energy. The lower the cost of electricity relative to the Iowa average, the higher our score on this component. We assign a weight of 7.1% to energy costs.  

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