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Most Americans have never been to Iowa. However, as the people who live there know, Iowa is an awesome state.
But is it all roses? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Iowa has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst small towns to live in the Hawkeye State. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.
After analyzing more than 205 of Iowa's smallest cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst small towns in Iowa where you'd never want to live:
So what is the worst small town to call home in iowa for 2020? According to the most recent census data, Villisca is the worst small town to live in Iowa.
Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Iowa has its stuff figured out.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers, or scroll to the bottom to see how your town ranked.
The 10 Worst Small Towns In Iowa For 2020
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $61,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (7th worst)
More on Villisca: Data
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $55,900 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (6th worst)
More on Eldon:
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $82,600 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (22nd worst)
More on Lenox: Data
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $69,500 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (41st worst)
More on Leon: Data
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $82,800 (33rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (30th worst)
More on Clarion: Data
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $90,900 (62nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (70th worst)
More on Lamoni: Data
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $83,200 (35th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (58th worst)
More on Postville: Data
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $61,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 8.9% (11th worst)
More on Hamburg: Data
How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst small towns to live in Iowa, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn't a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we determined the worst small towns to live in Iowa for 2020
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data and the Census's 2014-2018 American Community Survey, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- Education (Number of high school dropouts)
- High Crime
We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 205 to be exact.
Additional note: We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
There You Have It - The Worst Small Towns In Iowa
If you're analyzing teeny places in the Hawkeye State with the worst economic situations, where there's high crime and there's not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
If you're curious enough, here are the best small towns to live in Iowa, according to science:
- Garner (Pop. 3,059)
- Mount Vernon (Pop. 4,454)
- Walford (Pop. 1,471)
For more Iowa reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Iowa