Worst Small Towns In Iowa For 2020


Using science and data, we can tell you which teeny specks in IA are the pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the worst small places to live in Iowa.

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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:

These are the worst small towns in Iowa for 2020:

  1. Villisca
  2. Eldon
  3. Lenox
  4. Leon
  5. Onawa (Photos)
  6. Clarion
  7. Lamoni
  8. Postville
  9. Albia (Photos)
  10. Hamburg

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.

And if you already know about the small towns, check out the best places to live in Iowa or the worst places to live in Iowa.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

The 10 Worst Small Towns In Iowa For 2020

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,340
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $61,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (7th worst)
More on Villisca:  Data

2. Eldon

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,071
Rank Last Year: -
Median Home Value: $55,900 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (6th worst)
More on Eldon:

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,557
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $82,600 (30th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (22nd worst)
More on Lenox:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,037
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $69,500 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (41st worst)
More on Leon:  Data

Onawa, IA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,830
Rank Last Year: 26 (Up 21)
Median Home Value: $87,400 (49th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (66th worst)
More on Onawa:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,772
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $82,800 (33rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.3% (30th worst)
More on Clarion:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,498
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Median Home Value: $90,900 (62nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.0% (70th worst)
More on Lamoni:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,530
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $83,200 (35th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (58th worst)
More on Postville:  Data

Albia, IA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 3,761
Rank Last Year: 25 (Up 16)
Median Home Value: $81,700 (27th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (37th worst)
More on Albia:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,119
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:

  1. Garner (Pop. 3,059)
  2. Mount Vernon (Pop. 4,454)
  3. Walford (Pop. 1,471)

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Iowa

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Villisca 1,340 9.2% $61,700
2 Eldon 1,071 9.8% $55,900
3 Lenox 1,557 7.0% $82,600
4 Leon 2,037 5.5% $69,500
5 Onawa 2,830 4.2% $87,400
6 Clarion 2,772 6.3% $82,800
7 Lamoni 2,498 4.0% $90,900
8 Postville 2,530 4.5% $83,200
9 Albia 3,761 5.9% $81,700
10 Hamburg 1,119 8.9% $61,600
11 Chariton 4,151 5.3% $76,500
12 Beaverdale 1,032 11.4% $94,400
13 Columbus Junction 2,311 8.3% $94,900
14 Fayette 1,146 7.3% $82,700
15 Sac City 2,137 4.0% $71,900
16 Toledo 2,296 4.7% $84,000
17 Tama 2,793 3.7% $84,500
18 Hawarden 2,706 7.0% $81,400
19 West Burlington 2,929 4.2% $96,900
20 Mapleton 1,196 4.4% $87,900
21 Belle Plaine 2,427 5.1% $82,400
22 Eagle Grove 3,437 9.0% $83,100
23 Anita 1,127 6.2% $66,900
24 Belmond 2,574 3.9% $84,800
25 Winfield 1,042 5.9% $90,700
26 West Union 2,561 5.2% $91,900
27 Audubon 1,989 2.8% $63,500
28 Griswold 1,189 6.5% $75,200
29 Wayland 1,061 10.5% $88,800
30 Lake City 1,825 2.5% $77,500
31 Missouri Valley 2,646 0.9% $85,200
32 Northwood 2,205 6.6% $99,000
33 Sidney 1,081 4.0% $94,200
34 Rockwell City 2,165 2.2% $65,900
35 Eddyville 1,219 11.6% $89,000
36 Carter Lake 3,792 7.5% $110,700
37 Cherokee 4,966 2.1% $84,000
38 Guthrie Center 1,570 2.8% $80,800
39 Manly 1,471 4.1% $79,300
40 Shenandoah 4,945 2.1% $83,500
41 Hampton 4,280 2.9% $83,600
42 North English 1,106 3.6% $101,000
43 Stuart 1,501 3.7% $93,100
44 Bedford 1,566 2.7% $59,500
45 Ackley 1,785 1.6% $72,700
46 Clarksville 1,448 8.7% $101,900
47 Eldora 2,664 2.2% $79,900
48 Greene 1,006 5.6% $87,700
49 Mount Ayr 2,066 4.7% $81,800
50 Hartley 1,698 1.6% $71,500
51 Corydon 1,682 4.0% $71,600
52 Panora 1,162 2.3% $117,100
53 Laurens 1,224 1.4% $64,900
54 Evansdale 4,786 4.8% $117,100
55 Walcott 1,539 5.6% $129,200
56 Pleasantville 1,715 2.2% $131,800
57 Melcher-Dallas 1,255 2.1% $70,600
58 Manning 1,542 6.2% $98,700
59 Montezuma 1,388 7.2% $104,400
60 George 1,150 1.7% $81,000
61 Woodward 1,543 6.0% $129,700
62 Cascade 2,078 2.9% $147,000
63 Pocahontas 1,712 1.3% $76,300
64 Strawberry Point 1,376 0.8% $89,400
65 Coon Rapids 1,283 2.8% $88,300
66 Forest City 4,089 7.3% $86,800
67 Cresco 3,780 2.3% $91,700
68 Allison 1,106 3.6% $88,300
69 Ida Grove 2,137 6.7% $101,500
70 Bloomfield 2,658 4.8% $89,700
71 New London 1,941 9.1% $82,600
72 Fredericksburg 1,136 3.3% $84,000
73 Lake View 1,062 6.5% $117,200
74 Keota 1,027 7.3% $87,400
75 Marengo 2,620 1.6% $97,000
76 Camanche 4,342 5.4% $119,800
77 Sibley 2,639 2.8% $90,400
78 Akron 1,542 5.1% $104,500
79 Rock Valley 3,712 6.0% $137,400
80 Guttenberg 1,852 3.8% $152,600
81 Nashua 1,515 2.8% $92,900
82 Jefferson 4,160 5.1% $98,100
83 Kalona 2,516 3.1% $159,000
84 Oakland 1,533 5.4% $111,700
85 Manson 1,838 1.6% $86,800
86 Arnolds Park 1,173 6.4% $228,000
87 Britt 1,915 2.2% $79,300
88 Wapello 2,055 5.8% $105,700
89 Marcus 1,234 5.1% $98,600
90 Waukon 3,716 2.1% $100,200
91 Corning 1,566 2.0% $72,700
92 Greenfield 1,713 2.1% $90,400
93 Humboldt 4,583 2.7% $121,000
94 Malvern 1,005 3.4% $106,900
95 Lake Mills 2,082 3.5% $103,500
96 Monona 1,581 2.7% $104,100
97 Tripoli 1,210 1.7% $95,200
98 Paullina 1,067 5.2% $84,800
99 Princeton 1,114 4.2% $181,500
100 Alta 2,152 2.2% $106,300

How Is The Area In ?

12 thoughts on “Worst Small Towns In Iowa, 2020

  1. Where do you get your information? Washta is not the town pictured for starters. It is no where near Missouri, but actually is situated along the Little Sioux River some 40 miles east of Sioux City. It does not have a Casey’s store, but a small convenience store which is locally owned. And, as for two churches, that was long in the past – as there has been only one church in town since the late 1960s.

  2. Hey Nick, your a retarded keyboard ninja who obviously needs to spend a little more time in these little towns.

    Sincerely,
    Everyone you offend by being an idiot on a daily basis.

    1. The way you talk trash and bash people is what makes you white trash. Most white trash people don’t even know that they are. That is why it is so amusing to listen to their bad English. Iowa is known for its inbred families.

  3. This is insulting I grew up in Hillsboro, nice quiet little town can’t think of one kid I grew up with that didn’t graduate. I have some of the best friends who I have known ALL my life we still talk!! I could have knocked on any door in town if I needed help and felt safe. What a shitty article to write when you know NOTHING ABOUT WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT!!!

  4. You didn’t even visit these towns. The pictures are all from Google Earth. And your commentary on these little towns is so condescending. I don’t think you understand the Midwest at all. Please dont’ come to these towns though because your attitude is more suited for Chicago or LA. Stay there.

  5. If you want to live in some big expensive city complete with lots of crime and drugs, fine. Small town Iowa allows one to live in a place that is safe, keeps one away from all the downsides of big city life, builds a sense of family, responsibility and which has values that you probably never heard of. Talk about something you are professional in, not that of which you only have opinions and a hope of turning a profit. I am a descendent of a wonderful family from one of those “worst places to live” little towns.

    1. Hey there, Laura from Bloomfield, IA
      You know what I am talking about. Iowa has many inbred families in these small towns! You know Iowa is full of white trash.
      Your my neighbor. I could stop by and see you.
      Where do you work? McDonald’s?

  6. Lineville has more than you listed. Yes we have farm supply store and funeral home. But we also have a park, a post office, 3 churches, a housing for elderly, a cemetary, mfa, napa, fire station, city hall, library, clinic, and 1 bar on iowa side. Missouri side has a bar, gas station, liquor store, cafe, fireworks stores, car wash. Dont degrade these small towns just bc we dont have all that the cities have. We love our small town communities. In lineville we have 2 main families. So yes you can call us a family ran town and we are proud of it.

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