These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Iowa For 2019


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 . This is our fourth 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 208 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 2019:

  1. Villisca
  2. Clarion
  3. Fayette
  4. Postville
  5. Lamoni
  6. Lenox
  7. Leon
  8. Belle Plaine (Photos)
  9. Hamburg
  10. Mapleton

So what is the worst small town to call home in Iowa for 2019? 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.

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 2019

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 2013-2017 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 – 208 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.

Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 1,286
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $55,300 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (8th worst)
More on Villisca:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,791
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $74,400 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (17th worst)
More on Clarion:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,112
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $82,200 (37th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (16th worst)
More on Fayette:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,486
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $83,500 (40th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (52nd worst)
More on Postville:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 2,611
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $86,200 (49th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (75th worst)
More on Lamoni:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,438
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Median Home Value: $82,900 (39th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (48th worst)
More on Lenox:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 1,916
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $74,000 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.5% (28th worst)
More on Leon:  Data

Belle Plaine, IA

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,546
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 11)
Median Home Value: $81,100 (29th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (44th worst)
More on Belle Plaine:  Data | Photos

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,125
Rank Last Year: 18 (Up 9)
Median Home Value: $61,900 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (40th worst)
More on Hamburg:  Data

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 1,229
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $88,300 (56th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.4% (48th worst)
More on Mapleton:  Data

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. Roland (Pop. 1,336)
  2. Fairfax (Pop. 2,473)
  3. Walford (Pop. 1,396)

For more Iowa reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Iowa

Rank Town Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Villisca 1,286 9.2% $55,300
2 Clarion 2,791 7.6% $74,400
3 Fayette 1,112 7.9% $82,200
4 Postville 2,486 5.3% $83,500
5 Lamoni 2,611 4.3% $86,200
6 Lenox 1,438 5.4% $82,900
7 Leon 1,916 6.5% $74,000
8 Belle Plaine 2,546 5.5% $81,100
9 Hamburg 1,125 5.7% $61,900
10 Mapleton 1,229 5.4% $88,300
11 Toledo 2,201 3.7% $76,600
12 Northwood 2,034 8.8% $93,200
13 Sidney 1,032 4.6% $84,600
14 Manning 1,673 8.1% $90,900
15 Lake City 1,866 4.0% $77,100
16 Hawarden 2,574 6.6% $76,200
17 Eagle Grove 3,452 9.0% $67,800
18 Osceola 4,998 4.5% $87,200
19 Missouri Valley 2,661 2.0% $81,400
20 Audubon 2,005 3.4% $60,600
21 West Burlington 2,967 6.1% $95,900
22 Sac City 2,138 5.5% $66,200
23 Griswold 1,214 8.8% $78,300
24 Albia 3,766 4.9% $82,400
25 Onawa 2,849 3.9% $93,500
26 Tama 2,801 3.3% $81,500
27 Winfield 1,022 4.9% $90,300
28 Belmond 2,669 3.8% $81,700
29 Coon Rapids 1,329 4.0% $81,800
30 Gowrie 1,009 6.3% $81,700
31 Guthrie Center 1,651 3.1% $87,200
32 Hampton 4,311 2.7% $81,400
33 Shenandoah 4,977 2.1% $83,600
34 Corydon 1,579 4.6% $65,800
35 West Union 2,629 5.3% $89,800
36 Ackley 1,729 2.6% $71,900
37 Stuart 1,455 4.3% $93,200
38 Clarksville 1,413 6.7% $100,000
39 Rockwell City 2,141 1.3% $65,500
40 Eddyville 1,337 10.6% $84,000
41 Wayland 1,111 9.7% $88,800
42 Chariton 4,162 4.7% $67,700
43 Laurens 1,337 2.9% $62,900
44 Corning 1,581 4.4% $74,400
45 Mount Ayr 2,029 6.9% $81,800
46 Strawberry Point 1,361 3.5% $84,700
47 Lake Mills 2,049 6.6% $106,000
48 Waukon 3,744 3.9% $94,700
49 Hartley 1,743 1.8% $74,000
50 Bedford 1,492 1.5% $54,900
51 North English 1,194 3.4% $89,000
52 Jefferson 4,190 5.7% $92,900
53 Eldora 2,677 3.1% $78,600
54 Keota 1,006 10.4% $88,300
55 Columbus Junction 2,330 3.1% $88,500
56 Arnolds Park 1,086 7.4% $194,500
57 Greene 1,018 3.3% $80,300
58 Bloomfield 2,626 5.6% $84,900
59 Carter Lake 3,781 7.4% $99,800
60 Nashua 1,550 6.4% $94,000
61 Akron 1,532 6.0% $97,300
62 Montezuma 1,480 6.2% $100,600
63 Fredericksburg 1,240 4.5% $77,100
64 Pocahontas 1,701 2.0% $74,800
65 Manly 1,393 4.0% $77,200
66 George 1,095 2.8% $77,700
67 Rock Valley 3,681 5.5% $144,900
68 Evansdale 4,780 5.0% $105,100
69 Allison 1,224 3.5% $86,600
70 Camanche 4,350 3.8% $114,400
71 Walcott 1,469 5.3% $135,100
72 Forest City 4,083 8.3% $95,700
73 Marengo 2,770 1.6% $96,000
74 Ida Grove 2,160 4.1% $99,400
75 Cascade 2,023 2.7% $150,800
76 Cresco 3,793 3.8% $95,600
77 Woodward 1,630 4.6% $118,200
78 Greenfield 1,821 2.3% $84,300
79 Manson 1,800 1.3% $85,400
80 Sibley 2,659 1.0% $87,500
81 Wapello 2,048 6.0% $102,800
82 Guttenberg 1,759 2.0% $141,400
83 Lake View 1,062 6.3% $119,400
84 Tripoli 1,269 1.8% $98,100
85 Harlan 4,944 3.6% $103,600
86 New London 1,916 10.1% $80,000
87 Pleasantville 1,727 2.6% $117,700
88 Panora 1,054 0.9% $110,200
89 Humboldt 4,589 3.0% $116,000
90 Princeton 1,130 4.9% $175,600
91 Colfax 1,908 9.2% $96,400
92 West Liberty 3,746 7.0% $113,400
93 Alta 2,188 3.3% $99,900
94 Kalona 2,495 3.7% $154,100
95 Mitchellville 2,258 5.5% $126,800
96 Tabor 1,270 1.7% $109,400
97 Bellevue 2,315 2.4% $112,200
98 Monona 1,559 3.3% $112,100
99 Sheffield 1,132 1.1% $95,800
100 Brooklyn 1,523 5.4% $96,100

12 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Small Towns In Iowa For 2019

  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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