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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 204 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 2022? 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 2022
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $64,300 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (36th worst)
More on Villisca: Data
3. Sac City
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 11)
Median Home Value: $94,800 (50th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.6% (50th worst)
More on Postville: Data
Rank Last Year: 36 (Up 31)
Median Home Value: $114,500 (96th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (34th worst)
More on Montezuma: Data
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $77,800 (12th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.1% (94th worst)
More on Clarion: Data
9. Columbus Junction
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 3)
Median Home Value: $90,400 (43rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (32nd worst)
More on Lamoni: 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 2022
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 2016-2020 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 - 204 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:
- Atkins (Pop. 2,069)
- Huxley (Pop. 3,912)
- Earlham (Pop. 1,382)
For more Iowa reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Worst Small Towns In Iowa