These Are The 10 Most Miserable Cities In Iowa


We used science and data to determine which places in Iowa are the unhappiest of all.

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Do you live in one of the most miserable places in Iowa?

According to a Harris Poll taken in October of 2015, only a third of Americans say they are truly happy. That’s too bad, considering that Americans – especially folks in Iowa – don’t really have it too bad, in the grand scheme of things.

But, we were curious – which Iowa cities might be the most miserable? We’re about to find out, using science and data.

After analyzing the largest cities, we sadly present the most miserable cities in the Hawkeye State:

  1. Anamosa (Photos)
  2. Des Moines (Photos)
  3. Keokuk (Photos)
  4. Osceola
  5. Red Oak (Photos)
  6. Fort Dodge (Photos)
  7. Bloomfield
  8. Davenport (Photos)
  9. Winterset (Photos)
  10. Council Bluffs (Photos)

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your town ranked. If you have a smile on your face, you probably don’t live in one of these cities.

Oh, and by the way, Garner is the happiest place in Iowa.

Or check out the Most Miserable Cities In America.

If you’re looking for something more positive, check out the best states in America or the best places to live in America.

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How We Measured The Most Miserable Cities In Iowa

In order to rank the unhappiest places in Iowa, we had to determine what criteria makes people happy. It isn’t a stretch to assume that happy people earn great salaries, are relatively stress free, and have a stable home life.

So we went to the Census’s American Community Survey 2010-2014 report for the criteria, flipped the list, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible:

  • Percentage of residents with a college degree
  • Average commute times
  • Unemployment rates
  • Cost of living
  • % of married couples
  • % of home owners
  • Poverty rate

After we decided on the criteria, we gathered the data for the 108 places in Iowa with over 2,000 people.

We then ranked each place from one to 113 for each of the seven criteria with a score of one being the most miserable (Any ties were given to the larger place).

Next, we averaged the seven rankings into a Miserable Index for each place with the lowest overall Miserable Index ‘earning’ the title ‘Most Miserable City In Iowa’.

If you’d like to see the complete list of states, most miserable to happiest, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the unabridged chart.

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1. Anamosa

Anamosa, Iowa

Source: Google Maps

Population: 5,526
People Who Own Their Home: 56.77%
Married Adults: 40.65%

2. Des Moines

Des Moines, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 206,702
People Who Own Their Home: 56.43%
Married Adults: 43.28%

3. Keokuk

Keokuk, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 10,742
People Who Own Their Home: 55.02%
Married Adults: 43.91%

4. Osceola

Osceola, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 4,981
People Who Own Their Home: 51.62%
Married Adults: 45.61%

5. Red Oak

Red Oak, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,644
People Who Own Their Home: 55.08%
Married Adults: 47.95%

6. Fort Dodge

Fort Dodge, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 24,846
People Who Own Their Home: 54.98%
Married Adults: 38.13%

7. Bloomfield

Bloomfield, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 2,636
People Who Own Their Home: 57.74%
Married Adults: 44.51%

8. Davenport

Davenport, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 101,316
People Who Own Their Home: 56.55%
Married Adults: 44.44%

9. Winterset

Winterset, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 5,165
People Who Own Their Home: 54.15%
Married Adults: 52.62%

10. Council Bluffs

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Source: Wikipedia

Population: 62,261
People Who Own Their Home: 58.39%
Married Adults: 44.67%

There You Have It

Like we said earlier, trying to determine the most miserable cities in {state} is usually a subjective matter. But if you’re analyzing cities where people are not stable, where you’re stuck in traffic, and no one spent the time to go to college, then this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious enough, here are the happiest cities in {state}, according to science:
For more Iowa reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Miserable Places In Iowa

City Rank People Who Own Their Home
Anamosa 1 56.77%
Des Moines 2 56.43%
Keokuk 3 55.02%
Osceola 4 51.62%
Red Oak 5 55.08%
Fort Dodge 6 54.98%
Bloomfield 7 57.74%
Davenport 8 56.55%
Winterset 9 54.15%
Council Bluffs 10 58.39%
Centerville 11 50.76%
Fort Madison 12 61.0%
Newton 13 55.99%
Ames 14 39.98%
Waterloo 15 59.17%
Oskaloosa 16 57.72%
West Liberty 17 56.44%
Iowa City 18 46.24%
Ottumwa 19 61.87%
Fairfield 20 55.72%
Charles City 21 56.63%
Mitchellville 22 66.24%
Sioux City 23 60.31%
Mount Pleasant 24 59.43%
Perry 25 58.26%
Burlington 26 61.41%
Cedar Falls 27 60.37%
Oelwein 28 61.45%
Knoxville 29 61.08%
Clinton 30 61.72%
Boone 31 61.68%
Toledo 32 62.74%
Indianola 33 65.41%
Iowa Falls 34 57.48%
Belle Plaine 35 59.11%
Storm Lake 36 57.29%
Maquoketa 37 62.58%
Marshalltown 38 60.91%
Clarinda 39 58.64%
Denison 40 65.21%
Dubuque 41 60.15%
Marengo 42 58.27%
Coralville 43 53.38%
Mason City 44 63.9%
Webster City 45 57.71%
Grinnell 46 57.74%
Shenandoah 47 60.53%
Cedar Rapids 48 63.68%
Jefferson 49 62.51%
Clarion 50 58.84%
Humboldt 51 60.7%
Vinton 52 65.18%
Hiawatha 53 57.76%
Washington 54 62.06%
Muscatine 55 62.46%
Creston 56 63.23%
Northwood 57 70.92%
Estherville 58 66.14%
Glenwood 59 60.62%
Manchester 60 60.32%
Nevada 61 65.71%
Sumner 62 75.08%
Bellevue 63 63.95%
Greenfield 64 62.32%
Milford 65 63.0%
Cherokee 66 64.11%
De Witt 67 68.49%
Atlantic 68 62.44%
West Des Moines 69 56.6%
Hampton 70 63.73%
Spencer 71 63.39%
Clear Lake 72 62.12%
Harlan 73 67.61%
Carlisle 74 75.74%
Ogden 75 68.85%
Decorah 76 61.63%
Marion 77 71.56%
Jesup 78 74.08%
Mount Vernon 79 77.02%
Waverly 80 68.43%
Adel 81 63.39%
North Liberty 82 66.57%
Altoona 83 69.5%
Pella 84 59.99%
Monticello 85 70.94%
Solon 86 72.05%
Pleasant Hill 87 72.7%
Tipton 88 73.72%
Sheldon 89 57.39%
Eldridge 90 70.23%
Norwalk 91 68.69%
Center Point 92 78.46%
Independence 93 67.93%
Ankeny 94 72.1%
Durant 95 70.54%
Audubon 96 76.01%
Forest City 97 61.86%
Le Mars 98 71.18%
Carroll 99 64.8%
Bettendorf 100 72.66%
Sioux Center 101 72.69%
Algona 102 68.57%
Williamsburg 103 64.11%
Hull 104 80.2%
Clive 105 72.56%
Johnston 106 75.71%
Urbandale 107 77.77%
Waukee 108 79.59%
Hudson 109 79.9%
Fairfax 110 93.4%
Orange City 111 76.28%
Grimes 112 81.52%
Garner 113 77.96%

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