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9 Safest Cities in Iowa (2024 Update)

Sioux City downtown 7th Street 1

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

When you think of Iowa, you might think of endless cornfields and small towns and not a land teeming with criminals. While the state has its hotbeds of crime like any other, it’s also home to some of the safest places to live in the nation. Let’s check out some of the safest places to live in the Hawkeye State.

divider 4 The 9 Safest Cities in Iowa: A Quick Look

1. Sioux Center

Image Credit: 091607-SiouxCity-Historic4th, Bobak Ha’Eri, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported
Population: 7,538
Property crime rate: 273.2 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 39 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 461 (7.16%)
Average household income: $74,313

Sioux Center is our top pick for the safest city in the state of Iowa.  The town is known for its strong Dutch heritage and fertile soil, resulting in several Dutch-style churches and a rich agricultural economy. Also of note is Sioux Center’s college, Dordt University.

The city’s mayor, Dave Krahling, attributes the town’s safety rating to the town’s citizens working together to cultivate a community that is always looking out for each other. He also says the police officers are encouraged to stay involved in the community outside of their official duties, which helps build relations.

All this hard work seems to be paying off, too, because Sioux Center has the lowest violent and property crime rates in all of Iowa. Perhaps other cities should take some notes!

2. Eldridge

Eldridge, Iowa
Image Credit: Eldridge, Iowa, Farragutful, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported
Population: 6,529
Property crime rate: 602.4 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 28.7 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 387 (5.9%)
Average household income: 71,961

Eldridge is a growing yet small town just north of Davenport, in the Quad Cities region of Iowa. Unlike the bustling Davenport, Eldridge is a quiet city mostly known for its numerous golf courses, parks, and family museums. There’s little nightlife here, and residents veer toward the rustic activities like golfing, fishing, and sports.

Eldridge has some of the lowest property and violent crime rates in all of Iowa, making it a fantastic place to settle down. Poverty and unemployment rates are low, meaning that most residents are too busy to even consider breaking bad and committing crimes.

It seems that the small-town approach is working for Eldridge, and its slowly rising population indicates it’s an attractive destination for people seeking a quiet life.

3. Clive

Image Credit: Hickman Road Clive Iowa Traffic Signal Green Light (US Route 6) – Clive, Iowa (24937144242), Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic
Population: 17,167
Property crime rate: 699.2 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 40.5 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 826 (4.8%)
Average household income: $104,839

Clive is a coal mining town-turned residential suburb, not far west of the busy state capital, Des Moines. This town is mainly known for its verdant Greenbelt Park and trail system, which has access to its library and parks. This trail system runs to Waukee in the west and is being continually expanded.

Clive is home to many folks who work out of Des Moines but prefer the quiet suburban life. It’s a relatively affluent community, with nearly double the average national household income. Low poverty, crime, and unemployment rates combine with attractive real estate prices to make this a nice suburb in proximity to Des Moines.

If you want to visit and/or work in the city of Des Moines but without the hassle and crime of big-city life, Clive is a great option to consider.

4. Norwalk

Population: 10,978
Property crime rate: 749.7 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 33.7 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 491 (4.5%)
Average household income: $83,403

Norwalk is another well-off Des Moines suburb located just south of the Des Moines International Airport. Norwalk has a diverse and vibrant mix of activities and business—there are three golf courses, very nice residential complexes, and the Norwalk Business Center, which is home to numerous businesses.

It might be a golfer’s paradise, but people from all walks of life call Norwalk home. The Game of Thrones and Aquaman star Jason Momoa hails from Norwalk! Although suburban, Norwalk is more spread out than other suburbs and continues to grow. With low poverty and much lower crime rates than the national average, this is a city to keep an eye on.

As of September 2021, more than 200 housing permits for new construction were filed with the city. This just goes to show that families continue to flock to the town for its excellent business opportunities, golf courses, and highly rated school system.

5. Decorah

Decorah, IA 52101, USA - panoramio
Image Credit: Decorah, IA 52101, USA – panoramio, Idawriter, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported
Population: 7,701
Property crime rate: 982.9 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 119.5 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 513 (9.2%)
Average household income: $55,282

Decorah is a small town located in the northeast corner of Iowa and is notable for its numerous natural features—the city has its very own waterfall as well as an ice cave, plus three parks built on bluffs around the town. Interestingly, Decorah is home to the largest Norwegian museum in the United States: The Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

Many young professionals and retirees live in Decorah, and records indicate most residents own their homes. With no big cities nearby, it’s definitely an ideal place for folks who prefer a quiet, semi-rural suburban life. Doubtlessly people love the diverse natural environment, too.

Decorah isn’t as affluent as some other entries on this list, but it has a low poverty rate and crime rates far beneath the national average. With a sparse suburban feel, you couldn’t go wrong moving to this town.

6. Orange City

Population: 11,990
Property crime rate: 516.2 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 129.1 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 309 (5.8%)
Average household income: $72,857

Orange City is a town that remembers and respects its Dutch heritage. With many of the storefronts proudly bearing Dutch architecture and the colorful annual Tulip Festival, you wouldn’t be amiss by mistaking it for a small version of Holland!

Research from Stanford and Harvard professors indicates Orange City is one of the best places for children to grow up due to the town’s school system and close church and community ties. Most people who grow up stay and never leave, so it must be a pretty nice place to live!

There’s very little crime, too. With little property crime and even less violent crime, you never have to worry about feeling unsafe in this Dutch-style city.

7. Spencer

Spencer, Iowa

Population: 11,052
Property crime rate: 1662.4 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 63.6 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 1,300 (12.1%)
Average household income: $45,719

Nestled in northwest Iowa is Spencer, a little town with a big heart. There are various cultural attractions like a museum, theater, and other public art displays in town. The city is known for its famous library cat, Dewey Readmore Books; the cat became known nationwide after he was abandoned in the library’s dropbox.

With proximity to the Little Sioux and Ocheyedan Rivers, Spencer likely has its share of kayakers and seems a great place if you like watersports and fishing. However, you shouldn’t move here if you like fireworks: after much of the town was destroyed by a fire started by a stray sparkler in the ‘30s, fireworks have been banned for almost a century!

Although property crimes come in just a bit under the national average, Spencer has a very, very low rate of violent crimes, with no recent murders or assaults at all. This makes it a perfect small place to settle down and enjoy some chill fishing or kayaking.

8. Johnston

Johnston, Iowa

Population: 21,406
Property crime rate: 1,197.7 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 127.7 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 871 (4.1%)
Average household income: $94,539

Yet another western suburb of Des Moines (what’s up with that?), Johnston was named the 16th Best Place To Live by Money Magazine in 2015 and the best suburb in Iowa by Business Insider in 2014. The town stands apart with its award-winning school system and 40-mile-long trail system, which runs through the city of Clive, featured earlier on this list.

Johnston is a great area to raise a family and own a home, and its home values even went up as others dropped during the 2008 recession. The town’s kite festival surely helps that, and a high average income doesn’t hurt either.

Johnston enjoys very low crime rates across the property and violent categories, despite its proximity to the relatively unsafe Des Moines. If you want to make a city income but live in a safe suburb, look no further.

9. Carroll

Carroll County IA Courthouse
Image Credit: Carroll County IA Courthouse, Nst101, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International
Population: 9,904
Property crime rate: 1,790 per 100k people
Violent crime rate: 92.1 per 100k people
Poverty rate: 913 (9.5%)
Average household income: $47,534

Carroll is a nice, quiet town with an outstanding 33-mile trail system—the first in the state to connect two state parks and two lakes. Also of note is the Carroll Family Aquatic Center, which offers affordable year-long fun at a reasonable price.

Although not a fast-growing town, Carroll is nearly a quintessential American small town. There are a few social hotbeds, but most people stay to themselves and enjoy quiet family life. Low poverty and unemployment confirm that this is a town for young professionals seeking a new and peaceful place to settle.

Although property crime is only a bit under the national average, Carroll has very little violent crime, which makes it very safe. If you lock your doors, you should have nothing to worry about.

divider 4 Why Are These Towns So Safe?

One of the burning questions these towns produce is what exactly makes them so safe. Sadly, there’s no single factor that determines a town’s safety and low crime. There are, however, numerous factors that can contribute to and influence them.

Factors That Make These Towns So Safe:
  • In general, most of these towns have a higher average household income. Higher-income residents and property taxes help contribute to a strong town government and community services.
  • Low poverty and unemployment rates are historically tied to low crime rates. When residents can work meaningful jobs and provide for their families, they’re less inclined to turn to crime.
  • Religious communities with strong church communities, like Orange City and its Reformed Churches, tend to enjoy low crime rates.

Related Read: 8 Most Dangerous Cities in Iowa

divider 4 Conclusion

Iowa isn’t exactly top of the list when you ask people to think of an unsafe state. However, it has cities that go above and beyond to keep the community safe for its residents and maintain peaceful communities.

See Also: 10 Safest Cities In Rhode Island

Featured Image Credit: Sioux City downtown 7th Street 1, Ammodramus, Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0 Universal


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