Safest Cities in Iowa

  • Population
    3,148,618
  • Avg Annual Rent
    $9583
  • Avg Household Income
    $62089
  • Cost of Living
    15.90%
  • Violent Crime Rate
  • Property Crime Rate
  • Primary Care Ranking
    22
  • Mental Health Provider
    44

The Midwest state of Iowa is famous for its vast expanses of farmland, most of which is dedicated to growing corn. In fact, Iowa produces more corn than any other state and also leads the nation in pork production. Although it's estimated that 85% of Iowa's land is devoted to agriculture, nearly two-thirds of the state's 3,155,070 residents live in urban areas. Economically, Iowa has shifted focus to include the areas of advanced manufacturing and processing, financial services, information technology, biotechnology, and green energy production. Significant metropolitan areas in Iowa include Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Waterloo, Dubuque, Sioux City, Iowa City and Des Moines. The cities that earn the distinction of being the safest in the Hawkeye State are listed below.

How We Determined the Safest Cities in Iowa

We narrowed down the safest cities in each state based on two primary categories: crime rates and financial safety. First, we evaluated each city’s crime rate using a number of public safety factors including the number of violent, property and hate crimes in each area to help determine the safest areas to live. We then evaluated the city’s financial safety using socioeconomic factors like household income, average rent and health insurance.

In addition to data on each of the cities, we also provided safety data for the state itself. We examined how each state ranks for natural disaster risks and public health ratings compared to all other states. You can find a detailed breakdown of our methodology and links to sources here.

Here are the public safety factors we counted for each city:

  • Property crime - Number of property crimes reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
  • Violent crime - Number of violent crimes reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
  • Aggravated assaults - Number of aggravated assaults reported in the city (FBI Crime Report)
  • Hate crime - Number of hate crimes reported in the city (FBI Hate Crime Report)
  • Officer-related incidents - Number of officer-involved shootings reported in the city (Gun Violence Archive)
  • Mass shootings - Incidents in which four or more people are shot/killed in the city (Gun Violence Archive)

Here are the financial safety factors we counted for each city:

  • Unemployment rate - The average rate of unemployed residents in each city
  • Cost of living - The average annual rent and household income per city
  • Poverty rate - Percentage of families that reported experiencing poverty in the last 12 months
  • Uninsured residents - Unemployed and employed residents that reported not having health insurance
  • Access to internet - Residents that reported having access to the internet in their household

7 Safest Cities in Iowa

  • No. 1 Mount Vernon

    Located to the southeast of Cedar Rapids, Mount Vernon is home to Cornell College. In fact, the college‘s student body makes up approximately one-fourth of the town‘s population, which is estimated to be 4,510 as of 2020. Relatively low rent, high household incomes and virtually nonexistent poverty and unemployment make Mount Vernon the most financially safe town in Iowa according to our data.

    96out of 100

    Public Safety

    92out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)2.259376 (7th)2.259376 (7th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    9096 (5th)82656 (1st)0.012 (7th)0 (7th)0.004 (7th)0 (7th)
  • No. 2 Le Mars

    Le Mars was dubbed the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” in 1994 thanks to the Blue Bunny ice cream and dairy company‘s significance to the town. It has extremely low rates of both violent and property crime. Nearly 10,000 people call this northwestern Iowa town home.

    98out of 100

    Public Safety

    68out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)1.001101 (5th)1.001101 (5th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    7632 (7th)60632 (4th)0.028 (6th)0.065 (4th)0.027 (3rd)0.11 (6th)
  • No. 3 Pleasant Hill

    Pleasant Hill 10,070 residents live just east of Des Moines in this middle-class suburb. Copper Creek Lake Park represents a notable destination in the northwest corner of Pleasant Hill, as is Yellow Banks Park in the southeast corner.

    98out of 100

    Public Safety

    64out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)0.997009 (4th)0.997009 (4th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    11748 (1st)78406 (2nd)0.031 (4th)0.023 (6th)0.034 (2nd)0.358 (2nd)
  • No. 4 Pella

    Pella is situated near the eastern shores of Lake Red Rock in the center of the state, to the southeast of Des Moines. Pella is home to 10,369 residents, Central College and cultural attractions such as the Pella Historical Village, Scholte House Museum and Gardens and the Vermeer Museum and Global Pavillion.

    99out of 100

    Public Safety

    57out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)0.979624 (3rd)0.979624 (3rd)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    10896 (2nd)64770 (3rd)0.03 (5th)0.049 (5th)0.019 (4th)0.203 (3rd)
  • No. 5 Dubuque

    With a population just shy of 58,000, Dubuque is nestled on the western banks of the Mississippi River and borders both Illinois and Wisconsin. Nature plays a significant role in Dubuque‘s claims to fame, as it‘s the home of the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, as well as the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

    99out of 100

    Public Safety

    44out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)0.171344 (2nd)0.171344 (2nd)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    9252 (4rd)52298 (5th)0.051 (3rd)0.111 (2nd)0.01 (5th)0.188 (4th)
  • No. 6 Grinnell

    Grinnell represents the midpoint between the cities of Des Moines and Cedar Rapids along I-80. Notable places of interest in Grinnell include Grinnell College, the Grinnell Historical Museum and the Louis Sullivan “Jewel Box” Bank. Grinnell‘s population in 2020 was 9,382.

    97out of 100

    Public Safety

    39out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)1.111111 (6th)1.111111 (6th)0 (1st)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    8592 (6th)43608 (7th)0.055 (2nd)0.084 (3rd)0.039 (1st)0.471 (1st)
  • No. 7 Des Moines

    Centrally located within the state, Des Moines is known for being both Iowa‘s capital and most populous city. Despite a population of about 217,000 within the city and about 655,000 in the metropolitan area, Des Moines boasts a low hate-crime rate and relatively low uninsured and unemployment rates, earning it a spot on the list of safest cities in Iowa.

    94out of 100

    Public Safety

    38out of 100

    Financial Safety

    Public Safety

    Total Violent CrimeSociety CrimesProperty CrimeHate CrimeOfficer IncidentMass Shootings
    0 (1st)0 (1st)0 (1st)0.045629 (1st)0.045629 (1st)0.273774 (7th)

    Financial Safety

    Annual RentHousehold IncomeUnemployment RatePovertyUninsured EmployedUninsured Unemployed
    9864 (3rd)52251 (6th)0.06 (1st)0.145 (1st)0.008 (6th)0.167 (5th)

Iowa State Safety

Natural Disaster Safety

Iowa ranks 13th in the U.S. for natural disaster risks. According to the Department of Homeland Security, Iowa experienced 45 natural disasters that resulted in a presidential disaster declaration during the 30-year period between 1990 and 2020. Most of these disasters involved severe storms with straight-line winds, tornadoes and/or flooding, and several were categorized as “winter storms.” There are no major fault lines in Iowa, so earthquake activity is not a significant concern.

13out of 50

Natural Disaster

Health Safety

America’s Health Rankings named Iowa the 20th healthiest state in the U.S. However, Iowans die due to heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and Alzheimer’s disease (the top four leading causes of death in Iowa) at rates higher than the national average. On the positive side, Iowa boasts far lower death rates for homicide, drug overdose and firearm-related incidents than average. Iowa also has one of the lowest low birth weight rates in the nation.

18out of 50

Health Safety

Top 7 Safest Cities in Iowa

Mount Vernon4,426611
Le Mars9,989422
Pleasant Hill10,030333
Pella10,208244
Dubuque58,362155
Grinnell9,000566
Des Moines219,159777