5 Budget-Friendly Places to Retire In Iowa


After all the years of work and toil, it’s time to start looking for a place of retirement. The first place people think of is Florida, especially if retirees are looking for a warmer climate. But there is one state that should remain high on the discovery list for a variety of reasons: Iowa.

Iowa has been growing their presence and luring retirees to the state with several factors that are on the list of must-haves when moving to a new location. Iowa has a booming new economy, business-friendly and their housing prices are still some of the lowest found in the nation. Of course, it cannot compete with Florida beaches but some people need another option away from the heat, humidity, and hurricanes. Perhaps Iowa is the ideal destination for retirees forever home.

Talk to the general public and Iowa is rarely on their list of places to retire to. They think of agriculture, large farms, small towns, and country folk. What they are unaware of is how diverse Iowa really is. From small towns to larger cities, more seniors relocate to Iowa because of the variety of events and amenities. Additionally, there are homes for sale throughout the state where housing prices are very budget-friendly, especially when on a fixed retirement income.

Where are the Best Places to Retire in Iowa?

The answer to this question depends largely on one’s particular wants and needs. Housing costs are quite comparable to other states that offer affordable and safe communities – from country to city. Of course, budget restraints are a huge factor in making a decision on where to move but one thing that is often overlooked is which location can offer the best quality of life for those twilight years.

Perhaps too, quality of life is better in Iowa because it is such a diverse state. Iowa has the appeal of small home towns with parks, wildlife, farm markets, and a plethora of art and entertainment. Different activities keep the heart and soul young especially with several Iowan college towns.

Top 5 Budget-Friendly Places to Live in Iowa

1.Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids consistently ranks as one of the top 10 places to retire, according to Livability. Cedar Rapids offers a plethora of outdoor activities and stays in touch with nature. Hiking and fishing are some of the favored activities, but go into Waterloo and find a buzzing area with plenty of restaurants that cater to many cultural flavors within a diverse population. Cedar Rapids residents enjoy the arts, outdoors, and community spirit of helping one another.

There are plenty of homes for sale within Cedar Rapids plus the median home price is still well below the national average for home buying. Additionally, the cost of living is still low, which leaves more money in the bank.

2.Clear Lake

Homes for sale in Clear Lake, Iowa

may be competitive but the appeal is that it has a little bit of everything. For the more active retiree, there are bike trails, fishing, golf, hunting and sport shooting. On the water, enjoy fishing and sailing on the lake. For a more serene outing, there are gardens, parks and nature paths to wander through, plus Clear Lake residents love supporting local small businesses. There is an assortment of shops within walking distance of each other. Living in Clear Lake means living with easy access to movies, theater, and concerts.

With all of these amenities and advantages, one might believe the prices for home sales in Clear Lake would be astronomical, right? Wrong. With similar amenities, Denver, Colorado is 49.7% more expensive to live in than Clear Lake, Iowa.


Home to Iowa State University, Ames has a certain appeal for retirees who enjoy the energy of a college town. Because the area caters to young and old, there is a wide variety of activities and events. Art and culture are a given, but so is college sports. Ames maybe for the young at heart but do not mistake it for being just for the young. There will always be plenty to experience. Plus, with the advantage of being in a college town, there are often opportunities for local residents to take advantage of interesting seminars, cultural events, and adult learning classes.

One huge financial perk about living in Ames is that the cost of living is about 4.8% lower than the country’s average. That’s really good for a fixed income household.

4.Des Moines

Iowa is definitely not known for its metropolises but let’s not discount Des Moines. The population is approximately 200,000 in the city. Yes, it’s much smaller than New York City or Daytona, but if retirees prefer city life, then a smaller city like Des Moines will be appealing for several reasons. City amenities. Entertainment, close proximity, shops, art, and cultural events, everything that you might find in a larger city can be found here. The big difference is the median home price, which is below the national average. The cost of living like groceries, clothes, utilities, and taxes are also significantly budget-friendly.

What about West Des Moines?

West Des Moines was listed as Best Places to Live in 2014 and 2015. Like Des Moines, this area has a very affordable cost of living and home prices are very reasonable. Additionally, there is top of the line healthcare and hospital facilities here.


Very much like Ames, Decorah is another college town. It is the home of Luther College and has a fairly small population (approx. 7800 people) and a vibrant arts community. If budgetary concerns are part of the decision-making process to relocate, Decorah’s cost of living is about 10% lower than average.

One of the biggest attractions for Decorah is the Nordic Fest that’s held every summer. There is a huge Scandinavian influence here, with food and entertainment. This area has the feel of a small-town community with all of the great amenities and cultural diversity expected from a college town.

It is quite possible that Iowa might not be on the radar when looking for a place to retire, but it should definitely be considered. From academic and cultural areas, to rugged and outdoorsy or urban, city chic, Iowa delivers everything a person could want, especially when looking at budget-friendly locations where happy retirees settle. Iowa delivers everything a person needs.

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