Iowa City, IA old capitol at the University of Iowa

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 63
Demographics 39
Economy 54
Education 57
Health 79
Housing 59
Infrastructure 45

#58. Iowa City, IA

Ask anyone who lives in Iowa City, IA, well, anything and they’ll gladly answer your question. The phenomenon of “Iowa Nice” is alive and well in Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa, a growing startup scene, top-notch health care and a charming, walkable downtown. Iowa City delivers on quality of life and it’s affordable too – median home prices here are around $215,000, making this a great place to live no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Top Colleges/Universities: University of Iowa

Top Industries & Employers: Education, health care and tech

Weekend Plans: Cheer on the Hawkeyes. Otherwise, check out one of Iowa City’s many fun festivals, including the Iowa Arts Festival, Mission Creek Festival and Downtown Block Party, to name just a few.

Favorite Place to Feast: Pullman Bar and Diner, a great place to meet friends for Saturday and Sunday brunch. 

Beloved Beverage: The pie shakes at Hamburg Inn No. 2, a beloved local restaurant that’s been around since 1935 and has played host to numerous U.S. presidents. As you might have guessed, a pie shake is a milkshake blended with a piece of pie (or, if you’re feeling daring, cake!).

Outdoorsy Activity: Road cycling or gravel biking through Iowa City’s rolling cornfields. For camaraderie and route inspiration, join the Iowa City Cycling Club.

Rooftop Bar: Joe’s Place, a divey neighborhood sports bar with a hidden gem rooftop.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: The 12-acre Thornberry Off-Leash Dog Park offers plenty of room to play fetch, get the zoomies and sniff some good smells.

Remote Work Perk: Looking for a sense of community? Iowa City has several coworking and maker spaces you can join, including Cowork Collective, MERGE and Fab Lab.

One More Thing … Iowa City became the world’s third UNESCO City of Literature in 2008, following in the footsteps of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Melbourne, Australia. The designation recognizes Iowa City’s commitment to literature through events, education, publishing, translation, libraries and bookstores.

– Sarah Kuta

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