Best Places to Live

Iowa City, IA

Population: 75,130
LIV
SCORE
678
Christopher Hunter

Iowa City, the original capital of the state of Iowa and home to the University of Iowa, is a fun, smart, and easy-to-live-in city. It has the energetic, youthful vibe of a college town mixed with a sophisticated and curious culture filled with excellent restaurants and famous bookstores. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong here, as Iowa City is consistently ranked highly as a great place to start a business, and the city and university make investment after investment in growing Iowa-based companies.

Top Industries and Employers: The top industries here are healthcare, education and tech. In fact, Governor Kim Reynolds recently named Iowa City as the state’s ed tech hub. Top employers include the University of Iowa, University of Hospitals and Clinics, Mercy Hospital, Iowa City Community School District, ACT, Integrated DNA Technologies and Oral B Laboratories.

Best Coffee Shop: Fix! is the coffee shop located inside The Chauncey, a new high-rise in downtown Iowa City. Along with Fix!, The Chauncey is home to FilmScene (an awesome nonprofit cinema), a bowling alley, luxury apartments and condos and a chic hotel.

Best Local Beer/Brewery: Big Grove Brewery and Taproom features about any kind of beer you could ever imagine. Our favorite? The Tang-O-Rang Gusher. It’s a rare find, but when you do, buy as much as you can.

Must-Have Meal: Breakfast Poutine at table is like nothing you’ve ever experienced: cheese curds, sofrito, breakfast potatoes, pancetta, and house-made sausage gravy. Come onnnnn.

Best Co-Working Space: MERGE

Best Meetup Spot (When Meeting Up Is a Thing Again): The patio at Gene’s is the best place for an after-work cocktail. It opens right up to the heart of downtown, overlooking the Weatherdance Fountain stage, which has concerts every Friday night.

Creative Hub: The Iowa City Literary Walk is the place to find some creative inspiration. Built right into the sidewalks downtown, you’ll find all the beautiful quotes, poems and artwork you’d expect from a UNESCO City of Literature.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Hawkeye Football. This city is ALIVE when the Hawkeyes are in town. 

Free Way to Have Fun: Coralville Lake and Devonian Fossil Gorge are really unique and beautiful places you wouldn’t expect in the Heartland.

Local Dream Job: Community Engagement Manager at Sculpt, a social media agency located in Downtown Iowa City. 

Read More:
8 Reasons to Move to Iowa City
Why Iowa City Is the Best Breakfast Destination in the World
10 People on What it's Really Like to Leave NYC for a Smaller City

- Tim Carty

"Iowa City is a great place to live because of how open and accepting the community is. 'Iowa Nice' is a real thing, but so is 'Iowa City Curiosity.' The people here have a thirst for learning and experiencing the new and different."

Nick Pfeiffer
Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Think Iowa City

Iowa City, IA Ranking Data

Civic
74
Demographics
60
Economy
46
Education
58
Health
79
Housing
54
Infrastructure
51