25 Safest Cities in Iowa: Safest Places to Live in IA

October 1, 2014

6. Algona, IA

Surrounded by the long stretching flow of the East Fork Des Moines River, Algona is advantageously situated at the crossroads of Interstate Rt 18 and Highway 169. With the recent addition of an aquatic center which boasts a 146 ft open flume slide, there’s no lack of fun to be had in this pastoral, rural city. The nearest major city is to the South, Fort Dodge, which has ample opportunities for education and commerce. Algona is the home of one of the state’s award winning K9 units. Both canine and human police officers are key to keeping this city safe. Great training and special programs really pay off!

Population: 5,529
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.81
Property Crimes per 1000: 9.04
Crime Index: 74
Safer than 74% of US cities

7. Hiawatha, IA

Considered a north suburb of Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, IA, has experienced growth in leaps and bounds over the years. Home to Medal of Honor recipient, Sergeant Salvatore Guinta, this city has a proud tradition of maintaining American values through their commitment to a safe community and growing police department. Hiawatha also has a number of outdoor parks and recreational centers such as the expansive Cedar Valley Nature Trail. This trail is known for its abundant wildlife and wildflowers. Hiawatha, while being a suburb of Cedar Rapids, has a very low population density in comparison with the other suburbs. Dedicated to providing a safe and affordable living experience, this city has placed a lot of attention and care into its town center and public places – making it an enjoyable place to raise a family and do business.

Population: 7,141
Violent Crimes per 1000: 0.42
Property Crimes per 1000: 10.78
Crime Index: 73
Safer than 73% of US cities

8. Johnston, IA

The home of Iowa Public Television and Camp Dodge Military Reservation, Johnston, IA, is much more than just a northern extension of Des Moines. Straddling the scenic lake region of Saylorville Reservoir, this city has become a thriving business community – hosting the likes of Pioneer Hi-Bred and the John Deere Financial Headquarters. Bordered by Interstate 80 to the south and Highway 141 to the west, Johnston provides unparalleled access to both the city and other parts of the state while remaining true to its values of “Living, Learning, Growing.” With a highly trained and specialized police department, Johnston has an incredibly low crime rate in comparison to both the country and Iowa. This allows it to continue being such a great place to live and do business.

Population: 17,620
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.02
Property Crimes per 1000: 11.81
Crime Index: 67
Safer than 67% of US cities

9. Norwalk, IA

Situated on the borders of both Warren and Polk counties, Norwalk, IA, is a pivotal community in the southwestern district of the Des Moines Metropolitan Area. Featuring campuses of Des Moines University, this municipality has hosted the largest Disaster Health Training seminar in the United States, but it’s not just about preparing our nation’s first responders. Featuring nationally acclaimed college basketball teams and barbeque, Norwalk is a great low crime suburb to live in. Its local PD participates in a number of programs designed to mentor at-risk youth as well as stay current in new trends and technologies to keep its citizens safe. Its commitment to staying involved in the community is a contributing factor to the city’s low crime rate. Norwalk remains on the cutting edge of disaster preparedness and law enforcement, making it one of the safest places to live in terms of well trained and well funded law enforcement programs.

Population: 9,079
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.32
Property Crimes per 1000: 11.35
Crime Index: 67
Safer than 67% of US cities

10. Carroll, IA

Found in the middle of the state, Carroll, IA, is a bastion of industry surrounded by golden fields of wheat and corn. This city is the perfect mixture of work and play – maintaining a lush and vibrant mixture of activities for its citizens after the work is over. Featuring the historic Sauk Rail Trail, this path was initially built by the railroad when Carroll was first constructed. This recreational trail laps around Swan Lake, and proceeds along the span of Raccoon River. Home to one of Iowa’s greatest vineyards, the Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery, this city enjoys a great mix of aesthetics and community. For sports fans, Carroll Stadium offers a great place to congregate and enjoy local sporting competitions. Located several hours west of Ames, Carroll serves a vast network of rural and agricultural communities. With a police force that maintains an active commitment to serving and protecting its citizens, Carroll features one of the lowest crime rates in Iowa as well as being known for its cleanliness.

Population: 10,165
Violent Crimes per 1000: 0.79
Property Crimes per 1000: 12.79
Crime Index: 64
Safer than 64% of US cities

11. Ankeny, IA

Part of the northern Greater Des Moines Metropolitan Area, Ankeny, IA, is the largest city on our listing. This city has stood out far and above the rest for its continued recognition for being a family and business oriented city. Ankeny has enjoyed a litany of awards – including being ranked No. 62 in MONEY Magazine’s “Top 100 Places to Live”. Family Circle has also placed this city in its “Top Ten Towns for Families”. This northern suburb’s present growth shows no sign of stopping, as a low crime rate and continued industry only further encourage the city’s growth. Commercial opportunities continue to thrive in this area, making Ankeny the ideal home for companies such as Deere & Company’s Des Moise Works, Perishable Distributors of Iowa, and SYSCO Food Services. With the continued exuberance of local police through training and programs, Ankeny is definitely a top pick for safe places to live.

Population: 46,482
Violent Crimes per 1000: 0.73
Property Crimes per 1000: 13.86
Crime Index: 60
Safer than 60% of US cities

12. Anamosa, IA

Home to the National Motorcycle Museum, Anamosa, IA, also features a great reputation as a low crime community. Conveniently located along Interstate 151, this city serves as a great rest stop between Dubuque and Cedar Rapids. Featuring two of its very own, award winning country clubs, Anamosa has continued to be a safe and prosperous, family-oriented community. The Wapsipinicon River flows by this municipality’s beautiful, historic district and continues to supply it with clean, crisp water. Across the river lies Wapsipinicon State Park, hosting a number of nature walks showcasing the local fauna and wildlife. This idyllic community continues to take a vigilant stance against crime with a well-equipped police force trained by a variety of special programs and through coordinating efforts with the Anamosa State Penitentiary. The penitentiary also serves as a predominant place of employ for the residents, being noted for both its rich history and unique limestone castle architecture.

Population: 5,547
Violent Crimes per 1000: 0.54
Property Crimes per 1000: 15.5
Crime Index: 56
Safer than 56% of US cities

13. Bettendorf, IA

The fifteenth largest city in the state, Bettendorf, IA, shares its borders with neighboring Davenport and Moline, IL. Rated the 95th “Best Town” by CNN Money, this city contains many of the top employers in this country – including companies such as Alcoa and Hy-Vee. This synthesis of job opportunities and a low crime rate have made Bettendorf a great place to raise a family and work. Its overlap with nearby major cities across the Mississippi river keeps this community continually flush with good economic opportunities. A highlight is its police department’s gallant awards in the line-of-duty – including the Medal of Valor and Exemplary Service. These honorable protectors regularly engage in civic events and crime prevention awareness programs in the continued effort to maintain Bettendorf’s low crime and high quality of life.

Population: 33,729
Violent Crimes per 1000: 2.7
Property Crimes per 1000: 17.74
Crime Index: 51
Safer than 51% of US cities

14. Perry, IA

Perry, IA rests in the middle of the state in Dallas County and is a great small city. With Des Moines located quite some distance southwest of this city, it’s been given the opportunity to define its livelihood on more than just its proximity to Iowa’s industry giant. A pork plant, operated by Tyson Foods, supplies Perry with the majority of its industry. It’s also located along the Central Iowa Trail System which both spans the state and leads into other trail networks. Outside of an extremely low crime rate, this municipality also showcases an annual aviation show featuring planes dating back to as early as World War I. The police force stays current with training and special programs to ensure this community continues its commitment to being a safe place to live and work in the state of Iowa.

Population: 8,114
Violent Crimes per 1000: 2.47
Property Crimes per 1000: 15.53
Crime Index: 50
Safer than 50% of US cities

15. Urbandale, IA

Encompassed inside the perimeter of US Route 80 as it rings the Northwestern edge of Des Moine, is the vibrant medium-sized city of Urbandale, IA. During the historic days of trolleys, Urbandale was considered a streetcar suburb of Des Moine. It is an affluent section of the greater metropolitan area and has put a lot of attention and care into its protection and security. The police force there is continually trained on new and advancing technologies so it may better serve a community which was rated 39th in Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live”. Top employers in this region include Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Allied Insurance. Thus, many of the citizens of Urbandale are employed by some of the nation’s leading financial enterprises – leading to a community which prioritizes its safety and prosperity.

Population: 40,467
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.41
Property Crimes per 1000: 17.00
Crime Index: 49
Safer than 49% of US cities

16. Le Mars, IA

The self-proclaimed “Ice Cream Capitol of the World”, Le Mars, IA, is also one of the safest places to live. Boasting a variety of confections and flavors to try, crime is rarely one of them. Located on the Floyd River, northeast of Sioux City, Le Mars is Blue Bunny’s testing ground for new deserts. Wells’ Diary – from which it gets its plentiful ice cream novelties – originally started as a milk route in the turn of the last century. With the advent of the railroad and mass transportation, Wells’ Diary quickly took off. Once the Blue Bunny brand became popular nationwide, Le Mars quickly transformed into a center of confectionery delight – being both the laboratory and ground zero for Blue Bunny’s new and upcoming creations. And while hundreds of thousands of people flock to this city every year in the hopes of trying out Le Mars’ new inventions, the police department has become equally well equipped in ensuring that the excitement is properly handled. Featuring state of the art technologies in dealing with crowd control and traffic enforcement, Le Mars’ PD has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to crime. This has undoubtedly been one of the factors keeping Le Mars’ crime rate well below the national average.

Population: 9,829
Violent Crimes per 1000: 0.61
Property Crimes per 1000: 18.11
Crime Index: 48
Safer than 48% of US cities

17. Pleasant Hill, IA

Pastoral Pleasant Hill, IA, is located directly east of Des Moines outside the perimeter of Interstate 65. A close-knit community, the Fire Department holds monthly pancake breakfasts and the city ascribes to the philosophy, “grow, play, live.” Fostering a strong atmosphere of family friendliness, Pleasant Hill enjoys its degree of separation from the bustle of its neighboring metropolis. This town has experienced its high points and its low points, though. An unfortunate accident that took place in 1983 has inspired its local police department into continued vigilance against sometimes well-meaning curiosity and sport. With special programs and training meant to prevent disasters such as the 1983 ordinance explosion from taking place again, Pleasant Hill enjoys an extremely low incidence of crime.

Population: 8,960
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.56
Property Crimes per 1000: 17.97
Crime Index: 46
Safer than 46% of US cities

18. Atlantic, IA

The county seat of Cass County, Atlantic, IA, was initially a depot during the railroad’s expansion westward. Initially deemed incorrectly to be halfway between the Atlantic and the Pacific, this town got its name infamously by the flip of coin between Railroad tycoons Franklin Whitney and John P. Cook. Located along the banks of the Nishnabotna River, this city still maintains its own newspaper and radio stations – creating a sense of culture and purpose in this rural environment. The halfway point between Omaha and Des Moines, Atlantic serves as a great agricultural hub for the trade and distribution of corn and soy. It is also a wonderful place to raise a family and conduct business as it maintains a low incidence of crime and its police department is extremely well trained and funded.

Population: 7,068
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.70
Property Crimes per 1000: 18.11
Crime Index: 45
Safer than 45% of US cities

19. Manchester, IA

On the long stretch of flat road spanning between Cedar Falls and Dubuque lies the pleasant city of Manchester, IA. A multitude of great captains of industry exist in this quiet little abode – including Exide Technologies, Henderson Products, and the Regional Medical Center. As Manchester is the county sea of Delaware County, it also employs many of its citizens in official duties – keeping the populace both well governed and prosperous. In addition to its commercial and government roles, Manchester is also home to the Trout Hatchery which spawns fish for distribution to regional lakes and streams. This city also keeps its residents entertained with a plethora of activities including an exotic animal zoo and a family aquatic center. A low crime rate is also amongst Manchester’s many accomplishments, in thanks to a police department that is both well trained and well equipped by special programs.

Population: 5,168
Violent Crimes per 1000: 3.68
Property Crimes per 1000: 15.87
Crime Index: 45
Safer than 45% of US cities

20. Cedar Falls, IA

Home to the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls is widely considered to be the arts and entertainment hub of the state. With an expansive public library covered 47,000 square feet, this is a city dedicated to higher education and cultural expansion. The underground music scene is pretty big here as well. Wartburg College has a grand history of being the launching pad for bands, record labels, and music venues which continue to enrich this country. Cedar Falls is an impressive medium-sized city that offers much and is the typical college town. This low crime area has provided the foundation for so many national contributions to sports, theater, and music. The local police department remains dedicated to providing a sense of safety and security for those in Cedar Falls who are striving towards American innovation.

Population: 39,540
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.24
Property Crimes per 1000: 18.97
Crime Index: 44
Safer than 44% of US cities

21. Estherville, IA

Esterville, IA, is the home to Aero Racewheels, a manufacturer of NASCAR parts and equipment. Situated alongside the Des Moines River, this city is known for its low crime rate and its appreciation of racing. It is also the landing site of a world-renowned meteorite. Fragments of this space rock are displayed in museums in Munich, Vienna, and even the Smithsonian. Since that historic event, Esterville has become a hub of agriculture and industry – producing not only race wheels but also government oversight. This city is the county seat of Emmett County and it citizens are largely employed in taking care of the entire county’s affairs. Included in this is a police department that stays current with special programs and training.

Population: 6,263
Violent Crimes per 1000: 2.56
Property Crimes per 1000: 17.72
Crime Index: 44
Safer than 44% of US cities

22. Grinnell, IA

Halfway between Des Moines and Iowa City, Grinell, IA is the perfect scenic resting place. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and view this city’s newly renovated historic downtown. These renovations have enabled it to continue to host notable festivals such as the Grinnell Games – which include a marathon and a night-time bicycle race. It also is the home to the Faulconer Gallery which holds regular exhibitions of regional, national, and international artwork. Grinnell’s loyal and trustworthy police department helps keep the peace, enabling residents and visitors to safely enjoy all that this city has to offer. Undoubtedly, with the low crime rate and so many competitions and art festivals, they’ll be spending more of their free time enjoying that recently renovated downtown.

Population: 9,205
Violent Crimes per 1000: 2.83
Property Crimes per 1000: 17.71
Crime Index: 43
Safer than 43% of US cities

23. Mount Pleasant, IA

Quite a ways south from Iowa City, along Interstate 218, lies Mount Pleasant, IA. The entire city appears dedicated to the annual Old Thresher’s Reunion. This festival began back in 1950 as an exhibition of agricultural and historic achievements with a bunch of old specimens of tractors, farm equipment and even electric trolleys. All of these exhibits include plenty of interactive games and fanfare, attracting a great deal of regional and national attention. Looming in the background of this hallmark fair is a very dedicated group of local police. Mount Pleasant Police Department has been instrumental in keeping crime low so residents and visitors can continue playing around on turn-of-last-century agricultural equipment. When not hopping aboard a steam-powered tractor, residents look forward to steady work at West Liberty Foods and the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility – its two biggest employers. This also ensures that the local police stay highly trained through specialized programs and cooperation with other local law enforcement agencies.

Population: 8,756
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.60
Property Crimes per 1000: 21.59
Crime Index: 37
Safer than 37% of US cities

24. Spirit Lake, IA

Surrounded on three sides by large bodies of fresh water, Spirit Lake, IA, takes its name from the largest one located directly north of it. While the East and West Okoboji Lakes maintain their scenic luster, residents have taken to Spirit Lake for its origins in the Dakota language. Keeping in a similar vein of personal freedom, this city is also the home of Victory Motorcycles. Now owned by Polaris, this city still maintains a strong connection to both its Dakota origins and its classic American motorcycles. It is also home to an extremely low crime rate due to the hard work of the local police department. Spirit Lake Police take training seriously and have invested a lot of time into special programs designed to keep their residents and visitors safe.

Population: 4,926
Violent Crimes per 1000: 0.41
Property Crimes per 1000: 22.94
Crime Index: 36
Safer than 36% of US cities

25. Shenandoah, IA

Hometown of the Everly Brothers, Shenandoah, IA, is an eclectic mix of pioneering, agriculture, and radio broadcasting history. Hosting one the earliest Midwestern radio transmitters, this city has inspired generations of excellent musicians – many of whom got their first minutes of airtime right here. This quiet, agricultural hub, one of the smallest towns to make our listing, situated in the southwestern portion of the state was initially named for its resemblance to the Shenandoah valley in Virginia. It has since grown into its own – bringing great trends in entertainment as well as public safety. At present this city has one of the lowest crime rates in the state thanks in part to great classic music and its own local police. Shenandoah PD has proven that it is committed to protecting residents through participation in state and federal training programs.

Population: 5,150
Violent Crimes per 1000: 1.75
Property Crimes per 1000: 24.27
Crime Index: 31
Safer than 31% of US cities

In your search for a safe Iowa city to call home or to open a business, these 25 cities stand out for their low crime rates, impressive offerings and more. Choose any one of them and you can rest easy that you will stay as safe as possible.

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25 Safest Cities in Iowa: Safest Places to Live in IA

Disclaimer: To improve the accuracy and usefulness of our list, we chose to exclude small communities with populations below 5,000 in our rankings.
Our rankings are determined by national crime statistics published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Our rankings are only as accurate as the local population and crime statistics officially released by the FBI.

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