View of part of the downtown of Atlantic, Iowa, the county seat of Cass County. Editorial credit: dustin77a /

8 Most Affordable Towns to Retire in Iowa

Iowa does not tax retirement income for residents over 55 and has a cost of living generally below the national average. These are some of the many aspects that make the Hawkeye State an appealing location for retirement. In addition to tax benefits and affordability, Iowa offers scenic landscapes ranging from rolling farmland to beautiful bluffs bordering the Mississippi River, making for the ideal setting to spend your sunset years.

Whether seeking a small town with cultural activities, a laidback suburb of a larger city, or a community surrounded by beauty in nature, Iowa has no shortage of options. The following are some of the top towns to retire in Iowa that will not break the bank. Each provides amenities to enjoy your golden years without the steep price tag of more established cities in the state.


A statue known as "Albert the Bull" stands in a park off hwy 71. Editorial credit: Suzanne Tucker /
A statue known as "Albert the Bull" stands in a park off hwy 71. Editorial credit: Suzanne Tucker /

Audubon is a tiny, charming community whose claim to fame is the "World's Largest Bull." This quirky roadside attraction features a massive 33 by 15 feet Hereford bull statue that intrigues tourists and continues to interest residents even after more than half a century. However, there is more on offer in Audubon, including a richly historical experience at Nathaniel Hamlin Park & Museum. In this interesting house museum, retirees will discover a collection of rare artifacts from bygone eras, including pioneer farm implements and early 20th-century furnishings. Surrounding the building is a beautiful green park with secluded trails and an inviting atmosphere for a street-free stroll.

Elsewhere, Audubon Golf & Country Club is a prime spot for outdoor enthusiasts, offering easy-going golfing opportunities for retirees looking to test their swing. Audubon has a number of assisted living communities caring for its elderly population, such as Friendship Home. With a median real estate price of $205,000, homes here cost less than the state average.

Charles City

Alvin Miller Residence, built 1946, Frank Lloyd Wright architect in Charles City, Iowa. Editorial credit: Jim Packett /
Alvin Miller Residence, built in 1946 by Frank Lloyd Wright architect in Charles City, Iowa. Editorial credit: Jim Packett /

This small town in Floyd County played a vital role in the development of the American tractor. Its storied past is well preserved at the Floyd County Museum, whose expansive collection of artifacts provides an insightful perspective of the town's progression through the years. For a long time, Charles City has served as a regional transportation hub and boasts a developed transport network, with several national highways and the Canadian National Railroad passing through it. This makes it easy for retirees to get around to the wider region more conveniently, whether for recreational or medical purposes.

The local art scene is quite respectable, offering several family-friendly venues that will interest senior citizens. At Charles City Arts Center, they can browse magnificent pieces by local artists, while the Charles Theater screens fun films for all ages in a vintage movie house. For pensioners seeking outdoor recreation, there are plenty of opportunities at Charles City Whitewater, including kayaking, tubing, and paddleboarding. Buying a home in Charles will not cost a fortune, considering that the median property value is $195,500.


The Field of Dreams is a baseball field and pop-culture tourist attraction built originally for the movie of the same name. Editorial credit: Sandra Foyt /
The Field of Dreams is a baseball field and pop-culture tourist attraction built originally for the movie of the same name. Editorial credit: Sandra Foyt /

Situated about 90 miles north of Davenport, Dyersville is popularly known as the "Farm Toy Capital of the World." It stands out for its mix of quirky museums, highlighted by the National Farm Toy Museum. This is an excellent stop for the whole family, where guests can explore the history of agriculture on a smaller scale through lovely farm toy exhibits. Dyersville also houses the Dyer-Botsford Doll Museum, home to a vast collection of dolls that will make for an interesting indoor pursuit when spending time with the grandkids. Meanwhile, the Field of Dreams Movie Site is a famous baseball field that was immortalized by the 1989 film of the same name, where senior citizens can enjoy awesome tours.

When the time comes to step out into the open spaces, Candy Cane Park welcomes retirees for some fun physical activities in a beautiful outdoor space with amenities like ball fields, playgrounds, and picnic spots. The real estate market in Dyersville is quite friendly for those looking to buy a home, with an affordable median price of $199,900. However, pensioners can take advantage of cheaper housing options at Ellen Kennedy Living Center.

Webster City

Webster city historic park in Iowa is home to the original wood frame court house, churches, log cabins, and an old depot.
Webster City Historic Park in Iowa is home to the original wood-frame courthouse, churches, log cabins, and an old depot.

Webster City is a prime example of the perks that come with small-town living when you decide to retire in Iowa. This riverine community's median home price is only $169,900, leaving pensioners with an easy decision to invest in a new home. The town boasts a laidback rural scenery, which is thanks in part to the impressive network of green spaces. Briggs Woods Park is an excellent example and a popular recreation hub among locals, offering camping cabins, a golf course, hiking trails, and a tiny fishing lake. The same is true for Wilson Brewer Memorial Park, where the love for the outdoors mixes harmoniously with a historical town landmark.

There are plenty of community-based venues that help foster close ties among the locals, highlighted by the Webster City Community Theater. Elsewhere, senior citizens who want to stay ahead of their physical health can sign up for membership at Snap Fitness Webster City to access vital gym facilities.


Hurstville Lime Kilns in Maquoketa, Iowa.
Hurstville Lime Kilns in Maquoketa, Iowa.

Maquoketa is a picturesque oasis teeming with natural beauty, from mystic caves and dramatic geological formations to dense woodlands. The town is renowned for the Maquoketa Caves State Park, which beckons adventurers to explore one of the state's most distinct outdoor attractions. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, retirees can look forward to exciting underground excursions with plenty of natural wonders to discover. Also, the Prairie Creek Recreation Area allows further immersion into the great outdoors, where opportunities like hiking, nature viewing, and fishing await.

Away from the open spaces, Maquoketa has a fair share of interesting indoor attractions, starting with the Old City Hall Gallery. Housed inside is a changing exhibit of pieces by local and regional artists. Alternatively, visiting the Jackson County Historical Society will get fresh retirees familiar with the history of the region. With Iowa highways 62 and 64 passing through Maquoketa, the reliable transport network allows seniors to easily access neighboring destinations, like the Quad Cities, for exploration and other reasons. Finally, homes here cost an average of $199,900.


Atlantic, Iowa. In Wikipedia.,_Iowa By Jared Winkler - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Atlantic, Iowa. In Wikipedia. By Jared Winkler - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikipedia

The "Coca-Cola Capital of Iowa" lives up to its nickname by hosting a mini-convention annually that attracts collectors from around the country. This charming community harbors a few historical markers retirees would want to explore, led by the Rock Island Depot. Built-in 1898, the old building offers a look into local railroad heritage. Numerous golfing opportunities in the Atlantic promise seniors laidback outdoor recreations in a beautiful atmosphere, including Nishna Hills Golf Club and the Atlantic Golf & Country Club.

Retirees looking for a sense of purpose will be glad to join Nishna Valley Family YMCA. The non-profit organization plans a diverse range of community-based programs and events designed to boost social welfare. Elsewhere, those wanting to stay ahead of their physical health can access vital gym facilities at Anytime Fitness, with advice from a professional fitness trainer. When it comes to investing in a home, the median cost of real estate, at $243,300, is below the United States average.


Iowa Speedway plays host to the INDYCAR Series for the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend in Newton, IA, USA. Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group /
Iowa Speedway plays host to the INDYCAR Series for the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend in Newton, IA, USA. Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group /

Newton's long-tenured love affair with the washing machine industry earned it the nickname "Washing Machine Capital of the World." It is a vibrant community that perfectly balances small-town charm with big-city amenities, presenting seniors with the best of both worlds. The town is home to the Iowa Speedway, where locals gather to watch an adrenaline-inducing show on the tarmac featuring NASCAR-worthy competition. Newton's rich past is well documented at the Jasper County Historical Society, which hosts a broad collection of archives, photographs, and other artifacts dedicated to preserving the history of the region.

Newton expresses its small-town personality through social centers like the Newton Community Theater, an excellent place for retirees to join fellow townsfolk in celebrating local talent. Meanwhile, the Newton Arboretum & Botanical Gardens provide the perfect green outdoor atmosphere, allowing seniors to stretch their legs along laidback trails. Despite its proximity to Des Moines, Newton manages to be affordable, with an average home cost of $228,300.


Greene County Courthouse in Jefferson, Iowa.
Greene County Courthouse in Jefferson, Iowa.

This tiny, tight-knit community in Greene County provides retirees with a little bit of everything while assuring there's always a friendly neighbor to have their back when times are tough. Jefferson's strong sense of community is evident from the multiple community-based centers, which foster harmonious living and camaraderie among members. These include the Sierra Community Theater, the History Boy Community Theater Co., and the Greene County Community Center, providing a safe place for locals to gather and enjoy family-friendly entertainment.

A slew of green spaces in the town promises pensioners delightful recreational opportunities whenever they want to step outside. From Sally's Alley to the Thomas Jefferson Gardens of Greene County, they can always look forward to a great time outdoors. The local community also demonstrates care for elderly citizens through a number of assisted living communities, including the Gardens Assisted Living at Jefferson. This provides retirees with peace of mind in their advanced years. With a median home price of $205,000, pensioners do not need much convincing to settle in this beautiful town.

With their charming mix of cozy natural beauty, small-town vibe, safety, and affordability, these top towns to retire in Iowa guarantee pensioners a smooth sail into their sunset years. Boasting low crime rates, housing prices significantly below the state average, and access to urban amenities without big city tabs, any of them would allow retirees to truly relax in their old age. Whether interested in rural scenery, water recreation, or immersive cultural events, the Hawkeye State reassures retirees with unmatched safety and cost-effectiveness.

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