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Home Sweet (Affordable) Home: Cost of Living in Iowa

cost of living in Iowa
Photo Credit: Canva

If you're on the hunt for an affordable place to call home, you'll want to give Iowa a good look. 

This Midwestern state may be famous for its cornfields and caucuses, but it's also gaining recognition as a budget-friendly haven with many best places to live. From housing to groceries, Iowa offers a cost of living that'll have your wallet saying "thanks a billion!".

And when you're not cozying up in your new digs, you can embrace the weather in Iowa and explore the fun things to do in Des Moines, from outdoor adventures to cultural attractions and a vibrant foodie scene.

So what's the real deal with the prices in the Hawkeye State? Let's break it down!

Housing: Cozy Nooks and White Picket Fences

Let's start with housing, a significant chunk of most household budgets. In Iowa, you can kiss those astronomical mortgage payments or sky-high rents goodbye. The state's median home value sits at a very reasonable $194,900, significantly lower than the national average of $247,800.

Even in major cities like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, buying a comfortable home won't break the bank. Renting? A two-bedroom apartment will set you back around $930 per month. So go ahead, decorate that living room with quirky thrift store finds!

Whether you're looking to buy or rent, Des Moines provides an affordable and inviting housing market, allowing you to stretch your budget and enjoy the perks of homeownership or the flexibility of renting without breaking the bank.

Groceries: Where the Budget Smiles Back

cost of living in Iowa - Costco supermarket
Costco. Photo Credit: Grantham Group

Iowa’s grocery aisles are like a friendly neighbor who always lends you a cup of sugar. A family of four can stock up on essentials for about $300 per week. That’s less than a Broadway ticket! Your wallet will thank you for fresh produce, dairy, and all the fixings for your famous chili. 

You can also find two of the most affordable grocery stores in Iowa that offer budget-friendly options for your shopping needs. First is Aldi, a German-born discount grocer that focuses on controlling costs through private labels, limited selection, and a no-frills shopping experience. They emphasize house brands to keep prices extremely low, and approximately 90% of their products fall under Aldi’s own private labels. And second is Costco, which is known for revolutionizing big-box discount shopping, Costco operates over 800 warehouse club retail stores worldwide. Their membership-based model offers extensive product categories paired with highly competitive pricing.

Utilities: The Unassuming Heroes

1. Electricity

In Iowa, you’ll find reliable electric service provided by companies like MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy. Here’s what you need to know:

Cost: The average monthly electricity bill in Iowa hovers around $100 to $150. Factors like the size of your home, usage patterns, and energy efficiency impact the final amount.

Renewable Energy: Iowa is a leader in wind energy production. Wind turbines dot the landscape, harnessing the prairie winds to generate clean electricity.

Tips for Efficiency: Consider using LED bulbs, unplugging devices when not in use, and sealing gaps around doors and windows to save on energy costs.

2. Water

Clean water flows reliably from taps across Iowa. Municipal water systems ensure safe drinking water for residents. Key points about water utilities:

Cost: The average monthly water bill in Iowa is approximately $30 to $50. This covers water supply, treatment, and wastewater services.

Conservation: Be mindful of water usage. Fix leaks promptly, install low-flow faucets, and avoid wasting water.

Water Quality: Regular testing ensures that Iowa’s water meets health standards. Cheers to a refreshing glass of H₂O!

3. Internet

In our digital age, Wi-Fi is as vital as oxygen. Whether you’re streaming, working remotely, or video chatting with loved ones, reliable internet is non-negotiable. Here’s the lowdown:

Providers: Major internet providers in Iowa include Mediacom, CenturyLink, and Windstream.

Cost: Expect to pay around $50 to $70 per month for a decent internet plan.

Speeds: Choose a plan that suits your needs—whether you’re a casual surfer or a hardcore gamer.

Streaming Bliss: With affordable internet, binge-watching your favorite shows guilt-free is a reality. Popcorn, anyone?

Cruisin’ Down the Highway: Transportation

When it comes to gas prices, Iowa won’t leave you clutching your wallet in despair. Here’s why:

Affordability: At an average of $2.80 per gallon, filling up your tank won’t break the bank. Compared to other states, Iowa’s gas prices are quite reasonable.

Scenic Drives: Picture yourself cruising along the highways, passing by golden fields of corn, red barns, and rolling hills. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting brought to life.

Unicorn-Level Traffic Jams: Fear not! Traffic congestion is as rare as spotting a mythical unicorn. Iowa’s roads flow smoothly, allowing you to enjoy the journey without gridlock stress.

So, hop in your car, roll down the windows, and savor the open road. Whether you’re heading to a charming town or exploring the countryside, Iowa’s gas prices and scenic drives make it a road-trippers paradise!

Healthcare: Staying Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

In the heart of the Midwest, Iowa prioritizes health without emptying your wallet. Here’s how you can stay well without breaking the bank:

1. Routine Doctor Visits: Affordable Care

Cost of a Routine Doctor’s Visit: In Iowa, a typical routine doctor’s visit will set you back approximately $100. Whether it’s a check-up, preventive care, or addressing minor health concerns, you’ll find accessible and reasonably priced medical services.

Healthcare Providers: Iowa boasts several hospitals and clinics that cater to residents’ needs. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Boone County Hospital: Serving Boone County and beyond since the early 1900s, they focus on improving health and well-being.

  • Iowa Specialty Hospital (Clarion): Offering specialized care, including orthopedics, bariatrics, and more.

  • Grundy County Memorial Hospital: Committed to compassionate care and community well-being.

2. Chicken Soup and Fresh Air: Home Remedies

Chicken Soup: When you catch a cold, chicken soup is practically a universal remedy. While it’s not entirely free, it’s certainly budget-friendly. Warm, soothing, and packed with nutrients, it’s comfort food for both body and soul.

Iowa’s Fresh Air: Sometimes the best medicine is right outside your door. Iowa’s wide-open spaces, fresh air, and serene landscapes contribute to overall well-being. Take a walk, breathe deeply, and let nature work its magic.

3. Health Insurance Options

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare): If you’re self-employed or don’t have insurance through your employer, explore Affordable Care Act insurance. However, Iowa offers a range of individual and family insurance products beyond ACA plans.

Supplemental Insurance: Consider supplemental plans like Health ProtectorGuard (fixed indemnity insurance) to complement major medical coverage. These plans provide cash benefits for eligible medical services, filling gaps left by traditional insurance.

Dental and Vision Coverage: Don’t overlook dental and vision needs. Iowa dental and vision insurance plans cover services often excluded from medical insurance

cost of living in Iowa - Education
Photo Credit: Canva

Sharpening Young Minds: Education in Iowa

Iowa takes pride in its robust education system, from elementary schools to colleges. It offers a mix of public and private schools, each with its own unique features and affordability. Here’s the estimated cost of school fees: 

Public Schools: Iowa’s public schools offer quality education at a minimal cost. The average tuition for regular education students is around $7,227 per year.

Private Schools: Private school tuition varies, but the average annual cost is approximately $6,363. Marquette Catholic Schools Pk-12 stands out as an affordable option with tuition as low as $1,560.

Let’s explore the best public high schools in the Hawkeye State according to and what makes them stand out:

1. West Senior High School (Iowa City)

  • Top-Ranked: Situated at 2901 Melrose Ave, Iowa City, IA 52246, West Senior High School in Iowa City claims the top spot among public high schools in Iowa. Its academic excellence, extracurricular activities, and dedicated faculty contribute to its stellar reputation.

  • Why It Shines: West Senior High offers a rich curriculum, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses, arts programs, and competitive sports teams. Students benefit from a supportive learning environment and a strong sense of community.

2. Pleasant Valley High School (Pleasant Valley)

  • Top-Ranked: Located at 604 Belmont Rd, Pleasant Valley, IA 52767, Pleasant Valley High School is one of the top-ranked public high schools in Iowa. Its commitment to academic rigor, diverse extracurricular opportunities, and a nurturing environment make it a standout institution.

  • Why It Shines: Pleasant Valley High School boasts a comprehensive curriculum that includes AP and honors courses, as well as exceptional programs in the arts, athletics, and STEM fields. The school fosters a collaborative and inclusive atmosphere, encouraging students to explore their passions and reach their full potential.

3. Waukee Senior High School (Waukee)

  • Top-Ranked: Situated at 955 SE University Ave, Waukee, IA 50263, Waukee Senior High School is a highly acclaimed public high school in Iowa. Its academic excellence, state-of-the-art facilities, and a wide array of extracurricular activities contribute to its stellar reputation.

  • Why It Shines: Waukee Senior High School offers a rigorous academic program, including AP and dual-enrollment courses, preparing students for success in higher education and beyond. The school also boasts outstanding athletic programs, award-winning fine arts programs, and numerous clubs and organizations, catering to diverse student interests and fostering a well-rounded educational experience.

Tips for Managing the Cost of Living in Iowa

Relocating to a new state or adjusting to the cost of living can be challenging. Here are some practical tips to help you manage the cost of living in Iowa effectively:

Create a Budget: Start by assessing your monthly income and expenses. Track spending to identify areas where you can cut back. Tools like budgeting apps can simplify this process and help you stay on track.

Housing Choices: Consider renting instead of buying if you are new to Iowa or planning to stay short-term. Explore different neighborhoods to find affordable housing options that meet your needs. If you’re buying, look into first-time homebuyer programs for financial assistance.

Utility Savings: Reduce utility bills by adopting energy-efficient practices. Use programmable thermostats, switch to LED lighting, and ensure your home is well-insulated. Many Iowa utility companies offer rebates and incentives for energy-efficient upgrades.

Transportation Costs: Save on transportation by using public transit where available or carpooling with colleagues. If you own a car, maintain it regularly to avoid costly repairs and ensure better fuel efficiency. Consider biking or walking for short distances.

Grocery Shopping: Plan your meals and make a shopping list to avoid impulse purchases. Shop at farmers' markets for fresh, local produce, which can be more affordable. Use coupons and take advantage of store sales and loyalty programs.

Healthcare Management: Compare health insurance plans to find one that offers the best coverage for your needs at an affordable price. Utilize in-network healthcare providers and take advantage of preventive care services to avoid higher costs in the future.

Childcare and Education: Look into state assistance programs for childcare if you qualify. Explore public schooling options, which can significantly reduce education costs. For higher education, consider community colleges or in-state universities to benefit from lower tuition rates.

Leisure and Entertainment: Take advantage of Iowa’s abundant free or low-cost recreational activities, such as parks, hiking trails, and community events. Look for discounts or membership deals at local fitness centers and cultural institutions.

Tax Savings: Familiarize yourself with Iowa’s tax laws and deductions. You might be eligible for credits and deductions that can reduce your overall tax burden. Consulting a tax professional can help you optimize your tax strategy.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively manage your expenses and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Iowa. With careful planning and resourceful living, the cost of living in Iowa can be quite manageable.


For a comprehensive guide, be sure to check out my vlog and watch the video below: "Cost of Living in Des Moines Iowa: The Ultimate Guide" to get all the details. Get a realistic preview of what your life in the capital city of Iowa could look like financially.

At the end of the day, living in Iowa is about more than just pinching pennies – it's about embracing a lifestyle that's rich in community, natural beauty, and good old-fashioned values. Sure, your money may go further here, but you'll also find yourself surrounded by some of the friendliest folks this side of the Mississippi. From quaint small towns to vibrant cities, Iowa offers a little something for everyone.

And with that extra cash in your pocket, you'll have plenty of room to splurge on the simple pleasures, like a night at the local county fair or a backyard barbecue with friends. So why not give Iowa a try? Who knows, you might just find yourself feeling right at home in this affordable slice of Americana.

Darson Grantham contact details

Ready to start your journey to affordable living in Iowa? Book a free consultation with me, your trusted real estate agent, to learn more about making this dream a reality. With my local expertise and insider knowledge, I'll help you navigate the market and find the perfect place to call home – all while keeping your budget in check. Don't miss out on this opportunity to experience the Iowan way of life for yourself!


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