Nicknamed the “Hawkeye State” Iowa is home to over 3 million people, ranking it 31st in the nation for population size. It is a midwestern state bounded by the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers to the west and the Mississippi River to the east and flanked by the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Safety

In 2009, Insurance Journal ranked Iowa number eight on its list of states with the lowest crime rates. The violent crime rate in Iowa is nearly 15 percent lower than the national average, with less than four incidents reported per 1,000 people.

Economy

Iowa is located in the heart of the Corn Belt, and agriculture still plays an important role in its economy. However, the state economy has become more diversified, starting in the latter half of the 20th century. Today, it includes industries such as green energy production, biotechnology, information technology, advanced manufacturing, and financial services. Iowa ranked number six on CNBC’s list of “The Top States for Business in 2010” and it has one of the top credit ratings out of all 50 states according to Standard and Poor. The state’s unemployment rate was only 3.4 percent as of 2015.

Education

While only 27.7 percent of Iowan adults hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 30.9 percent for the United States, the percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma is 91.8 percent. Secondary schools as we know them today were first established in Iowa in 1910, and as of 2008, Iowa had the top graduation rate in the nation at approximately 90 percent.

Best Cities in Iowa

Though considered a rural state, 61 percent of the population actually live in urban areas. Iowa has three cities with a population exceeding 100,000: Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Des Moines. Iowa offers a number of great places to live, both large and small. Here are just a few examples:

1. Le Mars
Located in northwest Iowa, Le Mars has a population of 9,826. Not only does it boast a low unemployment rate, a low crime rate, and relatively low cost of living index, but Le Mars is also known as the “Ice Cream Capital of the World”, holding an annual “Ice Cream Days Festival” in June.
2. Marion
Marion is located in eastern Iowa and has a population of 37,198. The high school graduation rate is 92 percent, while unemployment is 3 percent and the crime rate is lower than in Iowa and the U.S. by 27 percent and 36 percent, respectively.
3. West Des Moines
West Des Moines is a city of approximately 61,000 located in central Iowa. The median household income is $70,906, while the median home value is approximately $195,000. The unemployment rate is 2 percent, and the high school graduation rate is 95 percent.