Homeowners Insurance Studies
Homeowners Insurance Overview
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
What You Should Know About Homeowners Insurance

2015 Safest Places in Iowa

When deciding where to live, safety is a top priority. Our team at ValuePenguin has analyzed the most recent FBI Crime Report to determine the safety of cities and towns in Iowa. These 70 ranged in a crime score from 351 to an outlier of 7,628, with an average of 2,126. We found that the five safest places to emerge represented four different regions and two population ranges, from small to midsize.

More populous cities Cedar Rapids (60th) and Des Moines (67th) fell near the bottom of our rankings despite the fact that we adjusted our crime score metric for population, also taking into account both the amount of violent and property-related crimes per 100,000 people (more on our methodology below). For more insight, take a look at the report:

5 Safest Places in Iowa

These cities have an average crime score of 502, 76 percent lower than their typical peer in Iowa With some of the state’s lowest total violent crime rates, these five are the safest places in the state.

1. Decorah, Ia.

Situated in the state’s northeast region, Decorah takes the top honor, having reported just one violent crime in all of 2013. A five-member police department here presides over a city whose citizens are, on average, 14 years younger than their fellow Iowans of other cities. This statistic is affected, at least in part, by the presence of Luther College, a liberal arts school within the city limits. There are plenty of families, too: Every July, Decorah celebrates its settlers’ Norwegian roots by hosting Nordic Fest

Factor Value
Population 8,103
Crime Score 351

2. Orange City, Ia.

The least populous city among our top five, Orange City recorded a crime score that is 77 percent lower than the state’s average. An hour’s drive from Sioux Falls, S.D., Orange City is situated in the state’s northwest quadrant and, like Decorah, is home to a university, Northwestern College. Every spring here, where “Color your life vibrant” is the motto, starts with a three-day Tulip Festival, honoring the city’s Dutch history. 

Factor

Value

Population 6,187
Crime Score 489

3. Johnston, Ia. 

The most populous city among our top five, Johnston is the home of Iowa Public Television as well as John Deere. It has maintained its safety record despite having 126% more residents now than it did in 2000. The people here were more than 20% more confident in their safety than the national average, according to a community survey conducted in 2013. There are more reasons to like life in the southern Iowa city: Citizens’ estimated home value in 2012, $243,056, was 94% higher than the state’s average, and their estimated household income for the same year, $93,622, was 84% higher.

Factor Value
Population 19,175
Crime Score 540

4. Denison, Ia. 

The southwesternmost city among the safest five, Denison should be known for more than being President Obama’s favorite motorcade stop for a snowcone. Like, say, a low crime rate. That’s what pushed the midsize city to fourth on our list. It may come as more of a surprise that Denison has its own municipal airport… in case the commander in chief wants to drop by for a cone using Air Force One.

Factor Value
Population 8,411
Crime Score 562

5. Waukee, Ia.

Located 13 miles southeast of Johnston and just a 20-mile drive from Des Moines proper, Waukee registered the second-best property crime rate per 100,000 people among the top five, coming in at 806. It’s the “key to good living,” as the city’s motto goes. So, apparently, is technology: The Waukee Police Department uses a product called Nixle to alert its residents and, in return, asks them to text message tips via its “Crimestopper” program. Both tactics seem to be working.

Factor Value
Population 16,633
Crime Score 568

Population Breakdown

Although we adjusted for population in our crime rankings, it is still difficult to compare a small town to a large city. To account for this fact, we separated the safest cities into three categories: towns with populations between 5,000 and 8,000, midsize cities with populations between 8,000 and 20,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 20,000. Here are our findings:

Full List of Places in Iowa

Below is the entire list of places that we included in our “Safest Places in Iowa” study. They are listed from the safest to the least safe, according to our analysis. The calculation for the crime scores can be found in the methodology section below. Take a look at the graph and see where your hometown ranks.

Methodology

To rank these places, we collected data from the 2013 FBI crime statistics by city, which provides the most recent crime data available. Not every town participates in this report and we also excluded towns with fewer than 5,000 residents because towns with small populations are more sensitive to crime score fluctuations for fewer crimes committed. The raw data report included property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson), and violent crimes (murder/manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) from all law enforcement agencies that chose to partake in the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.

We standardized the data to reflect violent and property crimes per 100,000, to account for population. Then, we aggregated a “crime score” by weighting violent crime at 90% and property crime at 10%. Though property crime is more prevalent, we figured that violent crime is more concerning to town residents. Then we adjusted the crime score for population size, giving more slack to larger cities. Finally, we ranked the cities based on their crime scores.

Here is an alphabetical table of all cities included with their ranks, making it easier to compare different cities. See where your city lies!

Rank City Population Violent
crime per 100K
Property
crime per 100K
Crime Score
21 Algona 5,495 273                   1,092                     1,327
38 Altoona 15,683 121                   3,615                     1,974
34 Ames 61,193 144                   2,352                     1,746
9 Anamosa 5,653 35                   1,663                        742
14 Ankeny 50,194 86                   1,389                     1,017
32 Bettendorf 34,548 249                   1,433                     1,667
59 Boone 12,515 615                   2,109                     3,132
7 Carroll 9,988 60                   1,241                        712
16 Cedar Falls 40,213 129                   1,231                     1,101
60 Cedar Rapids 128,642 305                   3,659                     3,272
58 Centerville 5,444 514                   3,453                     3,018
31 Charles City 7,471 254                   1,753                     1,564
26 Cherokee 5,149 272                   1,534                     1,478
56 Clarinda 5,455 477                   3,465                     2,899
24 Clear Lake 7,731 78                   3,001                     1,440
65 Clinton 26,572 670                   3,936                     4,409
29 Clive 16,467 170                   2,053                     1,511
41 Coralville 19,949 221                   3,143                     2,207
70 Council Bluffs 62,021 942                   7,439                     7,628
68 Davenport 101,834 642                   4,171                     4,982
15 De Witt 5,273 152                   1,498                     1,067
1 Decorah 8,103 12                      790                        351
4 Denison 8,411 48                      999                        562
67 Des Moines 207,391 495                   4,829                     4,936
45 Dubuque 58,313 226                   2,814                     2,310
13 Eldridge 5,979 217                      736                     1,016
33 Estherville 6,179 388                   1,068                     1,729
36 Fairfield 9,488 137                   3,552                     1,903
66 Fort Dodge 24,632 637                   4,490                     4,489
50 Fort Madison 11,012 472                   2,216                     2,613
49 Glenwood 5,220 536                   1,858                     2,484
43 Grinnell 9,090 374                   2,310                     2,247
10 Hiawatha 7,173 56                   1,478                        764
54 Indianola 14,993 487                   2,328                     2,802
52 Iowa City 70,855 322                   2,611                     2,672
18 Iowa Falls 5,117 59                   2,697                     1,197
3 Johnston 19,175 37                      928                        540
69 Keokuk 10,720 961                   4,692                     5,377
20 Le Mars 9,788 102                   2,350                     1,304
27 Manchester 5,103 255                   1,744                     1,498
44 Maquoketa 6,066 346                   2,934                     2,288
22 Marion 36,181 155                   1,584                     1,358
63 Marshalltown 27,722 620                   2,651                     3,657
42 Mason City 27,747 108                   4,073                     2,242
62 Muscatine 23,027 634                   2,341                     3,510
48 Newton 15,064 272                   3,339                     2,418
25 North Liberty 14,821 297                      803                     1,450
6 Norwalk 9,554 105                      775                        685
51 Oelwein 6,350 535                   2,157                     2,651
2 Orange City 6,187 48                      857                        489
30 Osceola 5,064 197                   2,449                     1,564
46 Oskaloosa 11,570 424                   1,988                     2,358
61 Ottumwa 24,738 299                   4,798                     3,290
35 Pella 10,418 336                   1,469                     1,805
39 Perry 8,065 360                   2,207                     2,128
8 Pleasant Hill 9,072 66                   1,224                        720
55 Red Oak 5,614 338                   4,596                     2,864
17 Sheldon 5,096 196                   1,354                     1,156
11 Shenandoah 5,084 59                   1,593                        787
64 Sioux City 82,676 392                   4,425                     3,911
28 Spencer 11,186 170                   2,199                     1,510
53 Storm Lake 10,812 499                   2,451                     2,800
23 Urbandale 41,499 161                   1,614                     1,415
12 Vinton 5,187 77                   1,446                        795
57 Washington 7,346 735                   1,103                     2,984
5 Waukee 16,633 60                      806                        568
47 Waverly 10,089 535                   1,160                     2,392
40 Webster City 7,830 358                   2,248                     2,130
37 West Des Moines 60,068 150                   2,760                     1,964
19 Winterset 5,174 116                   2,223                     1,213

Comments and Questions