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What Are 10 Best Small Towns In Iowa To Retire?
When the time comes to pick a place to settle down and retire, you want to make sure that you pick the right one. After all, retirement is considered a prize after many long years of hard work and should be enjoyed properly. Small towns allow to escape the crowds and traffic of large metropolitan areas, while still retaining the necessary services, health care options, and stores that make retirement easier.
While many retirees tend to look for warmer climates, like Florida or Arizona, if that doesn’t sound like you, Iowa may be an excellent choice.
In fact, Iowa has much more to offer than farms and country folk. Today’s seniors are finding that there is a plethora of amenities, activities, community engagement opportunities, and overall friendly environments in Iowa’s small towns. Of course, the best small town in Iowa to retire is subjective and is going to depend on your particular needs.
But, here’s our list of the 10 best small towns in Iowa to retire, in terms of access to healthcare, weather, entertainment, number of retirees, and more:
- Charles City
- Iowa Falls
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10 Best Small Towns in Iowa to Retire
Whether it’s for a weekend getaway or you’re looking for one of the best small towns to retire, Iowa has plenty of hidden gems to choose from. The towns on this list offers access to the Iowa great outdoors and a true getaway from the hustle and bustle, making them ideal for retirees.
Home to just over 5,000 residents, Sheldon is located in both O’Brien county and Sioux county. The town is well known for its stunning display of marigolds, with yellow, golden, and orange hues abundant throughout summer and fall months. Sheldon offers a plethora of annual community events throughout the year, including the Golden Easter Egg Hunt, Festival of Trees, Crazy Days, and their annual Celebration Days during Labor Day weekend.
The city is also home to many parks, with picnic shelters, camping hook-ups, frisbee golf, biking and walking trails, and more. Other recreational opportunities, for seniors in particular, include the Sheldon Outdoor Family Aquatic Center and the Sheldon Golf & Country Club. With excellent access to doctors, low monthly housing costs, and tons of recreational opportunities, it’s no surprise that Sheldon is one of the best small towns to retire in Iowa.
With a population of 5,353 people, Cherokee is a small, progressive city located in the picturesque Little Sioux River Valley in northwest Iowa. The town is positioned about 60 miles southwest of the Iowa Great Lakes region and roughly 60 miles northeast of Sioux City. It is home to a wide array of businesses and local amenities, including a beautiful downtown district with numerous retail shops and services. Cherokee truly has something to offer everyone, including retirees.
The town features a stunning park system with camping hook-ups, a nine-hole golf course, new aquatic center, and so much more! Not to mention, medical care is exceptional with the Cherokee Regional Medical Center and numerous medical clines, dental, optometric, and chiropractic offices throughout the city.
3. Charles City
Located in northeast Iowa, Charles City is one of the most charming river towns in all of the Midwest. It boasts rich history, outdoor adventures, art, an excellent food scene, and exceptional lodging in an exciting, small community. Conveniently situated east of Mason City and Clear Lake, Charles City is a quick drive to these neighboring towns for a day trip. While the attractions in Charles City may be limited compared to major cities, they have much to offer retirees.
You can enjoy the nostalgia of the Charles Theatre, view a stunning collection of art at the Mooney Art Collection, visit the Floyd County Historical Museum, or kayak, tube, fish, paddle board, and raft in Iowa’s first whitewater rafting park – Cedar River. Numerous activities, a low crime rate, and affordable housing all contribute to Charles City being a wonderful place to retire in Iowa.
With a population of just over 10,000 residents, Carroll is a picturesque town nestled along the Middle Raccoon River. Citizens enjoy safe neighborhoods, a variety of churches, and a strong sense of family, community, and values. The healthcare system in Carroll is top-notch, along with its wide array of recreational facilities. They’ve also recently renovated the downtown business district to offer a friendly, clean environment for shopping and dining opportunities. Because of its excellent safety rating and access to doctors, Carroll is an excellent place to call home for retirees in Iowa.
Home to just over 5,000 people, Algona was founded in 1854 by two brothers – Ambrose and Asa Call, Algona. The town has a rich history, including Algona College which was located in the community during 1869 and 1875.
In 1894, along with other communities in the state, Algona was the recipient of a project known as “Orphan Trains,” which saw relocated roughly 200,000 orphaned, homeless, or abandoned children from the east coast to the Midwest for adoption. During this time, Algona welcomed around 100 orphans to the town, many of whom ultimately became lifelong residents.
In addition to a fascinating history, the town boasts an aquatic center, YMCA, numerous parks and museums, and more. It also offers retirees convenient access to gold and other recreational opportunities in the area. Not to mention, Algona is an incredibly safe town with affordable housing for all.
With a growing population of over 5,500, Shenandoah is small enough to escape the madness of the big city, but close enough to metropolitan areas, airports, and other amenities for convenience. It’s a safe town for families, offering a top-notch school system and recreational activities and other attractions for all ages.
Shenandoah earns a spot on our list of the best small towns to retire in Iowa due to its low cost of living, relaxed lifestyle, and extensive healthcare that includes a new VA clinic. Not to mention, this progressive community is full of art, gardens, friendly people, and unique shops and restaurants – making it the retail hub of southwest Iowa.
7. Iowa Falls
Nicknamed “The Scenic City,” Iowa Falls is located along the bluffs of the Iowa River and has certainly earned its nickname. It is a true gem in central Iowa that delivers some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Being located in the heart of the Iowa River Greenbelt, a 30-mile expanse of wilderness, the city offers a plethora of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, camping, hunting, fishing, and watching wildlife. The river is also a popular spot for boating and water-skiing activities.
This small town is also home to a number of fun and exciting places, such as the Metropolitan Opera House, the Ellsworth Community College Equestrian Center, a community theatre, historical museum, and Iowa’s oldest running popcorn stand. Iowa Falls earned a spot on our list as one of the best places to retire in Iowa because of its wide array of recreational activities, breathtaking views, convenient access to healthcare, and exceptional safety ratings.
Home to just over 5,000 residents, Winterset is a vibrant and progressive community that is known for its covered bridges and being the birthplace of John Wayne. There is plenty to do in Winterset for retirees – whether it’s exploring on foot, boat, bike, or car. The town boasts six famous covered bridges, top-notch shopping opportunities in the quaint historic town square, and so much more.
Winterset is safe, community-oriented, and conveniently located to Des Moines to enjoy the city amenities with all the advantages of small-town life in Iowa. The town has much to offer retirees, with tree-lined streets and a gorgeous downtown square that comes alive with hanging flowers in the spring, excellent shopping, and wonderful, well-kept parks. Not to mention, cost of living is low and there are plenty of senior living facilities to choose from in the area.
Centerville is located in Appanoose County, Iowa and is home to approximately 5,500 people. It is a charming town that features the largest historic town square in the state. With 119 structures on the National Historic Register, Centerville the ideal place for any history buff. The town offers numerous events throughout the year including concerts in the summer, a wine festival in June, and even a Pancake Day in September.
If you love the outdoors, Centerville was ranked one of the best places for hunting and fishing in the United States by Outdoor Life Magazine. It has over 21,000 acres of public hunting land and also offers easy access to Lake Rathbun. Centerville is an excellent place to retire, escape it all, and enjoy a low safety rating and cost of living.
Northeast Iowa boasts some of the most scenic and picturesque landscapes in the entire state. The bluff-lined rivers and rolling woodlands of the area defy the usual farmland image that Iowa is known for. Decorah is a small town that serves as one of the best basecamps to explore and enjoy the culture of the region.
Outdoor activities located near the city include everything from ice cave exploring to waterfall hiking. Jogging, bicycling, and hiking are also popular, particularly along the Trout Run Trail, an 11-mile paved loop located next to one of the largest fisheries in the state.
Other outdoor activities in Decorah include mountain biking and bald eagle watching in Palisades Park, and paddling on the Upper Iowa River. Meanwhile, Decorah’s charming downtown district features a number of a local shops, museums, restaurants, and a small selection of music venues. As one of the safest towns in the state and with so many golf, recreation, and fitness opportunities, Decorah is an excellent place to retire.
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