Iowa’s Top 6 Retirement Havens: Finding Your Perfect Spot

Des Moines

Retirement presents ample opportunities for discovery and leisure, making the quest to locate Iowa’s best retirement spots a thrilling pursuit. The state of Iowa boasts inviting environments and amiable neighborhoods that cater well to retirees’ diverse tastes. This article aims to unravel six exceptional destinations in Iowa that take the cake as ideal places suitable for peaceful retirements.

Des Moines: The Vibrant Heart of Iowa

One of the top retirement destinations in Iowa is Des Moines, which boasts a distinctive combination of metropolitan luxuries and small-town charm. It’s an ideal location that gives retirees the advantages of both worlds.

Cultural Attractions

In Des Moines, there is a thriving cultural environment highlighted by numerous museums, art galleries and theaters. Such establishments offer retirees great chances to participate in diverse cultural activities that cater to their interests. Worth mentioning examples of the city’s top-notch attractions include:

  • Des Moines Art Center: Home to an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art;
  • Science Center of Iowa: Offers hands-on exhibits and educational programs;
  • Hoyt Sherman Place: A historic theater featuring concerts, plays, and more.

Healthcare Facilities

Retirees prioritize access to quality healthcare, and Des Moines doesn’t disappoint in this aspect. The city is home to renowned medical centers, including MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, providing top-notch medical care and services.

Recreational Activities

Active retirees will find plenty of outdoor opportunities in Des Moines. The city is known for its parks and trails, catering to various interests. Some popular recreational spots and activities include:

  • Gray’s Lake Park: A picturesque urban park with a beautiful lake, perfect for walking and picnicking;
  • Principal Riverwalk: A scenic trail along the Des Moines River, ideal for biking and strolling;
  • Golf Courses: Several golf courses around the city offer excellent options for golf enthusiasts.

Cedar Rapids: A Haven for Arts and Culture

Cedar Rapids, renowned for its rich arts and culture scene, is another attractive option for retirees seeking a culturally stimulating retirement experience.

Arts and Culture

Cedar Rapids boasts a thriving arts and culture community. Retirees can immerse themselves in the following cultural highlights:

  • Cedar Rapids Museum of Art: Home to an extensive collection of Grant Wood’s works and other American art;
  • Paramount Theatre: A historic venue that hosts a variety of performances, including concerts and Broadway shows.

Community Events

Retirees in Cedar Rapids can actively participate in various community activities and festivals, fostering a sense of belonging and engagement. The city regularly hosts events, such as:

  • Farmers’ Markets: Enjoy fresh, local produce and artisan goods at the Cedar Rapids Farmers’ Markets;
  • NewBo Arts Festival: A celebration of arts, music, and food, offering a vibrant atmosphere.

Affordable Living

Cost of living is a critical consideration for retirees, and Cedar Rapids offers an affordable lifestyle compared to many other cities. Housing costs, utilities, and daily expenses are reasonable, making it a financially wise choice for retirees on a budget.

Iowa City: A Blend of Education and Leisure

Iowa City, home to the renowned University of Iowa, offers retirees a unique blend of educational opportunities and leisure activities, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a vibrant and intellectually stimulating retirement.

Educational Opportunities

The University of Iowa is a key highlight of Iowa City, providing retirees with access to lifelong learning programs, lectures, and cultural events. This educational hub allows retirees to pursue their interests and continue their intellectual growth.

Healthcare Services

Access to high-quality healthcare is essential for retirees, and Iowa City delivers with the prestigious University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. These facilities offer top-notch medical care, ensuring retirees have peace of mind regarding their healthcare needs.

Cultural Diversity

Iowa City is known for its diverse and welcoming community. Retirees can immerse themselves in a range of cultural and social events, fostering a sense of belonging and inclusivity. Cultural diversity enriches the retirement experience, allowing retirees to explore new perspectives and experiences.

Ames: A Small Town with a Big Heart

Ames, with its charming small-town atmosphere and friendly community, stands out as one of the best places to retire in Iowa, offering a relaxed and welcoming environment.

Outdoor Recreation

Nature enthusiasts will find solace in Ames, thanks to the scenic beauty of Ada Hayden Heritage Park. This park offers opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, fishing, and picnicking, allowing retirees to stay active and connected to nature.

Community Spirit

Ames boasts a strong sense of community, with engaging local events and activities. Retirees can participate in various community gatherings, fostering new friendships and connections. The tight-knit community ensures a supportive and fulfilling retirement experience.

Education and Research

Proximity to Iowa State University in Ames opens doors to continuous learning opportunities for retirees. Whether it’s attending lectures, workshops, or taking up a new hobby, the university enriches retirees’ lives with knowledge and intellectual engagement.

Sioux City: Where History and Nature Meet

Sioux City caters to retirees who have a deep appreciation for history and nature. This city offers a rich blend of historical landmarks, natural beauty, and affordable living, making it an appealing choice for retirees.

Historical Landmarks

Retirees with a passion for history can explore the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. This museum provides insights into the famous expedition led by Lewis and Clark, offering a captivating journey into the past. It’s an excellent destination for those who love to delve into the annals of history.

Natural Beauty

Sioux City boasts the serene beauty of Stone State Park, a haven for nature enthusiasts. This park offers picturesque hiking trails, birdwatching opportunities, and breathtaking views, allowing retirees to connect with nature and stay active.

Affordable Housing

One of the compelling aspects of retiring in Sioux City is its competitive housing prices. Affordable housing options enable retirees to stretch their retirement savings further, providing a financially attractive option for those looking to make the most of their retirement years.

Dubuque: The Gem of the Mississippi

Dubuque is a unique city that combines the allure of the Mississippi River with a rich history, cultural attractions, and an active lifestyle. Retirees who cherish riverfront living and an enriching retirement experience will find Dubuque to be an ideal choice.

Riverfront Attractions

Dubuque’s stunning riverfront offers retirees the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the majestic Mississippi River. This scenic backdrop creates a tranquil and inspiring environment, perfect for leisurely strolls and relaxation.

Historic Charm

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque is a cultural gem that brings the history of the river to life. Retirees can explore exhibits showcasing the river’s heritage, aquatic life, and interactive displays, providing an engaging and educational experience.

Active Lifestyle

Dubuque encourages an active lifestyle with numerous walking and biking trails. Retirees can enjoy regular outdoor activities while appreciating the city’s natural beauty. The accessibility of these trails makes staying fit and connected to nature a part of daily life.

Living in Iowa: What to Expect

Iowa, known for its welcoming communities and serene lifestyle, offers retirees a high quality of life. Here, we’ll explore what to expect when retiring in Iowa, focusing on key aspects such as the cost of living, healthcare, safety, and the sense of community.

  • Cost of Living: One of the most appealing aspects of retiring in Iowa is its generally lower cost of living compared to the national average. This affordability extends to various aspects of daily life, including housing, utilities, and groceries. Retirees can stretch their retirement savings further and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank;
  • Healthcare: Access to excellent healthcare facilities is essential for retirees, and Iowa excels in this regard. The state is home to numerous top-notch medical centers and hospitals, ensuring retirees have access to quality healthcare services. Notable healthcare institutions include the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center;
  • Safety: Safety is a significant concern for retirees, and many cities in Iowa are known for their low crime rates. This creates a sense of security and peace of mind for retirees, allowing them to enjoy their retirement years without unnecessary worries about safety and crime;
  • Community Feel: One of the standout features of living in Iowa is the strong sense of community prevalent in most towns and cities. Friendly and welcoming neighbors create a warm and inviting atmosphere, making it easy for retirees to establish meaningful connections and friendships. Community events, gatherings, and local initiatives provide opportunities for active involvement and a sense of belonging.


Finding the best place to retire in Iowa depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Whether you prefer a vibrant city atmosphere or a quiet, small-town setting, Iowa has a place that will meet your needs. Consider these top six places as you plan your retirement and prepare to enjoy your golden years in the beautiful state of Iowa.


What factors should I consider when choosing the best place to retire in Iowa?

Consider factors like cost of living, healthcare facilities, recreational activities, and community feel.

Are there any tax benefits for retirees in Iowa?

Yes, Iowa offers tax benefits for retirees, including partial pension exemptions and no social security tax.

How is the weather in Iowa?

Iowa experiences all four seasons, with hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

Can I find affordable housing in these retirement destinations in Iowa?

Yes, most of these places offer affordable housing options compared to other regions in the U.S.

Are there opportunities for social engagement and community involvement?

Yes, these cities offer various community events, clubs, and volunteer opportunities for retirees.

Jerry Miller

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