Iowa’s 20 Safest Cities of 2023

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The SafeWise Team is pleased to release the ninth annual Safest Cities report.

Here are the 10 Safest Cities in Iowa for 2023

See if your city made the full list.

Iowa’s crime rates remain lower than national and regional averages for the fourth year in a row, and it's one of just 17 states where both property and violent crime rates decreased year over year. Iowans are generally less concerned about crime than other Americans but reported increasing concerns and experiences with crime compared to the previous reporting year.

In this report

2023 Iowa crime rates

Violent crime and property crime rates in The Hawkeye State are lower than the national averages. Iowa has the third-lowest violent crime rate and second-lowest property crime rate in the West North Central region, which includes Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Property and violent crime rates in Iowa

Image: SafeWise

Level of concern and experience with crime in Iowa

Iowans are among those least likely to believe that crime is decreasing (IA 4%, US 8%). Our State of Safety survey aligns with this sentiment—Iowans reported an increase in crime experiences across the board.

Most Iowans are concerned about gun violence (51%). Package theft is of the least concern (43%). This is the opposite of the national trend—most Americans worry about package theft (53%) with gun violence being of least concern (47%).

Iowans' crime concerns also differ from their crime experiences—Iowans were most likely to have experienced a package theft in the 12 months prior to the survey (30%) and least likely to experience violent crime (10%). 

About 55% of Iowans feel safe in their state, which is five percentage points higher than the national sentiment but represents a 13% decrease compared to the previous survey year. 

Level of concern and experience with natural disasters in Iowa

For our 2023 State of Safety Survey, we asked participants about their natural disaster concerns, preparations, and experiences. Most Iowans worried about strong or high winds (71% IA, 62% US), followed by extreme heat or cold (64% IA, 58% US) and fire or smoke (57% IA, 55% US). 

Compared to the average American, Iowans are more likely to have emergency kits (57% IA, 44% US) and a family emergency plan (50% IA, 40% US).

About 12% of Iowans reported having to evacuate due to a natural disaster in the 12 months prior to the survey, which is higher than the national average of 11% and the twelfth-highest percentage in the nation. 

Crime concerns in Iowa

We asked Iowa residents which crimes they worry may happen to them. See if Iowans are concerned about the same crime issues as the rest of the country.

Image: SafeWise

View the complete 2023 State of Safety report.

Violent crime in Iowa: Fear vs. reality

Violent crime in The Hawkeye State decreased by 1% year over year, but 46% of Iowa residents reported feeling concerned about violent crime on our latest State of Safety survey—a 70% increase over the previous year.

A lower-than-average percentage of Iowans reported having experienced violent crime in the 12 months prior to the survey: 10% (US 15%). That's a 100% increase compared to the previous survey’s results.

  • Iowa’s violent crime rate of 3.0 is the fifteenth-lowest in the nation.
  • Iowa is 1 of 15 states where more rapes were reported than robberies.
  • 40% of Iowans use some form of personal protection (US 39%).
  • Of the Iowans who use personal protection, most preferred pocket knives (73%) followed by pepper spray and concealed firearms at 45% each. 

Attitudes about gun violence in Iowa

  • 51% of Iowans worry about gun violence (47% US).
  • 11% experienced gun violence in the 12 months prior to our survey (12% US).
  • Iowans' gun violence experience increased 57% year over year.
  • The number of mass shooting events in Iowa decreased by 60% year over year (from 5 to 2).

Property crime in Iowa: Fear vs. reality

Property crime has decreased by 8% in Iowa year over year. Data from our latest State of Safety survey shows the opposite trend, with Iowans reporting a 50% increase in property crime experiences during the 12 months prior to the survey.

  • Package theft is the least-concerning crime among Iowa residents, and they worry about it at the fourth-lowest percentage in the nation at 43%.
  • 30% of Iowans claim to have experienced package theft in the last 12 months (US 34%), which represents a 76% increase year over year.
  • Of the Iowans who reported using some sort of property protection, most preferred guard dogs (46%) followed by firearms (33%).
  • "None of the above" was the most common response (30%) among Iowans when asked about their package theft prevention strategies. Verified delivery was the second-most popular answer at 29%, followed by leaving in a safe spot at 25%.
  • 33% of Iowans said they added or increased security or safety measures in the 12 months prior to the survey (35% US).

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A closer look at the safest cities in Iowa

For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.

  • 50 Iowa cities met the criteria for ranking this year, and 5 cities made it to the top 20 for the first time.
  • Sioux Center tops the list for the third year in a row.
  • Hiawatha rose 23 spots to land in nineteenth place this year. Bettendorf took the largest nose dive, falling 6 positions and landing at 18.
  • Only 7 cities—Carroll, North Liberty, Ankeny, Clive, Fairfield, Mount Pleasant, and Hiawatha—saw declines in both violent crime and property crime rates.
  • Most of Iowa's safest cities reported 0 murders. Fairfield and Marion reported 1 each, and Ames reported 4. 
  • Carroll's only violent crimes for the 2023 reporting year consisted of 3 aggravated assaults.
  • Sioux Center's only property crimes for the 2023 reporting year consisted of 9 larceny-thefts.
  • The most populous city on this year’s top 20 list—Ankeny—reported the second-highest amount of property crimes and the third-highest amount of violent crimes. Ames reported the highest numbers of both.
  • Each of Iowa's 20 safest cities reported 10 or fewer robberies.
  • Clive also appears on our list of the 100 Safest Cities in America.
20 Safest Cities in Iowa Map

Image: SafeWise

The 20 safest cities in Iowa

#1
Sioux Center
(
-0-
)
  • bullet
    Population
    7,729
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $80,955
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.2, 0.4, 0.4
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.2, 2.2, 2.7
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Decorah, Iowa
#2
Decorah
(
+1
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    7,422
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $55,480
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    0.9, 0.3, 1.2
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    3.9, 5.6, 9.8
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Pella, Iowa
#3
Pella
(
New
)
  • bullet
    Population
    10,260
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $80,270
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    0.9, N/A, 1.0
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    5.8, N/A, 12.4
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Waukee, Iowa
#4
Waukee
(
+3
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    27,858
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $101,138
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    0.9, 0.9, 0.6
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    6.6, 9.3, 7.6
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Carroll, Iowa
#5
Carroll
(
+5
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    9,651
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $51,443
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    0.3, 0.8, 0.9
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    11.6, 11.7, 17.9
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
North Liberty, Iowa
#6
North Liberty
(
+7
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    20,482
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $96,351
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    2.3, 3.0, 3.5
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    4.0, 5.9, 6.0
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Urbandale, Iowa
#7
Urbandale
(
+2
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    45,201
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $100,589
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.2, 1.0, 0.6
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    9.0, 10.2, 10.2
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Johnston, Iowa
#8
Johnston
(
-0-
)
  • bullet
    Population
    23,759
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $93,363
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.5, 0.8, 1.3
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    8.4, 9.9, 12.0
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Ankeny, Iowa
#9
Ankeny
(
+2
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    73,109
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $92,959
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.3, 1.7, N/A
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    9.8, 11.5, N/A
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Denison, Iowa
#10
Denison
(
-4
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    8,241
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $45,204
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.6, 1.2, 2.3
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    8.7, 6.7, 6.9
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Clive, Iowa
#11
Clive
(
+3
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    17,652
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $114,905
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    0.9, 1.0, 0.4
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    12.8, 16.4, 7.0
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Spencer, Iowa
#12
Spencer
(
New
)
  • bullet
    Population
    10,966
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $45,313
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.0, N/A, 0.6
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    12.5, N/A, 16.6
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Fairfield, Iowa
#13
Fairfield
(
+6
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    10,608
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $43,006
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.4, 2.0, N/A
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    12.1, 14.8, N/A
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Ames, Iowa
#14
Ames
(
+7
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    67,886
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $54,339
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.8, 1.8, 2.0
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    13.0, 17.7, 17.2
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Mount Pleasant, Iowa
#15
Mount Pleasant
(
+10
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    8,494
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $54,983
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    2.6, 3.1, 1.4
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    10.1, 13.7, 17.7
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Marion, Iowa
#16
Marion
(
New
)
  • bullet
    Population
    41,370
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $75,927
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    2.5, N/A, 1.7
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    11.1, N/A, 12.8
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
#17
Webster City
(
New
)
  • bullet
    Population
    7,608
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $54,413
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    2.9, N/A, 4.2
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    9.6, N/A, 10.9
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Bettendorf, Iowa
#18
Bettendorf
(
-6
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    37,022
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $89,375
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    1.3, 1.0, 1.2
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    16.4, 15.5, 12.8
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
#19
Hiawatha
(
+23
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    7,512
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $58,620
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    3.5, 6.4, 3.8
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    7.9, 20.4, 15.2
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime
Le Mars, Iowa
#20
Le Mars
(
+4
bullet
)
  • bullet
    Population
    10,233
  • bullet
    Median Income
    $69,476
  • bullet
    VC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    2.9, 2.9, 2.4
  • bullet
    PC Rate 2023, 2022, 2021
    10.7, 13.9, 16.6
  • bullet
    VC=Violent crime, PC=Property crime

How we determined the safest cities

Learn how we identified the safest cities on our methodology page.

How to make a safe home anywhere

Whether your city made our list or not, we encourage everyone to be proactive about home security. One of the best ways to stop a burglary before it happens is to add a home security system.

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Get a home security system

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Didn't find your city?

We calculated crime rates for every city in the state that met our population threshold, based on the state’s median population as calculated using FBI data. To request a report of the remaining cities in your state email info@safewise.com with the subject line: Safest Cities Full Report.

NOTE: If your city is missing from our full report, it means that it was below the population threshold or didn’t submit a complete crime report to the FBI in 2021.

Find the safest cities in each state

Click on the state image or dropdown menu below to check out the safest cities for each state.

Related articles on SafeWise


Endnotes and sources

FBI Crime Data Explorer, "Documents & Downloads." Accessed February 6, 2023.

  • 2021 and 2020 Crime in the United States Annual Reports
    • Offenses Known to Law Enforcement
  • 2021 NIBRS Estimation Tables

FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program, "Offenses Known to Law Enforcement [2019]." Accessed February 6, 2023.

Bureau of Justice Statistics, "National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)." Accessed February 6, 2023.

US Census Bureau, "2021: ACS 5-Year Estimates Subject Tables." Accessed February 6, 2023.

US Census Bureau, "2021: ACS 5-Year Estimates Detailed Tables." Accessed February 6, 2023.

SafeWise, "2022 State of Safety survey." Accessed February 6, 2023.

Gun Violence Archive, "General Methodology." Accessed February 6, 2023.

Gun Violence Archive, "Past Summary Ledgers." Accessed January 3, 2023.

Gun Violence Archive, "Congress."

  • 2022 totals: Accessed January 3, 2023.
  • 2021 and 2020 totals: Accessed December 19, 2022.
Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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