As an Iowan who grew up in a relatively small town, I was interested to see what areas and towns would find themselves on such an extreme list. Anything that claims something is the worst must have some major data to back it up, right?

Well, the site Road snacks claim to have those stats. If your small town shows up on this list let us know if you agree!


The recent study looked at the top 10 worst small towns, and today we will look at the top three from this study.

How They determined the worst small towns to live in Iowa 

This study seems to be pretty in-depth with them using FBI crime data and the Census's 2016-2020 American Community Survey, this is the criteria they used:

  • Population Density (The lower the worse)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Low housing costs (meaning there's no demand)
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • Education (Number of high school dropouts)
  • High Crime

We looked at cities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 people, of which, there were a lot - 204 to be exact. We get the crime numbers from the FBI, which gets its crime numbers from the cities themselves. Dropout numbers are based on the adult population, not just the current graduation rates of teenagers.

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The Worst Small Towns In Iowa

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3. Sac City

I've never been here before, but according to the study, Sac City has actually moved up in this list since last year. With a population of 1,864, this small town comes in at number 3.

2. Tama

The only one I've been to out of the three on this list. With a population of 2,757 and a low employment ranking, this small town sadly finds itself in at number 2. I must be a terrible judge of towns cause I never thought of Tama as a top three "worst Small Towns In Iowa."

1. Villisca

This small town of  1,162 was ranked number one last year as well. With the lowest home value in Iowa and higher unemployment, this study puts Villisca Iowa in at number 1.

What do you think of these numbers? Let us Know. You can see the 10 worst small towns here.

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