© 2023 WVIK
Listen at 90.3 FM and 98.3 FM in the Quad Cities, 95.9 FM in Dubuque, or on the WVIK app!
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

QC Ranks High in "Best Places to Live"

The Quad-Cities ranks 79th among the top 150 best places to live in the nation, and the sixth most affordable, according to U.S. News and World Report.

In the report, released last week, U.S. News analyzed 150 metro areas in the U.S. to find the best places to live, based on quality of life and the job market in each, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

The report used 2019 figures, showing the Quad Cities with a 4.2% unemployment rate (it was twice that as of August 2020), population of 382,720, average annual salary of $47,220, and median monthly rent of $746. The affordability was determined to be 20 percent of income required for living expenses. U.S. News says Boulder, Colorado, ranked number one overall as the best place – with a $64,690 average annual salary, a $524,417 median home price, and average rent of $1,411. The most affordable city nationwide is Huntsville, Alabama, with an average home price of $179,175, average annual salary of $54,630 and 19.2% of income spent on living expenses.

Credit Visit Quad Cities
Visit Quad Cities President and CEO Dave Herrell

Des Moines ranked in the top 10 in both – number 7 overall, and number 3 in affordability. 

Visit Quad Cities President and CEO Dave Herrell is pleased with our ranking.

“I was just happy that out of the 150 they looked at, we were 79 for best places to live and number 6 – top 10 – for affordability, as it relates to being a place to live. Anytime that we can be ranked in reports, and hopefully we’re seeing some growth and increases in those over time, that’s a good thing for the Quad Cities.”

And Herrell says for people or companies looking to relocate and considering the cost of living, being in the top 10 is a key takeaway as a destination or community.

“I want to find a place that’s a great place to live, that has a whole positive portfolio of amenities – but can I afford to live there? And these are things we all in the economic development space can use to help tell our story, but also use it as a marketing vehicle when we’re out there trying to share information about the Quad Cities.”

Paul Rumler, President and CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber, says that as the chamber markets the area as “a prosperous regional economy where all can thrive, these rankings help us draw serious attention from companies and site selection consultants.”

Herrell says those who promote the Q-C don’t use rankings like these enough, to describe  the area’s advantages. Visit Quad Cities is now doing more of that with its website and social media.

Credit Ruhl and Ruhl Realtors
Caroline Ruhl, CEO of Ruhl and Ruhl Realtors

Caroline Ruhl, CEO of Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors, says the report shows what many already know about a crucial selling point for the area.

“Affordability is a huge deal, especially for people who are relocating to this area from Chicago or East Coast or West Coast. They’re always pleasantly surprised at how much home they can buy.”

It’s more affordable compared to other major cities, and it’s affordable compared to last year, thanks to low-interest mortgage loans. And she says shorter average commute times, compared to bigger cities, are also a key driver. U.S. News found the average Quad Cities commute to work is 19 minutes. Through September, the average home price in the Illinois Q-C was $134,500, compared to $225,700 on the Iowa side (including $335,900 in Bettendorf/Riverdale). The average home price in the metro Q-C is $183,200, up from $180,500 last year.

Ruhl says the Iowa side has had higher average home prices since the 1980s, since there has historically been a lot less new construction in Illinois. The U.S. News entry says this area is affordable on both sides of the Mississippi River. “Both Iowa and Illinois have average home prices lower than the national average, and Davenport, Moline and Rock Island have average home prices lower than the state averages,” it says. “While property prices are good, both states have high taxes.”

The Quad-Cities is changing, but not evenly, the report says. Scott County and Rock Island County both have aging populations overall but while Scott County is growing, Rock Island County is, quote “hemorrhaging residents.” And U.S. News goes on to say “Meanwhile, Bettendorf is on pace to become larger than Rock Island within a few years and attract  a lot of families.”

Ruhl says rising or falling population is not a factor for people when they're buying a home. 

“It’s more a matter of availability, what they can afford. If they’re looking at schools, what schools they like.”

To see the full report, which includes best places to retire, visit https://realestate.usnews.com.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.