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Guide to Independent Living in Iowa

Iowa is known for its laid-back way of life and is a good choice for seniors looking for a relaxing retirement. The state is home to a number of excellent parks and museums for seniors to explore. It has a relatively low crime rate and the 11th lowest cost of living. The Hawkeye State is moderately retirement tax-friendly, as Social Security income is not taxed and other forms of retirement income are only partially taxed. This gives seniors the funds to enjoy a more comfortable retirement. Iowa has a population of just over 3 million, and around 17.5% of residents are aged 65 and over. 

Independent living is a popular choice for seniors who are still active and able to live on their own. Iowa is home to a number of independent living communities, giving seniors a choice of where they would like to live and the amenities that interest them. These communities offer access to dining services, emergency medical assistance and a range of activities. Some communities provide transportation and housekeeping.

This guide provides an overview of independent living in Iowa. It lists costs of care in nearby areas and throughout the state, and it provides resources that may interest seniors. 

How Much Does Independent Living Cost in Iowa?

Note:There currently isn’t authoritative data on the average cost of Independent Living Facilities nationwide, so instead, we use the cost of Assisted Living to estimate it. Since the cost of Independent Living is typically 30-40% lower than the cost of Assisted Living, the numbers below were calculated by subtracting 35% from the cost of Assisted Living as reported in the 2021 Genworth Cost of Care Survey.

Seniors in Iowa can expect to pay around $2,839 per month for independent living. This is similar to the national average of $2,925. Communities in Iowa typically charge more than those in Nebraska ($2,649) and Missouri ($1,950). However, costs in Iowa are slightly less than in Minnesota and Illinois, which charge $2,930 and $2,917, respectively. 




The United States









The Cost of Independent Living in Iowa’s Top Cities

The average cost of independent living varies slightly across the state of Iowa. The capital city of Des Moines charges around $3,122 per month, making it the most expensive option in the state. The cheapest city is Sioux City at $2,696 each month. Davenport sits near the Illinois state border and costs around $2,828, while just to the north, Dubuque charges $2,941 per month. Seniors living in Cedar Rapids pay some of the highest fees in the state at an average of $3,086, and those living in Iowa City pay quite a bit less at around $2,867 for independent living.


Des Moines


Sioux City






Cedar Rapids


Iowa City

The Cost of Independent Living vs. Other Types of Care

It’s helpful for seniors looking at long-term care to consider their budget and the type of care that best suits their particular requirements. The lowest cost option in Iowa is adult day health care, which has a monthly average cost of $1,353 and is best suited to seniors who only require assistance during the workweek. The next option on the cost scale is independent living at $2,839 per month. Seniors who are still active but require some assistance with the tasks of daily living may want to look at assisted living for about $4,367 per month. Those seniors wanting to remain in their own homes may consider home care or home health care services at $5,529 and $5.577 per month, respectively. Nursing home care costs around $6,874 for a semiprivate room and is best suited to those requiring full-time care.


Adult day care


Independent living


Assisted living


Home care services


Home health care services


Nursing home (semiprivate room)

Does Medicare or Medicaid Cover Independent Living in Iowa?

The short answer is no, Medicaid and Medicare do not cover the cost of living in an independent living community. That being said, those who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), may be able to take advantage of financial assistance programs in Iowa to partially or fully cover the cost of care in Assisted Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need help with ADLs, read our guide to Assisted Living in Iowa.

For more information about other ways to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc, read the section below.

How to Make Independent Living More Affordable in Iowa

Seniors who have chosen independent living have a number of options to help them pay for services besides cash and savings. 

  • Reverse Mortgages: This is a special type of loan for people aged 62 and over. The loan is taken out against the value of a primary residence and must be paid back in full once the property is sold.
  • Long-term Care Insurance: This insurance may not cover the full cost of independent living, but it can be used to pay for some services, such as transportation and dining. 
  • Life Insurance: Some life insurance policies allow seniors to obtain cash equal to the value of the policy to help pay for long-term care.

Free Independent Living Resources for Seniors in Iowa

Seniors living in Iowa have access to a number of resources and services to improve their quality of life and assist in aging with dignity. These state and non-profit organizations provide services to address a variety of needs.

The Iowa Department on Aging(866) 468-7887The Iowa Department on Aging strives to assist seniors with living healthy and happy lives. The department connects older residents with the services they need, including nutrition programs, senior volunteer programs, employment, legal assistance and home modification or repairs.
Iowa Department of Human ServicesOnline InformationThe Iowa Department of Human Services runs a seniors division to assist elders throughout the state. Services include benefits counseling, mental health programs, nutrition assistance, adult protection and disability assistance.
Aging Resources of Central Iowa(515) 255-1310Aging Resources of Central Iowa connects seniors and their loved ones with the services they require. Additionally, it provides a number of services to improve the lives of seniors in Central Iowa. These programs include health classes, nutrition programs, legal assistance, caregiver support and congregate meals at senior centers.
Heartland Senior Services(515) 233-2906Heartland Senior Services provides support for seniors and their families in Story County. This non-profit organization runs a number of programs to assist seniors, including a free grocery delivery service, daily lunches at senior centers, home-delivered meals, adult day care and caregiver assistance. The organization runs daily activities at senior centers, which may include musical entertainment, day trips, sewing classes, fitness classes and card games.
Heritage Area Agency on Aging(319) 398-5559The Heritage Area Agency on Aging is a non-profit organization that provides services to seniors in Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas. It provides transportation, legal assistance, wellness classes, nutrition programs and information, caregiver support and housing assistance. 

COVID-19 Rules and Restrictions for Iowa Independent Living Communities

The following rules and guidelines were obtained from , as well as other state-level government sites. Among others, these rules apply to independent living communities and assisted living facilities.

This data has been most recently updated on 2/8/2022, but keep in mind that COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving crisis, so all of the below information can change at any time. For additional questions and up-to-date information, you can contact your loved one’s senior living facility or your local Area Agency on Aging.

Visiting Loved Ones

Can I visit my relative in person if he/she wants emotional support from me?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Can I visit my relative in person for end-of-life compassion care?Yes
Will my loved one be required to self-quarantine after I visit him or her?No
Do I need to wear PPE and/or a cloth mask if I do visit my relative in person?Yes
Are Hairdressers and other non-medical contractors still allowed in senior living facilities?Yes
Does the state recommend or require that senior living facilities assist families with setting up virtual visit alternatives? Yes
Are visitors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are visitors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes

Outings and Group Activities

Are residents allowed to leave the facility for non-medical reasons?Yes
Are residents of senior living facilities who leave and return required to self-quarantine?No (Conditions Apply)
Are senior living facilities required to cancel all group outings?No
Are residents still eating together in the dining hall?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are facilities still allowed to host group activities within the community?Yes (Conditions Apply)

Safety Measures for Staff & Contractors

Are staff members and contractors being screened for elevated temperatures?Yes
Are staff members and contractors being tested for Coronavirus?Yes (Conditions Apply)
Are staff members and contractors being asked questions about health, travel, and potential virus contact?Yes
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