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Independent Living in Iowa

Located in the Midwest, Iowa is rich in history and home to many outdoor adventures, agriculture, shopping and tourist attractions. Seniors looking for things to do can explore the Amana Colonies, one of the oldest communal societies in the country. Iowa is also home to Pikes Peak State Park, which offers views of the Mississippi River and is one of the most photographed places in the state. Here seniors can hike and enjoy the scenery. The cost of living in Iowa is much lower than the national average, making it an affordable place for seniors to retire, and Social Security benefits are exempt from state income tax. Summers are mild, with average July highs around 84, but winters are cold and snowy with up to 30 inches of snow annually.

Active seniors who want to remain independent but prefer to live in a community designed for older adults may choose an independent living facility. These communities provide little to no medical care and usually do not offer home and community-based services, like bathing and grooming. In Iowa, the average cost of independent living is $2,647.

This guide covers the cost of independent living in surrounding states and offers a list of common senior resources.

The Cost of Independent Living in Iowa

When trying to decide how to pay for independent living, one of the first questions that comes up is "How much does it cost?" With the impact of inflation, it's more important than ever to have up-to-date information when making a financial plan for senior living. To help shed light on real senior living prices, has compiled proprietary cost data from its network of over 75,000 senior living providers to offer insight into the average cost of independent living in Iowa and its 15 cities.

Note: While there is no authoritative source for Independent Living costs in Iowa, it’s possible to estimate its costs based on other available data. On average, Independent Living is about 30-40% cheaper than Assisted Living. Subtracting 35% from Assisted Living costs provided by Genworth Financial’s Cost of Care Survey for 2021 provides a useful figure for Independent Living.

The average cost of Independent Living in Iowa is $2,839 per month, which is comparable to the national average of $2,925 for this type of community. It’s also similar to Minnesota’s and Illinois’ average monthly costs of $2,930 and $2,917, respectively. Missouri has the least expensive median cost for Independent Living at $1,950, followed by South Dakota at $2,178 and Nebraska at $2,649 per month. 

The Cost of Independent Living in Iowa's Top Cities

Iowa's modest increases are just a state average, and prices can vary by location. In Cedar Falls, for example, costs are $403 lower than the Iowa average, or $2,080 a month. Independent living costs just $1,270 in Iowa City, while Des Moines and Altoona both average $2,725 a month, which is somewhat higher than the $2,483 per month state average cost.



Cedar Falls


Iowa City


Des Moines




Inflation's Impact on the Cost of Independent Living in Iowa

Independent living costs in Iowa are projected to see a small impact from inflation between 2022 and 2024. Costs for this type of senior care are expected to rise by just 2%, from $2,590 a month in 2022 to a projected $2,644 in 2024. This is below the national average increase of 18%, as well as several other states. Minnesota and New Mexico, for example, anticipate increases of 53% and 61%, respectively. Nevada projects a modest 5% rise from $2,476 to $2,593, and Colorado expects an 8% hike from $2,769 to $2,984 in 2024.

Location2022 Cost (Historical)2023 Cost (Current)2024 Cost (Estimated)
U.S. Average$2,810 $2,955$3,162
New Mexico$1,962$2,961$3,154

The Costs of Other Types of Senior Living

Seniors in Iowa pay an average of $2,483 a month for independent living in Iowa, which makes this one of the more affordable living choices for older adults. Seniors can get 24-hour caregiver help in an Iowa assisted living community for $4,879 a month, while memory care averages $5,914.

Assisted Living


Memory Care


Independent Living


Can You Use Medicare or Medicaid to Pay for Independent Living in Iowa?

Unfortunately, you cannot use Medicaid and Medicare to help pay the monthly fee for residing in an Independent Living community. For seniors who need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), there may be financial assistance programs available to help cover the cost of care in Independent Living. For more information about financial assistance for those who need a higher level of care, read our guide to Assisted Living in Iowa.

Read on for more information about using alternative means to make Independent Living more affordable, such as retirement funds, the sale of a home, etc.

Paying for Independent Living in Iowa

The cost of independent living isn’t covered by Medicare or private insurance companies because it typically doesn’t cover medical care or assistance with daily living. For this reason, most seniors pay for these communities out-of-pocket. There are several options available for covering the cost. Annuity payments from an initial investment and Social Security benefits and pensions are common methods of payment. Some seniors choose to use personal savings accounts or reverse mortgages, which allows homeowners to borrow off the equity in their homes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available for seniors ages 65 and older and those who are blind or disabled, which can also be used to pay for the costs of independent living

Free and Low-Cost Resources for Seniors in Iowa

There are many resources in Iowa that assist seniors in their retirement. has compiled information on local organizations, programs and agencies and categorized them into care types for easy reference.


Area Agency on Aging

Retirees can find support and advice on various senior-related issues from their local Area Agency on Aging. The agency provides advice on topics such as financial assistance programs, in-home care and long-term care planning. It also connects seniors and caregivers with community-based resources.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Department on Aging866-468-7887Across Iowa, six Area Agencies on Aging provide supportive services for older adults to improve their overall quality of life. These agencies can connect seniors with local transportation services, nutritional programs, community support groups and other local aid. Additionally, low-income seniors can benefit from a variety of cost-saving programs, including home weatherization, heating and cooling bill support and help paying for medical care. AAAs also advocate for senior wellness by intervening in suspected cases of Medicare fraud or abuse.

Cash Assistance Programs

Cash assistance programs in Iowa provide financial support to help low-income retirees remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Seniors and caregivers can apply for tax rebates and reductions, discounts on vital services and help covering the cost of heating and cooling their home.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Lifeline Program800-234-9473The LifeLine Program offers a discount on landline or mobile telephone service, ensuring that participants can stay in contact with loved ones.

Financial Assistance for Senior Care and Senior Living

Whether living in their own home or in a senior living community, Iowa seniors can find financial assistance from numerous local resources. These organizations help residents cover some of the costs associated with in-home or long-term care and connect them with other helpful community-based resources.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Elderly Waiver800-338-8366Seniors requiring nursing home care and can safely remain in their own homes, or in an assisted living community, can apply for the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Elderly Waiver. The level of financial assistance provided is decided on an individual basis. Beneficiaries take an annual assessment that determines the required coverage and level of services. Coverage may include assistance with paying the costs associated with assisted living, adult day care, home health aides, emergency response systems and home-delivered meals.

Food Assistance Programs

Local organizations help ensure elderly citizens have a balanced diet and receive essential vitamins and minerals to remain healthy. Through nutrition programs, congregate meals, home-delivered meals and food pantries, these programs help Iowa seniors afford the nutritious food they need.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Department on Aging Meal Services866-468-7887The Iowa Department on Aging provides comprehensive meal services and nutrition resources for senior citizens in Iowa — focusing on health, well-being and socialization. Services include meal programs for those aged 60 or older, nutrition counseling with registered dietitians and nutritional education resources. It partners with local food establishments through The Iowa Cafe program to offer services more efficiently.
Iowa Meals on WheelsIowa Meals on Wheels offers hot, home-delivered meals to seniors aged 60 and older and military veterans of all ages. Eligible seniors must have difficulty shopping or preparing food on their own. Volunteers deliver nutritious, ready-to-eat meals Monday through Friday, with three menu options available. Seniors who meet income eligibility guidelines qualify for free meals. Otherwise, meals are available for purchase.
Iowa Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)800-972-2017The Iowa Supplemental Nutrition Program offers food benefits for individuals who need additional funds to purchase food. Many seniors in the state qualify for SNAP, and they can apply online through the Health and Human Services website. Through SNAP, seniors can supplement their food budgets to add more healthy foods to their diets.

Free Used Medical Equipment

Due to the high cost of purchasing new medical equipment, several organizations in Iowa collect lightly used medical devices such as wheelchairs, ramps and walkers and distribute them to local seniors and residents in need.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities563-349-7339Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities sells donated medical equipment at affordable prices. All equipment is new or lightly used and inspected for safety.
Iowa Easterseals866-866-8782DME is loaned for a nominal charge and can be used for any length of time. The organization also manages the Iowa Assistive Technology Exchange Program. The website connects seniors with providers across Iowa who have equipment available for loan or sale.
Iowa Exceptional Persons, Inc.319-232-6671EPI offers free loans on a variety of used medical equipment to seniors. Equipment, such as crutches, walkers, bath chairs and commodes, can be borrowed for any length of time.

Home Repair and Modifications

Seniors and those with disabilities can access a variety of local resources to help them pay for home repairs and modifications. Programs in Iowa have different eligibility criteria and often assist retirees by providing grants or loans.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Rural Development State Office515-284-4663The program provides grants of up to $10,000 which older adults can use to remove health and safety hazards from their property. Seniors can visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website to check if their home is eligible for the program.

Many organizations offer free or low-cost legal services to Iowa seniors. Older adults can access advice on issues such as estate planning, living wills and power of attorney. Some firms also act as long-term care ombudsmen, advocating for the rights of seniors in senior living communities.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Long-Term Care Ombudsman ProgramThe Long-Term Care Ombudsman program protects seniors against abuse and neglect in assisted living and other care facilities. Seniors can reach out to request intervention if they suspect abuse. The ombudsman works with the senior and the facility to resolve the concern and ensure adequate care.
Iowa Office of the Public Guardian515-725-3333Iowa seniors who can't make their own legal, financial or health care decisions may be assisted by a guardian through the Office of the Public Guardian. To qualify for these services, a senior must be unable to pay for a substitute decision-maker, and/or have no suitable relative or other responsible individual who can act on their behalf.
Iowa Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman641-420-9850The Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for the rights of seniors in residential care communities. Financed by the state, the ombudsman doesn't charge for its services, which include investigating complaints about facilities by their residents, or their families, and third parties. The ombudsman pursues solutions with care providers on behalf of residents and doesn't charge for any of its services. Additional services include providing copies of inspection reports to families comparing memory care communities for their loved ones.

Senior Centers

Senior centers in Iowa bring together residents through recreational activities and events. Many also offer advice and support on senior issues, run wellness and nutrition programs, and connect older adults with other resources in the local area.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa 211An initiative of the United Way, 211 Iowa is an information and referral service that can help connect seniors and caregivers with resources in their communities. Individuals can call the organization to speak with trained experts who can provide information and help direct them to services that suit their individual needs and circumstances. The service is free, confidential and available 24/7.
Iowa Care Planning Council800-989-8137The Iowa Care Planning Council is organized by the National Care Planning Council, a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive information on issues that affect older adults. Through this resource, seniors can find information on paying for memory care services, including taking out reverse mortgage loans, applying for veterans' benefits and purchasing long-term care insurance. The council also has an updated list of memory care facilities in Iowa.

Senior Engagement

Senior engagement resources and programs in Iowa help older adults remain active and ensure they contribute to the community. Resources include wellness programs, volunteer opportunities, support groups and organizations that help residents connect with the community to live fulfilling lives.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Alzheimer's Association Greater Iowa Chapter515-440-2722The Greater Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association provides localized support for seniors dealing with cognitive decline and families caring for those with dementia. Help comes in several forms, such as support groups facilitated by trained association members that enable seniors with Alzheimer's to converse with others with the condition and for caregivers to build collective strength with other Waterloo residents caring for their loved ones. There are also care consultations, where counselors help seniors and their families develop road maps for care that prepare for a life with Alzheimer's.

Social Security Offices

Social Security offices in Iowa help seniors and disabled people access the benefits they're entitled to. Older adults can contact their local office for information about receiving retirement benefits, disability allowance and Supplemental Security Income.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Social SecuritySocial Security is a source of income available to retirees and people who can no longer work because of a disability. The money for Social Security comes from a payroll tax levied on employers, employees and self-employed individuals. When you retire, you'll receive monthly payments based on how much you earned when you were working.

Tax Assistance

Seniors can apply for tax assistance from several Iowa resources. Elderly residents and those with disabilities could be eligible for tax exemptions on medical expenses, reductions on property tax and other tax assistance programs.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Homestead Tax Credit and Exemption800-367-3388Homeowners aged 65 and older who meet certain financial criteria can make a claim for tax relief under the state's Homestead tax laws. Iowa seniors who live in rental properties could be entitled to rent reimbursement.

Utility & Energy Bill Assistance

Low-income seniors who are struggling to meet the costs of maintaining their homes can find support from organizations that offer assistance with utility and energy bills. Iowa retirees could also qualify for emergency funding programs if they're in danger of losing utility services due to unpaid invoices.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) 515-242-5655The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income seniors pay their home energy bills. This federally-funded program provides a one-off payment toward a resident's residential heating utility.

Veteran's Services

Iowa retirees who have served in the U.S. military can find support from local veteran services. These offices and organizations help vets access the benefits they're eligible for and provide advice and information on a variety of issues.

Program NamePhone NumberDescription
Iowa VA Benefits and Health CareIowa VA Benefits and Health Care helps ensure Iowa's senior veterans receive the care and benefits they've earned. With services ranging from health care and pension programs to disability benefits and housing assistance, veterans' needs are catered to accordingly. For veterans to be eligible for these programs, they need appropriate service records and Iowa residency requirements. To further show its commitment to Iowa's senior veterans, the organization offers dignified burials.

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