Is Dubuque, Iowa A Good Place To Live?

Is Dubuque, Iowa A Good Place To Live?

Is Dubuque, Iowa a good place to live? Photo of old buildings in the Millwork District of Dubuque, Iowa.

Dubuque, Iowa is the oldest city in Iowa. Full of unique history and modern conveniences, this mid-size Midwestern city is full of options for anyone looking to move! Originally known for its mining history, Dubuque now serves as the cultural and economic center of Iowa and has grown in population in recent years. If you’re looking to land in Iowa, Dubuque might be the perfect place for you. Before you start packing, here’s everything you need to know about why Dubuque, Iowa is a good place to live including the cost of living, education and employment opportunities, and more.

Dubuque, IA Real Estate Market Overview

Whether you’re trying to rent or purchase a home in Dubuque, Iowa it’s a good idea to have some general information about the market in mind before you get started. 

If you’re not sure if Dubuque is a place you want to call home permanently, rentals in Dubuque, Iowa are also a good option. Renting is also a great way to check out different neighborhoods before you commit to a larger home purchase. 

Dubuque, Iowa Home Value Index.

Home prices have been rising in Dubuque, Iowa recently. According to Zillow metrics, home prices have increased by 7.3% in the past year

However, in comparison to many other cities its size (60,000 people), Dubuque remains relatively affordable. Home prices vary, but the median price is in the $190,000-$210,000 range. 

Dubuque, Iowa has a mix of home types, but is primarily built for families. Most homes in Dubuque have multiple bedrooms and are classified as either single-family homes or multi-families, giving the city a distinctly “dense suburban” feel.

Of course, the cost is dependent on the neighborhood and the general location, and Dubuque is no exception. There are 20 distinct neighborhoods in Dubuque, Iowa, all with their own feel and pricing. 

The most expensive neighborhood in Dubuque is Ballyclough/Cattese. This neighborhood is significantly larger than most other neighborhoods and is south of downtown, close to the airport.

The least expensive neighborhood is Flora Park, located much more central to the downtown area, and relatively small. 

Depending on your housing wants and needs, different neighborhoods may suit you better. The best way to ensure that Dubuque, Iowa is a good place to live is to find the spot that’s right for you.

Tips for Getting To Know the Neighborhoods

There are a couple of great ways to get to know the feel of a new place before you ever set foot there.

First, check real estate and neighborhood watch websites like NeighborhoodScout and Niche for statistics and descriptions of all potential places. These websites usually have a reviews page (they have some on rentals in Dubuque, Iowa) where people share their opinions about schools, the market, or anything other relevant information.  

Keep in mind that not everyone living in Dubuque has left a review– there may be some mixed opinions and it’s best to take them with a grain of salt. 

Joining a Facebook group, checking out a town’s website, and following a city on social media are also great ways to get a feel for a place.

If you’re just curious about the landscape or want to see a true glimpse of a neighborhood, check out Google Maps Street View images to get a good look. 

Best of all though, consider taking a trip to Dubuque. Try to spend some time chatting with locals and scouting out the best locations for you. 

Rentals In Dubuque, Iowa

Rentals in Dubuque, Iowa range between $650-$850 depending on location and size. 

For a one-bedroom apartment, you could spend anywhere between $500-$850 depending on the location and quality of the home. Two bedrooms cost only slightly more at about $1,000 per month. You can check out rentals on sites like

Dubuque, Iowa Real Gross Rent Chart showing that Dubuque's rent is lower than the national average.

If you are looking to rent, keep your eyes open and consider turning on notifications for rental updates. Since most people in the area own their homes, rentals in Dubuque, Iowa can sometimes be sparse. 

According to r/Iowa and r/Dubuque on Reddit, downtown seems to be a coveted but tricky spot to live. (Remember that Reddit is a forum website, it’s a great place to hear lots of thoughts, but like the review website, not every conversation should be taken seriously.) Many Dubuque natives and transplants alike also suggested looking just outside of Dubuque for more affordable rentals. 

Regardless of where you land, the consensus is that driving in from the suburbs is quick and easy.

Tips For Finding A Place in Dubuque, Iowa

Make sure you have your budget well established before you start touring places, and keep your “must-haves” list at the front of your mind. 

You should also consider the cost of transportation. Like much of the US, Iowa is largely car-dependent and doesn’t have many options for public transportation. 

If you’re interested in living downtown and manage to find a place, make sure you apply for a parking pass if your place doesn’t come with off-street parking.  

If downtown is outside of your price range, consider the possibility of roommates. Dubuque is an old historic city with lots of older buildings built for shared living. 

Regardless of your price point, if you can visit Dubuque before moving we’d highly recommend it. Getting the chance to talk to locals about potential landlords can help you avoid any unpleasant situations and give you a more complete picture of the area.

Even if you can’t visit, you should still look up reviews of your landlord or agency before you sign the lease (lots of people on r/Dubuque seriously suggested it!)

Don’t forget to check Facebook too! 

Cost of Living in Dubuque, Iowa

The cost of living is one of the reasons Dubuque, Iowa is a good place to live. 

1% lower than the rest of Iowa, and a whole 10% less expensive than the national cost of living–almost everything in Dubuque is more affordable. 

The only thing that ranks higher than both the national and state average is healthcare services (7% higher than the national average). 

Otherwise, groceries, utilities, transportation, and gas are all more affordable on average contributing to the low cost of living in Dubuque, Iowa.

If you’re looking for rentals in Dubuque, Iowa the average cost of living is around $1,500 for a single person. Without rent, you should expect your monthly bills to total around $720 for a single person.

Utilities should cost around $65 a month, and the same for an internet connection. 

For a family of four, that total is closer to $3,500 a month, with utilities costing closer to $100 per month. 

Employment and Education

Another important part of deciding if Dubuque, Iowa is a good place to live is education and employment opportunities. 

If you’re a parent, you should know that Dubuque area schools rank above average compared to other schools in Iowa.

There are roughly 10,000 students in the Dubuque area (K-12). The teacher-to-student ratio is 13:1, and about 88% of high school students graduate.

Plus, there are tons of options for schools in Dubuque. There are eleven different elementary schools, three junior high schools, one middle school, and three high schools. If you’re looking for private school options, Dubuque has those too. 

There are also great options for higher education. There are three private, liberal arts colleges in Dubuque, including Loras College, University of Dubuque, and Clarke University, all of which have both undergraduate and graduate programs. 

If you’re looking for a job in Dubuque, the school system could be a great place to look!

The healthcare, agricultural, and industrial sectors are also strong in Dubuque. Some of the city’s biggest employers fall into those categories and are often actively recruiting. 

Dubuque, Iowa is also interested in helping people find jobs in the area. The Greater Dubuque Development Corporation developed a job-matching service for people interested in working in Dubuque. Don’t forget to check out their page if you’re actively applying!

Group of friends hanging out after moving into college in Dubuque, Iowa

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Here’s Everything We Recommend In Dubuque, IA

Things To Do

Despite Dubuque’s relatively somewhat small city size, (the population of Dubuque is ~60,000), there’s still plenty to do.

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Dubuque has plenty of botanical gardens, parks, and old mining sites worth visiting. Locals and natives on r/Dubuque frequently say that access to nature is one of the things that makes Dubuque a good place to live. 

Fishing, hunting, and checking out hiking trails are popular pastimes for many Dubuquers. 

For those more interested in sports, Dubuque also hosts skiers and snowboarders annually at Sundown Mountain. In the summer, check out Dubuque ziplining trails!

There are also a number of more party-friendly options. Diamond Jo’s Casino is a popular place to grab some drinks and test your luck, but there are also several breweries for a more low-key option.

If you’re hoping for more family-oriented fun, Dubuque’s Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is great for all ages.

Things To See

If you’re a history buff, Dubuque is the perfect place for you!

For natural history lovers and the more adventurous, check out Crystal Lake Cave. The cave is relatively small but full of stalagmites and interesting formations. 

Dubuque is also full of human history. The Mines of Spain Recreation Area showcases some of the first mines west of the Mississippi and explains Dubuque’s founding. Dubuque’s Shot Tower is also a great way to learn about Dubuque’s history.

Another option is to ride the Fenelon Place Elevator, the world’s steepest, shortest scenic railway–a great way to see the city. For more history lessons, check out the Mathias Ham Historical site and see Iowa’s oldest log cabin. 

If you’re looking for a relaxed evening activity, Dubuque has a beautiful river walk with several art installations worth looking for. Grab a beer or a glass of wine from one of the many local breweries or wineries before starting. 

Things To Eat

Finally, if you’re looking for great restaurants, Dubuque has its fair share. 

From seasonally-minded, to higher-end dining, Dubuque has a good variety of restaurants for any foodie. 

L. May Eatery is a popular spot for locals and is always busy– weekday or weekend alike. It’s open for both lunch and dinner, has a ton of light, family-style plates to choose from, and is famous for its friendly staff.

For a higher-end experience, head over to Caroline’s Restaurant located in Hotel Julien in Dubuque’s historical center. Caroline’s has food from across the world and would be perfect for those looking for a romantic date spot. 

If you’re interested in a slower, relaxed dining experience–and one with an ever-changing menu–Pepper Sprout is the spot for you. The chef regularly updates the menu according to what’s available, so whether you’re moving to Dubuque or just visiting, there’s bound to be something to suit your taste. 

Of course, there are a number of other great places in Dubuque too. Whether you’re looking for fast and affordable or relaxed and high-class, you can find it in Dubuque.

Moving Companies In Dubuque, IA

If you’re moving to Dubuque, Iowa soon you may want some help! It’s never a bad idea to check out the moving companies in Dubuque. Finding a team that can make your move easy and smooth is a great way to get started. 

Finding a moving company that suits your needs shouldn’t be too difficult. Make sure you check reviews before you book anything, or ask a friend if they have recommendations!


Dubuque, Iowa is a great place to live. Chock full of unique history, natural beauty, and cool restaurants, this mid-size Midwestern city is full of options for anyone looking to move! 

The population of Dubuque is expected to keep growing in the coming years and has become a relatively popular place for transplants. If you’re looking to land in Iowa, consider checking out this great city. After all, the cost of living in Dubuque, Iowa makes it super affordable at any stage of life!

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Grace currently lives in Nashville, TN. She grew up in the Southeastern United States and graduated from College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her degree is in Political Science with a focus in International Relations, but she has a passion for all things communication and writing.

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