Ames : Iowa


What It Is Like to Retire in Ames

Ames, Iowa, is located in the central part of the state, about 30 miles north of the state capital of Des Moines. The city was founded in 1864, as a stop on the Cedar Rapids and Missouri Railroad, and was named after U.S. Congressman Oakes Ames of Massachusetts, who was influential in building the transcontinental railroad.  Iowa State University of Science and Technology (ISU),  is located in Ames, and with an enrollment of over 33,000 students in a town with a population of 66,427 (2020 Census), it brings the median age to just 25 years. The school offers a lot to the residents of Ames as it hosts several events throughout the year, including lectures and productions in the arts. It has also partnered with the town in the popular and efficient transit system, Cyride.  

Ames has been recognized in recent years as both great town for retirement and as a top metro area for college graduates.  The Milken Report named Ames in the Top 10 small metros for people aged 65-79 due to its strong economy, learning environment, safety and public transportation; the city also made Forbes’ list of the top 25 places to retire in 2013; named it as #1 Best College Town in 2014, and was #15 on their Top 100 Places To Live in 2020; Smart Asset recognized Ames as one of the most Livable College Towns in 2021. Photo of Beardshear Hall celebrating Sesquicentennial in 2008, courtesy of Wikipedia and Johannes Cater (public domain); photo of The Christina Reiman Butterfly Wing courtesy of Wikipedia and GardenLover2008, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0/

Watch this short Youtube video prepared by AmesChamber50010:


Where to Retire in Ames and Home Prices

Zillow reports the median home value in Ames was $286,826 in mid-2022, up over 15% during the past year.

Campustown is a vibrant neighborhood south of ISU which is a high-density mixed-use neighborhood full of student apartments, restaurants, and nightlife.


What Is Special about Ames

Ames is has a stong economy, a great public transportation system, 35 parks and 55 miles of biking and walking trails. It is a highly ranked college town with ISU hosting lecture series and many events retirees can attend.


What Is Not Special about Ames

Ames is not considered a walkable city, it does experience winters, and college students make up a large part of the population.


Who Will Like Retirement in Ames

Those who want a vibrant and safe college town with public transportation and a low cost of living, may enjoy retiring in Ames.


Local Economy Is Driven by

Education services is the main driver of the economy, with Iowa State University as the biggest employer.


Climate and Physical Environment

January average temperature is 21 degrees and the average July temperature is 76 degrees.


Restaurants & Cultural Scene

As a college town, Ames has many restaurants, and cultural events within the city and on the campus of ISU.  The Central Iowa Symphony is located here, as is the Town and Gown Chamber Music Association and the Community Theater.  



The crime rate in Ames is low.


Medical Facilities

Mary Greeley Medical Center is located here and serves a 13-county area.



Cyride is the city's public transit system which has gotten high marks for ridership; The nearest large Airport is in Des Moines, about 40 miles away.


Valuable Links

City of Ames


What people are saying about Ames

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