Ames, Iowa

We’re nicer than everybody else

Looklyloo Score: 78

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College Students

Ames is organized by North, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, South and Southeast. Downtown and the Iowa State campus are pretty much in the center with the campus west of Downtown. The greatest concentration of affordable housing for students is in the South and Southwest sections of the city. Great affordable apartment buildings + lots of eats and pubs for recreation with short walks to campus make these ideal places to live. Some of these housing options are in a small area called Campustown. Pretty much anywhere in these neighborhoods seems to work for undergrads with graduate students often choosing to live a bit farther from campus to get some peace and quiet.

Downtown/Old Town

Young Professionals / Retirees

Ames frequently ranks near the top of national rankings for young people to move. Extremely low unemployment numbers, great college town energy, a good restaurant, bar and culture scene, all combine to make it an ideal place to start a career, build for something and enjoy yourself while you’re doing so. There are a lot of neighborhoods to choose from but Old Town and Downtown (Main Street) are where you should start. They’re close to campus so you get the vibe but not so popular for students so you can avoid the madness. Plenty of eats and drinks along with culture and community events make them energized walk score havens. All of these characteristics also make the neighborhoods ideal for retirees who want the same heightened cultural and social energy in an easily walkable neighborhood.

  • Old Town
  • Downtown (Main Street)

Northwest / Somerset


Setting aside the student areas near campus, most of Ames is family friendly. Many families choose the Northwest section of the city due to its distance from campus and the beautiful homes, tree-lined streets and proximity to trails for walking, biking and general outdoor recreation. The public schools in Ames are excellent and this is particularly true for Northwest. If you're looking for big homes, great yards and outdoor spaces, and some of the best public schools in the midwest then this is and area you should put on your shortlist. This includes the Somerset neighborhood and farther North and West.

  • Somerset
  • Northwest