Charm map ranks Iowa City in top 20 college towns

Another day, another listicle. This time it’s Iowa City’s rank among the most charming college towns.

Iowa City is shown engulfed in a green charm cloud on RentLingo’s Heat Map — image courtesy of
Iowa City is shown engulfed in a green charm cloud on RentLingo’s Heat Map — image courtesy of

RentLingo, an online apartment indexer, has created a “heat map” that shows the “charm street scores of every college town” in a determination their overall “charm” scores. Iowa City ranked as the #19 most charming city.

Based on the “study,” Iowa City has a “charm score” of 73.5, meaning there are many locally owned businesses that are well-liked by locals, store prices, ownership, store ratings, and community amenities (universities, libraries, town halls) and low crime rates.

One of the criteria listed on the site, “Is it inexpensive or expensive to live within the neighborhood?” does not measure the cost of rent, the largest monthly expense for most people.

Iowa City, charmingly known as a UNESCO City of Literature, is also the city of high rent. More renters in Iowa City are paying over 30 percent of their income towards rent.

RentLingo’s Head of Community Outreach Adam Busch told the Little Village in an email that the “Charm Index does not tie the cost of rent to its charm ratings. Cheaper neighborhoods will receive high charm ratings by the Charm Index if they have a high proportion of well-rated local businesses (not chain stores), access to community amenities, have low crime rates, and do not include strip clubs, prisons, or payday loan stores.”

From the RentLingo website: “[W]e like to think that where most people prefer to live is more likely dictated by local boutiques and restaurants and not by redeveloped fast-food and retailer franchises. We also believe the presence of some business like Pay Day Loan stores, Strip Clubs, and pawn shops have a hard time competing in charm with neighborhood cafes and bookstores.”

What is the most charming street in Iowa City? East Washington Street has the hottest charm map readings with levels so high that people with high sensitivity to charming things may experience clinging irritation and lingering distaste.

At Iowa City’s most charming point, the charm score peaks at 86 (out of 100), approaching almost unbearable levels for people with high sensitivity to charm events.

Other Big 10 university towns that made the list include Ann Arbor, Mich. (#3), Bloomington, Ind. (#11), Evanston, Ill. (#6), and Madison Wisc. (#13).

Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV »


Iowa City Book Festival

Oct. 18-24

A celebration of books, writing and ideas

Find Out More


Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.


$10/mo or $120/year
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.


$20/mo or $240/year
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.


$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW) connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.