While the growth is small, the population of Iowa has steadily increased every year from 1900 to 2020. However, almost all of this growth is happening in larger cities. Nearly all of Iowa’s small towns have seen absolutely no population growth. Many of these small towns are actually losing population.
To combat these population losses, some towns in Iowa have started free land programs. They hope the lure of free land will encourage more people to live in their towns.
As of writing, there are only three towns in Iowa that still have active free land programs. I’m also including some free land programs that are no longer active since they often get mentioned in other articles.
Also read: Free land in the USA
Marne has had a “free lots” program for over a decade. The free land is only available for residential construction. Homes must be at least 1,200 square feet, and construction must be completed within 18 months. Despite the free land program, Marne is still losing population. They went from 120 residents in 2010 to just 110 in 2020. Get more info on the program here.
Osceola has a relatively large population of over 5,000 residents. For several years now, they’ve had a free land program. Homeowners can get free lots for residential properties, but only on select sites. Developers can also get up to $8,000 reimbursed. You can get more information here and here.
The Manilla Economic Development Corporation created a development area. They then gave away lots in these developments for free. As of writing, at least 12 homes were built or are in the process of being built. There are 15 free lots available in the “New Sunrise Addition Phase II” development. The lots are only for single-family homes, and there are many clauses. Get more information here.
As of the 2020 census, Manilla had a population of 775 – a one-person decrease from 2010.
Aurora – NOT Active
Aurora used to have a free land program. However, the program was only for builders and developers using the free land for residential properties. The city received no proposals, so the program is no longer active.
Newton, Iowa – NOT Active
Despite what some other articles say, there is no more free land program in Newton, Iowa. Instead, Newton has a housing initiative where homebuyers can get $10,000 – but only on homes valued at $190,000 or more. Get more info here.