Looking for Cheap, Low-stress Car Ownership? Head to the Cornfields

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
looking for cheap low stress car ownership head to the cornfields

If it wasn’t for the blissful autonomy and convenience that comes with car ownership, how many people would want to shoulder the ever-growing cost? Insurers lie in wait to squeeze you, law enforcement waits to punish you, environmental groups demonize your lifestyle, and governments at all levels salivate at the thought of making it more expensive to own a personal vehicle.

Meanwhile, you dance to the tune set by oil companies and geopolitics, weathering financial blows when pump prices rise. If only there was a place where those worries fell away — where the act of owning and driving a car wasn’t as stressful.

As it turns out, this place exists. And it’s just west of the Mississippi.

According to a study by Bankrate.com, the easiest place to own a car sits smack in the center of the union. Frustrated drivers, get thee to the Hawkeye State.

The financial services company has declared Iowa as the least-expensive, least-dangerous state in which to own a vehicle, based on average insurance premiums, gas prices, commute times, car repair costs, vehicle theft rate, and road fatalities. It’s like heaven for vehicles, only with miles and miles of corn.

To make its ranking, Bankrate tapped data from the census, FBI, CarMD, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. By a not-too-small degree, Iowa won. Out of a possible 60 points, the state landed a score of 48, far above the national average of 34.6.

Drivers in Iowa commute an average of 19 minutes, and spend a low $648 each year on insurance coverage. An average repair sets an Iowan back $358. While several states spend less on gas and have lower theft rates — as well as slightly lower roadway deaths — it all averaged out in the state’s favor. That sound you hear is contentment emanating from Davenport to Des Moines.

Rounding out the top five states are Ohio, Maine, Wisconsin and Vermont. Naturally, California ranks dead last at 21 points, but few residents would trade the higher average costs and longer commutes for the weather “enjoyed” by the top-ranked states. New Mexico came in second last, while Nevada, Louisiana and Wyoming filled out the bottom five.

It’s true that the study’s methodology paints an inaccurate for many car owners. With its higher median income and greater proportion of luxury vehicles, an average repair in California would naturally ring in higher than one a less populous, less prosperous state. As well, we all know that Californian cities are Flickr ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Dec 14, 2016

    When I moved from Iowa to California the first couple quotes I got for the Cobra replica was $2100 per 6 months and I was not in a major city. I was paying 308 per year in Iowa for similar coverage. Finally talked Wawanesa into covering it. They were pretty good. Now I am back in the midwest. Ubermensch, you also have U of I hospitals. They have helped our daughter a great deal. Worth the drive from across the river.

  • Ericb91 Ericb91 on Dec 15, 2016

    Yep, it's cheap. I live in rural NW Illinois, 40 mins from the Quad Cities (two of which are in Iowa, two in Illinois). My commute is 2.6 miles round-trip. Nothin' quite like these agricultural small towns!

  • MaintenanceCosts The Thunderbird SVE used a supercharged version of the 2-valve Mod, not the 4-valve one at issue here.There were nonstop rumors in the early 90s that the 4-valve engine would end up in the P71, making a true competitor to the LT1-powered bubble Caprice, but it never happened.
  • MaintenanceCosts Removing hardware that is already present in a physical machine you bought is theft. Someone affected should sue Tesla for conversion.It's just one more example of the sort of sharp business practices that you expect with Elmo at the helm..
  • Theflyersfan Needed an updated picture of Philadelphia to replace the rather nice ones above.
  • Arthur Dailey Any vehicle with a continental hump, even if vestigial, gets a thumbs up from me.
  • KOKing Actually a place called Sector111 in Temecula, CA was importing them for sale in the US starting around 2012. A friend had a shop right next door, and I recall seeing the very first one the owner imported for himself, and would bring it out to promote at various local events. Also shows this thing's been around for a while.