What Cheer, Iowa

According to ablogtophone, What Cheer is a small, rural town located in the southeast corner of Iowa. It has a population of just over 1,000 people and is known for its friendly atmosphere and small-town charm. The town was founded in 1853 by a group of Quakers who were seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity.

The town’s most notable landmark is its historic What Cheer Opera House, built in 1882. The opera house was once the center of entertainment for the entire region and still hosts live performances today. Other attractions include the What Cheer Public Library, which was built in 1903; the historic What Cheer Grain Elevator, built in 1895; and a restored 19th century schoolhouse.

The town also boasts an impressive array of local businesses, including several antique stores, a grocery store, several restaurants, an ice cream parlor, a bank, two pharmacies and several other specialty shops. In addition to these businesses, there are two churches – one Methodist and one Christian – as well as a museum dedicated to the history of What Cheer.

According to beautyphoon, the local economy relies heavily on agriculture with corn being the primary crop grown there. In addition to farming activities such as haymaking and livestock raising, many residents work in nearby cities such as Des Moines or Cedar Rapids for employment opportunities or commute to nearby universities for higher education options.

What Cheer offers many recreational activities such as swimming at Lake Icaria State Park which is located just outside of town or playing sports at the newly renovated What Cheer Recreation Center which features an indoor pool and basketball courts among other amenities. There are also several parks located within city limits that provide excellent places to picnic or take walks on nice days.

Overall What Cheer provides an excellent quality of life with its friendly atmosphere and small-town charm making it easy for newcomers to fit right in with their neighbors who have been living here for generations. With its low cost of living compared to other cities nearby it makes it an ideal place to settle down with plenty of opportunities for employment or education close by while still providing rural beauty that can’t be found anywhere else.

Population: 678. Estimated population in July 2020: 658 (-2.9% change)
Males: 320 (47.2%), Females: 358 (52.8%)

Keokuk County

Zip code: 50268

Median resident age: 43.4 years
Median household income: $27,292
Median house value: $23,900

Races in What Cheer:

  • White Non-Hispanic (98.1%)
  • American Indian (1.2%)
  • Two or more races (1.2%)

Ancestries: United States (22.7%), German (16.4%), Irish (11.4%), English (7.4%), Dutch (5.5%), Scotch-Irish (3.1%).

Elevation: 772 feet

Land area: 1.2 square miles

What Cheer, Iowa


For population 25 years and over in What Cheer

  • High school or higher: 73.8%
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher: 6.7%
  • Graduate or professional degree: 1.7%
  • Unemployed: 6.4%
  • Mean travel time to work: 38.2 minutes

For population 15 years and over in What Cheer city

  • Never married: 20.5%
  • Now married: 52.8%
  • Separated: 1.1%
  • Widowed: 10.2%
  • Divorced: 15.4%

0.3% Foreign born

Population change in the 1990s: -83 (-10.9%).


Hospitals/medical centers near What Cheer:



Airports certified for carrier operations nearest to What Cheer:

  • OTTUMWA INDUSTRIAL (about 22 miles; OTTUMWA, IA; Abbreviation: OTM)
  • THE EASTERN IOWA (about 57 miles; CEDAR RAPIDS, IA; Abbreviation: CID)
  • WATERLOO MUNI (about 80 miles; WATERLOO, IA; Abbreviation: ALO)

Other public-use airports nearest to What Cheer:

  • SIG FIELD (about 16 miles; MONTEZUMA, IA; Abbreviation: 7C5)
  • OSKALOOSA MUNI (about 16 miles; OSKALOOSA, IA; Abbreviation: OOA)
  • BELLE PLAINE MUNI (about 33 miles; BELLE PLAINE, IA; Abbreviation: TZT)

Colleges and Universities

Colleges/universities with over 2000 students nearest to What Cheer:

  • INDIAN HILLS COMMUNITY COLLEGE (about 27 miles; OTTUMWA, IA; Full-time enrollment: 2,744)
  • UNIVERSITY OF IOWA (about 60 miles; IOWA CITY, IA; Full-time enrollment: 24,766)
  • KIRKWOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE (about 73 miles; CEDAR RAPIDS, IA; Full-time enrollment: 7,991)
  • UNIVERSITY OF NORTHERN IOWA (about 74 miles; CEDAR FALLS, IA; Full-time enrollment: 12,524)
  • HAWKEYE COMMUNITY COLLEGE (about 74 miles; WATERLOO, IA; Full-time enrollment: 3,292)
  • TRUMAN STATE UNIVERSITY (about 86 miles; KIRKSVILLE, MO; Full-time enrollment: 5,922)
  • IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY (about 89 miles; AMES, IA; Full-time enrollment: 24,473)


Library in What Cheer:

  • WHAT CHEER PUBLIC LIBRARY (Operating income: $7,889; Location: 308 S. BARNES; 5,098 books; 16 audio materials; 633 video materials; 10 serial subscriptions)