this is like asking, "testicular core sample or prostate exam from andre the giant?"
I live in Marshalltown and as long as you dont live on the North side of town its fine here. Not a lot to do but more than Boone.
Personally, I don't think that it's really even debatable what to do. Buy a place in west Ames and commute to Boone. Yeah, housing prices are a little more in Ames and taxes are a little more in Ames. But you're living in AMES and not Boone or MTown. Lots more to do, the schools are better and the commute is still something that most people would kill for.