Perhaps it’s time for a new start or job relocation; maybe retirement is in the near future. Whatever the motivation is for moving to the Hawkeye state, this guide will help those who are keen about moving to the Midwest.
Iowa is known to be the land of corn, but it is far from only being an agricultural state. Of the midwestern states, Iowa has been ranked #1 in affordability. Some of the other considerations include low crime, economic opportunity, and higher than average national marks for education.
Still can’t get past the idea that Iowa is only farmland. In comparison, most people consider all of New York to be paved in concrete and high rises.
What to Know Before Moving to Iowa
Iowa is approximately 56,272 square miles making it the 26th largest state in the United States. It is the 31st largest state by population with a population of nearly 3.18 million residents in the state. Just to compare, in 2018, there were 8.4 million people who lived in New York City – just the city!
The Pros and Cons of Living In Iowa
- According to US News, Iowa ranked #1 in overall affordability and #13 for cost of living.
- Iowa consistently ranks in the Top 20 states with the best in public schools, grade K-12. They can also boast of a 91.3% graduation percentage for their grade school. Additionally, Iowa has notable higher education with Grinnell College, Briar Cliff University, and Iowa State University at Ames.
- Iowa has also been ranking consistently high for job and business opportunities as well as affordability, which is great to earn money and keep more of it in the bank.
- The state of Iowa is filled with artists. Writers and poets congregate, artists, theater and culinary artists are very active in the communities they serve. The state also hosts the very popular and award-winning Iowa Arts Festival every year.
- Iowa consistently makes the Top 20 nationwide list of safe places to live. This state has low property crime as well as low violent crime rate.
- Iowa has snow and greenery and everything in between. Yes, from powdery winters to fall foliage, the seasons change. Nature walkers and outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of seasonal activities too.
- There is a plethora of cuisine and craft beers that make Iowa quite diverse for the foodie palate.
- Cold Winters. One of the pros of living in Iowa is the four seasons but one of the pitfalls are the often-brutal winters. It’s been known to get down to -50°F with the wind chill. On the plus side, typical winter temperatures are around 10°F. That’s still super cold. Brr!
- Unpredictable Weather. Staying with the weather theme, there is a running joke that if you live in Iowa, keep clothes for every season in the car every day because the weather can turn on a dime. Why? Because with no mountains and Hawkeye Point being the highest elevation at 1,670 feet, minimal tree coverage, and location in the Midwest, the extreme weather variations make it quite interesting.
- It doesn’t matter what party affiliation anyone is in, Iowa has a huge caucus and presidential candidates, media, pundits, and supporters come out in droves. This might be great for local businesses to get a boost, but for year-round residents, it’s a bother.
- No Sports. Sorry sports fans. That was a little misleading. Iowa has no professional sports teams. There are, however, four major college teams and several minor league sports teams.
- Since Iowa is landlocked, seafood has to be shipped in and it can be quite expensive but there are plenty of lakes and rivers for fishing. It’s not lobster, that’s for sure.
- Rural America. There are parts of Iowa that are pretty remote, especially in rural corn country. If choosing to relocate to Iowa, definitely research the areas that best suit the lifestyle of choice.
Best Places to Live
For this list of contributing factors that make these locations the best place to live, let’s consider housing costs, cost of living, and other interesting factors.
Des Moines is the capital of Iowa and the most populous in the state. Interesting fact: Its name is derived from “River of the Monks” and it is ranked 83rd in the United States based on population.
As for jobs, Des Moines is an insurance and financial services hot spot. As far as culture, this city has the Des Moines Metro Opera, Des Moines Ballet, Des Moines Symphony, and there are many parks and gardens to enjoy.
There are plenty of homes for sale in Mason City, Iowa that range around $49K and higher in family-friendly neighborhoods. This city has a small town feel and its link to the award-winning musical The Music Man, written by Meredith Willson. Willson grew up in Mason City and many of the characters in the musical are based on the people who live here.
Mason City is also quite diverse as far as employment. There are manufacturing, health, technology, education and financial services employment opportunities. Unlike Detroit being known for their car manufacturing, Mason City has no one work sector that dominates the area. As of the 2010 census, there were just over 28,000 people living in the city.
Cedar Rapids is made up of active neighborhood associations and some informal neighborhoods. On average, a mortgage is about $780 per month.
One of the biggest attractions in Cedar Rapids is the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library. It is also home to the Cedar Rapids Czech Heritage Foundation.
Job opportunities may be found in such Fortune 500 companies like Collins Aerospace, Aegon, and CRST. General Mills and Quaker Oats take a huge area of the city, and businesses like Nordstrom and Toyota Financial Services are based out of Cedar Rapids.
These are just three cities in Iowa that can be considered when thinking about relocating to Iowa. There are plenty more places to discover in the Hawkeye state. Craft beer and artisan food, the fine arts, parks and recreation, The National Motorcycle Museum, and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Some strange and cool things to discover include gnomes, zombie burgers and one of the tallest trestle bridges in the world.
Want to Become an Iowa Resident?
It’s pretty easy to become an Iowa resident. Establish a mailing address. Open a bank account in the state. Obtain a state-issued driver’s license. Register a vehicle. Vote in Iowa. File taxes as a state resident.