Moving to Iowa
If the thought of waving cornfields, charming small-town vibes, and a simpler way of living makes your heart sing, then moving to Iowa is the key to unlocking your dreams. As you embark on this exciting journey, our comprehensive Iowa relocation guide is your trusty sidekick brimming with invaluable insights, tips, and advice. Get ready to savor the best of both worlds - thriving urban life and idyllic rural landscapes - all wrapped up in a genuinely Midwestern package. Buckle up as we explore our great Hawkeye State together!
What to Know Before Moving to Iowa
1. Goodbye traffic, hello gorgeous drives
One of the most immediate benefits of moving to Iowa is the drastic reduction in traffic! Say farewell to hour-long commutes and never-ending highway construction. With less traffic congestion and better maintained roads, you'll be getting everywhere faster and with fewer headaches. Plus, you'll be able to enjoy beautiful scenery, including the picturesque landscapes of rolling farmland and quaint small towns, while cruising around. It's a win-win situation! For more information about the country's traffic situation, you can visit the Federal Highway Administration's website.
2. Affordable housing and a low cost of living
When it comes to finding an affordable place to live, Iowa's got you covered. With a lower cost of living than the national average, you'll be able to find a great home without breaking the bank. In fact, Iowa has one of the lowest costs of living in the nation, making it an attractive option for anyone looking to stretch their dollars. Imagine being able to buy a charming, spacious house without the burden of a massive mortgage payment! Your wallet will thank you. Check out Zillow for more information on housing prices in Iowa.
3. The corn and beans are an entire conversation topic
We can't talk about Iowa without mentioning the crops! Boasting an abundance of corn and soybeans, agriculture plays a significant role in the state's economy. Find out more about the significant role of agriculture in Iowa on Iowa's Department of Agriculture's website. But it's not just the food and resources that matter. Iowan crops are also part of the local culture and conversation. You'd be surprised how many interesting discussions you can have about the latest yields, growing techniques, or even corn-based foods. Don't be shy - embrace the corn and beans as part of your Iowa experience!
4. Contrary to popular belief - there's actually a lot to do!
Think there's nothing to do in Iowa? Think again! While it may not be a bustling metropolis, Iowa offers a wide range of attractions and activities for everyone to enjoy. Explore charming small towns or immerse yourself in outdoor fun with hiking, biking, and camping adventures. Delight in cultural experiences by visiting the popular Des Moines Art Center, strolling through the annual Art Festival, or attending concerts in the summertime. Additionally, you can't forget the fairs and festivals that bring people together in true Iowan style, where you'll find an exciting mix of food, live music, games, and more. Trust us, you'll never run out of things to do in Iowa.
5. Prepare for "Iowa Nice"
You've likely heard of "Minnesota Nice," but did you know about "Iowa Nice"? That's right, Iowans are known for their friendly and welcoming demeanor. If you’re interested in learning more about Iowa’s culture, the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs offers a comprehensive overview. When moving to Iowa, be prepared to experience a warmth and kindness that might surprise you! Wave goodbye to the impersonal interactions of larger cities, and grab a slice of the wholesome friendliness that Iowa has to offer.
6. Take part in a one-of-a-kind political experience
A little-known fact about Iowa is its unique role in the United States' political process. As the first state to hold caucuses during presidential election years, Iowa takes on an exceptional responsibility, setting the tone for the rest of the nation. This means when you move to Iowa, you will have the opportunity to take part in this amazing grassroots political experience by participating in local caucuses and meeting presidential candidates, political campaigners, and journalists up close. If you're a political junkie, this is an unparalleled experience that you won't want to miss out on!
Pros and Cons of Living in Iowa
Pros of Living in Iowa
Low Cost of Living
The cost of living in Iowa is relatively low, with affordable housing and daily living expenses. Residents generally enjoy a higher quality of life without overextending their budgets, as compared to living in other states.
Strong Communities and Friendly People
Iowa is known for its strong sense of community across the state, where neighbors are often friends and support one another. The friendly people in each town help create a comfortable environment to live, work, and raise a family.
Bountiful Outdoor Activities
Living in Iowa offers an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking, fishing, and hunting. With over 80 state parks and several national landmarks, residents can enjoy nature to its fullest.
Good Education System
Iowa consistently ranks highly for its public education system. With a dedication to high-quality educational experiences for students, residents can expect strong schools and community support for education.
Thriving Agriculture Industry
Agriculture is a driving force of Iowa's economy, producing various agricultural products such as corn and soybeans. Living in Iowa offers the chance to appreciate and participate in this important industry that shapes the state's culture and traditions.
Cons of Living in Iowa
Winters in Iowa can be quite cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing and frequent snowfalls. This can create less than ideal conditions for commuting, outdoor activities, and general comfort during the winter months.
While the communities in Iowa are generally close-knit and friendly, the state does lack the cultural and ethnic diversity found in other parts of the country. This can make it difficult to experience a broad range of ideas and cultures within local communities.
Minimal Entertainment Options
Compared to larger cities or more densely populated states, Iowa has limited entertainment options such as high-end shopping centers, movie theaters, or diverse restaurant choices. For a more extensive list of options, residents would have to travel to the bigger cities within the state or neighboring states.
Less Access to Public Transportation
Public transportation in Iowa is not as extensive or convenient as in more urban areas. Residents usually rely on personal vehicles for transportation, which can lead to increased expenses and a smaller focus on public transit as a whole.
Living in Iowa does come with some risk of tornado activity, as it is located within Tornado Alley. Tornadoes can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure, causing residents to be vigilant and prepared for potential natural disasters.
Is Iowa a Good State to Live In?
Iowa is a great place to live because of its low cost of living, well-regarded schools, and friendly communities. Additionally, residents can enjoy the beautiful nature with numerous state parks and trails for outdoor enthusiasts.
What Is Iowa Famous For?
Did you know that Iowa is the nation's top corn producer? With nearly 14 million acres of cornfields blanketing the landscape, it's no wonder this hearty grain has become synonymous with the state. Corn mazes, corn festivals, and a large variety of corn dishes are all part of the Iowan experience.
RAGBRAI, or the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, is the world's longest, largest, and oldest annual recreational cycling event. Each summer, thousands of riders across all ages come together for a scenic seven-day bicycle ride across the beautiful Iowa countryside – a fun, sweaty, and unforgettable festival on wheels!
Unique to western Iowa, the Loess Hills are impressive, naturally formed mounds of windblown silt deposits. Stretching over 200 miles, these eye-catching formations make for a stunning backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts to explore via hiking, wildlife watching, and photography – a truly one-of-a-kind natural marvel.
National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
Located in the charming historic town of Dubuque, the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium offers an immersive experience into the life and ecosystem of the mighty Mississippi River. This fascinating attraction hosts interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and an array of aquatic creatures – an educational and enthralling adventure for all ages.
Overview of Tax Rates
In Iowa, property tax rates vary by location, with an average effective rate of 1.53% as of 2023. This rate is relatively high compared to other states, placing Iowa within the top 15 highest property tax rates.
The statewide sales tax rate in Iowa is 6%, but local jurisdictions can add their own taxes, making the overall rate as high as 8%. These rates are slightly higher than those in other states, placing Iowa near the middle of the pack in terms of sales tax rates.
Iowa has a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 0.33% to 8.53% as of 2023. While the lower income tax brackets are comparable to other states, the top bracket's relatively high rate places Iowa in the top 10 states with the highest individual income tax rates.
The housing market in Iowa offers an affordable, stable, and slow-growing option for both renters and buyers. With a median home value of $154,300, Iowa homes are significantly cheaper than the national median of $227,700. Rent prices are also lower, with a median rent of $972 as compared to the national median of $1,062. While growth rates in Iowa are slower at 2.2% compared to the national average of 4.7%, low property taxes and a stable job market make it an attractive option for those looking for budget-friendly housing options.
Cost of Living
Iowa's cost of living is relatively low compared to other states in the United States. With a cost of living index of 83.7, it ranks as one of the most affordable states to reside in. Housing and transportation costs are particularly inexpensive, making Iowa an attractive option for those searching for a lower living expense. However, utility costs can be slightly higher in comparison to other states. Overall, Iowa's lower cost of living provides an appealing opportunity for individuals and families to maintain a comfortable and satisfying lifestyle.
Weather & Natural Disasters
The climate in Iowa is categorized as humid continental, characterized by warm summers, cold winters, and regular precipitation throughout the year. The weather can range from hot and humid during the summer months, with temperatures sometimes exceeding 90°F (32°C), to frigid and snowy conditions in winter, where temperatures can plummet below 0°F (-18°C). Spring and autumn bring moderate temperatures and lovely foliage, displaying strikingly beautiful seasonal changes. Iowa is no stranger to natural disasters, primarily tornadoes, which occur mainly between April and October, with peak activity in June. The state is at risk of severe thunderstorms that may produce hail, strong winds, and flash flooding. Flooding remains another concern, particularly along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, due to heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt. The mixture of weather extremes and potential natural disasters makes Iowa a dynamic and interesting place to experience the full range of seasons.
Economy & Job Market
Healthcare and social assistance
Finance and insurance
Historically, Iowa's economy has been heavily dependent on agriculture, with farmers producing crops such as corn, soybeans, hogs, and eggs. While agriculture still remains important today, the state's economy has diversified over the years, and now includes industries such as healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, retail trade, finance and insurance, and education services. Manufacturing in Iowa includes food processing, renewable energy production, and machinery manufacturing, with companies like John Deere and Winnebago Industries having a significant presence in the state. In recent years, Iowa has also seen a surge in technology and data center industries, with companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft opening facilities in the state.
If you're planning to move to Iowa and look for a job, you'll be happy to know that, as of September 2020, Iowa's unemployment rate has recovered significantly from its peak during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains below the national average. Healthcare and social assistance, manufacturing, and education services are among the top industries in Iowa right now, so if you have skills or experience in these areas, your chances of finding a job should be good! Additionally, the capital city of Des Moines and the surrounding region is known as a hub for the insurance industry, as well as having a thriving job market in finance and information technology, making it an excellent area to look for jobs. Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Davenport are also great options for job seekers. Overall, Iowa has a diverse and growing job market, making it an attractive destination for those looking to start a new chapter in their career.
Traffic and Transportation
Welcome to the Hawkeye State, where the rolling cornfields and vibrant cities come together to form a transit haven! Commuting in Iowa is a breeze, with average drive times in top cities like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids taking about a mere 20 minutes - way faster than their big-city counterparts. This means you can hit snooze a few more times before that morning coffee run.
But there's even more 'cornvenient' ways to travel! Public transportation options are aplenty, especially in Des Moines, where the DART system offers a vast network of buses that make it easy to move around the city. Cedar Rapids' City of Five Seasons also offers a bus system with the CR Transit, ensuring a smooth ride to work, play, or anything in between.
Prefer flying high instead? No problem! Sky's the limit with Iowa's multiple airports, including Des Moines International Airport and The Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids, that offer several flights to every corner of the US. Now go on and explore the endless possibilities Iowa's traffic and transportation landscape has to offer!
Things to Do
Welcome to Iowa, the land of rolling plains, friendly folks, and surprisingly cool attractions! In this Midwestern paradise, you'll find plenty of activities to keep you entertained, whether you're a nature lover, history buff, or culture enthusiast. Check out these seven off-the-beaten-path adventures for when you're ready to start exploring your new home.
1. Explore the Maquoketa Caves State Park
No trip to Iowa would be complete without a visit to Maquoketa Caves State Park. This stunning park is home to a series of caves, limestone formations, and rugged bluffs that are perfect for hiking and exploring. Be sure to bring your flashlight and sense of adventure, as the park boasts more than 16 caves, including the fantastic Dancehall Cave. This spacious and natural wonder is complete with walkways, making it an experience you won't want to miss!
2. Shop 'til you drop at the Amana Colonies
Step back in time and experience the unique charm of the Amana Colonies. This collection of seven villages, built by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, is known for its thriving arts scene, unique shops, and delicious food. Browse through handmade furniture stores or head over to the Amana Woolen Mill for some local, high-quality textiles. Finish your day with a mouthwatering meal at one of the traditional German-style restaurants.
3. Pay homage to the "Field of Dreams"
"If you build it, they will come," and people have certainly come to the iconic "Field of Dreams" movie set in Dyersville. Baseball fans and movie buffs alike flock to this famed cornfield, where you can walk around the outfield, explore the 19th-century farmhouse originally built as the film's set, and even play catch on the hallowed grounds where Kevin Costner once graced. If you visit during the summer, you might catch one of the many "ghost player" games that take place on the field.
4. Take a scenic drive on the Great River Road
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of Iowa's diverse landscape is by driving along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. This route takes you alongside the mighty Mississippi River, offering picturesque views, charming towns, and rich history. Stop in at the Effigy Mounds National Monument or the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium to learn about the area's cultural importance and natural resources.
5. Get weird at the Grotto of the Redemption
This bizarre, beautiful, and completely unexpected attraction is a must-see for anyone seeking an offbeat adventure. Located in the small town of West Bend, the Grotto of the Redemption is the largest man-made grotto in the world, made up of nine smaller grottos that depict various scenes from the life of Christ. Built by a priest who vowed to create a tribute to divine intervention after being miraculously healed, it contains countless colorful gems, fossils, and rocks that create a truly awe-inspiring experience.
6. Go biking on the High Trestle Trail
Iowa's extensive network of trails is a dream come true for cyclists. One standout route is the High Trestle Trail, a 25-mile-long converted railroad that winds through bucolic countryside, lush forests, and picturesque small towns. What makes this trail even more amazing is its centerpiece: an architectural marvel of a bridge over the Des Moines River that lights up at night, creating a dazzling display for cyclists and onlookers alike.
7. Discover the hidden gem of Okoboji
Last but not least, treat yourself to an escape at Iowa's best-kept secret: the charming lakeside town of Okoboji. With its world-class golf courses, diverse dining scene, and abundance of local festivals and live music, Okoboji is a wonderful little oasis with plenty going on. But perhaps the best part of Okoboji is the crystal-clear blue water that's perfect for boating, fishing, and swimming. Who says you need the ocean to enjoy some beach vibes?
So, there you have it – a list of seven fantastic, lesser-known activities to explore in your new home state of Iowa. From underground adventures to lazy lake weekends, Iowa is jam-packed with hidden gems waiting for you to discover. Happy exploring!
Find Movers for Your Iowa Relocation
As you embark on your exciting journey to Iowa, allow Great Guys Moving to help make your relocation experience seamless and stress-free. By connecting you with the most reputable, licensed, and insured movers in the industry, you can be confident that you're in great hands. Don't waste your valuable time searching and comparing on your own; let Great Guys simplify the process by providing you with fast and easy moving quotes from trusted professionals. Take the first step towards a successful and enjoyable move - request your free, no-obligation moving quote today and embark on your Iowa adventure with confidence!
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