Iowa might be the land of corn, but it’s really an a-maize-ing state. Seriously, along with leading in many agricultural categories, the midwestern state is ranked #1 in affordability nationwide. It also scores high in education, low crime, economic opportunity, Top 100 cities like Iowa City, the list goes on. Those keen on moving to the Midwest should take a good look at the many benefits of living in the Hawkeye State.

Mulling over the decision to move to Iowa? We’re here to assist. Great Guys Moving has put together this helpful IA moving guide, broken down into the following sections:

  1. Things to Consider Before Moving to Iowa
  2. Top Places to Live Here in the Midwest State
  3. Comprehensive Interstate Moving Checklist
  4. Cheap, Top-Rated Great Guys Moving Services

When you’re ready, request free moving quotes from top Iowa movers at fantastic rates!

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Living in Iowa: What to Know Before Moving to Iowa

Moving to the Hawkeye State? If so, you’ll want to consider a few things before heading to America’s 26th largest state by total area (56,272 square miles) and 31st largest state by population (3.16 million).

Pros and Cons of Living in Iowa


  • Most affordable state: Yes, that’s right. According to The 10 Most Affordable States by US News, Iowa takes the #1 spot overall (coming in at #1 for housing and #13 for its cost of living). 
  • Education: Along with being one of the Top 20 states in public K–12 education, the state also has the best graduation rate at 91.3%. It’s also home to notable institutions like Grinnell College.
  • High opportunity rating: If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Iowa has been earning some impressive honors. As well as scoring #1 in affordability, it ranks #2 in opportunity rankings.
  • Arts scene: From writers and poets to theater geeks and culinary artists, the state is home to all kinds of artistic people. Also, a popular event is the award-winning Iowa Arts Festival.
  • Low crime: As with its education ranking, Iowa makes the Top 20 in public safety. It currently ranks #18 in low property crime rate and #17 in violent crime rate in the United States.
  • Four seasons: Coming from a region that doesn’t have snow or colorful falls? If so, prepare to be treated to four distinct seasons, from powdery winters to incredibly beautiful fall foliage.
  • Foodie central: Whether it’s their assorted cuisine or craft brews, Iowans are proud to call themselves foodies. But, come on, it isn’t that hard with all the great places to eat and drink!


  • Unpredictable weather: The state of Iowa experiences pretty much every kind of weather you can think of, and things can change at the drop of a hat. The running joke is that you should keep every type of clothing in your car.
  • Cold winters: Known to drop as low as -50°F (including wind chill factor), wintertime can be brutal here. Fortunately, the typical winter low temp is 10°F, but that’s still freakin’ cold!
  • Stuff to do: Now, this doesn’t pertain to all parts of the state, but many rural areas and towns don’t offer a whole lot of entertainment options other than going to a movie theater.
  • Politics & caucuses: Regardless of your political affiliation or beliefs, the state gets flooded with presidential candidates, pundits, and national media outlets during the Iowa Caucuses.
  • No professional sports: Yes, sports fans, there are no major sports teams in the Hawkeye State. It does have four major college teams and several minor league sports teams, though.
  • Lack of seafood: Being a landlocked state in the Midwest, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a lack of seafood here. There are, however, plenty of tasty fish from lakes and rivers.
  • Weird laws: To finish off this list, we’re going to take a look at wacky statues. For example, you can’t kiss for longer than five minutes. Also, horses can’t eat fire hydrants in Marshall Town. 

Is Iowa a Good State to Live In?

Iowa is an excellent place to live with its extremely low cost of living, top-rated public K-12 education, and booming economy. It’s definitely a great state for growing families, especially because it has a low crime rate. In the Hawkeye State, you also get to experience all four seasons.

What Is Iowa Famous For?

  • Iowa State Fair: One of the biggest and most well-known annual state fairs in the country, the Iowa State Fair takes place every August in Des Moines. The fair hosts many competitions along with a variety of vendors and rides.
  • Sliced Bread: The inventor of sliced bread, Otto Rohwedder, was born in Davenport. He designed a machine that could slice and wrap bread in 1927.
  • Grotto of Redemption: A religious shrine in West Bend that has nine caves portraying the life of Jesus Christ. It has the biggest collection of petrifications and minerals in the world.
  • Corn: Iowa is the leading producer of corn in the United States. About 90% of the land in Iowa is devoted to agriculture and Iowa farmers produced over 2 billion bushels in 2020 alone.
  • The Hawkeye State: Iowa’s official nickname is in honor of a Sauk leader named Black-Hawk. The nickname was approved in 1838 by the territorial officials.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: 1.53%. The effective real-estate tax rate is #38 lowest in the US.
  • Sales Tax: Iowa’s base state sales tax rate: 6%. Combined with local taxes: 6–8%.
  • Income Tax: 0.36–8.98%. The state currently has nine marginal tax brackets.

Housing Market

To Rent or Buy? Overall, it is a better option to rent rather than buy in the state of Iowa. The average monthly mortgage is $1,202, while the average monthly rent is $462. That’s a difference of $462 per month or $5,544 per year. Regardless, the cost of ownership in Iowa is still extremely reasonable.

  • Median Home Value: $146,900
  • Median Rental Expense: $603 (1BR), $772 (2BR)

Cheapest Places to Live in Iowa:

  1. Iowa Falls
  2. Cherokee
  3. Maquoketa
  4. Manchester
  5. Clarinda
  6. Oelwein
  7. Fort Madison
  8. Denison
  9. Keokuk
  10. Creston

Cost of Living

According to the Cost of Living in Iowa by BestPlaces, Iowa has a cost of living index of 83.7. This index is much lower than the national average of 100.

Using EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, we can compare the average monthly costs in three Iowa cities. We’ll use a family of four for these examples (2 adults + 2 kids).

Cedar Rapids Metro Area:

  1. Housing = $774
  2. Food = $706
  3. Childcare = $1,107
  4. Transportation = $1,219
  5. Healthcare = $946
  6. Other necessities = $597
  7. Taxes = $831
  8. Grand total = $6,181 per month or $74,170 per year

Des Moines Metro Area:

  1. Housing = $875
  2. Food = $733
  3. Childcare = $1,161
  4. Transportation = $1,229
  5. Healthcare = $921
  6. Other necessities = $649
  7. Taxes = $898
  8. Grand total = $6,465 per month or $77,584 per year

Sioux City Metro Area:

  1. Housing = $806
  2. Food = $707
  3. Childcare = $1,164
  4. Transportation = $1,195
  5. Healthcare = $1,212
  6. Other necessities = $610
  7. Taxes = $883
  8. Grand total = $6,578 per month or $78,935 per year

Weather & Natural Disasters

The state of Iowa experiences a humid continental climate. This typically results in wet springs, hot summers, colorful falls, and harsh winters.

Temperatures can vary significantly throughout the seasons. Due to its lack of mountains (except for Hawkeye Point, Iowa’s highest elevation point at 1,670 feet), low tree coverage, and its landlocked & central location (far from any ocean or sea), Iowa sees extreme weather variations.

Climate Statistics:

  1. Average rainfall – 35 inches
  2. Average snowfall – 30 inches
  3. Sunshine – 200 sunny days
  4. Summer high – 84°F (July)
  5. Winter low – 10°F (January)

From 1990 to 2019, the state of Iowa suffered 44 disasters that resulted in a presidential disaster declaration. The biggest threats are floods and tornadoes (there were no less than 69 twisters in 2018). For more info, check out the Iowa Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Natural Disaster – Threats & Risks:

  1. Flooding
  2. Tornadoes / High Winds
  3. Ice Storms
  4. Blizzards
  5. Severe Winter Storms
  6. Landslides
  7. Thunderstorms / Lightning / Hail
  8. Extreme Heat
  9. Drought
  10. Earthquakes

Economy & Job Market

According to Economy Rankings by US News & World Report, Iowa is currently ranked #32 in the United States. This score is based on three subcategories: the business environment (#44), employment (#17), and growth (#35). Its GDP is approximately $183.93 billion, and the median income is $30,865.

Top Industries:

  1. Agriculture & Livestock
  2. Food & Bioprocessing
  3. Machinery Production
  4. Services
  5. Government
  6. Renewable Energy
  7. Advanced Manufacturing
  8. Bioscience
  9. Finance & Insurance
  10. Engineering & Automation
  11. Bio & Medical Technology

Top Employers:

  1. Hy-Vee (West Des Moines, 82,000 employees)
  2. Casey’s General Stores (Ankeny, nearly 25,500 employees)
  3. Rockwell Collins (Cedar Rapids, 19,000 employees)
  4. Principal Financial Group (Des Moines, nearly 14,900 employees)
  5. University of Iowa (Iowa City, 10,900+ employees)
  6. Fareway Stores (Boone, 9,000 employees)
  7. HNI (Muscatine, 8,900 employees)
  8. Pella (Pella, 8,700+ employees)
  9. University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (Iowa City, 7,600+ employees)
  10. Iowa State University Employees Credit Union (Ames, 7,500 employees)
  11. Iowa State University (Ames, nearly 6,700 employees)
  12. Ruan (Des Moines, 5,600 employees)
  13. TMC Transportation (Des Moines, 5,050+ employees)
  14. DuPont Pioneer (Johnston, 5,025 employees)
  15. Mercy Medical Center (Des Moines, 5,000 employees)
  16. Von Maur (Davenport, 4,500 employees)
  17. The HON Company (Muscatine, 4,000 employees)
  18. Pizza Ranch (Orange City, 3,800 employees)
  19. Heartland Express (North Liberty, 3,600 employees)
  20. Meredith (Des Moines, 3,550+ employees)

Looking for work in Iowa? Here are some handy resources:

  1. page: IowaWORKS
  2. Job search: Indeed, LinkedIn, CollegeRecruiter, CareerBuilder
  3. Resume help: Monster, TopResume, ResumeRobin

Traffic and Transportation

Most parts of Iowa require access to a personal vehicle. Nonetheless, there are several other transportation options (particularly in major cities like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City).

Major Forms of Transportation:

  1. Highways and roads
  2. Airport (including Des Moines International Airport)
  3. Freight Railroad System (3,825 miles of track)
  4. Amtrak Service
  5. Bus Line (Greyhound, Burlington Trails, Jefferson Lines, MegaBus, etc.)
  6. Public Bus System (Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City, etc.)
  7. Car Rental (airports and downtown areas)
  8. Personal vehicle
  9. Taxi Service (Des Moines and other major cities)
  10. Ridesharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.)

Primary Interstate Highways:

  • Interstate 29: This north-south interstate highway travels for a length of more than 151 miles. I-29 runs parallel to the Missouri River, going from near Hamburg to Sioux City in the north.
  • Interstate 35: At over 218 miles long, I-35 is the second-longest interstate highway in Iowa. It travels south-north from close to Lamoni and runs towards the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
  • Interstate 74: This is the shortest interstate highway in the state. I-74 is the central highway that runs through the Iowa Quad Cities. It goes from I-80 in Davenport to US 6 in Bettendorf.
  • Interstate 80: At a length of just over 306 miles, I-80 is the longest section of interstate highway in Iowa. It travels from Council Bluffs at the Nebraska state line to LeClaire at the Illinois state line.

According to Best and Worst States to Drive In by WalletHub, Iowa comes in at #4 in the nation. This ranking is based on four subcategories: cost of ownership & maintenance (#1), traffic & infrastructure (#10), safety (#44), and access to vehicles & maintenance (#22).

Things to Do

Looking for fun in the state of Iowa? Here are the best places to visit and explore in the Hawkeye State.

Tourist Destinations:

The Midwest state is home to rich American history and natural attractions.

  • National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium: Dedicated to the geological and cultural importance of the Mississippi River, it is home to a collection of live animals and exhibits.
  • National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library: Located in Cedar Rapids, this sizable institution showcases the culture and history of the Slovak and Czech people via exhibits and displays.
  • Iowa State Capitol Building: The state capitol building is not only home to Iowa’s state government, but it also houses many historical artifacts and has a great view of downtown.
  • Amana Colonies: Comprised of seven villages, this destination transports visitors to the time when German Pietists lived in the area, isolated and undisturbed for many years, during the mid-1800s.
  • RAGBRAI: This popular week-long bike race, which is an acronym for Register’s Annual Bike Race Across Iowa, literally takes place across the entire length of the state from east to west.

Food & Drink:

From craft brews to comfort food, Iowa (particularly Des Moines) is foodie central! Our top picks:

  • Top Bar: El Bait Shop (Des Moines)
  • Top Beer: Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout
  • Top Brunch: Americana (Des Moines)
  • Top Burger: Zombie Burger & Drink Lab (Des Moines)
  • Top Chili: George the Chili King Drive Inn (Des Moines)
  • Top Chocolate Shop: Chocolaterie Stam (Various Locations)
  • Top Coffee Shop: Horizon Line Coffee (Des Moines)
  • Top Donuts: Mahalo’s Coffee & Mini Donuts (West Des Moines)
  • Top Farmers Market: Downtown Farmers Market (Des Moines)
  • Top Food Truck: Waabs Piggin Out (Des Moines)

State Parks:

Want to explore Iowa’s natural beauty? Take a look at these popular state parks:

  • Maquoketa Caves State Park: Explore the caves of this popular state park in Maquoketa.
  • Pikes Peak State Park: Offering amazing hiking trails and views of the Mississippi River, this park is a real gem.
  • Cedar Rock State Park: Home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lowell and Agnes Walter Estate.
  • Backbone State Park: Iowa’s first state park. Great for camping, fishing, boating, etc.
  • Bellevue State Park: Offers a nature center, butterfly garden, camping, trails, and more.


There are many great museums to explore here. These are the top 5 picks:

  • Iowa 80 Trucking Museum: Like trucks? Then, you must visit this impressive museum.
  • National Motorcycle Museum: Featuring an extensive collection of motorcycles and exhibits, you’ll find this museum in Anamosa.
  • John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum: This museum tells the American success story of John Deere, a blacksmith who founded the farming equipment giant.
  • Vesterheim: Houses the world’s largest collection of Norwegian-American artifacts.
  • Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum: Dedicated to the 31st US president, this museum sits in Hoover’s birthplace of West Branch.

Cool & Unusual:

Looking for something off the beaten path in Iowa? Check out:

  • High Trestle Trail Bridge: As one of the world’s largest trail bridges, the half-mile long and 13-story high bridge is a feat of engineering that shines bright with ambient lights.
  • Villisca Axe Murder House: The house in Villisca was the site of several horrific murders in 1912. Due to the lack of forensic procedures at the time, the murders remain unsolved.
  • Elwood, the World’s Tallest Concrete Gnome: Like gnomes? This kitschy concrete creation stands tall with his pointy hat at 15 feet tall. He isn’t the tallest, but he sure is a sight to behold!
  • Zombie Burger + Drink Lab: Who doesn’t like zombie-themed burger joints? Enjoy a tasty burger or spiked milkshake in this movie poster-covered, horror-themed ode to the walking dead.
  • Captain James T. Kirk Future Birthplace: Okay, if you’re a Trekkie (or Trekker), this is a must-see spot. There’s a stone marker commemorating the captain’s future birth, plus a statue of Kirk.

Schools and Universities

Ranked #17 among states with the best schools by USA Today, Iowa boasts the highest high-school graduation rate at 91.3%. It also has the 18th highest public-school spending per pupil at $13,102. As for higher education, Iowa is known for its cutting-edge agriculture degree programs.

Top IA Colleges:

  1. Grinnell College (Grinnell)
  2. University of Iowa (Iowa City)
  3. Iowa State University (Ames)
  4. Drake University (Des Moines)
  5. Luther College (Decorah)
  6. Coe College (Cedar Rapids)
  7. Cornell College (Mount Vernon)
  8. Loras College (Dubuque)
  9. Dordt University (Sioux Center)
  10. University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls)

Top IA Public School Districts:

  1. Pleasant Valley Community School District (Bettendorf)
  2. Gilbert Community School District (Gilbert)
  3. Johnston Community School District (Johnston)
  4. Ames Community School District (Ames)
  5. MOC Floyd Valley Community School District (Orange City)
  6. Ankeny Community School District (Ankeny)
  7. Decorah Community School District (Decorah)
  8. Waukee Community School District (Waukee)
  9. Pella Community School District (Pella)
  10. Iowa City Community School District (Iowa City)

How to Become an Iowa Resident

Becoming an official resident of Iowa comes with several perks, including tuition savings and tax benefits. A new resident must show intent that they want to live in the state permanently.

There are several ways to show evidence of intent:

  1. Obtain an Iowa driver’s license
  2. Title and register vehicles here
  3. Register to vote in the state
  4. Vote in your local precinct
  5. Establish an IA mailing address
  6. Open a bank account in IA
  7. File Iowa state taxes
  8. Be employed in the state of Iowa
  9. Buy a home or sign a long-term lease
  10. Have your child or children attend Iowa schools

To qualify for in-state tuition, applicants must live in Iowa for at least 12 months and show proof of moving to the state for reasons other than just attending a college or university.

Moving to Iowa DMV

Acquiring a new driver’s license:

After moving to the state, new residents have 30 days to get an Iowa driver’s license.

Steps to obtaining a new license (if you have an out-of-state driver’s license):

  1. Establish Iowa residency
  2. Provide: proof of ID, residence, and social security number
  3. A current license must not be suspended or revoked in another state
  4. Pass the vision test
  5. Pay applicable fees

Vehicle registration:

New IA residents must register an out-of-state vehicle within 30 days. To title and register your vehicle in Iowa, you must provide: 1) current ownership document (certificate of title) 2) a completed and signed (by all owners) application for Iowa certificate of title and registration 3) if there is a lien, it must be disclosed. For info on current fees, please contact your local county treasurer’s office.

To qualify to vote, you must:

  1. Be a United States citizen
  2. Be an Iowa state resident
  3. Be 18 years or older on election day
  4. Not be a convicted felon (unless rights are restored)
  5. Not be deemed mentally incompetent by the court
  6. Not claim the right to vote in another state

You may register to vote online, by mail, or in person. Iowa allows same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and early voting. Voters are required to show ID at the polls on election day.

*NOTE: A felon may have his or her voting rights restored by submitting an application to the Governor’s Office. For more info, please call the Governor’s office or go online to the Voting Rights Restoration page.

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Best Places to Live in Iowa

Sioux City

Population: 83,000
Median Home Value: $120,200
Region: Western Iowa

Sioux City, the fourth largest city in Iowa, is located in Plymouth and Woodbury counties. It borders two states (South Dakota and Nebraska) and is the primary city of the five-county Sioux City, Iowa-Nebraska-South Dakota metro area. Some 63% of residents own their homes, and the public schools are above average.

Known for having the right mixture of modern and agriculture – it is a leading pork producer in America – Sioux City is diverse, friendly, and safe. It is also home to some fun attractions, including places like the brilliantly restored Orpheum Theatre and Drop Zone for children (and kids at heart). And did we mention the affordability? With a median home selling price of only $136,600, living here is a steal!

As for downsides, a top complaint is the frigid winter weather. If you’re coming from a more temperate climate, be prepared! We suggest investing in some warm winter coats, gloves, and boots.

Top public schools in Sioux City include Bronson Elementary School, Sergeant Bluff-Luton Senior High School, Hinton Elementary School, Sergeant Bluff-Luton Middle School, and Hinton Middle School. Private schools are Bishop Heelan Catholic High School, Siouxland Community Christian School, Mater Dei School Nativity Center, and Sacred Heart School. Colleges in Sioux City include Western Iowa Tech Community College, Morningside College, Briar Cliff University, Iowa School of Beauty – Sioux City, and St. Luke’s College.

Wondering where to call home? Top neighborhoods and commercial districts to consider in Sioux City are The North Side, Morningside & East Side, West Side, Singing Hills, Downtown, and Hamilton Blvd Corridor.

Are you looking for great city amenities without the typical congestion of other urban areas? Sioux City is a great fit for families and young professionals alike.


Population: 67,000
Median Home Value: $226,200
Region: Central Iowa

Located in Story County, Ames is one of the best cities to live not only in Iowa (especially for the artsy and educated), but the entire country. 61% of residents rent their homes, and the schools are stellar.

About 30 miles north of Des Moines, Ames has received many honors, including being ranked #1 among the 15 best places to live in Iowa by The Crazy Tourist and the #33 among the best places to live in America by Livability. It is home to Iowa State University, which provides a strong college-town atmosphere. From Downtown Ames to Reiman Gardens, there’s always something to do for everyone!

Top public schools in town are Ames High School, Gilbert Intermediate School, Fellows Elementary School, Gilbert Middle School, and Gilbert Elementary School, while the most notable private schools include St. Cecilia Elementary School and Ames Christian School. In addition to Iowa State University, Ames is also home to PCI Academy – Ames, a beauty school.

Offering a great college-town vibe, awesome amenities, the top public schools in the state, reasonable cost of living, and much more, Ames should definitely be on your radar.


Population: 17,500
Median Home Value: $288,400
Region: Central Iowa

Next, we take a look at Clive. The city of less than 18,000, found in Dallas and Polk Counties, is a top suburb of Des Moines. 78% of residents are homeowners, and the public schools are highly rated.

Okay, so what makes the city of Clive so great? Here’s a short list: it is consistently ranked as one of the best small towns in America, listed #1 among the best places to live in Iowa for 2020 by HomeSnacks, and considered the #1 place to raise a family in the state. On top of that, it is less than 20 minutes away from Des Moines for easy commuting and fun excursions.

Are you currently raising a family or planning for the future? Top public schools serving the Clive, IA area include Waukee South Middle School, Eason Elementary School, Shuler Elementary School, Prairieview School, and Waukee Middle School.

Looking for one of the most celebrated small towns in America? Also, want to be close to the city of Des Moines? Clive is a growing city that checks all these boxes and much more!

Des Moines

Population: 217,500
Median Home Value: $146,600
Region: Central Iowa

As the capital and largest city in Iowa, Des Moines is one of America’s great cities. In Des Moines, 60% of residents own their homes, and the public schools rate as above average.

Once considered one of America’s dullest cities, Des Moines has become a cool metropolis. It’s become so cool, in fact, that millennials have been coming in droves. Ranked as the #96 city for young professionals and #96 out of the Top 100 places to live in the United States, the city is one of the most rapidly growing cities in the Midwest, offering top cultural, economic, and recreational opportunities.

Every city has its drawbacks, and Des Moines is no exception. Crime and safety, for example, definitely has room for improvement. On the bright side, the median home selling price is only $147,800.

Top public schools in Des Moines are Henry A. Wallace Elementary School, Lawson Elementary School, Johnston Senior High School, Summit High School, and Timber Ridge Elementary School. Those interested in private schools may want to explore Grand View Christian School, Holy Trinity Catholic School, St. Anthony Elementary School, Christ the King School, and Bergman Academy. In terms of post-secondary education, Des Moines is home to Drake University, Grand View University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, and Des Moines University – Osteopathic Medical Center.

If you’re unfamiliar with Des Moines, you’re probably interested in scoping out the best neighborhoods. Our list of top-tier neighborhoods includes Salisbury Oaks, Linden Heights, Greenwood Historic, Waveland Park, and Waterbury.

In search of a great city for millennials, families, and young professionals? The bustling city of Des Moines offers low-cost living, low unemployment, great schools, festivals, nightlife, the list goes on!

West Des Moines

Population: 66,000
Median Home Value: $231,000
Region: Central Iowa

We end our tour of central Iowa in West Des Moines. Located in three counties (Dallas, Polk, and Warren counties), the city of 66,000 is an affluent suburb of Des Moines. Here, 61% of residents are homeowners, and the public schools are highly ranked.

Ranked as the second-best place to live in Iowa by The Crazy Tourist, West Des Moines is about 15–20 minutes west of Iowa’s capital city. It offers a trifecta of perks: extremely reasonable living expenses, bustling nightlife/numerous activities, and relatively low crime rates. It is also highly diverse, and the population is highly educated as well. The city has great schools and a thriving business climate, to boot.

As for drawbacks, most residents point to two issues: harsh winter weather and smaller airports. But hey, with features like 1,200+ of parkland and a plethora of other amenities, it’s a small price to pay.

Top public schools in town are Maple Grove Elementary School, Waukee South Middle School, Woodland Hills Elementary, Brookview Elementary School, and Valley High School. Top private schools include Dowling Catholic High School, St. Francis of Assisi School, Sacred Heart School, Montessori Children’s House, and Shepherd’s Flock Early Learning Center. While West Des Moines isn’t home to any traditional 4-year colleges or universities, it does have an Aveda Institute for those wishing to study cosmetology, esthiology, or massage.

Looking for a growing city with a great small-town feel? Want to be close to the action and opportunity in the Des Moines metro area? West Des Moines is a great place to get a job, raise kids, or buy a home.

Cedar Rapids

Population: 132,200
Median Home Value: $144,200
Region: Eastern Iowa

We now head to the eastern Iowa city of Cedar Rapids. Located in Linn County, the city is the second-largest in the state. The majority (70%) of residents own their homes, and the public schools rank above average.

Dubbed the “City of Five Seasons,” Cedar Rapids ranks #50 out of the Top 100 places to live in the nation. It’s also the #12 city to buy a home in the US, with a median selling price of just $153K. Minor league sports are big here, and the city is home to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders (hockey) and the Cedar Rapids Kernels (baseball). It is also famous for Market After Dark, an event that attracts 40,000 visitors.

Want to hear some more perks? How about 74 parks, access to Cedar River, 12 fantastic neighborhoods, and a host of quality amenities (nightlife, arts & culture, recreation, the list goes on)?

Top public schools are Westfield Elementary School, Mount Vernon Middle School, John F. Kennedy High School, George Washington High School, and Indian Creek Elementary School. The area’s best private schools include Xavier High School, Cedar Valley Christian School, LaSalle Middle School, Regis Middle School, and St. Pius X. Elementary School. Cedar Rapids is also home to several institutions of higher learning, including Coe College, Mount Mercy University, Capri College – Cedar Rapids, Kirkwood Community College, and Purdue University Global – Cedar Rapids Campus.

Top neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids, IA are New Bohemia (NewBo), Covington, Linn Junction/New Buffalo, Williams Blvd/Beverly Rd, F Ave NW/Belmont Pky NW, and Cedar Hills.

A lot of folks have been moving back to Iowa, and this city is a popular pick. If you’re looking for affordable urban living in eastern Iowa, look no further than Cedar Rapids.

Iowa City

Population: 75,000
Median Home Value: $230,700
Region: Eastern Iowa

We now make our way to Iowa City. As the county seat of Johnson County, the city of 75,000 is arguably the crowning gem of Iowa. Roughly half (52%) of residents rent their homes, and the public schools are highly rated.

The hits just keep on coming for the state, and Iowa City is no exception. In fact, it is currently ranked #4 among the best places to live in the entire country according to Livability. And as home to the University of Iowa, the city is infused with youthful energy and diversity. Along with exceptional schools, a bustling downtown district, topnotch nightlife, food, and endless activities, it’s hard to get bored here!

Along with many of its counterparts, the city does experience unpredictable weather. Summers can be intensely hot and humid, while winters are typically pretty cold.

For those with kids, top public schools to explore are West Senior High School, Iowa City High School, Lincoln Elementary School, Herbert Hoover Elementary School, and Bohumil Shimek Elementary School. Top private schools in the area include Regina Catholic Education Center and Willowwind School. In addition to the University of Iowa, Iowa City is also home to La James International College – Iowa City.

Want to live in a Top 5 American city? Here’s your chance in affordable, not-too-big Iowa City!

University Heights

Population: 1,100
Median Home Value: $278,908
Region: Eastern Iowa

Last but not least, we visit University Heights. The small town holds the title of the #1 best suburb to live in Iowa, and for a good reason. Some 57% of residents own their homes, and public schools are highly rated.

As a top suburb of Iowa City, University Heights is close to the University of Iowa and Kinnick Stadium (home of the university’s college football team, the Iowa Hawkeyes). The small yet diverse community is full of educated people – over 53% of residents hold a master’s degree or higher. The median income is just over $72,000, and the median age is just 29 years.

Are you looking for the best education in University Heights, IA? Top public schools serving the area include West Senior High School, Northwest Junior High School, Norman Borlaug Elementary School, Ernest Horn Elementary School, and Elizabeth Tare Alternative High School.

Looking for not only the top suburb but arguably the best all-around place to live in the state? Want to live among some of the most learned folks in Iowa? You can’t go wrong with University Heights!

How to Move to Iowa

Start Early:

  • Begin by fighting the urge to procrastinate. Give yourself at least 2–3 months to prep.
  • If you have some helpers, get everyone together to discuss the plan and delegate tasks.
  • Make a to-do list. Place it on the fridge or another highly visible spot. Update regularly.
  • If doable, visit your new community. Explore what it has to offer. Make it an adventure!

Notify Folks:

  • Own? Acquire the services of a real estate pro for a smooth sale or rental process.
  • Rent? Give your landlord a heads up ASAP to safeguard your reference and deposit.
  • Give one month’s notice to employees and service providers. This notice will help them adjust.
  • Don’t forget friends, family, and neighbors! They’ll probably want to know what’s up.

Hire IA Moving Company:

  • To start, compare several (at least 3–5) reputable and experienced moving companies.
  • Confirm that each company is fully licensed and insured for your type of IA relocation.
  • Once you’ve narrowed it down, hire one ASAP to secure the best rates and availability.
  • Great Guys makes it easy to hire cheap, reliable interstate movers. Contact us today!

Book a Storage Service:

  • Relocating, remodeling, or traveling the globe? You probably need secure storage.
  • Our Iowa moving partners also provide short-term and long-term storage services.
  • Need help choosing the right fit? We’re here to find you the perfect storage solution.

Declutter Your Household:

  • Decluttering (also known as purging) can save a ton of space and money.
  • To start, take inventory of all the belongings in each space of your home.
  • While touring your place, think about what you want to keep or remove.
  • Are you done with this step? Great! One room at a time, sort through your stuff.
  • Choose which items to pack or discard — label or place in piles accordingly.
  • As for items you no longer need, donate to charity, sell online, or recycle.

Begin Packing Process:

  • Packing yourself? Be sure to give yourself enough time to pack properly.
  • To begin, grab quality packing supplies: boxes, tape, packing peanuts, etc.
  • A good packing tip: pack heavier items at the bottom of your moving boxes.
  • Packing tip #2: pair items of similar size and shape. Pack together in a box.
  • Fully tape and label each box. Make an inventory list for easy item locating.
  • From partial packing to full-service options, our pro packers are here to help!

Make Travel Arrangements:

  • Flying? Book airfare as soon as possible for the best rates and availability.
  • Driving? Make sure to have your vehicle properly inspected and serviced.
  • If possible, plan on arriving at your new place ahead of the moving truck.

Prepare Kid and Pets:

  • Moving, particularly for the first time, can be pretty disruptive for kids.
  • Use playtime or a story to explain the upcoming move. Be kind and patient.
  • It’s important to maintain their normal routines during the moving process.
  • Also, remember to schedule and keep doctor appointments and the like.
  • While you’re at it, transfer medical records, school transcripts, and so on.
  • As for pets, plan to take them to the vet. Check out Iowa pet laws, too.
  • Littles can be in harm’s way on moving day. Book childcare or pet care.

Manage Utilities and Services:

  • Have current utilities (electric, garbage, etc.) disconnected the day after you move.
  • Schedule new services like internet turned on by the time you get to your new place.
  • While you’re at it, change your address. Visit a post office or go online to

Hire Professional Cleaners:

  • Own? For a great showing, nothing helps more than a good deep cleaning.
  • Rent? Protect your reference and deposits by booking a pro cleaning crew.
  • If possible, schedule cleaners to come in right after your movers have left.

Celebrate the Move:

  • It may be a little hectic right now, but take the time to commemorate your move.
  • Throw a party, plan a group outing, schedule luncheons, or hang out one-on-one.
  • Whatever you choose to do, you can spread it out over one day or several weeks.

Moving Day is Almost Here:

  • A week before moving day, touch base with your moving company. Go over details.
  • Create a ‘first-night’ box. Pack with meds, snacks, bedding, toiletries, and so on.
  • Donate or give away extra food. Clean and sanitize appliances for mold-free transport.
  • The night before moving, stay in, rest up, eat well, hydrate, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Moving day has arrived! Meet up with the moving crew to answer last-minute questions.
  • Once the movers have finished up, perform one last walkthrough of your old home.

Quality Moving Services from Iowa Movers

Great Guys Moving offers top Iowa moving services at unbeatable rates.

Long Distance Moves

Dreading the logistics of your next relocation? We’re here to help. Whether you’re headed to the next state over or across the country, our long-distance movers can provide you with a pleasant transition.

Intrastate & Local Moves

Our network of local moving companies knows all the ins and outs of moving in Iowa. Whether you’re relocating to a big city or charming small town, we’ve got the right local moving services for you.

International Moves

Moving across the globe? Whether your move takes you to Mexico or Japan, you need someone in your corner that can guide you through complex logistics and customs. Book our overseas relocation service today!

Small Load Moves

Moving out of or into a small apartment, college dorm, or studio? We’ve got your back. Our small-load movers are surprisingly quick and affordable. Spend the extra time you save on something fun.

Furniture Shipments

Lugging around heavy furniture is time-consuming, exhausting, and potentially dangerous. Leave it to the professionals. Sit back and relax while our fully licensed furniture moving partners take care of it all.

Piano Transport

Need to relocate your instrument? From antique organs to concert pianos, our group of piano moving specialists is up to the task. Breathe a sigh of relief as your cherished instrument is safely transported.

Art Shipping & Transport

When dealing with fine art, antiques, or collectibles, you need experts. From non-abrasive packaging to custom carpentry services, the specialized art shippers we work with are up to any project, big or small.


Whether you’re remodeling, relocating, or traveling, having access to clean and secure storage comes in handy. Contact us today to find the perfect short-term or long-term storage solution.

Last Minute & Short Notice Moves

Facing an abrupt move? Whether you just landed your dream job or dealing with an eviction notice, you need a quick, reliable moving service. When you’re in a bind, get a hold of us for last-minute movers.

Residential Moves

So, it’s time to move your entire household. The logistics can be overwhelming. With the right help, however, it can be an enjoyable experience. Book one of our residential movers today!

Packing Services

Let’s face it; packing is not fun. Plus, with life and work getting in the way, who has the time to do it properly? If you need help, we can hook you up with friendly, efficient, professional packers.

Commercial and Office Moves

Relocating your office? Expanding your retail business? Whatever the circumstances, you can’t afford undue delays and downtime. Hire one of our commercial movers for a successful, smooth relocation.

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Are you looking for affordable IA moving services? Request a free moving estimate today!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More

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