From affordable living to bountiful career opportunities and outstanding outdoor recreation, here's why people are relocating to Iowa.
Reporter John Steppe moved from Milwaukee to Iowa City in 2020 for a career opportunity covering sports at the local newspaper. He quickly found plenty to do in his downtime, from shopping the farmers market, hanging out with friends, sampling restaurants and catching Kernels baseball games.
“I love the restaurant selection in Iowa City, recreation options like the Iowa River Trail and the friendly people, among other things,” Steppe says. “I live next to a brewery and a park, so it’s hard to get much better than that.”
The words “it’s hard to get much better than that” really describe what you can find in Iowa – and many of its assets are things that people outside of the area often overlook, such as its affordability, abundant career opportunities and standout quality of life.
These advantages are beckoning new residents and drawing back those who grew up here to plant their roots and stay awhile. Here’s a look at six things that make living in Iowa wonderful.
1. You can afford to live here.
Iowa is one of the nation’s more affordable locations, with overall living costs at around 90% of the U.S. average and housing costs at just 75% of the U.S. average. Here, you will get more house for your dollar, too. In fact, 71% of residents own their own home. The typical value of homes in Iowa is $168,500, which is well under the $264,200 national median.
For those looking to start or grow a business, Iowa is the perfect place, as there are numerous resources available. Plus, the state was ranked No. 1 for Opportunity by U.S. News & World Report in 2021.
2. There are ample job opportunities in Iowa.
Speaking of business, Iowa is home to a diverse mix of industries powering its economic engine. Here, top industries include advanced manufacturing, biosciences, finance and insurance, and Iowa has the highest concentration of agricultural engineers in any state. As for those who reside here, Iowa is a place where you can start your career or take it to the next level – and as you’re making money, you can live a life you love.
Alison Cate grew up in Guthrie City, a small city in Iowa, and after college, she launched her entertainment public relations career in Las Vegas. She knew she wanted to have a family someday, and the demanding hours of a 24-hour city were starting to catch up with her. She researched cities in the Midwest and noticed the buzz surrounding Des Moines.
“Downtown was thriving,” she says. “Murals and art installations and restaurants and energy everywhere. I also started to notice that Des Moines often got Broadway tours before Las Vegas, a city known for tourism and entertainment. Slowly, I started to picture what life would be like here, and not only did I like it, I didn’t want anything else.”
Now, Cate, who is expecting her second child in the spring, has a career she loves in digital marketing, is earning more money and better benefits, and has a much better work-life balance. “My employer truly values family and encourages us to prioritize our personal lives as needed,” she says.
Iowa Salutes You
Supporting service members is a top priority in Iowa. One resource
the state offers is the Home Base Iowa program for veterans and their
spouses. The website provides connections to career opportunities
and 27 colleges and universities throughout the state for low-cost
education and job training for former service members.
3. Iowa embraces diversity and inclusion.
Iowa is a welcoming and inclusive place where diversity is embraced. Not only do people move from across the country to Iowa, but the state is home to thousands of citizens who originally hailed from Asia, Africa and Europe.
In Iowa City, diversity is a core value, which is why Nick Pfeiffer, who works in tourism, chooses to call it home. The college town is open to new ideas and fresh ways of thinking, he says. Plus, arts, culture and sports bring the community together.
4. You’ll be surprised by the amazing outdoors.
From scenic bluffs with panoramic views to twisting caves for exploring with a flashlight, Iowa is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Adventurers can rock-climb the cliffs in Backbone State Park in Dundee, take in majestic views of the Mississippi River while hiking Pikes Peak State Park near McGregor, or glide through the snow on cross-country skis on the Cedar Prairie Loop in Cedar Falls.
Another enjoyable activity is walking or biking the Sauk Rail Trail, a 33-mile concrete/asphalt recreation path located in west-central Iowa. It connects two state parks: Blackhawk State Park and Swan Lake State Park.
Raise your glass to Iowa – no matter if you prefer wine, craft beer or spirits, you’ll be sure to find the drink you are looking to sip here. In 2021, the state boasted more than 100 wineries, 100 breweries and 15 distilleries.
5. Enjoy the vibrant arts and cuisine scene.
Communities across the state offer plenty to do after 5 p.m. and on the weekends, from live music venues to art crawls and signature festivals.
It was the phenomenal restaurant scene, though, that surprised Lisa Buckentine, a dairy commodities trader who boomeranged back to her home state with her husband and is now living in Council Bluffs.
“I’m a big foodie, and I’ve been super impressed with the quality of food and the restaurant scene in rural Iowa,” Buckentine says.
6. It’s easy to get around in Iowa.
Moving to Iowa also means you will have a variety of living options to choose from – all of which offer elbow room, shorter commute times and more time to spend with family and recreate. The average commute time is under 20 minutes, meaning more time can be spent on trails or trying out new restaurants.
Thinking About Moving to Iowa?
Check out the latest edition of This is Iowa for an in-depth look
at what the state has to offer.