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This Iowa Community Has Plenty of Places to Call Home 

The Cedar Valley's housing choices are many, varied and appealing to all sorts. 

By Laura Hill on November 11, 2022

Two men stand outside on a patio at an apartment in the Cedar Valley region of Iowa.
Tim Dodd Photography

Busy singles, young families and empty nesters are right at home across the Cedar Valley, thanks to housing options that range from downtown lofts to rural acreages and everything in between.

With a lower-than-average cost of living, excellent schools, shopping and a vibrant cultural and arts scene, residents and those looking for a new place to call home are finding the region a great place to put down roots.

“Whatever price range you need, you will find it here. If you’re looking for a $30,000 home, you will find it, and if you are looking for a $1 million home, you’ll find it,” says Romeo Djoumessi, a Waverly-based Realtor who is part of the Northeast Iowa Regional Board of Realtors. “Sometimes, it may need some work, but you will find a home in the Cedar Valley that you can afford.”

Djoumessi moved to Waverly from his native Africa in 2003, drawn to its people, whom he found “warm, kind and welcoming.” Today, those characteristics still draw people to the region, part of its overall excellent quality of life.

“Whatever price range you need, you will find it here.”

Romeo Djoumessi, Waverly-based Realtor

“This year already, I have had people from California and New York moving in, and another agent in my office is working with someone from Texas. People from different states are moving in for jobs, even from Hawaii. It is growing fast right now,” he says.

That kind of growth can make for a tight market, compounded by rising interest rates and the scarcity of building material for new homes. Still, the Cedar Valley remains a great place to find a home and settle down.

Exterior shot of an apartment building in Cedar Valley, Iowa.
Courtesy Eagle View Partners

Downtown Digs

Interest in downtown living has been growing steadily in the Cedar Valley. Art Bloc, in the bustling center of Waterloo, offers chic studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, river views and easy access to shops, restaurants, the arts and entertainment. River Place in Cedar Falls is a virtual town in itself, with four buildings of striking urban lofts that house amenities like pet care, a 24-hour fitness center, cleaning and concierge services, a spa and hair salon, and Gravitate coworking space.

“Our apartments rarely stay vacant,” says Audrey Kittrell, president of Eagle View Partners, which developed and manages River Place. “I think that is a testament to our unique vision of bringing an urban lifestyle to a small Iowa city. We wanted to attract people moving to town and looking for that urban lifestyle, as well as keep our young talent here when they get out of school.”

Affordable apartment living in Cedar Falls gives residents a break while offering upscale amenities. Park at Nine23 offers low-rise, attractive buildings with apartments that begin in the low $600s. Located in Independence, 17 affordable downtown apartments are also on the rise.

Interior of Urban lofts at River Place in downtown Cedar Falls, which is in the Cedar Valley region of Iowa.
Tim Dodd Photography LLC

Single-Family Finds

The demand for single-family homes has prompted significant building around the region. Growing families looking for more space to stretch — bigger backyards, kids’ activities, short commutes — and convenient access to bigger cities, are finding these neighborhoods attractive. Audubon Heights in Waterloo is just one example of new residential development in the area. In Cedar Falls, buyers are eager to live in The Arbors and Wild Horse Ridge.

The cities of Jesup and Hudson are also seeing rapid housing demand growth, resulting in new choices.

“We have everything from apartment living to residential living to agricultural acreage,” says Chrissi Wiersma, Hudson city administrator. “Right now, a lot of our development is more medium-range single-family housing, but we are adding apartments in the northern part of the city too.”

An aerial view of downtown Waterloo, Iowa and the Cedar River. Drone photo.
Jeff Adkins

Wide-Open Spaces

Many communities offer rural housing developments with space to spread out. Take a look at some of the historic possibilities in Waverly, for instance. And there’s still plenty of countryside available for those who want wide-open spaces.

“We’ve got lots of rural land here, from farms that have been in families for a very long time to houses on three or more acres,” Wiersma says. “A lot of people want more space around them. They don’t want to farm, but they really like the space.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Cedar Valley area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Cedar Valley, Iowa

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