Won't You Be My Neighbor: This is Iowa

A state filled with good neighbors offers you the perfect location.

By
Tim Carty
On Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 15:42
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From major urban centers to college towns and rural communities, Iowa offers a diversity of lifestyle options, with short commutes and ease of mobility that allow residents to enjoy more of their lives outside of their cars.

For some, Iowa may be considered one of the "flyover states," but the tight-knit communities and cultural scenes the state offers make it one of the nation's best-kept secrets for residents and visitors alike. Whether you're just visiting or relocating permanently, Iowa offers this promise: There's a perfect place for you.

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Kathryn Gamble

Family-Friendly Communities

In every corner of the state, Iowa boasts thriving, family-friendly communities. Iowa's population is just over 3 million and, at 55 people per square mile, it has one of the lowest population densities in the U.S. Iowa offers you plenty of opportunities to get to know your neighbors — and plenty of opportunities to get out and have fun.

What makes Iowa's outdoor amenities unique is the easy access to recreation areas, no matter where you are. Take the troop out to one of the more than 80 state parks, five state forests or three state wildlife areas, or go for a ride on more than 1,800 miles of easily accessible bike trails. Even in major urban centers — Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo — getting to enjoy the state's natural beauty is easy and quick. A number of restaurants and bars in the state are equipped with a bike rack for riders to come right in off the trail. 

Plus, when it comes to buying healthy food for your family, Iowa is the place to find fresh produce. You've heard of the farm-to-table trend, right? Even though Iowa is the world's corn capital and No. 1 in soybean, egg and pork production, its fruits and vegetables are also topnotch. Farms are often just outside of the metro areas, so harvested food gets from the field to your table faster than anywhere else. And you really can taste the freshness.

When it comes to maintaining the state's high-quality of life, Iowa frequently makes updates, including investing in public education programs, downtown revitalization projects and rural broadband, which makes it the perfect place to move — no matter where your job is based.

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Steve Woit

Live Here, Work Anywhere

Remote workers will see their income stretch further in Iowa, where lower housing prices make moving into a dream home an attainable goal.

But there's more to Iowa's attractiveness as a place to live and work than just a low cost of living.

Iowa is investing in important pieces of its local economies. Iowa schools are topnotch, consistently ranking at the top of high school graduation rates and very high in standardized test scores in the country.

Iowa has also been investing heavily in making sure that you'll have access to high-speed internet no matter where you live. If you're craving a laid back, comfortable, fun and easy lifestyle, Iowa is the place. Bring your job with you. Work at home or in one of our many coworking spaces, like MERGE in the heart of downtown Iowa City, Gravitate in Des Moines, or Mill Race in Cedar Falls.

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Experience Waterloo

Distinctive Downtowns

From Dubuque to Decatur and Dunlap to Davenport, distinctive downtowns are a staple of Iowa living. Communities across the state have invested in their downtowns and taken advantage of the expertise and funding offered by the Iowa Downtown Resource Center and Main Street Iowa.

"Our downtowns are focusing on much more than transactional relationships," says Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa coordinator. "Our cities and local business owners are collaborating and coming up with new, innovative ideas."

Pocket parks and gift card incentive programs are just some of the ideas that have come out of this collaboration. Plus, the Iowa Downtown Resource Center offers "Downtown Walk Arounds," where a staff member spends time touring an Iowa community and then gives his/her honest first impression on the area's downtown. And despite challenges brought about by the pandemic, Iowa's downtowns are thriving.

Remote workers are working downtown. Families are taking advantage of walkability. And with colorful and creative murals going up all over the state, people are enjoying the hub of their city, shopping, dining and chatting with their neighbors – all at a safe distance.

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Bill Nellans/Iowa Tourism Office

United They Stand

Resilient communities are an Iowa hallmark. 

Everywhere you look, Iowans are being Iowans – helping neighbors in need of grocery runs, writing cards for health care workers, supporting local businesses by ordering takeout or buying gift cards. In times of uncertainty, the tenacity, goodwill and just plain hard work of Iowans show the state at its very best. They may be staying home more, but Iowans are uniting like never before.

In 2020, the Iowa Economic Development Authority launched #IowansUnite, a campaign that is all about resiliency.

Using the #IowansUnite hashtag, locals have shared encouraging messages, pictures and stories to help their neighbors through these unprecedented times. It's also a reminder that they're working together, sharing positivity and lifting one another up, which is something society can always use more of.

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Justin A. Torner/The Univeristy of Iowa

Iowa is Future Focused

Iowa attracts talent from across the country, but some of its best is homegrown.

Iowans can also display an Iowans Unite badge on their social media profile pictures. Fiercely proud of their Midwestern roots, Iowans rarely miss an opportunity to brag about their home state. The badge not only shows their Iowa pride, it is also proudly stating that they're ready to work together, no matter what it takes.

Iowans are resilient and resourceful by nature. And the "Iowa Nice" moniker has been well-earned through a long history of selfless acts for the good of their fellow Iowans and visitors alike. There's no greater proof of Iowa Nice than Iowans Unite.

If you'd like to learn more about Iowa, check out the latest edition of This is Iowa

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’m not a native Iowan and I hate myself for it. I guess it’s not my fault, but I’ve been an Iowan for twenty years and I’m trying to make up for the lost time.