Moving to Iowa A Complete Relocation Guide 2021

This is a complete guide for Moving to Iowa.
Get all the information you need to know about moving to Iowa

Are you considering moving to Iowa?

If you’d like to live in a state with an abundance of fresh local produce, and where small towns meet city life, moving to Iowa is right for you.

Iowa’s natural scenic views, friendly people, low crime rates, affordable homes, and small-town atmosphere make it one of the most coveted places in the United States.

Whether you’re a millennial, a young family, retiree, or even a student, you’ll find a place to call home in Iowa. The Hawkeye state has a suitable lifestyle for everyone.

If you’re considering moving to Iowa and wondering if the state is right for you or not, we have all the key information you need to know about the state to make the right moving decision.

Quick facts to know before moving to Iowa

  • Iowa’s median home cost is $141
  • Iowa records 200 sunny days per year on average
  • Crime rates in Iowa are lower than the U.S. average
  • You’ll enjoy all four seasons in a year in Iowa
  • Iowa has a vibrant job market and a robust economy
  • Heavy traffic isn’t a problem in Iowa and commutes time are faster
  • More than 70% of Iowans are homeowners

What’s the population of Iowa?

Iowa is home to 3,118,102 people and the state extends across 56,272 square miles of surface area. By landmass, Iowa is the 26th largest state in the United States. Since you’re considering moving to Iowa, here are key stats of the state’s population:

  • The median age in Iowa is 38. The national median age is 37.4
  • Iowa’s population density is 55 people per square mile
  • Iowa’s number of people per household is 2.4. The national average is 2.6
  • About 50.36% of the Iowa population are females
  • Up to 49.64% of the Iowa population are males

How is the weather like in Iowa?

The weather is most likely one of the key things you’ll have to consider before making up your mind about moving to Iowa. We’ve highlighted key stats of the Hawkeye state’s weather since you’re considering moving to Iowa:

  • Iowa summer high in July is around 84 degrees
  • Iowa winter low in January is around 10 degrees
  • Iowa averages 35 inches of rain in a year
  • Iowa averages 30 inches of snow in a year
  • On average, Iowa records 200 sunny days per year

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How fast can you commute in Iowa?

Iowa’s average one-way commute time is 19.0 minutes. The national average is 26.4 minutes. That means commuting time in Iowa is shorter than the U.S. average This is one of the key things to consider if you’re moving to Iowa. A shorter commuting time means less stress and a longer lifespan.

Here’s how people in Iowa commute to work:

  • About 81.0% of Iowans drive their own car alone
  • Around 8.4% of Iowans carpool with others
  • Up to 4.6% of Iowans work from home
  • About 1.1% of Iowans take the mass transit
moving to iowa

Top 10 Reasons to move to Iowa

People are moving to Iowa for several key reasons. Over the years, the state has been a magnet for people of all ages including millennials, retirees, and the generation Z. While it’s impossible to list all the reasons why people are moving to Iowa, here are the top ten reasons:

  • Top-quality education

    Iowa ranks top among the Midwestern states in education. The high school education in the state ranks higher than the national average. The state has many top-notch schools and colleges.

  • Affordable homes

    The median home cost in Iowa is $141,200, which is much lower than the national average. And as a result, about 70% of Iowans own a home. Even the home rental in Iowa is lower than the national average and you can rent a studio apartment for about $542.

  • The cost of living is lower than the national average

    Interestingly, the cost of living in Iowa is much lesser than the national average. Groceries, healthcare, housing, transportation, and even entertainment cost less than the national average.

  • Low crime rate

    Iowa boasts a lower crime rate than the neighboring states. The state’s property crime rate of 17.3 incidents per 1,000 people is quite a bit lower than the overall U.S. rate. And recent studies prove that violent crime is further dipping in Iowa.

  • Enjoy all four seasons in a year

    Iowans experience every 4 seasons — winter, spring, summer, and fall. Winters are cold, with January temperatures averaging about 14 °F in the northwestern section of the state and the low 20s F in the southeast. Iowa receives snowfall but less than many neighboring states. Summers are warm and more humid. The annual average rainfall ranges from less than 26 inches (660 mm) in the northwest to more than 38 inches (965 mm) in the southeast. Tornadoes occur annually and there is also the danger of flooding.

  • Zero traffic jams

    The biggest plus of Iowa is the absence of traffic jams. The state is sparsely populated and roads are mostly clear, even during peak hours. This ensures you spend less time behind the steering wheels and more at home.

  • Lots of retirement options

    Iowa is moderately tax-friendly towards retired people and it exempts tax on social security benefits. The state’s climate is fabulous and it complements the clean air, low traffic, better standard of living, and never-ending outdoor recreations.

  • A robust economy and job market

    Iowa is one of the economically rich states in the US and with more job opportunities; your chance to grab a job is higher here. Over the past year, jobs in Iowa have grown by 0.9% and it is further expected to go up.

  • A remarkable place for college football fans

    Iowans are crazy about football and university or college football has a strong following in Iowa. The state has four major college teams playing and each team has got its robust fan base.

  • The ice cream capital of the world

    Le Mars, Iowa is known as the ice cream capital of the world as the small town has the largest number of ice cream makers in the world. The city is also home to an ice-cream museum and you’ll be surprised to see about 50 ice-cream sculptures at different points of the city.

iowa pros and cons

Pros & Cons of Living in Iowa

Considering the pros and cons of living in Iowa can help you decide if moving to the state is right for you or not.

Here are the key pros and cons of living in the state since you’re considering moving to Iowa:

Pros of living in Iowa Cons of living in Iowa
Iowa cost of living is lower than the U.S. averageThe weather can be severe and extreme in Iowa
Iowa has a robust economy and a booming job marketYou’ll have to put up with high state income taxes
Iowa has one of the best educational systems in the countryRecreational options are limited in Iowa
The state experiences the minimal effect of urbanizationYou’ll have to put up with a lack of diversity and privacy
Crime rates in Iowa are lower than the U.S. averageSome parts of Iowa don’t have a robust economy
You’ll enjoy all four seasons in IowaIowa’s culinary scene isn’t impressive
Homes are affordable in IowaIt takes some time to get to your desired destination
You won’t have to bother about heavy traffic in IowaSome Iowans are too serious about politics
Iowa is a great state for retirementIf you love beaches and mountains, you’ll be disappointed
If you enjoy cycling, welcome to Iowa
Football has huge followers here in Iowa
If you love dairy products and mushroom hunting, welcome to Iowa
place in iowa

Where Are The Best Places To Live In Iowa?

Moving to Iowa means getting the chance to live in some of the best places in the state. To help you streamline your house hunting, and to find the best places in Iowa, we’ve made a list of the ten best places to live in the city.

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1Clive17,1673.1%$264,300
2Asbury5,5572.5%$255,500
3Pella10,2311.3%$187,400
4Waukee20,7852.3%$238,900
5Decorah7,7012.6%$189,700
6Bettendorf35,9192.9%$225,300
7Urbandale43,4413.1%$237,500
8Johnston21,4062.4%$268,300
9Norwalk10,9782.4%$202,900
10Eldridge6,5292.6%$254,300
cost of living in iowa

Cost of Living in Iowa

The cost of living in Iowa is 83.7. The United States average is 100. That means the cost of living in Iowa is lower than the United States average.

This is one of the key things you’ll have to think through since you’re considering moving to Iowa.

Cost of living Iowa United States
Overall83.7100
Grocery94.4100
Health121.5100
Housing61.1100
Median Home Cost$141,200$231,200
Utilities98.5100
Transportation71.4100
Miscellaneous98.9100

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Housing Market In Iowa

One of the key reasons why moving to Iowa seems so interesting is the high home affordability rate. If you’re interested in buying a home, moving to Iowa is a good idea. Here are key stats of Iowa’s housing market:

  • Iowa’s median home cost is $141,200
  • Homes in the state has appreciated by 25.1%
  • Currently, home appreciation in Iowa has increased by 4.0%
  • Around 70% of Iowans are homeowners

Median home rental cost in Iowa

Renting a home in Iowa can be a good housing option. About 25.8% of the state’s population are renters. If you’re considering moving to Iowa and renting a home, 1.8% of homes and apartments in the Hawkeye state are available to rent. Here’s the average cost of renting a home in Iowa:

  • The average cost of a studio apartment in Iowa is $542
  • The average cost of a 1-bedroom home or apartment in Iowa is $620
  • The average cost of a 2-bedroom home or apartment in Iowa is $793
  • The average cost of a 3-bedroom home or apartment in Iowa is $1,062
  • The average cost of a 4-bedroom home or apartment in Iowa is $1,197
jobs in iowa

How is the job market in Iowa?

Iowa has a vibrant economy with a robust job market that makes the state appealing to millennials and people of all ages including retirees.

If you’re moving to Iowa and considering getting a new job, here are key metrics of the Hawkeye state’s job market:

  • Iowa’s unemployment rate is 2.4% The national average is 3.7%
  • Over the past year, jobs in Iowa have grown by 0.9%
  • Over the next 10 years, future job growth is predicted to hit 26.75%
  • Getting a job in Iowa is fairly easy compared to other states
Employment Information Iowa United States
The income per Cap.$30,063$31,177
Household Income$56,570$57,652
Unemployment Rate2.43.7
Future Job Growth26.75%33.51%

What’s the median salary in Iowa?

The average annual pay for the average job in Iowa is $54,554. If you’re interested in getting a job after moving to Iowa, you’ll most likely be interested in the average pay in the state.

  • The average hourly pay for the average job in Iowa is $26.23
  • The average weekly pay for the average job in Iowa is $1,049
  • The average monthly pay for average jobs in Iowa is $4,546
  • Average salaries can be as high as $123,118 and as low as $18,558

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Largest companies in Iowa

Iowa is home to several large companies. Some of these companies also double as the largest employers in the state. Since you’re considering moving to Iowa, here’s a list of the ten largest companies in the Hawkeye State:

Rank Company City Employees
1Hy-VeeWest Des Moines85,000
2Rockwell CollinsCedar Rapids29,000
3Casey’s General StoresAnkeny17,917
4Principal Financial GroupDes Moines14,854
5Fareway StoresBoone11,000
6University of IowaIowa City10,200
7HNIMuscatine9,400
8MeredithDes Moines7,915
9University of Iowa Hospitals & ClinicsIowa City7,638
10IOWA State Univ Employees Credit UnionAmes7,500

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Top Career Options in Iowa

If you’re interested in the top career options in the Hawkeye State, we’ve made a list of the highest paying jobs to give you an idea of what to expect if you’re moving to Iowa. Check out the list below:

RANK JOB TITLE AVERAGE SALARY ENTRY-LEVEL SALARY # OF PEOPLE
1Obstetricians And Gynecologists$283,280$205,800130
2Orthodontists$268,000$176,09070
3Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeons$259,740$126,740100
4Surgeons, Except Ophthalmologists$249,920$63,420300
5Pediatricians, General$238,990$90,760320
6Family Medicine Physicians$235,980$142,2201,590
7Physicians, All Other; And Ophthalmologists, Except Pediatric$218,830$93,9002,410
8General Internal Medicine Physicians$216,910$58,590280
9Psychiatrists$214,790$114,800190
10Nurse Anesthetists$202,400$142,260340

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Top industries in Iowa

Iowa has a robust economy powered by several large industries. Moving to Iowa could mean getting the chance to work in any of these industries. We’ve made a list of the top industries in the state to give you an idea of what to expect:

  • Value-Added Agriculture & Food Production
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Renewable Energy & Fuels
  • Insurance and Financial Services
  • Technology
  • Distribution & Warehousing
taxes in iowa

Iowa Taxes

Taxes are some of the key things you’d most likely be interested in before moving to Iowa.

You may end up paying more or less in taxes, depending on where you’re moving from.

  • Iowa income tax is 0.33% - 8.53%
  • Sales tax in Iowa is 6% - 7%
  • Iowa property tax has 1.53% average effective rates
  • The gas tax in Iowa is 30.5 cents per gallon of regular gasoline
  • Gas tax per gallon of regular diesel is 32.5 cents
things to do iowa

Best things to do in Iowa

Moving to Iowa means you’ll get the chance to experience some of the best things in the state.

We’ve made a list of the top attractions, activities, and various other exciting things to do if you’re moving to Iowa.

  • Tour the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

    The museum at Dubuque is the country’s largest museum dedicated to the rich history, culture, life, and ecosystems of the Mississippi River and its watershed. The museum displays birds, turtles, and fish. There are also American alligators from the lower Mississippi River on display.

  • See the "Iowa Great Lakes

    A group of natural lakes in north-western Iowa, it comprises Big Spirit Lake, West Okoboji Lake, and East Okoboji Lake.

  • Catch a glimpse of John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

    The 4.4-acre park in Des Moines has 28 sculptures by 22 of the world’s most celebrated artists. The park has one of the significant collections of outdoor sculptures in the US.

  • Visit the Decorah's Scandinavian heritage

    Decorah's Nordic Fest is the best opportunity in the US to explore Scandinavian culture and heritage. The fest is annually held in July and draws about 70,000 visitors.

  • Don’t miss the chance to visit the Ledges State Park

    Ledges State Park is one of Iowa’s most historic and unique nature destinations, especially for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. There is a 100-feet deep sandstone gorge in the park and a 4-mile trail path. The park is a famous campsite in Iowa.

  • Experience the Iowa State Fair

    The annual state fair at Des Moines is one of the largest and oldest fairs in the US. The 11-day fair draws about a million visitors.

  • Tour the Great River Road National Scenic Byway

    The 3,000-mile Great River Road National Scenic Byway passing through 10 states offers scenic vistas and provides opportunities to feel the charm of the vibrant culture.

  • Take a walk on the bridges of Madison County

    The 19 covered bridges in Madison County, constructed in the latest 19th century are popular tourist attractions and got famous through the Clint Eastwood movie ‘The Bridges of Madison Country’. Each year, on the second weekend of October, the residents invite thousands of visitors to celebrate their historic covered bridges, an event known as the Madison County Covered Bridge Festival.

  • Tour the Maquoketa Caves State Park

    The 323-acre Maquoketa Caves State Park has a six-mile trail system through geologic formations and forests brimming with natural beauty. Hiking is a major activity in the park. About 13 caves can be found in the park, some of which can be explored by walking, while others are better suited for serious spelunkers who are used to crawling in tight spaces.

  • Explore the Waterloo museums

    The Grout Museum District in Waterloo has multiple museums dedicated to various themes and topics, including science, history, and armed forces.

    We’ve got the top 10 museums in Waterloo.

    • Bluedorn Science Imaginarium
    • Ice House Museum
    • Victorian Home & Carriage House Museum
    • Rensselaer Russell House Museum
    • George Wyth House & Viking Pump Museum
    • Little Red Schoolhouse Museum
    • Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum
    • Waterloo Center for the Arts
    • John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum
    • Dan Gable Int’l Wrestling Museum

  • Catch a glimpse of the architecture and music at Mason City and Clear Lake

    The third-largest in Iowa and Clear Lake in Mason City is a popular boating, skiing, and swimming site. The 3,600 acre and 25-feet deep Clear Lake promises a diverse, healthy, & sustainable ecosystem in the city. The lake has some amazing buildings around, that gives a hint of the architecture, culture, and heritage of the area.

How safe is Iowa?

Before moving to Iowa, you’ll most likely be interested in the state’s crime rate. We’ve collected key stats about the violent and property crime rate in the state to help you get started:

  • The violent crime rate in Iowa is rated 18.2. The U.S. average is 22.7
  • The property crime rate in Iowa is 32.3. The national average is 35.4
  • Both the property and violent crime rate in Iowa are lower than the U.S. average

Where are the 10 safest cities in Iowa

Moving to Iowa most likely means living in some of the safest cities in the state. While crime rates in Iowa are lower than the U.S. average, some cities in the state have recorded lower crime rates than others.

Rank City Population Violent Crimes Per 100K Property Crimes Per 100K
1Sioux Center, IA7,57826277
2Norwalk, IA10,87482827
3Eldridge, IA6,40693780
4Orange City, IA6,199129516
5Decorah, IA7,883501,065
6Johnston, IA21,8161461,109
7Clive, IA17,913781,518
8Carroll, IA9,920201,693
9Waukee, IA20,3591521,169
10Denison, IA8,304180782
schools in iowa

Best Schools & Universities in Iowa

Moving to Iowa means getting the opportunity to school in some of the best colleges and universities in the state.

If you have school-age kids, they’ll also get the chance to school in some of the best elementary, middle, and high schools in Iowa.

Best Elementary Schools in Iowa

  • North Polk West Elementary School
    North Polk Comm School District, Public, PK-4 | 551 students, Rating: 10/10

  • North Polk Central Elementary School
    North Polk Comm School District, Public, PK-5 | 387 students, Rating: 10/10

  • Northeast Elementary
    Ankeny Comm School District, Public, PK-5 | 697 students, Rating: 10/10

  • Pleasant View Elementary School
    Pleasant Valley Comm School District, Public, K-6 | 681 students, Rating: 10/10

  • Westwood Elementary School
    Ankeny Comm School District, Public, K-5 | 660 students, Rating: 10/10

Best Middle Schools in Iowa

  • Denver Middle School
    Denver Comm School District, Public, 6-8 | 188 students, Rating: 9/10

  • Mount Vernon Middle School
    Mount Vernon Comm School District, Public, 5-8 | 447 students, Rating: 9/10

  • Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School
    Paton-Churdan Comm School District, Public, 6-12 | 112 students, Rating: 9/10

  • Pella Middle School
    Pella Comm School District, Public, 7-8 | 379 students, Rating: 9/10

  • Northview Middle School
    Ankeny Comm School District, Public, 8-9 | 891 students, Rating: 9/10

Best High Schools in Iowa

  • Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School
    Paton-Churdan Comm School District, Public, 6-12 | 112 students, Rating: 8/10

  • Westside Junior-Senior High School
    Ar-We-Va Comm School District, Public, 6-12 | 106 students, Rating: 8/10

  • Turkey Valley Jr-Sr High School
    Turkey Valley Comm School District, Public, 7-12 | 166 students, Rating: 8/10

  • Van Meter High School School
    Van Meter Comm School District, Public, 9-12 | 247 students, Rating: 8/10

  • West Lyon High School
    West Lyon Comm School District, Public, 9-12 | 267 students, Rating: 8/10

Top 10 Best colleges and universities in Iowa

  • Grinnell College - Grinnell, IA

  • Coe College - Cedar Rapids, IA

  • University of Iowa - Iowa City, IA

  • Drake University - Des Moines, IA

  • Cornell College - Mount Vernon, IA

  • Luther College - New Ulm, IA

  • Iowa State University - Ames, IA

  • Central College - Pella, IA

  • Wartburg College - Waverly, IA

  • Graceland University-Lamoni - Lamoni, IA

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