The Ultimate Guide for Moving to Iowa

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By Clever Real Estate Updated October 21, 2021


A fast-growing state that’s never lost sight of its Midwest values, Iowa welcomes newcomers with open arms. With a strong economy, solid infrastructure, and a plethora of attractions, it’s no wonder Iowa tops the list for quality of life in America.

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With big-city opportunities in a land of small-town values, Iowa’s population growth is outpacing the rest of its Midwest neighbors. Far from just a flyover state, Iowa is truly a land of opportunity with activities to please all tastes.

Check out the arts and culture scene in bustling Des Moines, or tour the charming covered bridges in Madison County. Rolling hills, peaceful woodlands, and pristine lakes, Iowa has everything for the naturalist in you. No matter where you go, Iowans are eager to make you feel at home.

Top 5 Reasons to Move to Iowa:

  1. Quality of Life: Iowa’s infrastructure, healthcare, and education systems earned it the top spot in the U.S. News & World Report 2018 best state rankings.
  2. Affordability: The median home price in Iowa is well below the national average, making it an attractive location for prospective home buyers.
  3. Midwestern Values: Iowans are famous for their warm and welcoming attitude, and take pride in their families and communities.
  4. Outdoor Opportunities: Hiking, biking, boating, or spelunking, there’s never a shortage of natural beauty to explore.
  5. Short Commutes: Less time spent stuck in traffic means more time to take in the state’s many and varied attractions.

Quality of Life

"Iowa Nice" embodies Iowans’ flair for old-fashioned Midwestern kindness. Their welcoming attitude and strong sense of cooperation over competition are attracting young people from across the country, particularly in rapidly growing cities like Des Moines and Ames.

People looking to start a family will do well to put down roots in this central state. A low violent crime rate makes Iowa one of the safer places to raise children. U.S. News and World Report ranks Iowa third in the nation in healthcare, with most residents having easy access to high-quality doctors and hospitals. It’s tops in education, too, with the nation’s highest rate of high school graduation and opportunities for a quality higher education at some of the Midwest’s best-ranked public and private colleges.

The state’s infrastructure is second to none. Well-maintained roads make for an average commute time of just 19 minutes. For the ecologically-minded, almost 28% of Iowa’s energy comes from renewable resources — that’s compared to a national average of just 9.5%! The clean energy sector is one of the state’s fastest growing industries.

Yes, there are barns and cornfields for those who like them, but Iowa’s natural beauty will surprise you. Because the climate experiences all four seasons, there’s something going on outdoors year round. Head for a swim or test your ice fishing skills at Lake Okoboji, wander the mystical Maquoketa Caves, or take in the breathtaking surroundings from atop the rolling Loess Hills.

From the trendy and nationally-renowned foodie scene in Des Moines to the historic Amana Colonies or Effigy Mounds National Monument in Harpers Ferry, the kid-friendly Adventureland Park in Altoona, or even the quirky Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, Iowa’s attractions are sure to please everyone. Plus, its location is perfect for a weekend getaway to Omaha, Chicago, or Minneapolis.

Economic Outlook

Forget the farming stereotypes — with its diversified economy, Iowa fared better than many other states during the last recession. Manufacturing, insurance and finance, and government sector jobs are Iowa’s legacy industries, with a growing emphasis on technology, renewable energy, and organic farming.

Iowa’s supportive, welcoming atmosphere is attracting young professionals in droves. In the heart of the ‘Silicon Prairie’, the capital of Des Moines is one of the top cities in the nation for tech hiring, and a haven for entrepreneurs.

The state’s current unemployment rate is 2.4%, well below the national rate of 3.8%. Recent economic outlook surveys from Iowa Business Council were as positive as they’ve been in a decade, and state business leaders expressed their optimism for 2019.

Housing Market Forecast for 2019

Iowa’s average home price rose 3.8% in 2018, and the median home value is $142,600. To put it in perspective, the national average home price increase was 6% (surrounding Midwestern states saw an average 5.5% increase), and the national median home value is $226,300. So, home prices are still more affordable in Iowa than nationally.

Des Moines is by far the hottest housing market, especially for people on the lookout for luxury homes. Area realtors predict more new homes in the $300,000 price range in 2019, with an even ratio between buyers and sellers at the $200,000-$300,000 price point, and a shortage of homes at $200,000 and lower.

While the booming market in larger communities like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids is great news for those in a position to purchase a high-end home, first-time home buyers may need to cast a wider net. The demand for rural housing is growing in response, with some communities and employers are offering incentives to build new homes or refurbish old ones.

Next Steps

Whether you plan to make your name in the city or take it easy in the country, a local real estate agent will help you navigate Iowa’s competitive housing market. Ready to take the next step? This simple online form will get you in touch with a local Clever Partner Agent today for a no-obligation consultation.

They’re the experts in current prices, market conditions, and desirable locations and will tailor your search to best meet your needs.

Be sure to ask your Clever Partner Agent for options on FHA loans, mortgages, and insurance, too.

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