10 Pros and Cons of Living in Iowa Right Now

Best Things To Know When Thinking Of Moving To Iowa

Are the pros and cons of living in Iowa on your mind? Then, you have come to the right place.

Perhaps you are thinking of moving to Iowa for work? Or, retiring in Iowa soon? Maybe you need to know about the cost of living in Iowa before relocating?

Regardless of your situation, there are benefits of living in Iowa to be aware of. Also, some reasons not to move to Iowa should be considered.

With that introduction in mind, let’s get into the living in Iowa pros and cons. To answer these questions: Is Iowa a good state to live in? And what are the benefits of living in Iowa?

pros and cons of living in iowa

10 Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa

Here is my list of several advantages of living in Iowa. Also, a few disadvantages when considering “The Hawkeye State”.

  • Low cost of living
  • Jobs and economic growth
  • Quality educational opportunities
  • Minimal effects of urbanization
  • Low crime rates
  • A 4 season climate
  • Severe and extreme weather conditions
  • High state income tax rates
  • Limited recreational opportunities
  • Lack of privacy and diversity

Thinking of moving to Iowa? Then, let’s hit the key questions on your mind right away.

Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Is Iowa A Good State To Live In?

Is Iowa a good place to live? Well, as with any state, it depends on what you are looking for.

If you desire a low cost of living, economic opportunity, and a quality educational system. All placed in the setting of smaller cities and towns. Then, yes Iowa is a good state to live in.

What Are The Benefits Of Living In Iowa?

Why move to Iowa? Because there are many additional benefits of living in this state.

First of all, there is no need to worry about heavy traffic. Furthermore, crime rates are below national averages. Finally, you can enjoy the diversity of the weather. Since Iowa experiences the advantages of a 4 season climate.

Next, let’s cover each of the pros and cons of living in Iowa in greater detail.

This being a personal finance site, we will get started with the cost of living in Iowa. Because most people want a nice, but affordable location to live in.

Where folks like you and me can make a good living. Or, retire and enjoy our golden years.

Finally, the cost of living is important because I’m all in when it comes to saving money. Wherever you and I can.

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Cost of Living In Iowa

cost of living in Iowa

Iowa is one of the cheapest and most affordable states in which to live.

Depending on the location within the state, the average cost of living in Iowa is about 10-15% lower than the average of all states in America. Groceries, utilities, and transportation all contribute to the cost savings.

Furthermore, do you like to drive? Then know that Iowa ranks highly for the low cost to own and operate a vehicle.

But, where Iowa shines is in the cost of housing. Similar to the state of Kansas, the median cost of Iowa’s average home is nearly 40% less than the national average.

For example, Des Moines is the largest city in Iowa based on population. According to the Des Moines Register, the city ranks as one of the best major U.S. metropolitan areas for high salaries and low Iowa cost of living.

High-paying industries in the Des Moines metropolitan area include insurance, banking, manufacturing, and technology.  Furthermore, despite the higher earnings potential, Des Moines also maintains a low cost of living. Just like the rest of the state.

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Furthermore, make sure you keep your credit score in good shape. Whether renting or buying. Because your credit score will be reviewed by your lender or landlord. And probably your new employer too.

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For now, that’s it on the average cost of living in Iowa. But it surfaces in a few other areas too. I will point those out as we move along.

Next, let’s talk more about the economic opportunities in Iowa. If you are in your prime earning years. And considering the benefits of living in Iowa. Then, this topic must not be overlooked.

Jobs & Economic Growth Opportunities In Iowa

Is it one of your short-term financial goals to find a new job? Then, Iowa may be right for you. Because Iowa has a strong and vibrant economy.

Iowa is often stereotyped as being all farming. And yes, industrial-scale commodity-agriculture is a big part of the state’s economy.

The agricultural sector includes the growing of corn and soybeans. Livestock production too. With hogs, beef cattle, milk, chicken, and eggs leading the way. Smaller-scale, more sustainable farming is also growing in popularity.

But manufacturing also plays a role. Not surprisingly, after looking at the list above, food processing is a central player. Also, production of agricultural chemicals and heavy machinery.

Furthermore, the generation of renewable energy is a growing segment. Iowa is one of the top states in the country based on its production of electricity from wind power.

Large employers based on employee count are a diverse group. They include grocery chain Hy-Vee; the University of Iowa; and media company Meridith. Just to name a few.

Putting it all together, US News shows Iowa in the top one-third of states based on their economic opportunity rankings.

So sharpen up that resume. Move to Iowa and get to work.

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So far we know Iowa has a low cost of living. And plenty of economic opportunity to make a buck or two.

Making more and spending less. They are the most important factors when it comes to setting and achieving your financial goals.

But let’s move on from our pocketbooks. And talk about intellectual development. So, next on our list of pros and cons of living in Iowa, education.

Moving To Iowa: Education

educational options living in Iowa

Iowa is ranked highly for its educational standards. The state boasts an exceptionally high graduation rate from high school. Also, students do consistently well on ACT and SAT scores.

If you have a college-bound high school graduate. Or just want to go back to school as one of your mid-term self-improvement goals.

Then Iowa also offers some excellent universities to consider. Specifically, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

Prefer a private liberal arts college experience? Then, Grinnell College and Luther College are highly acclaimed. But, much more expensive than sticking with a state-funded university.

So, if you are interested in keeping the average cost of living in Iowa manageable. Like many other states, send your kids to a state university. And make a long-term financial goal to save the excess tuition cost for retiring in Iowa.

Next, let’s see if all of this economic development and educational opportunity brings tradeoffs with one’s quality of life…

Urbanization & Traffic In Iowa

Iowa’s popularity has not led to issues with urbanization and traffic congestion in the state. Traffic jams are almost unheard of. And most communities offer a small-town feel about them.

Need a bit of city life? Then stick to the larger cities like Des Moines. And, Cedar Rapids.

But, you will still be hard-pressed to feel the big city vibe. If you are moving to Iowa from one of the major metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa: Low Crime Rate

living in Iowa pros and cons

The limited impact of urbanization has another benefit. Specifically, low crime rates.

Iowa has lower crime rates than national averages. Violent crime is 20% lower. While property crime is about 10% less.

Unless you count dogs, fewer homeowners than normal feel the need for a security system. While a vehicle break-in might be the most likely crime the average person might encounter.

Okay. So, what do we know so far?

Well, Iowa has a low cost of living, provides for economic opportunity, and has experienced limited impacts from urbanization and traffic. Furthermore, it’s one of the safer states to live in.

So, we have most of our basic needs. But, what about the weather?

Moving To Iowa Means The Benefits Of 4 Distinct Season

If you enjoy all 4 seasons. Then Iowa has you covered.

Summers are hot and humid and usually the rainiest season of the year. Daytime temperatures are often in the 80s and 90s.

Combined with plenty of rainfall, it is the perfect summer climate. For growing corn and soybeans. While temperatures usually peak in July.

At the other extreme, January is the coldest month. High temperatures often do not hit 30 degrees.

And this state gets plenty of snow. You can count on 2-3 feet of snow. In most parts of the state. During a typical year.

So, plan for your heating and cooling costs. Don’t let staying comfortable year-round cause any financial problems in your life.

Between summer and winter. You get to experience the best of everything in between…

Cool, bright, moist spring weather allows the lush green foliage to come to life. And, crisp fall temperatures bring out the colors from the turning leaves. Especially along some of the more scenic parts of the Mississippi river valley.

That concludes the benefits of living in Iowa. Next, we are ready for a few reasons not to move to Iowa. Furthermore, I’m not done with the weather…

Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa: Severe Weather

moving to Iowa means unpredictable weather

The downside to 4 season living? Well, it is 4 seasons living!

Although not in the center of the U.S. tornado country, Iowa has a number of tornados each year. The western and southwestern parts of the state are most vulnerable during May and June.

Iowa is in the north part of what is known as tornado alley in the U.S. The area stretches down into Texas through the state of Oklahoma.

Furthermore, you may enjoy the pretty white snow each winter. But the combination of snow and strong winds across the primarily flat state can lead to blizzard-like conditions.

Finally, winters are not considered mild by any stretch of the imagination. Once again, the wind can be a problem when combined with cold temperatures. Iowa can experience extreme wind chill factors as low as 40-50 degrees below zero.

Don’t like the cold? Then consider moving to Missouri. Iowa’s neighbor to the South.

That is if you want to stay in the Midwestern U.S. But prefer a milder winter climate.

So, if you are thinking about the pros and cons of moving to Iowa. Be sure to consider how you are going to handle some of these extremes conditions.

Make sure you have good insurance in place in case of an accident. That way it won’t unexpectedly derail your cash flow.

You will need to bundle up in the winter. And have your snowblower ready to clear your driveway. Then start working on your “beach body” for the summer shorts and tank top season.

Do you like Iowa’s low cost of living and small-town atmosphere, but can’t tolerate severe winters? Then head straight south about 600 miles. And, check out Arkansas.

Next on our list of pros and cons of living in Iowa, taxes.

Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa: Income Taxes

reasons not to move to Iowa: taxes

Many people forget about taxes when investigating the cost of living in Iowa. And that’s a financial mistake you don’t want to make.

But, if you are a high earner. Or, drawing large sums of money from your tax-deferred retirement accounts.  Taxes are an important factor to keep in mind.

Because Iowa has a progressive state income tax system. That means the more money you make. The higher percentage of your income will be subject to state income taxes.

Income tax rates run from 0.33% to 8.53%. The highest rate applying to incomes over $74,970.

Furthermore, the highest marginal tax rate of nearly 9% is not good. It ranks as one of the top 10 highest among all of the states in the country.

The state tax rate is right up there with high tax East Coast states such as New York and New Jersey. High taxes are no way to streamline your finances.

So, if you make a lot of money. Iowa may not be the best place to call home. At least not from the perspective of state income taxes.

You might want to consider some other more tax-friendly states. For example, Texas does not levy state income taxes on residents.

Be Creative When Living In Iowa For Things To Do

I’m a big believer in making life fun. No matter where you live.

But in Iowa, you may have to be a little more creative than normal. Because many rural areas and towns don’t offer a whole lot of entertainment options.

First of all, the state does not host any professional sports franchises. So, you will have to comfortable traveling to Chicago, St. Louis, or the Twin Cities in Minneapolis to attend the big game.

Maybe that’s okay. It’s rarely a bad decision to getaway. For a little recreation.

Furthermore, there are no ocean beaches in this land-locked state.  Or, mountains for that matter.

So, ocean beaches and water sports are out. If these activities interest you, consider moving to Florida.

And scenic hiking or trail riding in the mountains, just isn’t going to happen when living in Iowa.

Finally, you can find a good meal. No doubt about it. Especially if you like beef, pork, and dairy.

But, the culinary scene isn’t going to have the breadth and variety of the big cities like New York, Chicago, and LA. And any fresh seafood options are going to have to be caught and flown fresh right to your table.

On the other hand, are you are looking for food, a music scene, fun, and beautiful outdoor adventures? Then you might want to consider moving to the state of Tennessee.

Now, we are ready for our last item in the list of pros and cons of living in Iowa. Small towns are great for all they offer, but…

Privacy & Diversity When Living In Iowa Small Towns

close knit communities

Smaller communities have advantages and disadvantages depending on your style. If you choose from the many small towns in Iowa, remember that everybody knows everyone else.

And sometimes your business becomes everyone else’s business. Whether you like it or not your problems can spread around town.

Furthermore, smaller towns in Iowa do not have a lot of ethnic diversity. Versus other parts of the country. And compared to states with larger metropolitan areas.

Summary: Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa

article wrap up

The Hawkeye State has a lot to offer for anyone interested in the pros and cons of moving to Iowa. Do your homework. And I’m sure you will live happily for many years.

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Finally, for reference, here is a summary of the pros and cons of living in Iowa that we reviewed in this article. Specifically, Iowa is known for…

  • Low cost of living
  • Jobs and economic growth
  • Quality educational opportunities
  • Minimal effects of urbanization
  • Low crime rates
  • A 4 season climate
  • Severe and extreme weather conditions
  • High state income tax rates
  • Limited recreational opportunities
  • Lack of privacy and diversity

Keep these reasons to move to Iowa in mind as you consider all of the pros and cons. Have you set a goal to find a new state to live in? Then, get moving!

More Reading About Saving Money & Living Well

Best Resources To Keep Your Money In Order- Before & After The Big Move

Throughout the article, I mentioned several of my favorite personal finance resources. For saving money and managing money.

Best of all they are all free to sign up and use. I have summarized them here for your convenience.

MyPerfectResume
Lending Tree for mortgages and loans of all types
Credit Karma for monitoring your credit
Rakuten for saving on all of your online purchases
Personal Capital for managing your total financial picture

Disclosure & Disclaimer: I am not a licensed investment adviser, financial adviser, or tax professional. And I am not providing you with individual investment advice, financial guidance, or tax counsel. Furthermore, this website’s only purpose is information & entertainment. And we are not liable for any losses suffered by any party because of information published on this blog.

The Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa

6 thoughts on “10 Pros and Cons of Living in Iowa Right Now”

    • Hi David. Thanks for chiming in with your opinion. Iowa is certainly a good Midwestern state to call home! Tom

  1. Extreme weather conditions made the decisions for me. Weather is almost everything. It will set your mood and possibilities to live your life outside your home. If you don’t have reasonable weather consider yourself jailed. Who likes to be jailed, rich or poor? Not me. Thanks though for all the work you have done detailing your state!

    • Hi Tina. Thank you for sharing what’s important to you in picking a state to live in. I’m with you on the weather. If I had my choice, the temperature would never be higher than 80 or below 25. Tom

  2. I grew up in Iowa and could not wait to leave the State after graduating from high school. I attended college in a large metro area and never considered returning to Iowa. As an African American I knew that job opportunities in Iowa were far and few. I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa which is probably the most diverse city in the State and I would submitt that 90% of the African Americans thst I grew up with and went to high-school with, like me left the State. Recently the state has taken a turn in a more Right wing, White Nationalist direction making it even less attractive for minority professionals diversity and inclusion.

    • Hi Michael. Thank you for the input. I really appreciate you adding your experience and insights about Iowa here. Tom

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