Is Iowa A Good State To Live In?

Is Iowa A Good State To Live In?

Scenic green fields in Iowa

Last Updated 07/07/2024

If you’re moving to a new state, selecting your destination is the first step toward actually moving. But making a decision can be daunting. There are lots of factors that might alter your decision, such as your budget and preferred lifestyle.

The state of Iowa isn’t for everyone, but it’s a quieter Midwestern state with a low cost of living. It’s perfect for college students, families, or anyone who loves the outdoors. It’s relatively affordable, with a few bigger cities and plenty of rural land.

Don’t jump into your move blindly! Before you move to Iowa, read this article to learn more about the pros and cons of the state.

Moving to Iowa

If you’re planning on moving to Iowa soon but need professional help, look no further. Iowa has great moving companies with affordable rates to assist you with your upcoming move. Iowa is home to several UniMovers locations, including Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines, among others.

Companies like UniMovers offer local labor-only services all across Iowa. Labor-only movers specialize in loading and unloading trucks, moving furniture, or packing your items. But remember that labor-only movers do not transport your items from one residence to the next.But moving services are not the only things UniMovers offers.

Create your own moving estimate to gauge how expensive your move may be when you move with UniMovers. Note that this estimate does not include your own travel fees, which can be calculated separately. There are plenty of professional movers in Iowa to assist you if you are planning on moving there.

Cost of Living in Iowa’s Cities

As of 2024, the US Census Bureau estimates the median rent in Iowa is about $891, whereas the median rent across the nation is about $1,300. No matter where you go, Iowa will be more affordable than many other states. 

Cities like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City are Iowan hotspots that have a lot to offer. They may cost more than rural towns in Iowa, but they also hold more businesses, people, and education options.

Des Moines

Des Moines is the capital city and the largest city in Iowa with about 210,000 residents. 

In Des Moines, the average cost of living for a single person is about $1,691 per month, and for a family of four, the average cost of living is about $3,944. The cost of living includes the average rent price, utilities, food, and transportation.

While this may be more expensive relative to other parts of Iowa, residents pay to live in a city that serves as the state’s cultural and professional hub.

Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids is a city situated on the eastern side of Iowa, along the Cedar River. The city has a population of about 138,000 people, which is significantly smaller than Des Moines, but larger than most other cities in Iowa.

In Cedar Rapids, the average monthly cost of living for a single resident is about $1,377. For a family of four, the average monthly cost of living is estimated at $3,622. Cedar Rapids is also home to three different colleges: Coe College, Mount Mercy University, and Kirkwood Community College.

Iowa City

Just south of Cedar Rapids is Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. The population is about 75,000 people, only half the size of Cedar Rapids. But don’t be fooled by its smaller population: Iowa City is the most expensive city in the state.

People filled street in Iowa City

The average monthly cost of living for a single resident in Iowa City is about $1,812. For a family of four, the average cost of living is about $4,148 per month. Iowa City is a big college town, so expect an active nightlife, sporting events, and plenty of options for food and drinks.

Is Iowa A Good Place to Raise A Family?

Iowa is a great place to raise a family because the state prioritizes education and has excellent university options. Plus, Iowa has a low crime rate compared to the rest of the country. 

Iowa is a safe, affordable environment with quality career prospects to support local families. If you are looking for a balanced environment to raise a family and give your kids a great education, Iowa may be the right state for you.

Looking to move soon?

Check out UniMovers and save 30-50% on your move as compared with traditional moving!

Iowa Education

The state of Iowa is full of great school districts for students from preschool to high school. In addition, Iowa contains notable universities like the University of Iowa, Grinnell College, and Iowa State University.

Old Capitol building at the University of Iowa

The University of Iowa, home of the Hawkeyes, has approximately 33,000 students in attendance. Tuition for Iowa residents is about $11,000 per year or about $33,000 for out-of-state tuition. The University of Iowa also has one of the best graduate writing programs in the country, the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

Grinnell College is located halfway between Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. This private university has only 1,655 students in attendance, with a tuition rate of about $67,000. The tuition is higher than most because Grinnell College is a private university and is ranked the #1 overall university in Iowa.

Iowa State University is located in Ames, with a population of about 30,000 students. The tuition for Iowa students is about $10,000, whereas out-of-state tuition sits around $28,000 per year. 


Another reason to consider raising a family in Iowa is the low crime rate. Violent crime and property crime rates in Iowa are lower than the national averages, with the twelfth-lowest violent crime rate and seventh-lowest property crime rate in the US.

However, crime isn’t the only factor that can pose safety threats in Iowa. Natural disasters like flooding and tornadoes are common. In fact, Iowa experiences about 50 tornadoes a year, since the western half of the state rests in the Midwest’s infamous Tornado Alley.

Temperatures in Iowa can commonly reach around 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and sometimes dip to -20 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. However, most of the year falls between the low 20s to high 80s. Seasons in Iowa can be jarring if you’re not prepared.

Career Prospects

A crucial aspect of any state’s appeal is its economic opportunity and job market. Iowa has a diverse economy supported by manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, and technology sectors.

While advanced manufacturing is Iowa’s leading job sector, note the state has superb opportunities in many areas. Iowa is an agricultural powerhouse as the number one producer of corn, eggs, and pork in the US. They are also the #1 state that produces wind energy. In fact, over 60% of the state’s energy comes from renewable power sources.

Things To Do In Iowa

Iowa is the thirty-first most populated state in the country, so there aren’t huge cities to provide a bustling nightlife. Even still, Iowa is a city blooming with culture, food, and fun. Whether you want to take a bike ride by the river, visit cultural attractions, or you’re just looking for a bite to eat, Iowa caters to people of all ages and interests.

Outdoor Activities

Don’t miss out on the exciting outdoor activities available in the Hawkeye State. Iowa is filled with tall grasslands and is bordered by the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

The view from Pikes Peak State Park in McGregor, Iowa.

Explore the scenery with a wide range of running, biking, and hiking trails. Or take a tour through the beautiful state parks like Maquoketa Caves, Pikes Peak, or Cedar Rock, amongst many others. If you love the outdoors, Iowa has no shortage of natural beauty for you to discover.

Cultural Attractions

Every summer, Iowa City holds a Summer of the Arts festival, with all kinds of festivals for the community to engage with in addition to Iowan artists, musicians, and merchants. One of the most popular attractions is the famed Iowa Arts Festival, a perfect spot for those who love to browse art markets.

Museums in Iowa are not to be skipped. From art to science to history, the museums in this state span all kinds of topics and interests. Anyone who loves to learn through exhibits will get a kick out of Iowa’s many galleries and museums.

Food and Drinks

Anyone looking for a bite to eat can find refuge in Iowa. Foodies can easily find new options to explore or their favorite Midwestern staples. Des Moines is particularly known for its diverse food scene.

Wash down the delicious local food with a refreshing beer–if you’re of age, of course. Iowa also holds a selection of craft breweries and bars.


Iowa offers a compelling blend of qualities that make it a good state to live in for many individuals and families. From a high quality of life and strong economy to vibrant universities and agriculture, Iowa provides a welcoming environment that appeals to a wide range of people.

Iowa is affordable, safe, and plenty of fun. All lifestyles can find a place here. Further your education, raise your family, or enjoy the rural landscape. While Iowa isn’t as densely populated as other states, Des Moines, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids can provide glimpses of city life. If you need something to do, there are plenty of parks, museums, restaurants, and breweries. For those seeking a balanced environment in the Midwest, Iowa is an excellent state to call home.


Is Iowa a good state to raise a family?

Yes, Iowa is a great state to raise a family because they have relatively low crime rates, great education options, and affordable housing.

Is Iowa an expensive state to live in?

Generally, the cost of living in Iowa is lower than in other states, especially in the rural areas and smaller towns. But if you live in one of Iowa’s cities, expect the cost of living to be higher.

Sarah is a senior studying English and Communications, and will graduate in spring 2021. She is from Bettendorf, Iowa, and is currently attending Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In addition to being a blogger for UniMovers, she works as an editor and as a consultant at her college’s Writing Center. When not working, she enjoys reading, writing, hanging out with her friends, thrift shopping, and listening to music. Her favorite color is pink.

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I am from Sacramento, California and earned my BA in Literature from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. I am currently enrolled in the English MA program at University of Oregon, researching forest management policy and environmental studies. In my free time I enjoy watching basketball, cooking, reading, gardening, and trying new hot sauces.