What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Iowa City?

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by Upgraded Home Team

Are you thinking of moving to Iowa City? If you are and aren’t familiar with the area, you should consider the pros and cons of living there before you decide to move.

The pros of living in Iowa City include an amazing public school system and low crime rates. Known as the Greatest Small City for the Arts, it has a thriving art community. And, the University of Iowa gives the town a fresh, youthful feel. Summers are mild and winters beautiful with fallen snow. The cons are lack of diversity, high tax rates, and the possibility of severe weather. It’s also a college town, so there is a constant influx of young students.

Learn what a day in the life of an Iowa City resident is like!

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Pros of Living in Iowa City

Iowa City, located in the mid-eastern part of Iowa, has been a great town to settle in since its founding in 1839. Livability has named it one of the Top 100 Places to live for three years in a row. Here are just a few of the perks associated with living in Iowa City!

Lower Cost of Living

Iowa City is the fifth-largest city in Iowa. The cost of living is not as low as smaller, rural areas in Iowa. But, for a town of 73,998, Iowa City’s cost of living is excellent!

The average rent for an apartment is $967 a month, while the average home costs $215,000. A recent report showed that the Iowa City cost of living was 5% lower than the national average.

Job Growth

Like many cities in 2020, Iowa City’s job growth declined. But, in 2021, there has been a steady re-growth of jobs. This year alone, more than 5,000 jobs have been added. The average unemployment rate for Iowa City is 3.5%, lower than the national average of 6.0%.

The University of Iowa Health Care System has been listed as one of Forbes’s top ten employers in healthcare. The university employs over 30,000 faculty and staff.

Thriving Art Community

The art community in Iowa City is bustling! At the Prairie Lights bookstore, you can walk the same hallways as literary greats such as Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, and e e cummings.

Film lovers will want to visit Film Scene, the local indie film movie theater. Each year, the cinema shows over 300 feature films and has annual events like Animation Camp and a Juneteenth celebration.

The Englert Theatre is a fabulous place to hear up and coming musicians like Ben Railway Robey or Lucy Dacus or take in a comedy show. Enjoy a night on the town for as little as $15 a ticket.

Great Educational System

The Iowa City Community School district serves over 14,000 K-12 students. The school system includes 19 preschools, 21 elementary schools, three junior high schools, and three comprehensive high schools. Also included is one alternative high school and a Transition Services Center serving special education students ages 18-21.

The high school students in Iowa City score an average of 25 on the ACT, higher than the state average. That average is also higher than the national average of 21.

Lower Crime Rate

Crime can happen anywhere at any time, but Iowa City’s crime rate is 46% lower than that of the national average. Iowa City is 17% lower than the Iowa state average for violent crime.

Iowa City ranked 10th on the SafeHome.org website and has a larger population than the higher ranking Iowa cities. The Iowa City rate of crime is 24.34 per 1,000 residents. You have a 1 in 46 chance of having a violent or property crime committed against you.

Awesome Food

If you love breakfast, Iowa City is THE place for you! Whether it is greasy goodness from a diner or delicious delicacies, there is something for everyone.

But, don’t just stop at breakfast! College students love good food, and Iowa City has somewhat of a foodie town reputation. There’s the typical pizza, burgers, and wings, which often include the best breweries and taprooms. But there are also many fine dining establishments to satisfy your culinary needs, especially in downtown.

Each year, Iowa City hosts a Top Chef event where local chefs fight it out for bragging rights to the best food while residents enjoy their spoils.

Excellent Healthcare

US News and World Report nationally rank the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City for their excellent healthcare in four adult specialties and five pediatric specialties. It is a general medical and surgical facility that is also a teaching school.

Of 4,554 hospitals considered, the University of Iowa was ranked #41 for its cancer specialty. Other medical facilities in the area include a Veterans Affairs Hospital and Mercy Iowa City Hospital.

Four Seasons

Iowa City is a great place to live if you enjoy experiencing a distinction between the four seasons during the year. Iowa City gets 37 inches of rain and 27 inches of snow each year, slightly lower than the U.S. average. The summer temperature high is around 85 degrees, while the winter temperature low can be 13.

Overall, the Iowa City weather gives you four months of weather between 70-85 degrees — plenty of time to enjoy cooking out on your deck. January is the coldest month, with the average being 13.3 degrees.

Cons of Living in Iowa City

Iowa City has some great economic, safety, and educational opportunities. But, it does have limits in other areas that may cause some people to think twice before moving.

Severe Weather Conditions

Some people prefer a mild, steady climate, and if that is the case, you probably won’t enjoy Iowa City’s weather swings. Being in the north of the country, Iowa City sees 12 days on average where the temperature falls below zero. December typically sees about 8 inches of snow, and half of the year sees significant snowfall.

Iowa City is at very high risk for experiencing tornados from May through June. Iowa City experienced a destructive F-4 tornado in 1984 and an F-2 tornado in 2006.

The city unexperienced unusual flooding in 2008 that caused extensive damage. While it was fortunate that no one died, there was an estimated 6 billion dollars worth of damage done. President George W. Bush visited Iowa City via helicopter on June 20, 2008, to view the flooded areas.

High Tax Rates

Iowa ranks #17 for the highest state income tax rates, collecting $1,196 per capita. Iowa is one of the least tax-friendly states, ranking 41st in a recent study.

The overall tax rate for Iowa City property owners is the fifth highest in the state at $40.75 per $1,000 of value.

Be Prepared to Pay More for Gasoline

If you plan on moving to Iowa City, you may want to consider purchasing an electronic or hybrid car. The gasoline tax in Iowa is .305 cents per gallon, while the diesel tax is .325 cents per gallon. That ranks Iowa in 25th place for the highest gas taxes in the country.

A Younger Population

It can be seen as a positive or a negative, but there is no question that Iowa City has a town with a younger population. Why? Young professionals love the city for its vibrant culture, nationally ranked public school system, and excellent higher ed opportunities. Niche listed it as the fourth-best suburbs for young professionals in Iowa due in part to its public schools, lower crime rate, and nightlife.

The University of Iowa and its 33,000 students make Iowa City a “college town” and drives down residents’ average age. The median age of the city is 25.6 years old. Those 65 years of age and older only make up a little over 8% of the population.

Lack of Diversity

Iowa City has many great features, but diversity is not one of them. Despite being the home to the university, it is not as diverse as other Iowas towns. However, Iowa City did elect its first black, openly gay mayor, Bruce Teague, in 2020, so diversity is increasing slowly.

The last census data showed that Iowa City was 78.52% white. The other 21.48% were largely African American (8.28%) and Asian (7.34%). The remaining 5.8% was made up of another race, two or more races, Native American and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

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Related Questions

What are the sources of local news in Iowa City ?

The Iowa City Press-Citizen is the local newspaper, but the University of Iowa has its own newspaper, the Daily Iowan, published since 1868. There are three local television stations and at least seven local radio stations.

In what county is Iowa City?

Iowa City is in Johnson County and is Iowa’s fifth-most populous county. Iowa City is Johnson County’s largest city and holds the county seat.

What’s the median household income for Iowa City?

The median household income for 2019 in Iowa City is $63,079. That is slightly less than the U.S. median of $65,712.

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