Cost of living -

7 Things to know and do before moving to Iowa

Iowa is a state in the Midwestern United States, it is bordered by Big Sioux River and Missouri River to the west and Mississippi River to the east. 

Iowa is considered to be a great place to move to, because of its low cost of living, great neighborhood, educational opportunities, pleasant weather throughout the year and a lot of attractions and amenities. In addition to this, you can get a taste of all four seasons in Iowa.

So, if you are considering moving to Iowa, there are numerous things you need to know and prepare for, like their cost of living or simply how to do an address change. Here are 7 things you need to know before moving to Iowa.

Moving to Iowa: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to Iowa

Find a reliable moving company, truck rental or moving container

For your move to Iowa, you will need to hire a reliable moving company or take on the move yourself. To find the best moving company in Iowa, look for helpful reviews, a professional-looking website, and years of experience.

Planning a move to Iowa? Take a look at our selection of:

Finding a job 

As of September 2023, Iowa had an unemployment rate of 3%, which is the highest from 2.7% in April 2023.

Jobs that are often in high demand are dietary cook, bartenders, and library assistant.

Finding a job in Iowa is easier if you search online for job openings. Popular websites for this include LinkedIn, Indeed, and SimplyHired.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics (Oct 2023)

Getting there 

Below are some travel options to get to Iowa from different parts of the country include:

Flying: Flying is the most convenient way to move to Iowa. Book a flight from your departure city to Des Moines International Airport, depending on your destination within Iowa.

Train: You can also take the train with Amtrak as an alternative. 

Bus: If you want another way to travel, Iowa cities have bus services like Greyhound, and Flixbus, that can get you there.

If you are flying and require assistance with moving your belongings, you can explore options provided by reputable moving companies.

Must dos before your arrival 

Moving to Iowa may be exciting and will challenge you in many ways. By knowing these things beforehand, you will be better prepared for your new life in the city.

  • If you are moving to Iowa permanently, and you receive a lot of mail (excluding packages), you may want to sign up with USPS’s mail forwarding service. Mail forwarding allows your mail to be redirected to the right address for a given period of time. The fee for regular mail forwarding is only a little over a dollar for 6 months. If you want to extend the service, you will have to pay around $20 for 6 months more. You can begin your mail forwarding process by signing up on USPS’s website or directly at your local Post Office.
  • Moving to a new place is an opportunity to start afresh. If you’re moving to Iowa, selling or donating the items you won’t need will go a long way in making your move easier. You can sell your old household items and personal possessions, and anything that will not be useful. Pick out the items that will not be useful for you in Iowa, then decide if you want to sell them on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or donate them to a non-profit organization.

2. Upon your arrival in Iowa

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • If you roam around the city for work or just simply checking on it, it would be great to purchase a daily pass to save money.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.

You can easily get around in Iowa. There are several options available. 

Exchanging your driver’s license

Once you move to Iowa and establish residency, you must transfer your out-of-state driver’s license immediately. In order to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license, you’ll need to visit your local IA DOT office in person and submit proof of your name date of birth, social security number (SSN), legal presence in the U.S. and Iowa residency along with some other documents. If your out-of-state driving license is valid, your driving exam will be waived.

Register your vehicle

If you have just moved to Iowa, you’ll have to register your out-of-state vehicle with IA DOT within 30 days of establishing residency. Failure to do so might result in penalties and additional charges. To get your car registered in Iowa:

Get an Iowa driver’s license. You will also need to first register and get Iowa license plates, even if your old plates are still valid in your previous state. 

To register your vehicle, you need to visit the county treasurer’s office along with your current vehicle title and a completed Application for Certificate of Title and/or Registration for a Vehicle (Form 411007). You cannot register your vehicle by mail or online.

Change your address

Along with mail forwarding, you will also have to update your new address with the concerned authorities in Iowa, like the DMV

To exercise your right to vote in Iowa, you can register to vote by mail and in person. To register by mail or in person, you need to submit a completed State of Iowa Official Voter Registration Form to your county auditor or IA DMV office. You can also pre-register to vote at least 11 days before the election at a polling station. You will be asked to submit your proof of identity and proof of IA residency.

Changing your address with your employer, bank, doctor, insurer, and service providers so that you can avoid any complications further down the road.

Setting up a bank account 

Obtaining a bank account in Iowa is a straightforward process. You only need to present a copy of your valid state or government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. The bank with most branches in Iowa for easy access is US Bank. Iowa’s residents has access to a whopping 69 offices of US Bank in the state.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance is an excellent way to get peace of mind when it comes to your health. With health insurance, you will not have to worry about spending a ton of money in case of a health-related emergency. The state of Iowa proposes a website to help you with your health insurance search. Simply choose Iowa as your state and create an account.

Type of healthcare

Cost

Employer-sponsored health insurance

$157.91

Non-employer-sponsored health insurance

$623.67

Gym

$60.00

Numbeo (Oct 2023) & EHealthInsurance (Oct 2023)

3. Best places to live in Iowa

Best places to live in Iowa

If you are a couple, you might want to consider living in Des Moines. It offers residents with an urban suburban feel, a thriving nightlife, a diverse culture, and a lot of amenities. Many couples and young professionals live here. 

If you are a family, you might want to consider University Heights. The University Heights offers good educational opportunities, great job opportunities, safe parks, and other recreational areas.

If you are single, you should consider moving to Iowa City. Iowa City is home to The University of Iowa and several other educational institutes. It has a college-town charm, which is why you’ll find a lot of young professionals living here. In addition to this, it also provides a lot of amenities.

Setting up home services 

Setting up essential home services like electricity, water, and internet in Iowa is a straightforward process. 

  • The Iowa Utilities Board is responsible for regulating electricity, natural gas, water, and telecommunication services in Iowa. You can visit their website and search for electricity, water, and gas providers and even reach out to them if you have any inquiry. 

Should you rent or buy?

The average Iowa home value is $212,062, increased by 3% from 2022. Iowa’s price per square foot to buy an apartment in the city center is $293.66.

Finding an apartment for rent in Iowa is easy, utilize websites like Zillow, Apartmentguide, and Apartments.com. When seeking a house, these websites—Zillow, Realtor, and Century21—will assist you in your search for a home in Iowa.

Cost of rent in Iowa

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Des Moines (Outside of Center)

$916.67

$1,487.50

Cost of buying a property in Iowa

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Des Moines

$212,062

Numbeo (Oct 2023)Zillow (Oct 2023)

Consider getting home insurance

Getting home insurance is essential, whichever state you are residing in. It is a kind of financial protection that will cover for your expenses if a natural disaster damages your home. Residents in Iowa are at a high risk of severe storms, floods, tornadoes, winter storms, landslides, and wildfires. Therefore, getting home insurance will prove to be valuable.

4. Cost of living in Iowa

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$916.67

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($57.10 multiplied by 4)

$228.40

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$147.35

Internet with 60 Mbps

$66.27

Transit pass

$48.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$99.50

Gym membership 

$60.00

Total

$1,566.19

Numbeo (Oct 2023)

5. The weather in Iowa

On average, there are 200 sunny days per year in Iowa. The highest temperature in summers is 84° and the winter low is 10 degrees. Iowa averages 30 inches of snow per year and 35 inches of rain. Summers in Iowa are sticky, hot and long with rainfalls, whereas winters are quite cold. The temperature can get below freezing at times. Fall and spring season is beautiful and brings a blend of orange, red and golden colors.

6. What to do as a local in Iowa

After you are done settling into your new home in Iowa, you will probably want to familiarize yourself with the state and all its attractions. Some of the most popular activities and locations in Iowa include:

Blank Park Zoo– It is filled with exotic creatures and a large saltwater aquarium. Be ready to have your wildest adventure at Blank Park Zoo. 

National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium – It’s a great place to spend the day with your friends and family.

Maquoketa Caves State Park – If you love adventure, this is a must-visit place for you. It is a historic district with a lot of caves in it. It is one of Iowa’s unique attractions.

Some common grocery stores in Iowa are:Whole Foods Market, Save-a-lot, and Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy.

The two most popular big chain stores are Walmart and Costco.

Must-visit food places in Iowa are Fong’s Pizza and Ronneburg Restaurant.

Visit the popular cities in Iowa: Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City.

7. Fun facts about Iowa

  • Fun Fact #1: Sabula is Iowa’s only town on an island.
  • Fun Fact #2: Strawberry Point in Iowa is home to the world’s largest strawberry.
  • Fun Fact #3: It is home to the World’s Largest Bullhead Fish Statue.

Conclusion

Iowa is known for its relatively low cost of living, and you might find affordable places that suits your lifestyle. In terms of housing, utilities, and everyday expenses are often more affordable compared to many other states. This can lead to a huge savings on your overall budget if you decide to live here. 

While moving to Iowa has its pros and cons, checking the cost of living is essential to making sure you will live comfortably in this city and call it home. It’s a good idea to research specific neighborhoods within the state and consider your priorities to determine if Iowa is the right fit for you and your family.

Need a trusted moving company for the area? Discover the 5 best movers in Iowa. 

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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