Moving to Iowa: State Relocation Guide

From Cedar Falls to Sioux City, Iowa has exciting opportunities to offer new potential residents. Whether you’re looking for a small-town atmosphere or life in the big city, Iowa has something for everyone to love. 

Otherwise known as the Hawkeye State, Iowa has four major college teams for Division I sports: football, basketball, softball, and soccer. Iowa also hosts an annual ride across the land-locked state—if bicycling is more your speed. And for people seeking a new adventure, try spelunking in one of the Maquoketa caves. 

For Star Trek lovers, residents of Riverside, Iowa are proud to declare that their city is the future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk. In addition, some individuals living in Iowa are lucky enough to reside in the ice cream capital of the world, Le Mars. 

Dining and entertainment opportunities aside, moving to Iowa can be a great economic opportunity for you and your family. The Hawkeye state has a promising job market, excellent educational services, and affordable housing. In this relocation guide, you will learn everything you’ll need to consider before moving to Iowa.

Iowa Climate

Iowa has a humid continental climate, meaning that this state experiences a wide array of temperatures across all four seasons. The word humid suggests that the climate is warm, but don’t let that fool you.

Iowa State Relocation Guide


Once the winter season starts, residents can expect temperatures between 12 – 35 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months. In December and January, the temperatures can drop below 0 for quite a few days per month. Additionally, Iowa receives a yearly average of 30 inches of snowfall

Americans moving from warmer climates should have their winter coats and snowshoes ready because Iowa gets cold fast. On average, the Hawkeye state experiences 147 days of freezing weather where the temperature is below 32 degrees. 

Residents from Northern Iowa will feel the cooler temperatures for a longer time than the state’s southern half. However, once the snow subsides and the seasons change, Iowa residents can expect comfortable temperatures. 

April and May will have balmy temperatures compared to the cold winters, averaging around 50 -73 degrees as the summer season approaches. Iowa has approximately 200 days of sunny weather, almost on par with the national average of 205. 

While Iowa has warm summers, the daily high temperature rarely exceeds 90 degrees. On average, the state has temperatures above 90 degrees 14 days a year. And, June through August typically have high temperatures within the 80s. 

When the cool fall weather rolls around, Iowa residents can expect October and November temperatures between 45 – 63 degrees Fahrenheit. Once late November hits, low temperatures can drop between 28 – 31 degrees. This means Iowa residents may often find snow on the ground before Thanksgiving. 

If you’re the type of person who loves winter activities but desires a comfortable climate in the summertime, moving to Iowa will be perfect for you.

Iowa Taxes

Iowa’s property taxes are higher than the national average, placing within the top 15 highest taxes in the country. However, the tax rate will change depending on which county you live in.

Iowa State Relocation Guide


On average, Iowa residents pay $3,825 annually for their property taxes. This approximate sum is $1,000 over the national average.

Taxes in Iowa must be paid biannually on March 1st and September 1st every year. For some residents, paying property taxes twice a year is preferred because the payment will be smaller. However, others would prefer paying property taxes in one lump sum. Potential residents should consider their preference for property taxes before moving to Iowa.

Dickinson County has the lowest property tax rate in Iowa at 1.01%, slightly less than the national average of 1.07%. On the other hand, Polk County has one of the highest property tax rates, with residents paying 1.97%.

However, despite paying a high rate of property taxes, Iowa has low median home costs for residents. Before moving to Iowa, you should examine housing costs and determine which county tax rates will be feasible for your family.

Iowa Cost of Living

Compared to the national average of 100, Iowa has an overall low cost of living of 83.7. However, it is essential to carefully consider every cost of living category because not every expense in Iowa is below the U.S. average.

Iowa State Relocation Guide

Looking at Iowa’s cost of living, its overall score of 83.7 was significantly influenced by two very low expenses, housing (61.1) and transportation (71.4).

Unfortunately, the overall score can be unreliable when extremely high and low variables contribute to an average. Therefore, to accurately depict Iowa’s cost of living, we must look at every category separately.

As you can see, grocery expenses (94.4) and utilities (98.5) fall slightly below the national average and rank higher than Iowa’s overall score. Additionally, Iowa places significantly above the U.S. average for healthcare costs at 121.5, meaning residents will pay more for their medical bills.

The median home cost in Iowa is around $161,700. However, some counties have more expensive housing costs like Dallas County ($231,000) and Johnson County ($216,900). On the other hand, most Iowa counties fall below the median home value, such as Adams ($86,100) and Wright County ($85,300).

Iowa State Relocation Guide

The national average salary for Americans is $66,665/year. However, Iowa falls below the national average, with residents earning $54,554/year or $26/hour. If you fall within the top 75% of earners, you can expect to make the equivalent of the U.S. average salary.

Iowa Healthcare

Iowa has good healthcare services, ranking #20 overall in the United States. So while the Hawkeye state has high healthcare costs, residents can typically access a doctor whenever the occasion arises.

Iowa State Relocation Guide

Iowa has excellent access to health care services (#6) and mid-tier public health (#22). However, their quality of healthcare rating #at 38 impacted the state’s overall rating. This means Iowa residents should consider browsing physician services and patient reviews before booking an appointment with a new doctor. 

It’s important to note that Iowa hospitals have ranked within the top 50 hospitals in the country. With highly-rated access to health care services and hospitals in Iowa, residents should be able to find a preferred doctor that suits their needs. 

Hawki insurance is one of Iowa’s state health insurances for working-class families with uninsured children. Individuals with Hawki pay a maximum of $40 a month for insurance coverage. 

Residents who qualify for Medicaid health insurance can supplement their plan with IA Health Link. This service helps individuals with behavioral health, long-term care options, and physical health care needs.

Iowa Education

Overall, Iowa ranks #18 in the nation for educational services. The state’s Pre-K to Grade 12 education systems rank mid-tier at #24, and their higher education programs are rated #11. Moving to Iowa is suitable for families with school-aged children or prospective college students.

Iowa State Relocation Guide

Iowa has an excellent graduation rate for high school students, 91.4% compared to the national average of 85.3%. The state prides itself on its students’ education quality and higher education options for college students. 

The Hawkeye State is home to four National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I colleges. It is perfect for prospective athletes looking for a career in their beloved sport and studious individuals hoping for a highly rated institution. 

The University of Iowa ranks #83 as one of the best colleges in the country. This university is home to the Iowa Hawkeyes and offers Division I teams in football, basketball, baseball, softball, and women’s soccer. The University of Iowa is the only school with a Division I baseball team. 

Iowa State University of Science and Technology places #122 for national colleges. Iowa State is home to the Cyclones, rivals of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Their athletic teams include women and men’s basketball, football, softball, and women’s soccer. 

Iowa State University doesn’t just offer promising careers to athletes: The college has programs in veterinary science, computer information sciences, business, and biomedical sciences. Located in Ames, a small town in Iowa, college students will enjoy this community of young professionals. 

Drake University is another Iowa Division I school that ranks #136 in the United States. Drake University is located in Des Moines, Iowa and is home to the Drake Bulldogs. 

The last Division I school available within Iowa is the University of Northern Iowa. This institution is excellent for Iowa residents due to its low tuition fees for in-state students. 

For prospective college students looking for a liberal arts education, Grinnell College (#13), Luther College (#105), and Coe College (#136) are great options in Iowa.

Notable Highlights in Iowa

Whether you are an athlete, nature enthusiast, lover of the arts, or ice cream connoisseur, Iowa has something for everyone to enjoy. 

Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa or RAGBRAI is a week-long bicycle riding event in Iowa. Since 1973, RAGBRAI has hosted bicyclists from around the country to ride along the landscape of Iowa. The route changes yearly, so riders experience a new course every time. 

It’s important to note that RAGBRAI is not a bicycle race but a ride with 10,000 participants. The sheer amount of bicyclists makes this event unsafe for racing. Still, RAGBRAI creates a fantastic bonding experience between riders and Iowa residents. 

When you’re done riding along the landscape, take a trip to Le Mars, Iowa, to visit the ice cream capital of the world. Four famous ice cream brands are crafted in Le Mars: Blue Bunny, Bomb Pops, Halo Top, and Blue Ribbon Classics. 

If you’ve always dreamed of becoming an ice cream taste tester, Le Mars is the place to be– their ice cream factory is always looking for the public’s opinion on new flavors.

Maquoketa Caves State Park is a beautiful park with a historical museum, campgrounds, and 13 different caves for visitors to explore. This state park has a gorgeous six-mile trail for hikers to traverse and explore one of the various caves within the park. 

Maquoketa Caves State Park has caves for every difficulty level, from new explorers to seasoned spelunkers. 

The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is dedicated to helping the natural plant and animal life along the Mississippi River. Visitors can visit the museum and aquarium to learn about the various aquatic creatures within the river. 

In addition, the facility supports research to preserve the Mississippi River’s habitat and investigate invasive species. 

If you’re looking for a fun boat ride or kayaking experience, the Missouri River is located along the leftmost border of Iowa. The Missouri River is 178 miles of water with plenty of opportunities for fishing and camping along the river bed. 

The Des Moines Art Center is a stunning art museum located in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The museum displays artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and Francis Bacon. 

The art exhibits within the Des Moines Art Center aren’t the only pieces to marvel at: Three architects built the museum, and their unique designs are reminiscent of Hollywood set-pieces with large, elaborate, artsy settings. 

Two miles from the Des Moines Art Center is their Pappajohn Sculpture Park which visitors should explore. 

Also located in Des Moines is the largest agricultural display and entertainment attraction in the farm state, the Iowa State Fair. Over a million people flock to Iowa to attend the state fair, see famous musician guests, enjoy great food, and participate in the Bill Riley Talent Search.

Best Places To Live

There are many factors to consider before moving to Iowa, including location. This list compiles the top five places to live in Iowa and describes what residents can expect before making the big leap. 

Once you decide where to settle down, you’ll want to keep these helpful moving tips and tricks in mind while you prepare: 

  • Pack for the weather — Remember, Iowa starts to get chilly around late November. You’ll want to pack appropriate clothes for the season of your move. 
  • Keep an eye on essential documents — Things like passports, birth certificates, and social security cards should be easily accessible at all times during your move. You’ll need these documents to change your driver’s license once you arrive. 
  • Research your county’s tax rates — Iowa has high tax rates that vary depending on your county of residence. Consider these tax rates before purchasing a property. 
  • Transport your car — Long-distance driving can put unnecessary stress on your vehicle, and you don’t want to run into any surprise auto maintenance issues during your move. Consider shipping your vehicle to your new location.

University Heights 

University Heights is a suburb in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with a small population of 1,159 residents. Approximately 51% of this population holds a Master’s degree or higher, and there is a moderate mix of political views among residents. 

Due to its location in Cedar Rapids, University Heights offers an urban and suburban environment.


Bettendorf is a suburb within Davenport, Iowa, with a highly rated school district. This conservative community of individuals has a large population of 35,919 residents.

The median home value in Bettendorf is $225,300, and the median monthly rent is around $914. This suburb is located in Scott County, where the property tax rate is 1.67% which is above the national average.

West Des Moines 

Located near the city of Des Moines, West Des Moines is a town in Iowa with a population of 65,606. West Des Moines is an excellent location for families. The town has a good school district, lots of parks, and various shops.

This town has a high population of young professionals, and the average household income is $76,368. With Des Moines close by, residents have a mixture of urban and suburban living experiences.


If you’re looking to live in a suburb within the city of Des Moines, Clive is a great potential choice. Clive has a moderate population of 17,167 residents and offers high-paying job opportunities for new residents. Residents have an average median household income of $104,839.

There are good restaurants, coffee shops, and a moderate nightlife scene within the suburb. In addition, residents of Clive can easily venture into the city of Des Moines to enjoy other exciting attractions.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon is a small town in Linn County, Iowa. With 4,451 residents, this community feels like a mix between a suburban and rural location. Their median home value is estimated at $203,400, and their public school district is well-regarded.


Iowa has a lot to offer its potential residents, whether you’re a seasoned spelunker, college athlete, artist, bicyclist, or ice cream connoisseur. From small towns to major cities, Iowa will have something for every resident to enjoy. 

While the property tax rate isn’t ideal, the cost of living, housing prices, and educational quality are great perks to living in Iowa. In addition, the climate is perfect for people who love cold weather and enjoy hot summers without scorching high temperatures. 

So now that you’ve explored all the potential activities and economic factors to plan a move to Iowa let’s talk about your out-of-state vehicle. It can be tough to find trustworthy moving companies to transport your car safely across state lines. 

Our team of professionals at Guardian Auto Transport offers affordable services to transport your car to Iowa or ship to a new state. Get an instant quote today for auto transport services so you can get back to planning your big move. 

BBB Accredited and LOVED by Customers

Wed, 26 Jun 2024 17:14:48 GMT

I was originally booked with another company. They were not able to find a driver. Luckily I went elsewhere and found John from Guardian. He was pleasant to speak with and gave me a littler higher rate than what I was told from the other company. I went with my gut and followed through with John. He was able to assign a driver in minutes. They arrived at my house the next day to pick up and was also on time during delivery. Thank you John!

Pablo T
Wed, 26 Jun 2024 17:11:45 GMT
Pablo T

This was my 3rd time shipping with Ethan and Guardian. He helps me so much and takes great care of my car every time. I will continue to call him for transports.

Wed, 26 Jun 2024 17:09:52 GMT

I was please on how great Guardians service was. Ryan was easy to work with and was always available for questions. I would recommend to all first time shippers.