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Old 05-26-2009, 10:58 PM
 
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Hi everyone. For a couple of years I've been closing in on time to apply to graduate school. I've posted on several forums here at CD, with questions about areas with grad schools I'm considering. Now the U. of Iowa is looking like a school I'm likely to apply to. I have some questions about life in Iowa City. Here are some details:

It won't be in the student budget for me to own a car, so I need to know whether a car-free life is manageable in Iowa City. I'm in good shape physically, and would not mind a bit of a walk. I could reasonably handle living as far as two miles or so from campus. The qualification to this would be that if I lived that far from campus I would want to be very close to basic shopping (grocery, drugstore, a few eateries), as the time spent getting around would begin to add up if I had a two-mile walk to campus and also had a substantial walk in order to buy the basic necessities.

Another transportation concern is the issue of getting in and out of town for vacations. Is there a convenient means of transportation to larger cities, such as an overland bus? Does the university run shuttles to the nearest major airport (Des Moines, I'm guessing)?

I'm on the mature side, even for a grad student, so I would prefer to avoid areas with a large student population, and the noisy parties often found in these areas. Are there a good number of rental possibilities in quieter parts of town? Also, keeping in mind the fact that I anticipate going car-free, are there some quiet areas more or less close to campus? And, it's not a make-or-break question, but I'm interested in knowing whether Iowa City is purely a college town, or there is still some life to be found around town during the summer and other university break times, since, being older, I would be staying around town most of the year, not leaving town to spend entire summers with family.

How are the on-campus housing options for grad students, such as apartments, dorms for grad students, etc.? Are these areas clean and quiet, and generally reasonable residences for someone older than the typical student?

Thanks much for any info you all could offer about the above questions, or anything else that would be useful to know about the area.

Last edited by ogre; 05-26-2009 at 11:37 PM..
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Old 05-26-2009, 11:32 PM
 
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ogre--I got my undergrad degree at Iowa, and lived there 6 more years before leaving town for grad school. I am happy to report there is MUCH life in IC over the summer and during the breaks. Iowa has a relatively large percentage of grad students, married students and foreign students, so during the breaks not everyone leaves town. Also, IC has a large population of non-students, many of whom work for the University. Many of them are young-to-middle aged and single, so you'll find life in the coffee shops, restaurants and bars 365 days a year. (Don't expect Chicago, but not too shabby for a college town of 70k people)

RE: where to live, on which side of the river is your Department located? It's been awhile since I lived there, but the North Side used to be a good place to live for students without cars. It's relatively quiet with few of the large apartment complexes where the undergrads live. It's on the east side of the river. On the west side, University Heights is a nice quiet little community, similar in character to the north side, but not as close to downtown and not as architecturally interesting, if that's important to you.

City bus service is so-so. Few night buses and no Sunday service. The university's Cambus is free and runs til Midnight 7 days a week (Used to anyway). It serves the immediate campus area, so living in U Heights or the North Side would put you close to its stops. Don't know if the intra-city service is still good, but there used to be 4 or 5 Greyhounds a day into Chicago. Nearest airport is Cedar Rapids, about 20 miles. Probably shuttles, but I don't know for sure.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Coralville/Ames, IA
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I would second Ben Around's recommendation of the Northside neighborhood (north of Bloomington and west of Dodge). There are some students in that neighborhood but there are young families as well and it is overall the least student-filled neighborhood bordering campus. There is a free shuttle that runs from Northside to Downtown for shopping (there is a CVS Pharmacy in Old Capitol Mall, plenty of restaurants and two small but pretty nice grocery stores: one at Linn & Burlington and one at Van Buren & Washington).

There are shuttles to the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids. Here's a link from the Iowa City website that lists two of them with phone numbers: Airport - Home Looks like you can also call a cab. Quad City International is the next closest, in Moline, (and it is much cheaper than CR or DM for most destinations) but there are no shuttles as far as I can tell. However, you could take a Greyhound bus to Moline, Des Moines, or even Chicago without too much expense. In the future, there is a fairly serious plan to build an Amtrak line to Chicago, but that probably won't be done by the time you are done with school unless you aren't coming for a few years.

There are things to do year-round here. You will notice a significant drop in the number of people downtown during summer, but usually I think that's fairly refreshing anyway. There are still people out and about and everything stays open year round. There are many non-students in town, as mentioned in the last post. Iowa City has the Jazz Festival and the Arts Festival in summer too, if you're interested in that. This year, we'll be holding a Literature Festival as well.
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Old 05-27-2009, 09:05 PM
 
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Thanks for the info. Your opinions on specific neighborhoods are especially helpful.

Regarding airports, I checked Mapquest. My picture about IC's location had been slightly off. I had pictured it being a bit to the southwest of where it actually is, closer to Des Moines, but now I see that Cedar Rapids is the nearest major transportation center.

Mapquest also clued me in about Ben Around's point that it might be a good idea to consider the side of campus where I'd be likely to spend most of my time, when checking out neighborhoods to live in. It looks as if you need to keep the river in mind when making these choices. It appears that there are some neighborhoods that are kind of no-man's lands, where you would have a bit of a walk just to get to the nearest bridge, and could easily triple or quadruple your travel distance when compared to the straight-line distance across the river to your destination, because you would have to go up and around.

Good to learn that there is life in town during break periods of the year. My past experience at a large university was at UMass Amherst, which is located in a fairly isolated small town, as opposed to a small city like IC. When the students were gone during the summer, the place was pretty dead. Iowegian, I agree that the breaks are a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle when all the students are around, but a happy medium that would involve a little more activity than Amherst had at these times would be nice. Good to learn that IC fits the bill.

Looks as if Iowa City is very workable without wheels. Thanks again for the detailed info.
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Old 06-17-2009, 03:52 PM
 
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I have a situation similar to ogre's, except I will have a car, and I have girlfriend and baby. My girlfriend would likely be working in Coralville, so anywhere in the Iowa City/Coralville area is good.We would like to avoid neighborhoods that are heavily populated by students.

Do students stay mostly around campus? Are there 'student ghettos' in the area?
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Old 06-18-2009, 09:29 AM
 
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Johnson Street is probably the closest to a "student ghetto", but you'd never live along that street once you saw it. Otherwise the central areas to the immediate south, north and west of downtown are packed full of students. I would just look anywhere in Coralville, anywhere east of Governor Street in Iowa City. Areas west of Sunset on the West side of town are also going to be much less full of students.

the neighborhood southeast of the corner of Governor and Burlington Street is somewhat cheap, and very "cute". It's older, but well kept and has decent schools, nice people.

Are you looking to rent a house, or be in an apartment complex? Apartment complexes all over the area, especially in Iowa City, are going to have a lot more students for the most part.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Chariton, Iowa
682 posts, read 2,058,717 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcos View Post
I have a situation similar to ogre's, except I will have a car, and I have girlfriend and baby. My girlfriend would likely be working in Coralville, so anywhere in the Iowa City/Coralville area is good.We would like to avoid neighborhoods that are heavily populated by students.

Do students stay mostly around campus? Are there 'student ghettos' in the area?
If you can swing it in your budget, check out some of the apartments and townhouses north of I-80 in Coralville. Good neighborhood, quiet, lots of other grad students, visiting professionals, young families. And it's serviced by both Coralville Transit and UI Cambus.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:04 AM
 
Location: Davenport, Iowa
2,432 posts, read 1,667,166 times
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Because of the large number of students from Chicagoland, I know there's a bus that runs students from the campus to Chicago. They don't stop so I think it'd be faster than taking a greyhound.

Good recommendations on the neighborhoods for grad students. I've lived in the Northside neighborhood and it was usually pretty quiet. John's Grocery is also within walking distance if you live in that area.
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:05 PM
 
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Thanks for the advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
Are you looking to rent a house, or be in an apartment complex? Apartment complexes all over the area, especially in Iowa City, are going to have a lot more students for the most part.

I'd prefer to rent a house, but I might settle for an apartment the first year to get a feell for the area.
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