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Old 11-21-2012, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Alger MI
15 posts, read 23,915 times
Reputation: 38

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My wife and I live in Michigan at the moment and are beyond ready to move out of state. We've considered many different states from New York to Washington and haven't been able to find one that really suits us. After researching Iowa quite a bit, we have both decided that it seems like the perfect fit. Second parent adoption has been a must as we are trying to start a family and I wouldn't have any parental rights, and also marriage would mean a lot to us. We are already married by New York State but we have no recognition whatsoever here in Michigan. From everything I have seen, Iowa is very similar to Michigan but with lower snowfall, which is absolutely awesome! The only problem I am having right now is narrowing down which areas to look more into. The home values seem to be pretty low throughout much of the state so that helps too as we are looking for a home under $55,000. The things that we will need in our new home are:
-Within 20 minutes or so of a Walmart, as that is where we will both be transferring until we find better jobs and/or graduating from college.
-Within 45 minutes or so from some more affordable colleges (under $6000 a year tuition)
-Most preferably a little bit of land. Nothing extreme but hopefully an acre or more with some trees.
-Preferably somewhat close to rivers or lakes to fish on.
-We would rather not live in a big town or city;rural area doesn't bother us as we generally stick to ourselves anyway. Just as long as we could try to stick to the job and college requirements for commute time.
-I've heard that most Iowans harbor the 'live and let live' attitude which would be phenomenal. Around here, people stare at us for holding hands, swear at us, and are just generally rude. I have my life and you have yours and it would be awesome to just be able to co-exist without contention. Does that ring true throughout the state? Or is it mostly the eastern side?
-Safety is pretty important to us as well. I don't want to live in a town with a lot of sex offenders and such. Our town now is only a population of around 2500 and we have over 30 and maybe three actually incarcerated. I've noticed that the stats for different towns in Iowa is much much lower Also, are there more dangerous areas for tornadoes? Certain areas that seem to get hit again and again? I understand that they occur more often there, but is a lot of damage happening every ten years or three times a year? Also, how big of an issue is flooding? Is it throughout the state, or mostly just closer to the Mississippi?
-In your opinion where would be the best place to raise a family? Close to parks or recreational areas, things to get them involved in the community? We are planning on home schooling, but still want our child to be very involved in sports and things of that nature.
-Is the economy as good as it looks there? Throughout Michigan the average unemployment rate is hovering around 10% and even higher in certain areas. Are the unemployment rates I'm seeing accurate, at anywhere from 3%-8%? And with these low numbers is it because people are employed or because they own their own businesses and farms?
-Property taxes seem to be pretty low compared to what we are used to here. Are there certain places where it is much higher? It would be wonderful to try to keep that lower as well, but I understand that we can't have everything What is sales tax like there?
-What are utilities like? I have never used LP gas or even really utility gas and I see that they seem to be the two most common sources of fuel. How are the prices? Same questions with electric..

I understand this is ridiculously long but we are trying to make the best decision for us as possible. Any information along these lines would be very much appreciated! Thanks!!!
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:37 AM
 
Location: Colorado
1,969 posts, read 1,900,640 times
Reputation: 1723
I have heard from friends (and I have been there myself) that Iowa City is the most progressive area/town.

Iowa City ranks third ?gayest city? in U.S. - The Daily Iowan

Sorry you are being 'sworn at', that's bizarre.
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:33 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
20,968 posts, read 15,285,903 times
Reputation: 23757
Have lived there eight months but not a native - responses in red below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EssenceofAshley View Post
My wife and I live in Michigan at the moment and are beyond ready to move out of state. We've considered many different states from New York to Washington and haven't been able to find one that really suits us. After researching Iowa quite a bit, we have both decided that it seems like the perfect fit. Second parent adoption has been a must as we are trying to start a family and I wouldn't have any parental rights, and also marriage would mean a lot to us. We are already married by New York State but we have no recognition whatsoever here in Michigan. From everything I have seen, Iowa is very similar to Michigan but with lower snowfall, which is absolutely awesome! The only problem I am having right now is narrowing down which areas to look more into. The home values seem to be pretty low throughout much of the state so that helps too as we are looking for a home under $55,000. The things that we will need in our new home are:


-Within 20 minutes or so of a Walmart, as that is where we will both be transferring until we find better jobs and/or graduating from college.
-Within 45 minutes or so from some more affordable colleges (under $6000 a year tuition)
-Most preferably a little bit of land. Nothing extreme but hopefully an acre or more with some trees.
-Preferably somewhat close to rivers or lakes to fish on.
-We would rather not live in a big town or city;rural area doesn't bother us as we generally stick to ourselves anyway. Just as long as we could try to stick to the job and college requirements for commute time.

The college requirement is going to mandate that you be within reasonable driving distance of college towns in your price range. If you're wanting to buy a home, that leaves you with the greater Ames/Huxley/Story City/Boone/Nevada area and the greater Cedar Falls/Waterloo area. The Iowa City metro is likely going to be too expensive. You might be able to score a home that is move-in ready for $55k. Considering manufactured homes will widen your selection. Below is a decent looking home on the Ames CL for $45k. Raise the budget to $75k and you have a lot more options. That may be a little much for your budget, but it's a dream compared to many parts of the country. Browse the local Craigslists or other forums to get a real feel. My question is why are you wanting to buy a home while still in college. Circumstances can change immensely between now and graduation and a cheap home in a small town may be difficult to sell in the future.

Huge Beautiful Home for a Great Price

$6,000 annually outside of a community college isn't going to happen. UNI for undergraduates, according to their own website, is around $6,600 this year. ISU is almost $7k. This will likely increase as time goes on. That's just for tuition, not including books, fees, etc. These rates also require Iowa residency, which won't be immediately established. Over the course of a degree, this extra money is nominal.

If you want to be near water, Saylorville Lake is within half an hour of most of the Ames metro if you hurry. IMO, it's the best lake in the state next to the Spirit Lake/Okoboji lakes, which are remote in NW IA.

The shopping requirements could be accommodated anywhere. Given everything else you stated, I think you should try enrolling at ISU and living in the Ames area.


-I've heard that most Iowans harbor the 'live and let live' attitude which would be phenomenal. Around here, people stare at us for holding hands, swear at us, and are just generally rude. I have my life and you have yours and it would be awesome to just be able to co-exist without contention. Does that ring true throughout the state? Or is it mostly the eastern side?

Live and let live means tolerance. Will you be bothered in Iowa because of your sexual orientation, even in small towns? I would say it isn't likely, unless you are doing something to attract attention anyway (extremely touchy-feely, etc). However, just because Iowans politely tolerate same sex relationships doesn't mean that Iowa is a far-left socially liberal state. It isn't, and as long as you maintain your relationship with class in public places, I doubt you'd run into any trouble. I live in Des Moines and very, very rarely run into affectionate same sex couples in public.

-Safety is pretty important to us as well. I don't want to live in a town with a lot of sex offenders and such. Our town now is only a population of around 2500 and we have over 30 and maybe three actually incarcerated. I've noticed that the stats for different towns in Iowa is much much lower Also, are there more dangerous areas for tornadoes? Certain areas that seem to get hit again and again? I understand that they occur more often there, but is a lot of damage happening every ten years or three times a year? Also, how big of an issue is flooding? Is it throughout the state, or mostly just closer to the Mississippi?

No clue on the weather. The weather has been extremely dry this year, which has moderated the storms, and looks to remain dry in the near future.

-In your opinion where would be the best place to raise a family? Close to parks or recreational areas, things to get them involved in the community? We are planning on home schooling, but still want our child to be very involved in sports and things of that nature.

No children and don't plan to have any, so I can't comment.

-Is the economy as good as it looks there? Throughout Michigan the average unemployment rate is hovering around 10% and even higher in certain areas. Are the unemployment rates I'm seeing accurate, at anywhere from 3%-8%? And with these low numbers is it because people are employed or because they own their own businesses and farms?

The economy is much better than Michigan and most other states overall, but wages may still be depressed depending on the field. Agriculture, of course, is huge in IA, but depending on the city, manufacturing, finance/insurance, IT, and medical can be in demand. As is the case everywhere, entry level professional jobs seem to be few and far between, but still more plentiful per capita than about anywhere else. If you are looking for retail/restaurant/similarly low skilled work, you should be able to pick something up with little trouble.

-Property taxes seem to be pretty low compared to what we are used to here. Are there certain places where it is much higher? It would be wonderful to try to keep that lower as well, but I understand that we can't have everything What is sales tax like there?

Per the Tax foundation, Iowa's local governments collected $1,305 in property taxes during fiscal year 2009, which is the latest year available from the Census Bureau. Iowa is one of the 13 states that collect no state-level property taxes. The state’s per capita property tax collections rank 22nd nationally.

And..

Iowa levies a 6% general sales or use tax on consumers, which matches the national median of 6.00%, but localities are permitted to levy their own high sales taxes.

Food is taxed much, much less, but there is still a tax on it. It is almost negligible

Incomes taxes are high as well. Iowa is not a good state to move to for tax purposes.


-What are utilities like? I have never used LP gas or even really utility gas and I see that they seem to be the two most common sources of fuel. How are the prices? Same questions with electric..

I have gas heat and electric for everything else in my apartment and average around $50-$70 a month. They are rolled into one bill and go to the same company. It is more expensive than TVA per kWh but does not seem especially high.

I understand this is ridiculously long but we are trying to make the best decision for us as possible. Any information along these lines would be very much appreciated! Thanks!!!
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:45 AM
 
Location: Des Moines Metro
4,981 posts, read 5,452,539 times
Reputation: 9217
Also look into Madison, WI for work/school and living in a condo in Sun Prairie, about ten miles away. Try to spend several days there before making your final decision. It's more gay-friendly, culture-wise, according to my co-workers, who eventually ended up in the Short North area of Columbus, OH, after living in both Iowa City and Madison.

Although I'm told the gay culture is awesome in Cols, OH, I can't recommend this area because the actual unemployment is closer to 20%, even though the official number is 7.9%. Retail stores holding hourly workers to 17 or fewer hours, so at least two jobs are necessary. Ohio is rapidly going the way of Michigan, I'm afraid, so I'm looking into relocation, as well.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:56 AM
 
8,676 posts, read 8,857,770 times
Reputation: 7220
Iowa levies a 6% general sales or use tax on consumers, which matches the national median of 6.00%, but localities are permitted to levy their own high sales taxes.

Food is taxed much, much less, but there is still a tax on it. It is almost negligible


I don't understand this.

Sales tax in Iowa is 6%, unless it is food which is not taxed (as in food purchased at a grocery store), or if you live in an area that has a local option tax making the tax higher.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:08 AM
 
1,509 posts, read 2,058,650 times
Reputation: 2592
I think here in Cedar Rapids, we have an extra 1% sales tax on top of the 6% sales tax due to the flood in 2008. Don't believe groceries or prescriptions are taxed at all.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:18 AM
 
8,676 posts, read 8,857,770 times
Reputation: 7220
Quote:
Originally Posted by iagal View Post
I think here in Cedar Rapids, we have an extra 1% sales tax on top of the 6% sales tax due to the flood in 2008. Don't believe groceries or prescriptions are taxed at all.
Right. I was questioning this: Food is taxed much, much less, but there is still a tax on it. It is almost negligible
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:45 AM
 
7,497 posts, read 9,277,699 times
Reputation: 7394
Quote:
Originally Posted by artisan4 View Post
I have heard from friends (and I have been there myself) that Iowa City is the most progressive area/town.

Iowa City ranks third ?gayest city? in U.S. - The Daily Iowan

Sorry you are being 'sworn at', that's bizarre.
Amazing huh? I wonder what would happen if they did the same to straight couples who love making out and dry-humping in public?
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:46 AM
 
7,497 posts, read 9,277,699 times
Reputation: 7394
To add my 2 cents, Iowa is a great place to raise a family.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:30 PM
 
Location: Alger MI
15 posts, read 23,915 times
Reputation: 38
Thank you for all of your opinions so far! Keep them coming! We just have so many things to plan and figure out; I'm a little overwhelmed. I know we'll make a good decision soon, but I just want as much info as possible. Also, are there any particular fields of study that I should look into more? My wife is considering using her graphic design and arts schooling and becoming an art teacher. Is that something that would be of use in Iowa? Any certain areas? As for me, I still have to get back to school and I'm torn.. I'm interested in architecture, building and carpentry, automotive mechanics and body work, financial services (crunching numbers), and eventually I would like to open a retreat. What would you say the Iowa State is looking for right now? Thanks again
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