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Old 09-05-2020, 06:29 AM
 
Location: South Florida
7 posts, read 751 times
Reputation: 12

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After living in major cities for many years, I'm now looking for a smaller, calmer place to call home. I'm originally from a small town in semi-rural northern Ohio. Though I'm not sure about Ohio anymore, I'd like to find somewhere with a similar Midwestern mindset. I'm a gay male, basically "live and let live," but politically conservative (libertarian-leaning, pro-Constitution, pro-1st and 2nd Amendments). I don't need a place that's especially gay-friendly, as long as locals aren't actually hostile to gay people. I'm thinking somewhere in eastern Iowa might fit the bill.

I'm looking for something smaller than a city or suburb, with low crime and affordable real estate. I don't have kids and could work from home as long as I have a decent internet connection, so jobs and school districts aren't an issue. I do need to be within about an hour of a city that has medical care, since I need to see doctors several times a year for ongoing conditions. I'm hoping to find a 2- or 3-bedroom house with a modest lot (enough for a couple large vegetable gardens and maybe a small greenhouse), for between $75,000 and $125,000, depending on size and condition of the property.

So maybe a small town within an hour's drive of Iowa City? Any info or opinions on Cedar County or the Tipton area? Or other places in Iowa that might be a good fit? Any input is appreciated!
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Old 09-05-2020, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Calera, AL
1,290 posts, read 1,643,252 times
Reputation: 1878
I think your best bet would be Grinnell. It's a small town about an hour west of Iowa City that has a renowned liberal arts college (Grinnell College) and being an hour east of Des Moines, it's still considered part of Eastern Iowa. It's not crazy liberal, but Grinnell and Poweshiek County tend to go blue more often than not (no doubt due to the influence of the college).



Decorah might be a reasonable alternative too. It's more scenic than Grinnell as it lies on the edge of the Driftless Area. It's home to several microbreweries and is also moderate to progressive, politics-wise.



The parts of Iowa that you might find to be unfriendly would be in the far western and southern portions of the state, which are not coincidentally the whitest, the poorest, and most religious parts of the state.
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Old 09-05-2020, 05:53 PM
 
6,203 posts, read 5,820,229 times
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Grinnell would be a GREAT choice! It's an economically stable, affordable, clean small town with a nationally ranked liberal arts college. Lots of fun stuff there, including the weekly farmer's market and periodic art shows. And you'd be in easy driving distance to both Iowa City and Des Moines, both of which have excellent medical centers.

Actually, you have a lot of options near Iowa City. I personally wouldn't pick Tipton; it's a colorless boring farm town. I almost rented a house there once, then just couldn't do it. West Branch is nice. IMHO the towns on the west side of I.C. are nicer than those on the east and southeast side of IC.

I'd recommend Decorah, IA as a really nice town too, but it's much more of a drive to hospitals. The Mayo Clinic is only about an hour and a half north, though.

I'm going to put in a plug here for Vermillion, SD, which I think you might like. Similar to Grinnell, but no state income tax in SD. There's a local hospital, but Sioux Falls is just an hour away and there are extensive medical facilities there.

Oh, just wanted to ad, do your statistical homework, too. Meth is still a problem in some of these small towns. Grinnell, Decorah and Vermillion should all be fine, though.
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Old 09-06-2020, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Calera, AL
1,290 posts, read 1,643,252 times
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Vermillion has a pretty solid location - it's close to both Sioux City and Sioux Falls, but there really isn't much to the town other than USD. USD is a medium-sized public university with about 10K students, but Vermillion is absolutely puny and housing could be a bit of an issue. Brookings (about 2 hours to the north) is quite a bit larger and while SDSU is obviously the biggest driving force, it's not quite the end-all, be all that USD is to Vermillion.
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Old 09-08-2020, 06:16 AM
 
Location: South Florida
7 posts, read 751 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks for the responses, fezzador and 601! This kind of info is useful.
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Old 09-08-2020, 12:43 PM
 
Location: St. Louis City
514 posts, read 871,789 times
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Recently, I went for a drive as a means to use some of my vacation, and that included driving through Eastern IA. For reference, I am a gay male, born and raised about 30 miles south of the IA / MO border and wanted a more urban atmosphere so I settled in St. Louis. That said, I spend many years growing up visiting (not living).

One thing I was MOST impressed about on my drive through Eastern IA was the area from Davenport, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Before this driver I was not aware how close together these cities are. While none are major American Cities, i would think you could find diversity in activities between them - Cedar Rapids and Iowa City in particular. I could not live in a place much smaller than these cities but that is MY choice. I want availability of sports and arts, and not those that I see once and am not draw to visit again (so, those with touring exhibits, or sporting team from at least across the greater midwest).

Good luck wherever you decide to settle.
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Old 09-09-2020, 10:59 AM
 
Location: South Florida
7 posts, read 751 times
Reputation: 12
STLCityMike - Interesting to hear your impressions. From afar, my own impression of Eastern IA is pretty similar. There also seems to be a zillion small towns in the region, many of them within reasonable reach of those cities. Getting info about the small towns (which are more of what I'm looking for) is a challenge. Thank goodness for city-data!

I totally get it about wanting to live in a big city. I felt the same in the past. But after Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, London, San Fran, etc., I've had my fill. Plus, I'm older now, and the world's becoming a very different place than it used to be.

Best wishes there in STL!
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Old 09-11-2020, 10:44 PM
 
713 posts, read 516,305 times
Reputation: 1719
Well if you're looking for a conservative small-town, Tipton is definitely that. The town newspaper is actually called the Tipton Conservative. Not sure I'd actually go so far as to say they are the 'live and let live' type of conservative though.

Note that Tipton is really small. They don't have a hospital and only publish a weekly newspaper. Golf carts are considered a legitimate form of transportation in the town. Your internet connection requirement might be an issue--like most small towns, they don't have the high speeds city-dwellers are used to: http://www.tiptoniowa.org/webres/Fil...20exhibits.pdf

But honestly I'm not sure it matters--even in small towns property is valuable. With your budget, you'll probably need to cast a wide net over the area and just see what's on the market, rather than focus on one or two particular towns.
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Old 09-12-2020, 01:40 PM
 
Location: South Florida
7 posts, read 751 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks, MarianRavenwood! Details like these are really good to know. It's true I'm limited due to my budget, and I know I have to be flexible about location. I might be able to stretch it another $20K or so, but that's not for sure. Fortunately, I can probably get by without the highest-speed internet connectivity (and honestly, I'd feel better in a location where the infrastructure is older and might delay implementation of smart-meter technology).

I have come across several small towns with very reasonable property prices. Real estate prices are easy to find, but firsthand info about what it's like to live in a particular small town is another matter.

BTW, a town where golf carts are considered a legitimate form of transportation sounds good to me!

Last edited by Midwest&Back; 09-12-2020 at 01:48 PM..
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Old Today, 07:47 AM
 
3 posts, read 530 times
Reputation: 15
Decorah is Beautiful. It is on the Edge of the Driftless area and if you like to fish, hike or camp, this is where it is at in Iowa. Gods Country. Hospital wise, LaCrosse, WI would be your best bet, only about an hour from Decorah.

Outside of that, Solon Iowa. Still a little town, about a half hour outside of Iowa City, which is liberal to its core, and situated just outside of Lake McBride park which is an extension of the Coralville Reservoir. Quite a few people commuting from there to Iowa City. IC, as people in Iowa call it, has great University Hospitals. You are only a short drive to CR (Cedar Rapids) as well. NIce little coffee shop in town and a few good restaurants. Can get a little eco touristy on weekends in the summer.

Only about 1 hour from the QCA (Davenport, Moline, Rock Island and Bettendorf) which leans pretty liberal as well. Lots of good River Festivals there. Concerts at the Arena in Moline (People come in from Chicago because they can stay overnight, drink and go out on the town, and buy tickets for less than it cost to just buy tickets in Chicago). Davenport also has an outstanding Art Museum, the Putnam.

IC has Concerts and Plays. The plays often are fresh off Broadway. The University had a major flood wipe out its Liberal Arts centers, and they are now mostly new and relocated. The Hancher Performing Arts center is a Gem. The Art Gallery broke ground in July for its new $50M building. The University of Iowa has pretty solid sports teams to root for. We do not have Professional Teams in State, so the focus is on college.

I will warn you, finding small acreage in Iowa is not easy. There are rural zoning laws that make it difficult for Farmers to break up parcels less than 40 acres. It takes decades. So, unlike MI or Ohio, where it seems like there are 2 acre lots with homes all along the highways outside of cities that go on for miles and miles, that is not the case here. They exist, but you may be on a gravel road.

Last edited by NativeIowan1; Today at 07:56 AM..
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