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Old 04-22-2007, 06:20 AM
 
5 posts, read 27,182 times
Reputation: 11

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Please give us advice!!!!!
My husband and I might have job offers in Iowa City / Coralville starting next year. We live in the Northeast now, and are excited about the possibility, but really worried about making such a big move to a really unknown place! Help!!!!
We have a lot of critters and are very excited about getting a decent amount of land - preferably with an old farm house and some barns. Where would be the best area to look for that, within a "decent" commute to our jobs? I'd really like to get 50 acres or so, but could settle for less. Since real estate is pricier here, I'm hoping we can afford my dream farm! We can comfortably spend up to maybe 700K but would be happy to buy a fixer for much (much much) less.
We have no kids, so don't care alot about school districts, except as markers for better communities.
WRT commute - I'd really like to keep it 20-30 minutes. Our current commute is 35 at best (and I'm likely to get arrested for driving so fast) and frequently can top an hour in aggressive heavy traffic. Yuck!
How bad is the weather - can I go outside during the summer? Will my horses be really uncomfortable in the heat? Snow and cold doesn't worry me too much.
Finally, my husband and I are pretty easy going and friendly, but also typical northeastern bleeding heart liberals. We don't push our beliefs on other people, nor do we expect our neighbors to agree with us, but we want to avoid having other beliefs pushed on us. Will that be a problem?
Oh, and our current other possibilities are around Minneapolis or Ann Arbor, Michigan. Maybe also Raleigh, NC or the Denver area.
Any advice would be VERY appreciated.
I'm so excited!!!!
slc37
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Old 04-22-2007, 06:31 AM
 
282 posts, read 947,244 times
Reputation: 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by slc37 View Post
Please give us advice!!!!!
My husband and I might have job offers in Iowa City / Coralville starting next year. We live in the Northeast now, and are excited about the possibility, but really worried about making such a big move to a really unknown place! Help!!!!
We have a lot of critters and are very excited about getting a decent amount of land - preferably with an old farm house and some barns. Where would be the best area to look for that, within a "decent" commute to our jobs? I'd really like to get 50 acres or so, but could settle for less. Since real estate is pricier here, I'm hoping we can afford my dream farm! We can comfortably spend up to maybe 700K but would be happy to buy a fixer for much (much much) less.
We have no kids, so don't care alot about school districts, except as markers for better communities.
WRT commute - I'd really like to keep it 20-30 minutes. Our current commute is 35 at best (and I'm likely to get arrested for driving so fast) and frequently can top an hour in aggressive heavy traffic. Yuck!
How bad is the weather - can I go outside during the summer? Will my horses be really uncomfortable in the heat? Snow and cold doesn't worry me too much.
Finally, my husband and I are pretty easy going and friendly, but also typical northeastern bleeding heart liberals. We don't push our beliefs on other people, nor do we expect our neighbors to agree with us, but we want to avoid having other beliefs pushed on us. Will that be a problem?
Oh, and our current other possibilities are around Minneapolis or Ann Arbor, Michigan. Maybe also Raleigh, NC or the Denver area.
Any advice would be VERY appreciated.
I'm so excited!!!!
slc37
Hi slc37 and it sounds like you would fit in with Iowa City very well! I've lived in the Iowa City area 25 years (I'm a health care professional/researcher at the University of Iowa). I was born and raised in eastern Iowa (very small town). My husband is an outdoorsman type and we own several farms throughout the state (mostly timber and prairieland, not true "working" farms with buildings). So I am familiar with many of the areas.

We live on 7 acres just south of Riverside, Iowa. My commute to work from here is 20 minutes. Riverside is a very small (<1000 people) community south of Iowa City. We have a 5000 square foot, newish, very nice house and large outbuilding here which would run in the low $400k's on the real estate market. If you are looking for a smaller, less new house (like a farm house) I think you could easily find that with 50 acres or so, like you want -- the trick will be finding it within commuting distance to Iowa City as real estate in Iowa City is much higher than the rest of the state. Going north from Iowa City tends to be a bit pricier than the other directions (because of the proximity to Cedar Rapids) and there are many new, nice rural houses in that direction, and it would be harder to find an older farmhouse kind of place. 50 acres to the north with a house would be pricey, but with a top budget of 700k you could probably find it. You would have better luck finding the typical farmhouse on 50 acres for less money if you look east, south, or west (probably your best bet would be to look south and east).

As you go further east from Iowa City, farmground tends to get pricier. As you go south, land tends to get cheaper. So your best bet is probably south. The farms we own are mostly south.

Iowa City is a small university town with people who tend to be very liberal and accepting. It is an active, "young" town. It's very safe. We've lived in many different areas within Iowa City during our years and have had great neighbors every time.

Let me know if you want further information! Best of luck with your adventure!
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Old 04-22-2007, 04:04 PM
 
5 posts, read 27,182 times
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thanks! My husband and I are considering clinician/scientist jobs at Univ of Iowa, so sounds similar to what you are doing!
There's another thing that concerns me about Iowa, and I know it sounds REALLY stupid, but it's important to us! While we live in the Northeast Megalopolis, we aren't nightclub/broadway shows type people. We don't care about fancy clothes, cars or furniture. But we really appreciate good food. We like any type of food, as long as it's well prepared and presented! What are our chances for excellent restaurants in the Iowa City area? Will we need to schlep ourselves to Chicago for decent fare? Eating at the Ground Round will absolutely not do. Right now, I'm a little concerned we might die for lack of fois gras or feta. Am I overreacting?
We also like to cook, and while most fancy food stuffs are available online (thank god!), perishables don't do well in the mail. Are there fancy/ethnic food stores in the area? I'm guessing (perhaps erroneously) that quality meats are readily available - is that true? thanks for any info!
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Old 04-22-2007, 04:55 PM
 
282 posts, read 947,244 times
Reputation: 95
You won't find the variety that you would in the bigger cities like Chicago, but for the size of the town I think there's a fairly decent restaurant selection. There are several good Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, and Thia restaurants, as well as Italian and some fine American dining places. One that comes to mind is Devotay -- excellent menu in a relatively casual atmosphere. Also there is Linn Street Cafe, although I prefer Devotay personally (Spanish/Mediterranean cuisine). There is a really nice restaurant, great chef, terrific ambiance that I went to awhile ago but the name is escaping me now. Others that come to mind are Taste of Melrose, One Twenty Six, Atlas World Grill, and Brown Bottle (Italian).

Speaking of Italian there is an absolutely fabulous authentic very nice Italian restaurant in, of all places, Washington Iowa (a town of about 6000 a few miles south of us), called Cafe Dodici. I walked in the place and it took my breath away. The food is incredible! Apparently the chef (from Italy) married a local and came here and opened the restaurant. You can read more about some of these restaurants, particularly Cafe Dodici, here:

http://www.iowasource.com/food/resta...test_0306.html

Here is their website:

http://www.cafedodici.com/

There are also some really nice steak houses (Iowa River Power Restaurant, and some others) if you are into that, and a lot of great pub style food places (non-chain).

So there is a decent selection, but don't expect New York City variety

As for grocery store, yes we have a nice selection of meats, both at the local grocery stores and also at the organic grocery stores in town. The exception is seafood, of which we have a good selection but because we're in the midwest, you have to be careful of freshness (usually the stores will note the "freshest" seafood daily in the markets). We have several ethnic grocery stores also.

Hope this helps a bit!
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Old 04-26-2007, 11:29 AM
 
7 posts, read 28,921 times
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Thanks for the great information. My family and I are moving to Iowa City in a few weeks. I accepted a great job with the University and I'm really excited, although a bit worried about moving from a large city to a small town. But we are looking forward to a slower pace and a more relaxed life style than we have right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ic-epi View Post
You won't find the variety that you would in the bigger cities like Chicago, but for the size of the town I think there's a fairly decent restaurant selection. There are several good Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, and Thia restaurants, as well as Italian and some fine American dining places. One that comes to mind is Devotay -- excellent menu in a relatively casual atmosphere. Also there is Linn Street Cafe, although I prefer Devotay personally (Spanish/Mediterranean cuisine). There is a really nice restaurant, great chef, terrific ambiance that I went to awhile ago but the name is escaping me now. Others that come to mind are Taste of Melrose, One Twenty Six, Atlas World Grill, and Brown Bottle (Italian).

Speaking of Italian there is an absolutely fabulous authentic very nice Italian restaurant in, of all places, Washington Iowa (a town of about 6000 a few miles south of us), called Cafe Dodici. I walked in the place and it took my breath away. The food is incredible! Apparently the chef (from Italy) married a local and came here and opened the restaurant. You can read more about some of these restaurants, particularly Cafe Dodici, here:

http://www.iowasource.com/food/resta...test_0306.html

Here is their website:

http://www.cafedodici.com/

There are also some really nice steak houses (Iowa River Power Restaurant, and some others) if you are into that, and a lot of great pub style food places (non-chain).

So there is a decent selection, but don't expect New York City variety

As for grocery store, yes we have a nice selection of meats, both at the local grocery stores and also at the organic grocery stores in town. The exception is seafood, of which we have a good selection but because we're in the midwest, you have to be careful of freshness (usually the stores will note the "freshest" seafood daily in the markets). We have several ethnic grocery stores also.

Hope this helps a bit!
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Old 04-26-2007, 11:46 AM
 
282 posts, read 947,244 times
Reputation: 95
Congrats Calbear! The university is a great place to work (I've worked here for the last 14 years). Let me know if you need any specific information about housing, schools, good neighborhoods, etc.
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Old 04-27-2007, 11:02 AM
 
Location: central California
114 posts, read 364,113 times
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Hi, I think your horses will adapt quite nicely to the heat and with time, the cold. Horses like to graze all day, and you should find lots of natural pastures and shade trees for the summer. As for the winters, better invest in horse blankets, even if they are in a barn, the first year or so. A horses' natural winter coats protect seasoned horses, and blankets are not always beneficial as they make the hair lay flat, therefore defeating the natural insulation of fluffy hair. However, when temperatures drop to some of the coldest nights, even their ear tips are in jeapardy; we used to notice horses at horse auctions with cropped ears from the Dakotas, which was caused from frostbite. Be cautious, also, to let your horses and especially ponies, eat new spring grass slowly, perhaps for only a few hours a day, to prevent founder from too rich of grasses. I think horses that have gotten used to non-stop grazing might be ok....but out of area horses might need to be babied a little. Ask around to locals. I understand there are still lots of riding clubs all over Iowa, especially near rivers and places where one can ride. We used to ride from farm to farm, on dirt roads. Horse people are everywhere, thank goodness! In some ways, you might find alot to do. We used to have weekend trailrides with campfires, just out in someone's pasture, and enjoyed the quiet tranquility of back country roads trailriding. Wooded areas with ponds, lots of birds and nature, the smells of alfalfa hay... It's a hidden secret, this privacy of rural areas. shhhh. Maybe this is why Iowans seem reserved and unfriendly....they don't want too many people to move in and change things.....can you blame them? Too many wealthy folks kind of change the ambience, like on the East Coast....snob appeal and such....(hope this does not offend anyone....many wealthy people are nice, but the area does change when too many million dollar homes become the norm....locals cannot afford the homes, nor can their kids....
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Old 04-27-2007, 11:25 AM
 
7 posts, read 28,921 times
Reputation: 13
I'm reviewing temporary housing options right now but with 3 dogs I don't know how that will work out! My son is 4 so we're looking for a pre-school. I have information on Horace Mann Elementary, which seems to be the best public option. Mark Twain seems to be the only other public school with a pre-school program but has very low 3rd grade math and reading scores. We are also looking at the 2 private options, Willowwind and Regina. Any input you can give would be welcome. I'm looking to put down roots in the prairie soil and stay a while.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ic-epi View Post
Congrats Calbear! The university is a great place to work (I've worked here for the last 14 years). Let me know if you need any specific information about housing, schools, good neighborhoods, etc.
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Old 05-01-2007, 08:35 PM
 
Location: Iowa, Des Moines Metro
2,073 posts, read 5,020,813 times
Reputation: 1100
Default IA City

IA City is a beautiful town with tons to do and great people. Lots of good shopping with a couple malls in town and just up the road in CR theres a couple malls too. It sounds like you're from metropolitan NE, and although ia city will be a slow down, i think you'll enjoy it. it's a smaller metro area, with hardly any thick traffic, and verrry clean. i hope you guys are happy with whatever decision u make!
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Old 05-01-2007, 09:36 PM
 
282 posts, read 947,244 times
Reputation: 95
Quote:
Originally Posted by calbear View Post
I'm reviewing temporary housing options right now but with 3 dogs I don't know how that will work out! My son is 4 so we're looking for a pre-school. I have information on Horace Mann Elementary, which seems to be the best public option. Mark Twain seems to be the only other public school with a pre-school program but has very low 3rd grade math and reading scores. We are also looking at the 2 private options, Willowwind and Regina. Any input you can give would be welcome. I'm looking to put down roots in the prairie soil and stay a while.
I would recommend that you stay away from Twain elementary. Horace Mann is not one that I would think of as the best public option, but it is ok -- test scores in the middle range compared to the other elementary schools in the area (using 2003 data -- unless that has changed). When people talk about the "best" elementary schools in the area here, they talk about Lincoln elementary (best by test scores; wonderful school; near campus, west side location, very expensive housing area); Hoover elementary (east side, a great school), Horn elementary (my kids have gone there for many years; excellent neighborhood small school with great test scores, also fairly close to campus), Shimek (on east side), and possibly Weber (west side). The resale value of the neighborhoods directly correlates to the schools, with the exception that west side real estate generally is a bit more expensive than east side.

Mark Twain elementary is not a 'terrible' school, as all schools in the Iowa City district are good, but by comparison, it's the worst of what you can choose from, and the resale value of houses in that area is evidence of it. Do not buy a house in the Twain elementary area, even if it seems like a good deal.

There is an issue with jr high/high school enrollment (alternate schools) that you should be aware of if you are seriously considering moving into the area. It will affect where you should live. Let me know if you want more specific information.
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