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Old 09-20-2010, 03:02 AM
3 posts, read 12,109 times
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This isn't a dating issue. It's simply a fact. I'm single, mid-fifties, moving to Iowa from Northern California. Never been there before, but I'm committed to the move. I had originally decided on Iowa City, but there seem to be so many nice cities that I have become confused.

I am straight, not into any sort of dating or social scene, just like wandering around, finding a nice quiet neighborhood cafe to become a regular in, love bookstores and especially thrift shops (you know, the treasure-hunting thing). Just looking for a nice quiet safe city to make my home in.

What city would be best, in your opinion?

One more really important question. I am confused about apartment renting in Iowa. I have never lived in a place where you could rent an apartment without first having a job. But it seems that in Iowa, having a job is not necessarily a requirement. I will be unemployed for a few weeks, but I have savings sufficient to live on for some time, so I can pay deposits, etc. In your opinion, would it be better to rent a temporary place until after I am employed, i.e., would being employed offer more options? Or are there a sufficient number of places that will rent to me to make it worth my while to look for my dream apartment right off the bat?

Sorry about the length, but this move is a huge step for me, and I am incredibly excited about this move, and I suspect that Iowa will be my home for the rest of my life. I won't be coming there before I actually move down there, so all my research will be online.
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Old 09-20-2010, 05:18 AM
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Not to sure about the "Treasure" hunting ( my pursuits of such type are undertaken in auto 'scrap' and 'you pull it' yards ) however when I have the need to read I head for West Des Moines.
Understand that is no easy undertaking , West Des Moines is 80 plus miles from where I reside in southern Iowa.

I will add that my little sis who indulges in treasurly pursuits of the type similar to what I estimate you are reffering to does so in the Des Moines area as well , "Brass Armadillo" , "Majestic Lion" being two notable establishments I have assisted in hauling booty out of.

I am sure there are other "treasure" stashes in the area as well , and in nearby suburbs of Des Moines , 'Valley Junction' being another hotspot that comes to mind.
Historic Valley Junction West Des Moines, Ia

Residing in the Des Moines area , or even better one of its close suburbs or its quaint townlets nearby you would be in the center of many little "treasure" troves just an hour or two's drive away.

I have also noticed that the Des Moines metro area undertakes this odd custom of transferring unwanted or unused items around the area every spring and fall in the form of numerous 'garage, 'yard' or 'porch' sales.
I have a theory that nothing new is ever added to this inventory , that it is actually just the same 'stuff' perpetually caught in a never ending circle of yard to yard or garage to garage transfusions.
A bizzare custom indeed.

You might also check out the "Helpful Iowa Related Websites" thread at the top of this site it may have some links you may find informative.
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:36 AM
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
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IMO, given your single and middle-age, the last place you want to settle is a suburb. Suburbs are built for families and your neighbors are going to tend to know other families, have kids that go to school together, attend chuch/sport activities, etc....they already have built-in social connections that won't tend to involve the same things you're interested in.

On the other hand, if you pick a more urban neighborhood, you're much more likely to find neighbors that have similiar interests as you. The first on that comes to mind (and also has some nice apartments to rent), is Sherman Hill.

Historic Sherman Hill Neighborhood Association, Downtown, Des Moines, Iowa (http://www.historicshermanhill.com/index.html - broken link)

Also, there are some nice options for rentals in downtown Des Moines which will put in within walking distance of of coffee shops, restaurants, etc. Specifically, the East Village might be worth checking out.

I would also suggest rentals around the Ingersoll Avenue neighborhood.

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Old 09-20-2010, 08:00 AM
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I agree as well - forget the suburbs for the most part. I have friends who live out in the suburbs in Chicago and they're desperately trying to get their condos sold and move back into the city. Obviously a different scenario in Iowa compared to here - but I think Iowa City or Des Moines would be fun for you.

Iowa City has some awesome neighborhoods where you could walk to things and be part of an older, more established tree lined area that's going to have a wide mix of people - not just college students or a place where everyone is married with two small children. Northeast of downtown as you get over towards Oakland Cemetery, and then down around Summit Street and east of there.

I always liked the west side of the city of Des Moines as well. My grandma lived around University and 42nd, and it seemed like a cool area.

You're brave to move right before winter! It will be a huge shock, but come March when things start warming up again - at least you'll have winter under your belt and will get the full spring/summer/fall next year.
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Old 09-21-2010, 05:15 AM
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Default I can't get over how helpful everyone is! I think it's Iowa City.

Thank you! I have been thinking about winter. Someone suggested a while back that late September would be the best time to move in order to avoid the boiling summer. Such extremes! But tell me: If I arrive at the beginning of October, will I have at least a month of decent weather to get oriented? I have tried to research this, and I now the winters are extreme, but I thought I would have a little spell of ideal weather between summer and winter.

capitalcityguy and Chicago60614, that is a brilliant point about the suburbs, and I hadn't thought of it, but it is a crucial point, and decisive for me. -- It seems like almost everyone I have contact with has a great feeling about Iowa City. It keeps coming up, and it seems to have everything (including being on the smaller side, which is also what I'm looking for). It is very important for me to live in a situation where there are all kinds of attitudes (liberal, conservative, etc.) and not just liberal (which can get tiresome). Surprisingly, it seems that Iowa City has that. It was my first choice, and so far I've heard nothing against it.

Is there anything I need to look out for, or pay attention to, regarding Iowa City?

So, regarding the weather, will I have time to get situation before the bad weather starts?

Sincere thanks to everyone. This is likely going to be a life-defining, life-altering move for me, and I'm sure it's not going to go perfectly smoothly
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Old 09-21-2010, 12:53 PM
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
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Winters are not THAT brutal. Don't forget we have an entire row of states, not to mention an entire country (i.e...Canada) that is further north than Iowa. The problem is, people are just getting soft.

October can be very, very nice but it can be dicey. Heck, you can still get some days in November that are mild.

IMO (however I've never lived in Iowa City), you're going to get a lot more diversity in political opinions living in DM, than you are in Iowa City. From my understanding (and pls, someone correct me if I'm wrong), Iowa City is pretty heavily liberal.
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Old 09-21-2010, 01:56 PM
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Yes, Iowa City is heavily liberal. It was the liberal base back in the 1960's, and is dominated by a very liberal public university (University of Iowa).

The university has around 30,000 college students, and the rest of the metro has around a 100,000 strong non-student population. You also have Cedar Rapids right to the north of Iowa City. The Cedar Rapids area is around 210,000 people, and the Iowa City area is around 130,000 people, and they're about 20 miles apart on I-380. There's a lot of back and forth movement between these two areas. It's really only about a 10 minute drive from the northern fringes of the IC area to the southern fringes of the CR area.

The Iowa City/Cedar Rapids and Des Moines areas have grown by around 215,000 people since 1990, and the entire state of Iowa has grown by 230,000 in that same time period - so you can really tell where the growth in the state is centered.

Both areas are quite safe, not many traffic issues, clean, excellent community focus on education, etc. People worry sometimes about being an "outsider" in a smaller Iowa town or city, especially if you're coming from California or the east coast. While that might be true in some much smaller areas or stagnant towns/cities - you won't really rock any boats or draw attention moving into either Iowa City or Des Moines. They're large enough, growing enough, and in flux enough that new people are always showing up for one reason or another.

One positive note is those two cities also have some of the best economies in the nation right now. I see Iowa City and Des Moines popping up everywhere on best places for careers, lowest unemployment, best places to retire, best bang for your buck, etc.

As far as the weather - it really depends, but you can EASILY make it well into November before you have to start worrying about being COLD.

October is going to be (normally) a pretty nice month. Highs start off in the mid 70's or so (it's in the 80's today), and by the end of October the average highs have dipped to the low 60's or even high 50's. It's usually not too cloudy or stormy in October either - fairly calm and crisp with changing leaves.

November starts the slide from the upper 50's down to the low 40's as you enter December. Honestly though it can swing anywhere from highs in the mid 70's in November to lows around 10 degrees.

December starts around 40 degrees, then through January and February the "average high" is in the 30's, and lows in the 10's. "Average high" is pretty crap though. It's basically going to be a roller coaster with highs in the 10's some days, then creeping up to the 40's, then back to the 10's, then 30's, then single digits, then 40's, etc. Some winters are warm and calm, others are freezing and snowy. The one thing that helps a little is that it's always changing, day by day. If it's freezing, then you at least have the rational hope that maybe next week will be 20 degrees warmer.

March is normally when things "break" and then through April and May it warms up pretty quick. By the end of April you're already looking at normal highs around 70 degrees. Don't believe all that crap where people go "awww, the weather sucks - it's winter for SIX months straight!".

Summers can be humid with highs up to around 90, but it's certainly a beautiful time of year in Iowa. I wouldn't say Iowa is outrageous with the warm weather by any means. If it's boiling hot in Iowa, it must be REALLY bad everywhere to the southwest and southeast of the state....

Here's a thread of pictures of Iowa City I put together a few years ago:


Good luck!
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Old 09-21-2010, 03:56 PM
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Default You're right: those are the stories I've heard!

I've read more than once (online) that snow is on the ground for six months, etc. Never having been to the midwest, and hearing these things, my mind has been filled with all kinds of horrible images (so you can see how enamored I am of Iowa, since I was still determined to move there). I'm finally starting to realize with help like yours that Iowa is not some no-man's-land where a different breed of people lives.

I've heard great things about Coralville. It seems like it's not dominated by college students (nothing against them). I know it's a suburb of Iowa City, and I am totally persuaded by your points about suburbs. But it sounds like Coralville might have a lot of single people and other people without families, etc. Do you have any sense of Coralville?

Regarding Cedar Rapids, when I do an apartment search, what areas are the best areas? I'll be involved in a job search (general office, tech support, clerical), and if I end up working in Cedar Rapids (which seems likely), I might just decide to live there. I have in the past lived walking distance from my job, and for me living so close to work is a hard-to-beat advantage.

Thanks again! Your comments have had a huge effect on my thinking, my enthusiasm, and my decision-making process! I appreciate it more than I can say.
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:20 PM
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Mid Dec. to late Feb.-early March is about all the snow you'll see...We had more than one green Christmas when I was a kid.
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Old 09-21-2010, 04:22 PM
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,834,759 times
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I'm not the Weather Channel (I'm going off of just my memories here) but I think Chicago60614 is right on.

In my experience, winter doesn't really get bad until after Thanksgiving. In an average year, there might be a freak snow toward the end of October/early November sometimes (causes some accidents, gets people stirred up) but that's about it for those two months. December and January can be pretty snowy, but February is the worst month.

February is the month of Arctic cold snaps and goofy snow/ice storms. It's the one month of the year I wonder why I live in Iowa.

By spring break time, the middle of March, the winter is generally over and everything turns to wet slush. By April, it's over and things turn back to green.

One more thing to think about--I've noticed living in Iowa that our winters are pretty variable. Some years winter will be relatively warm (30s), some winters will be crazy cold (-0s). Some years winter will be snowy, some icy, some rainy. Each winter is different.
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