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Old 08-10-2007, 10:14 AM
 
Location: SW IL
8 posts, read 37,606 times
Reputation: 10

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Dh & I are thinking of moving from IL (metro St. Louis area) to Iowa. We're aiming for either the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area or the Dubuque area. Initially I thought it would be cheaper to live in Iowa than Illinois, but now that I've started looking at some real numbers I'm not so sure.

What are property taxes like? Our property taxes are .073224 times 1/3 of the fair market value of our home less $5000 for owner occupied homestead exemption (so if our home were worth $60000 we'd be taxed on $15000 .)

Our state income tax is a flat 3%. You have a graduated system, right?

Our state sales tax is 6.25%, but when local municipalities add in their taxes it usually goes up to 7-8%. I know Iowa's base rate is 5%, but do local areas add in more taxes to raise that?

For utilities, natural gas is not quite 95 cents per therm & is taxed at 2.8%; electricity is around 10 cents per kWh & is taxed at 3.37%. Then there's additional fees of about $21 per month. I'm assuming we'd use more natural gas/electricity in the winter there, but are the rates comparable?

Our vehicle license plates are $78 per year. We live in an area that does not require emissions testing although I'd guess that that will probably change at some point. Are plates a flat rate there or are you charged according to the type of vehicle you drive? Do you have emissions testing?

What about libraries? Here you pay a fee to use the library in your school district if you live outside of the city limits. I then can order books online from anywhere in our library system (comprised of over 50 libraries, some of which are very very very small) & pick them up at my local library at no charge.

Also, how intrusive is the government? Do they require that work on homes be done only by "approved" contractors? Are there a lot of rules that impact daily life?

Argh, I had another question, but can't remember it now.

Thank you for any help!! Libby
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Old 08-10-2007, 01:12 PM
 
Location: Iowa City/Dubuque, IA
100 posts, read 501,324 times
Reputation: 65
lostinabook4, I live in Dubuque, and can tell you what I know.

The city has the lowest property tax rate (http://www.cityofdubuque.org/uploads/manager/CityNewsMarchApril05.pdf - broken link) among the larger cities in Iowa, and it currently stands at $9.70/$1000 valuation. The median home value in the city is ~$110,000, so the taxes on a typical home would be $1,067/year. Dubuque's tax rate has remained unchanged for the last 13 years.

You are right that Iowa's base sales tax is 5%. In Dubuque, we have added a one-percent option tax for infrastructure (streets), and also a one-percent option tax for schools (set to expire in 2013). Most Iowa cities have either one or both of these. So, our sales tax is 7% overall.

Not sure about utilities, but I can say that license fees are graduated according to value of vehicle, age, make, etc... I have a 2000 Grand Am and pay ~$100/yr.

If I were you, I would not be too worried about the cost of living in Dubuque. It has a pretty good reputation as a low-cost place to live.

Library service is free for city residents. Non-city residents I think have the option to pay a fee to have access. There is also the smaller Dubuque Co. library, and the city's 3 main colleges all have large libraries, as well.

The Dubuque city government is generally non-intrusive, I would say. I believe that you do need a construction permit if you are going to undertake projects over a certain dollar amount ($25,000?), otherwise, they don't get excited about it. We finished the basement in my house last year, and didn't have to deal with the city at all. As far as other rules, I would say the city is fairly typical. They require you to mow your lawn, trim weeds and such, nothing out of the ordinary...

Good luck, and let me know if you have any other questions.
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Old 08-10-2007, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Marion, IA
2,796 posts, read 5,655,308 times
Reputation: 1584
The teachers here in Linn/Johnson just ram-rodded thru a 10 year 1% sales tax increase... so it is now 6% sales tax. Used to be 5%, lowest in the state.

Property taxes are about 2% of the assessed value. I pay about $2k on a $114k house here in Marion (Not Cedar Rapids).

I've lived in the Cedar Rapids area and in Dubuque and would have to say Dubuque has a slightly lower cost of living. It has less congestion and less taxes also. Rent seems to be considerably cheaper up in Dubuque as well.

There's a lot more job growth in Dubuque as well, at least per capita popoulation.

State income taxes are anywhere from 5-8%. Not cheap, and the idiots in DesMoines wonder why people and businesses leave the state.
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Old 08-10-2007, 03:41 PM
 
Location: SW IL
8 posts, read 37,606 times
Reputation: 10
Default Thank you!

Thank you both! Right now our main concern is dh being able to find a job in his field (IT). We're probably at least a year out from any possibility of moving though.

Libby
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:00 PM
 
1,063 posts, read 2,795,758 times
Reputation: 531
Many are moving from Iowa to Illinois when they retire as Ill does not tax pensions. Just another thought for you..
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:04 PM
 
Location: SW IL
8 posts, read 37,606 times
Reputation: 10
Good point!
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:10 PM
 
Location: Marion, IA
2,796 posts, read 5,655,308 times
Reputation: 1584
Quote:
Originally Posted by chilegal View Post
Many are moving from Iowa to Illinois when they retire as Ill does not tax pensions. Just another thought for you..
Another benefit of Dubuque. You can live in Illinois or Wisconsin and still easily work in Dubuque.
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Old 08-10-2007, 04:38 PM
 
Location: in the general vicinity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
296 posts, read 1,193,653 times
Reputation: 184
LOTS of IT jobs in CR/IC.
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