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Old 03-22-2008, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Orlando, FL
9 posts, read 56,798 times
Reputation: 11

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Hello,

My husband and I are considering moving to Cedar Rapids for a job offer. He will be interviewing in a week and we wanted to ask a knowledgeable crowd about the area. I have been reading posts at this forum regarding similar relocation questions but I thought I may reignite the discussion. I would be very appreciative if anyone has any thoughts they are willing to contribute.
Here are some of my basic questions:

1. What's with the smell issue?
2. I read people's posts about it being HOT in the summer. We are coming from Orlando, Florida and it is HOOOOOOOOTTT all the time (today it is 80), how HOT are we talking here?
3. Is the town pet-friendly? Do the parks allow dogs (on leashes of course), do certain neighborhoods have specific dog ordinances, etc?
4. What areas should we look for housing? We would like something safe with the convenience of stores and close to good schools.
5. There seems to be a lot of controversy over the issue of whether or not Iowa is friendly to "outsiders." We are both moving types of people who lack a true "home town" , I from the military, and he from boarding schools so we are used to moving without social support. How does one start fitting into the area? Are there any big taboos I should know of other than the usual American taboos?
6. How is the job market up there. Down here, if I can't speak Spanish, I am excluded from a lot of jobs. Is there a similar situation up there?

Sorry for so many questions, but I will take any information I can get!
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Old 03-22-2008, 12:29 PM
 
450 posts, read 2,049,333 times
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Cedar Rapids has alot of large scale grain processing facilities and there is an odor associated with that type of work. I personally do not think it is a repulsive or offensive odor, but there is an odor none the less.

Summer in Iowa is nothing compared to what you folks put up with in the Southeast US. I went through basic training in South Carolina many years ago and I have NEVER experienced heat and humidity like that in my life. Iowa summers will be enjoyable for you. 90's are as hot as it gets in Iowa and thats a pretty rare event.

I don't know the answer to your pet question - sorry.

I'm certain you'll find Iowans to be as friendly, if not more so, as anywhere else.

Spanish speaking is not a requirement here, yet. Although there really has been a huge influx of Latin Americans in Iowa over the last 5 or 10 years. I would guess the job market in Cedar Rapids to be pretty good for job seeekers.
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Old 03-22-2008, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Iowa, Des Moines Metro
2,073 posts, read 5,066,625 times
Reputation: 1102
Default Some answers to help....

1.) The main smell issue is near the center of the city and surrounding areas. There are a few plants down there - Quaker Oats being the biggest - that tend to give off odor. It's a cereal plant so I guess it smells like breakfast? A very oat-ie breakfast. Really the smell isn't horrible ... and some days worse than others. Why? I don't know.

2.) It does get hot in the summer - though I'm sure it's nothing you aren't used to beings you are from Florida. Usually it's lower to mid 90's at it's peak. It does get VERY humid though.. not sure how Florida is with humidity. Iowa summers also get a lot of strong thunderstorms - but again, you're from Florida ... you're probably already used to that.

3.) If your dog is just a regular dog I'm sure you'll be fine. Obviously don't let it run around a neighborhood - obviously walk it with a leash. The parks are normal parks so you can take pets. (usually you need a leash as well) Here is a link for a park where people can take there dogs and just let them run free and play together. (AKA: DOG PARK )
City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa - Department of Animal Control <also use this website for other city information

4.) The most popular areas of Cedar Rapids to live for safe neighborhoods and good schools are Marion, Hiawatha, and the rest of Northeast Cedar Rapids. You'll find this is convenient to shopping areas as well. Otherwise - I know the Southwest side has nice growing areas that are convenient as well - but I'm not sure if the schools are as good. Just a guess there based on popularity...

5.) Usually the outsider acceptence controversy comes from people who moved to smaller towns and rural areas. Sometimes not. I think you will find it to be a friendly place overall - Many people are reserved when you first meet them - but I also know many who are outgoing and outspoken. Just be friendly and people will be friendly back. You'll have friends in no time. It's simple.

6.) As far as I know the job market is very stable in Cedar Rapids, and growing at a healthy pace. As for hispanic workers - it's going to be non-existent compared to Florida. We still speak English up here.

Hope this helps!
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Old 03-22-2008, 12:58 PM
 
Location: in the general vicinity of Cedar Rapids, Iowa
296 posts, read 1,194,437 times
Reputation: 184
Quote:
Originally Posted by flgatorgirl View Post
Hello,

My husband and I are considering moving to Cedar Rapids for a job offer. He will be interviewing in a week and we wanted to ask a knowledgeable crowd about the area. I have been reading posts at this forum regarding similar relocation questions but I thought I may reignite the discussion. I would be very appreciative if anyone has any thoughts they are willing to contribute.
Here are some of my basic questions:

1. What's with the smell issue?
The "promo" for the town is "Cedar Rapids, City of Five Seasons." The fifth season is "time to enjoy the other four" (take notes... we quiz newcomers on this ) About 20 years ago, some wiseacre decided to modify this to "The City of Five Smells" and it stuck. At the time, we had a rendering plant just outside of downtown; Quaker Oats and Ralston Purina right downtown; and ADM Corn sweeteners on the very south edge of the city. I don't know what the 5th smell was supposed to have been! Since then, the rendering plant has CLOSED. Ralston (or whoever bought them) is very innocuous and never causes trouble. The ADM plant smells bad, but usually is only offensive to people pretty close by it, and not all the time. Quaker, I've just never found objectionable. It smells like cereal sometimes downtown. On a hot day, it is less pleasant than during the winter, but it's just never that bad. Compared to the pervasive and cloying scent of chocolate in Hershey, PA, it is NOTHING. I love chocolate more than life and that city makes me sick! But Quaker is pretty much a downtown thing.

I have since found a candidate for the 5th smell, and that is the city sewer treatment plant. I find this absolutely inexcusable -- I have never seen another city with this problem -- but there it is. The plant is located on the southeast corner of town (which is not the same as the southeast quadrant per addresses, a whole 'nuther discussion! I used to own a house just off Mt. Vernon Rd. at about 34th Street and there were times during "inversion layers" when the smell apparently couldn't "get away" that I was literally woken up at night by the smell. I thought they had it under better control but I was doing genealogical research at the LDS Church, which is on East Post Rd. on the east side of the city, and was again presented with the unmistakeable smell. My recommendation, personally, is that I wouldn't live on that side of town because of this. Love the area, cannot abide that smell. Have since moved out of the city, but am only 9 miles north and smell is never problem.

2. I read people's posts about it being HOT in the summer. We are coming from Orlando, Florida and it is HOOOOOOOOTTT all the time (today it is 80), how HOT are we talking here?
Not like YOUR Hot, that's for sure! What we have is humidity, but, again, you have experienced that! Frankly, much of the time, it's pretty darned pleasant during the summer. The humidity is what makes it unpleasant for me, but some people don't mind it. Coming from FL, I'd say you've got nothing to worry about there -- we seldom hit 90 last summer, and usually will have 6-10 days of 100 or above a year, but weren't close to that last year. Have you done cold, though? CR has gotten something like 60 inches of snow this winter -- I haven't seen my yard since Thanksgiving -- and it is only about 35 degrees today. It has been much snowier than usual and while not terribly cold, colder than normal. My guess is cold will be a lot harder for you than hot, especially coming from FL, if you're acclimated there.
3. Is the town pet-friendly? Do the parks allow dogs (on leashes of course), do certain neighborhoods have specific dog ordinances, etc?
Cedar Rapids is very pet friendly. There are a lot of activists -- some kooky, some sane -- who help to steer away from bad legislation. I don't think CR has anything breed specific at this time. Subdevelopment covenants may limit # of dogs total but I don't think the city does. On the other hand, people regularly report abuse they see and it gets dealt with. We have a nice dog park and dogs are allowed in most "people" parks when on leash, with pickup enforced. We have a great dog training club, 4RK9s, with lots of participants in obedience and agility of all flavors.
4. What areas should we look for housing? We would like something safe with the convenience of stores and close to good schools. Others will chime in here, I know. Much as I hate to say it, the Northeast side of Cedar Rapids, which is really mostly "north" on the map, is the most convenient to shopping at this time. All the schools are good. Don't rule out living in Marion? Marion is really just an extension of the town -- has a fun little downtown, but you never "leave" populated/business areas to travel from one to the other.
5. There seems to be a lot of controversy over the issue of whether or not Iowa is friendly to "outsiders." We are both moving types of people who lack a true "home town" , I from the military, and he from boarding schools so we are used to moving without social support. How does one start fitting into the area? Are there any big taboos I should know of other than the usual American taboos?You'll do great here. Nothing to worry about at all. If you've moved a lot, you know that, despite your most earnest wish, you are sometimes not literally met at the city limits with a brass band celebrating your arrival, and yet you manage to meet new neighbors and make friends and soon you feel like you've always been there. That is what moving is like for people with any sense of self. I don't know who these other "can't fit in" whiners are, but their problem ain't Iowa, let me tell you!
6. How is the job market up there. Down here, if I can't speak Spanish, I am excluded from a lot of jobs. Is there a similar situation up there? No, I can't say that speaking Spanish is a requirement. We generally have a very low unemployment rate, and anyone with a good work ethic can usually find a decent job.

Sorry for so many questions, but I will take any information I can get!
Has the company with which your husband is interviewing sent you relocation information? The packet the Chamber of Commerce provides has a lot of great stuff and PICTURES! How about visiting -- any chance? I'd sure recommend it. You may be surprised by how small Cedar Rapids is. We won't have many of the stores or even counterparts to them that you are used to. The only direct flights out of here are to airline hubs, and we're far enough from anyplace very urban that it is somewhat expensive and takes some forethought to visit those places. Cedar Rapids is VERY family-oriented -- if you depend on a lot of nightlife to have fun, you might not like it here. We tend to be largely unimpressed with Fashion and Trends, and are generally don't desire things just because they are the most expensive. On the other hand, it is very affordable to own a house, with a big yard if you want one. As I said, the schools are great. Crime is low -- if you leave your purse in the restaurant, you're more likely to get it back intact than have it gone for good, and people still help each other out on a regular basis. I think it is so beautiful here that sometimes it hurts my eyes, but that may be me. It literally takes 10 minutes to get from one side of town to the other, so if the east-side Target only has 5 of the napkins you want and you need 8, it is a breeze to fix that problem. That also means that I can get home from work with a 15 minute drive, change my clothes and be at a park (or outdoor concert, even) with my dog within 30 minutes of leaving work, no exaggeration. If you ever wanted to get involved in civic stuff, you would be welcomed with open arms; I think most people volunteer somewhere, even if it's their kids' T-ball or something. We have great health care, and have tertiary care at UI Hospitals just down the road.

Good luck and keep us posted!!!
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Old 03-22-2008, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Orlando, FL
9 posts, read 56,798 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks so much for the info. I always like hearing others' opinions of an area before we move. Thank goodness about the heat. I can deal with 80s-90s no problem (Ha! I say that now...). It is unbelievably humid down here in Orlando. You know, that kind of humid where you take a shower and for the rest of the day you wonder if you ever really dried off. And the mosquitoes are a constant force to contend with.
I think I could cope with a grain smell. I just wanted to make sure Cedar Rapids did not have any animal products plants in the city. I don't know if I could deal with pig farm smell!
Thunderstorms, I can deal with. I love watching lightning. I hear the snow is pretty thick this year...that will be a new challenge.
I keep hearing Marion is the best of both worlds when it comes to Cedar Rapids, so I will definitely look into that neighborhood. We are thinking of having children so anything is better than Florida public schools. My sister teaches at a "gifted" public school in Florida not far from the high school she dropped out of.

So, here is a new question:
What are the best and worst things about Cedar Rapids?
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Old 03-22-2008, 01:14 PM
 
Location: Iowa, Des Moines Metro
2,073 posts, read 5,066,625 times
Reputation: 1102
The Best:
-The People
-It's a pretty town overall. A lot of scenic neighborhoods and scenic country-side. IMO, the town is somewhat hilly.
-Close to the countryside.
-Traffic isn't very bad.
-I'm sure more...

The Worst:
-Downtown needs more work.
-The factories.
-Nothing more I can really think of.

Oh by the way the comment about your sister made me laugh.
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Old 03-22-2008, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Boise, Idaho by way of Iowa City, Iowa
310 posts, read 1,193,000 times
Reputation: 96
the people of CR have gotten used to the nasty smells, therefore it is not bad for them but coming from Iowa City I think the city smells like vomit on some days and urine on others. Hell it sometimes even drifts down to Iowa City some days. On those days Iowa Citians try to stay indoors. Seriously.
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Old 03-22-2008, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Orlando, FL
9 posts, read 56,798 times
Reputation: 11
LPerkins, if you don't like the area so much, why do you stay?
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Old 03-22-2008, 05:17 PM
 
7,065 posts, read 2,879,775 times
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From what I remember about the smell when I lived in Cedar Rapids was there was a plant called Penick & Ford (gosh, I think that was the name. It's been such a long time).
Growing up in that city I always thought that was some sort of steel factory. But I think they made syrup? I remember that place smelling awful. I didn't live by it thank God. lol.

It closed down a long time ago.

Then on my last visit to CR (about 8 years ago), driving from the airport I noticed the closer I got to the downtown area I could smell that same smell. That is when a friend told me that it was coming from Quaker Oats. I had no idea Quaker Oats was smelly. I always thought it was just Penick & Ford.

I could never smell it unless I was close to the downtown area.

Make sure you check out Ellis Park and Bever Park.

I had a good experience growing up in Cedar Rapids. Wasn't perfect but overall it was good. We moved to California when I was 14 and it really broke my heart having to leave.

Good luck.
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Old 03-22-2008, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Boise, Idaho by way of Iowa City, Iowa
310 posts, read 1,193,000 times
Reputation: 96
Quote:
Originally Posted by flgatorgirl View Post
LPerkins, if you don't like the area so much, why do you stay?
I live in Iowa City not CR. I LOVE Iowa City. Its the best place in the state by a long shot, best place in all of the midwest as well...better than anything on the east coast too. If Iowa City was near mountains then it'd be the best place on the planet. But alas I am moving to Boise, Idaho this summer to go to grad school. Boise is basically a bigger more mountainous version of Iowa City.
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