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Old 04-23-2009, 02:07 PM
 
7 posts, read 26,409 times
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Hello!

We are currently in St. Paul, MN but are thinking of moving back to Iowa for good. We are still undecided as my husband's job (Mechanical Engineer) will allow him to work from home and live anywhere in the United States. I am a home maker for now but may go back to school to get my masters or a second B.S. We are mostly thinking either the Ames area or Cedar Rapids area as we have family in both towns. I grew up in a small town near Ames and my husband and I both graduated from Iowa State University. I would love your opinions on which town would be better to raise a family (we have a 3 year old son and 2 year old daughter). I do like Ames but since we are no longer in college we are not sure that raising our family there will be better or worse than Cedar Rapids. We also notice that the cost of living looks a bit higher in Ames. I don't know much about Cedar Rapids so any info would be great!

We are a fairly young couple 25 &27 so we would like to be around young families and not necessarily college students that party all night. We are also looking for the town that has the most to offer a young family and has great schools. Ex. great pools, childrens museum, good shopping, parks, ect.

Thanks!
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Old 04-23-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I live in Cedar Rapids now and just graduated from ISU last May, so I have both perspectives I guess. Even with all the college students, I don't think Ames is that bad of a place to raise a child as long as you aren't living near campus.

Even though I don't have kids yet, I would say Cedar Rapids is a good place to raise them. Just make sure you avoid the SE side near downtown (Wellington Heights area) and some apartment complexes on the SW side and you should be fine. Anywhere on the NE or NW is relatively safe and quiet (NW also includes the areas west of downtown...Cedar Rapids is split into four quadrants and they are skewed at an angle, 1st Ave being one of the dividing lines, the river being the other). On the NE side you tend to have more traffic since that is where Rockwell Collins, Lindale Mall, and most of the big box stores are located, but there are some quiet areas off the main thoroughfares. The suburbs of Marion and Hiawatha are also nice places to live.

There is some crime, but once again it's mostly confined to the SE side and CRPD has been stepping up patrols there over the last month. They will be opening a new police precinct on the corner of 1st Ave and 15th St SE, so that should help.

As for amenities, there isn't a children's museum that I'm aware of but there is an art museum, Czech history museum, African American history museum, and the Science Station. There are plenty of parks and green space, Ellis Park being one of the more popular (with a community pool too).

A lot of things were wiped out by the flood, including the Science Station and the Czech Museum, but they should be reopening and there is a lot that will be built downtown over the next few years as part of the recovery plan. You also have Iowa City nearby that offers quite a bit to do in the way of shopping and activities.

As for schools, Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Prairie are all pretty good school districts, Prairie probably being the best.
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Old 04-23-2009, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Coralville/Ames, IA
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I think you'd be fine either way, although I haven't actually lived in either so I won't go into detail about that. I've heard good things about both Ames and Cedar Rapids schools. I agree with you that Cedar Rapids is more family-oriented than Ames, but I really don't think you would have problems with college students if you lived far enough from campus. (I live near Iowa City and if I didn't go downtown fairly often, I'd never have to deal with drunken college students...)

The Science Station in Cedar Rapids is great for elementary-aged children (it's like a children's museum only with science, basically) and there is the Iowa Children's Museum in Coralville which is about 20 minutes south.
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Old 04-23-2009, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Des Moines
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I can't think of a more family oriented college town in the Big 12 than Ames, and that's not a great reflection of the city as a great college town.

When it's not Veisha riot weekend, Ames is a very clean and friendly little city. I have no doubts that you could happily raise a family there.
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Old 04-23-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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I can't vouch for Ames, but I grew up in CR and can't say I really have any complaints. Great schools, sports, music, theater are all accessible for participation.

You can definitely find younger neighborhoods with families similar to your ages.

It's affordable, safe, I would totally recommend it for raising a family.
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:18 AM
 
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Thanks for the information! We know that either one would be nice which is why it's so hard to choose one over the other. Does anyone have any info on the Ames school district? Is it better or worse than Cedar Rapids schools?
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Old 04-24-2009, 08:47 AM
 
196 posts, read 727,535 times
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What you might want to do is list all the things you like about the Twin Cities and then have columns for the other cities you are looking at. Check the web to see if those cities have something that even approaches what the TC's have.

This will be interesting because the TCs are on a whole different scale than the cities you are looking at. For things like museums, cultural things, it won't be even close to the same level you may be accustomed to, if they have an alternative at all. If you are accustomed to places like Valley Fair and the Science Museum of MN, you won't find anything close to that in the cities you are looking at.

I did similar research prior to a move I made from a larger metro to Iowa. It made the decision easier.
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Old 04-24-2009, 02:40 PM
 
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I have been reading some of the other Iowa threads and was wondering if maybe Iowa City would be a better choice than Cedar Rapids?
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Old 04-24-2009, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Coralville/Ames, IA
267 posts, read 1,136,805 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BirchElm View Post
I have been reading some of the other Iowa threads and was wondering if maybe Iowa City would be a better choice than Cedar Rapids?
I love Iowa City and will pretty much recommend it to anyone. The schools here are excellent, there are many parks and pools (the new Coralville and North Liberty pools have water slides) and the Children's Museum, and plenty of shopping. It is a typical college town, like Ames but more liberal and a bit larger. Crime is rare (There have been a few random attacks on drunk college students in the middle of the night downtown this month, but I doubt you would be out drinking at 3 AM with your kids.) and there are more cultural activities than there are in many other Iowa cities due to the presence of the University of Iowa.

The drawback for Iowa City is that it is more expensive than Cedar Rapids, and of course there is a pretty large student population. If you don't want to come into contact with that, you could live in Coralville, North Liberty, or the west side or eastern edge of Iowa City. These are all more suburban areas and will have more families around, which is what I'm assuming you are looking for.

If I were choosing between the three, I'd pick Iowa City, but it really does depend on what you want. Cedar Rapids is significantly cheaper and somewhat more conservative and family-oriented. (I actually think the anti-Cedar Rapids posts on this board are pretty exaggerated, I wouldn't choose to live there but there's really nothing wrong with it as a city.) Ames and Iowa City are very similar, but I'd argue that Iowa City has more amenities due to its size, although Ames is just a short drive from Des Moines. All three are definitely livable options and you could probably be happy in any of them.
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:35 AM
 
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My husband and I also went to ISU and my parents live just a few minutes outside Cedar Rapids....we dont live in IA anymore, and just about everyday long to go back - ATLEAST to the midwest. We also have small kids (6 and 3) and if I had to pick right now - it would be Ames, hands down. We really loved Ames (while we were in school), and also have thought about how it would be if we were to move back and not be students. I still think it is a very safe place with good schools to raise a family. Yea, housing is a little more expensive - but pretty much everywhere is safe.
After driving around Cedar Rapids during our last visit last month to IA, I noticed Cedar Rapids is still recovering from the flood a year ago. My parents said there is some price gauging on housing because of it, and from what they've read in the newspapers - crime has increased (still very low though, I'm sure compared nationaly).
If your husband is an engineer, he may/may not have to drive to Des Moines for work - is that an issue? In Cedar Rapids - you could pretty much think he'd work in Cedar Rapids too - but it's possible he may have to drive to Iowa City for work. If I had to choose between Cedar Rapids vs. Iowa City - I'd pick Iowa City...again a college town but still a good town with a lot of growth. Only downfall - wearing your cyclone shirt in the Hawkeye town
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