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Old 01-22-2010, 10:43 PM
2 posts, read 6,576 times
Reputation: 11


I have a job opportunity in Rock Rapids, IA. We would be moving our young family from the west coast. We're curious to know if anyone knows about the community life, churches, and weather in Rock Rapids or within 20 miles (Sioux Falls, SD).
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:56 AM
Location: Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri
193 posts, read 732,308 times
Reputation: 196
Congratulations on your job opportunity! I grew up about 15 miles from Rock Rapids on a farm near Larchwood, so I have quite a bit of experience from being in Rock Rapids.
It is a pretty typical rural town. A nice Sunshine Foods grocery store, a couple convenience stores, Subway, Pizza Ranch (where it seems that's where everybody goes out to eat), Dollar General, and other small family owned businesses make Rock Rapids their home. There is a very nice city pool with a waterslide and park with playground equipment. Rock Island is a neat little park with a small "zoo". They bring a few animals there in the summertime. I drove through the park last summer and it brought back a lot of fond memories.
Rock Rapids has been known to host the first night of RAGBRAI and also is where the Lyon County Fair is held the third week of July. Friday nights in the summer the fairgrounds are the host for stock car races.
Weather wise, Rock Rapids is awesome in the summer--in my opinion. It gets hot and humid, but doesn't every place? Winter weather can be treacherous with lots of snow, cold, and wind, but people are generally in good spirits. The weather is one thing EVERYBODY loves to talk about there. Summer storms can bring hail and tornadoes, but it's very hit and miss. Springtime brings a new life as you'll see people finally crawling out of their houses and planting in their gardens and exercising outside.
Having been raised in the area, I have always felt people to be pretty friendly--especially if you get involved with the community. Being close to Sioux Falls is an advantage as you can be shopping at major stores like Target, Macy's, and Home Depot within 45 minutes.
Housing is rather inexpensive since property taxes are low in lowa--compared to South Dakota.
As far as churches go, I was raised in a church in Lester, Iowa--Bethel Church--about 8 miles west of Rock Rapids, and I would encourage you to check it out. There are quite a few people who drive from Rock Rapids to go there because it's a welcoming congregation who loves God and loves people.
If you have any other questions, shoot me a message. It's only been a year since I've been away from the area.
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Old 01-23-2010, 08:03 AM
Location: Sioux Falls, SD area
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This is a very safe and pretty town. It's not just a whistle stop town, thus you can get most everything you need right there. There may only be one place to buy it, but usually what you're looking for can be found.

A big plus for Rock Rapids is that is a blended community. By blended I'm saying that there isn't a dominant religion or ethnic group running the place. This makes it easier for a new family to fit in.

As mentioned earlier, Sioux Falls is only 45 minutes away. It is the major shopping area for all of SD, NW IA, and SW Minnesota. You only have to drive about 50 miles east to come to the Iowa Great Lakes. Very fun getaway area with several deep blue water lakes. There's even an amusement park there for the kids.

I'm sure the school district is very good and this is also the county seat for Lyon County.

I think your family would love it there.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:42 PM
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My feelings in regard to Rock Rapids are not as positive as the other posters on here. I too grew up nearby and found it to be a cliquish community (as many small towns are). If you are white and conservative you may be just fine but if you are different in any way, do not plan to fit in well amongst the majority of the town. Everyone should know that this is the part of Iowa who has given us Rep. Steve King.....if you don't know who he is, look him up.

Proximity to Sioux Falls is a plus but if you plan to buy anything from gas to groceries in Rock Rapids, be prepared to pay quite a bit more than what you would in a metro area. Housing is quite a bit cheaper though.

Pretty has never been a word I would use to describe Rock Rapids. It isn't completely run down or slummish in most areas but if you want a pretty small town Orange City, Pella or Sioux Center is much more asthetically pleasing to most eyes and generally has better kept housing, etc. Also, the rural "brain drain" is very much in effect there. The kids who do well in high school and actually finish 4 years of college rarely come back unless they are children of one of the town "elite" who own businesses and employ their children from generation to generation. For the others, there really isn't anything there as far as opportunities or stimulation.

Lastly, be prepared for stares and questions when you first arrive....I'm talking restaurants, stores, etc. Everyone here knows everyone else and any newcoming is a curiosity.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:27 AM
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Wow thank you guys so much for being so generous with your time explaining this all to me. This is all incredibly helpful. I have a couple more questions for you all:

Just how hot is summer? I live in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA and it is around 90+ in the summer but only for about 6 weeks or so at its hottest point. Maybe sometimes for a day or two in the low 100s. How hot is summer out there? And how long does it stay hot? I checked the city-data.com stats but they seem to be inaccurate for my city so I wasn't sure I can count on it for NW Iowa.

When looking at some maps and using street view on Google.. it looks like a little south of Rock Rapids has a few more hills and trees which my wife and I would really love! We were looking around the Inwood area or Larchwood. What are your thoughts on those areas compared to Rock Rapids?
Thanks again for all your help!!

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Old 01-28-2010, 08:12 PM
Location: Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri
193 posts, read 732,308 times
Reputation: 196
In my opinion, I would choose Larchwood because of it's proximity to Sioux Falls and shopping. This would allow you to be right in between Rock Rapids and Sioux Falls. Larchwood has a lot going for it....a couple pro football players from the area and other Olympic athletes. It's a very sports centered town. If you like sports, you'll love Larchwood. I have always been a little partial to Larchwood versus Inwood. You'll love the school district for your kids--West Lyon. It has one of the highest ratings in the state.
Weather-wise, you're looking at 103 degrees being the hottest--ever that I can remember--and that was back in 1988. The past few summers have seen a few rare days in the 90's. Otherwise you're looking at 70's and 80's. The weather is mostly gorgeous between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Winters are bitter and cold--just remember that, so the summers are AWESOME!!! They have seen many days below 0 degrees farenheit this past winter. I can post a few pictures of the area here too if you'd like.
Hills and trees are more abundant along the Big Sioux River area--just west of Larchwood. South of Rock Rapids you're probably looking at the Rock River which then runs into the Big Sioux River. Any of the areas along the rivers are where you'll see more hills and trees. Are you looking at living in town or on an acreage?
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