Are you planning on relocating to Iowa? You’re not alone. Many families and professionals are moving to the Hawkeye State, attracted by its low cost of living, high quality of life, and abundant opportunities.
Of course, moving to Iowa is a big decision, and you probably have a lot of questions before you choose a place to settle down:
What are the benefits of living in Iowa? Where is the best place to raise a family in Iowa? What is the cost of living in Iowa?
Let’s start by going over a few of the basics that everyone should know about living, working and raising a family in Iowa.
Then, we’ll take a closer look at one of the fastest-growing communities in the state: Altoona.
First thing’s first: Is Iowa a good place to live?
By nearly every measure, Iowa is a good place to live. Across the state, unemployment rates are low, violent crime rates are low, career opportunities are high, and the cost of living is well below the national average.
In fact, Iowa is actually the most affordable state, according to The 10 Most Affordable States by US News. The article names Iowa as the #1 most affordable state for housing and the #13 most affordable state for cost of living.
Is Iowa a good place to raise a family?
In addition to its low cost of living and safe neighborhoods, Iowa is nationally recognized for its excellent schools—a major draw for families.
The state has one of the nation’s best graduation rates for K-12 schools (91.6% in 2019, according to the Iowa Department of Education) and is home to outstanding higher education institutions like Iowa University, Iowa State, and Grinnell College.
Does Iowa offer good career opportunities?
Iowa is a great place for young professionals and careerists of any age. US News ranks the state #2 for career opportunities.
There’s something here for everyone. Iowa is home to a wide range of industries, from tech startups and insurance companies to advanced manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, retail, and much more.
What are the other benefits of living in Iowa?
Some of Iowa’s benefits are hard to quantify. With a rich history, a well-earned reputation for friendly folks, and a quirky culture that includes a healthy obsession with Ranch, many Iowans consider their state a hidden gem—for good reason.
The state is home to some of the best craft breweries in the nation (along with a surprising number of wineries). There are thriving restaurants, shopping destinations and other entertainment attractions in nearly every town and city. Iowa is home to numerous state and local parks featuring lakes, rivers, caves, plains and forests to explore. There are also huge events that draw people from across the state and beyond, including the Iowa State Fair, RAGBRAI (the famous annual bicycle ride across Iowa), and many more.
In Iowa, there are always interesting people to meet and exciting places to discover, often where you’d least expect.
Where is the best place to live in Iowa?
Iowa is home to many communities that offer all of the benefits we mentioned above and more.
Currently, one of the top choices for families and individuals moving to the state is Altoona.
Just minutes east of downtown Des Moines, Altoona is known for its excellent school system, low cost of living—Altoona, Iowa real estate is very affordable—cozy neighborhoods, fun attractions and amenities, one of the best entertainment scenes in the state, and abundant employment opportunities in and around the city.
While Altoona was once a small town, the city has grown over the last few decades to more than 19,000 residents.
Today, Altoona is within the Southeast Polk Community School District, which is known for its outstanding graduation rate and high-quality educational opportunities.
The city is also home to a variety of employers, from data centers and manufacturing facilities to commercial offices, boutique shops and more. For those who work out of town, Altoona is an easy ten-minute drive to and from downtown Des Moines—with the sun at your back during rush hours!—and a short drive to any community in the greater Des Moines region.
Now that we’ve talked about work and school, let’s take a look at the fun places to visit and things to do in Altoona!
Things to do in Altoona, Iowa
The Altoona area offers an eclectic mix of fun for families and entertainment geared toward adults. In fact, Altoona, Iowa attractions draw millions of visitors to the city each year! Highlights include:
• Shopping: Altoona offers the perfect mix of large shopping centers, like Outlets of Des Moines and Bass Pro, along with small, family-owned boutiques. In fact, visitors travel from across the state to explore the Altoona, Iowa shopping scene.
• Dining: From famous steakhouses to a popular craft brewery, Altoona’s dining scene has something for everyone’s tastes.
• Parks and recreation: Altoona is home to more than 28 miles of bike trails and footpaths, along with playgrounds, dog parks, fishing ponds, recreational fields, and more. If you’re looking for an all-day outdoor adventure, hop on a bike and explore the Central Iowa Trail System, which features hundreds of miles of trails connecting Altoona to communities across the region! Also, take a look at Burget Park, a new metro park currently being constructed alongside Spring Creek Ridge, a single-family subdivision in Altoona.
• Entertainment attractions: The Altoona entertainment scene features some of the region’s most popular destinations, including the famous Adventureland amusement park and Prairie Meadows, which features a casino, racetrack, hotel, restaurants and concert venue. Altoona also hosts numerous festivals, free concerts, farmers’ markets and other community events throughout the year.
Fun things to do near Altoona, Iowa
One of the best things about living in Altoona is that you sometimes feel like you’re in a small town or a rural area, but you’re always just minutes away from fun places to explore and amazing cultural events to discover.
Events like the Iowa State Fair, the Des Moines Farmers’ Market, professional sports competitions, and the Dew Tour—which happens to be held at the United States’ largest skate park, in downtown Des Moines—are just minutes away. Beautiful natural areas, like Walnut Woods State Park and Easter Lake, are right in your own backyard. And, with the Des Moines Metropolitan Opera, the Des Moines Arts Festival, and numerous galleries and music venues in communities right next door, you’re always close to culture.
Start your next chapter here
Want to learn more about life in Altoona, Iowa? This is a good place to start.