Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by SRSLADE, Oct 11, 2004.


    SRSLADE Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2004
    looks beutiful is it? I would love to be around real country people and enjoy the trials and tribulations of every day life. I know your part of the country may be beutiful as well but i live in VT and don't want to travel for a week to get there by car. So i've looked at Iowa and as i've said it looks beutiful.
  2. peanutgreen

    peanutgreen Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2003
    The bluffs on the western side are really pretty. I haven't been further east than Des Moines, though, so I wouldn't know about that side.

  3. Terre d'Esprit

    Terre d'Esprit Boer-ing Mom

    Aug 30, 2004
    Yes, yes, yes! I love it here. I am a transplant, I was born in AZ, grew up in WI, lived in Chicago for years, moved back to AZ, on to Biloxi (MS), even lived in England for a while. Iowa is my favorite. : ) People are good hearted, down to earth, yet not simple. They are accepting, tolerant, fair-minded folks. I am thrilled to raise my children here. We live in the country, but Des Moines is close by.

    As for the physical beauty, there is plenty. Des Moines itself is at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. Much of Central Iowa is a valley, or shows some effects of the proximity of the rivers. I live in Madison County, and the hills and valleys are stunning here.

    There is much to do here. Des Moines offers much culture, in the way of events, festivals, musicals, museums, etc. While some of the things are scaled down, they are widely available and utilized. People do a lot of things outside, there are trails and parks en masse around Central Iowa.

    I'm working on my website, which should be up in a few days. ( It will have photos on it from my area.

  4. Dawndra

    Dawndra I'm back

    Feb 27, 2003
    Spoon River Country Illinois
    I live 70 miles from the quad cities on the IL side.
    We are in eastern Iowa lots. It's pretty. kinda rolly, but not tons. Lots of pretty lakes. Western Iowa is by far prettier.
  5. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 11, 2002
    Iowa has topsoil deep enough to bury an elephant without hitting subsoil. I think you would need a permit though.
  6. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    I grew up in central Iowa. Yes its pretty and rolling hills, not the flat table top image many people have although some areas are like that. Southern Iowa was the poorer part of the state, land rougher, cheaper and all. I think prices now are based more on how far a commute it is to reasonable job. We didnt use to have building codes in rural areas, now last I knew (few years ago)it was county by county. My guess is the poorer, furthest away from jobs type counties would have the least restrictions.

    One big thing to remember about Iowa and any of the traditional commodity farm states is that for several decades they were farmed with heavy duty chemical agriculture methods. If it were me, I'd go beyond the call of duty to test any well for ag chemicals. The chemicals and the somewhat harsh winters would be the only hesitations I'd have. Nice people.

    Oh, still fairly rich soil compared to other states, but stupid farming methods can even strip the fertility from Iowa soil.
  7. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    Verndale MN
    I grew up in MN, drove many many times through IA on business and lived in VT for 2 years (Marlboro/Brattleboro). The winters are going to be similar as far as cold and snow, but the roads in IA are SO much better! Laid out in the township grid with no cliffs to slide off of... I had to sleep at work a lot in VT because they'd close Rte 9 and "you can't get there from heah". It would be 80 miles to get home the other way.
    The soil is a lot better too, and if I remember right, no rocks!
  8. Thoughthound

    Thoughthound Well-Known Member

    Oct 13, 2004
    I have been lurking here for nearly 9 months and finally I feel compelled to say something.

    I have lived in Iowa 37 of 38 years (lived in Chicago burbs after college).

    I have also visited all 99 counties and can say that Iowa, in terms of geography is surprisingly varied. People think of the state as flat, but that is a misnomer.

    Parts are quite flat, as in the Northwest, but parts are very hilly, as in the Northeast. In fact, some atlases describe NE Iowa as "mountainous," although we have no true mountains.

    I live in Mount Vernon which is 15 miles from Cedar Rapids, 20 miles from Iowa City (U of I) and 65 miles from the Quad Cities to the east. This is what is referred to as Grant Wood country. Wood was a painter of some repute and his American Gothic painting is one of the world's most recognizeable and parodied.

    For my money, I believe the NE part is the most beautiful with its forests, dairy farms and scenic outcroppings. Check out Guttenburg overlooking the Miss. Truthfully though, I think SW Wis. can beat Iowa in beauty, especially in autumn. For that matter, look at Lake City, MN.

    The problem with NE Iowa is there are no direct roads (though compared to big cities, any commute is a joke--you can get to Des Moines, 200 miles, faster than one can travel 50 miles from the heart of Chicago).

    Also the hills can be tricky in winter. Dubuque offers quite a bit of scenery, pioneer/native american history and a more urban setting--pop 80k I think.

    Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Des Moines are where the good paying jobs are. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City comprise a new "hi-tech corridor" that has been relatively resistant to recession.

    Iowa City offers the most culture in Iowa and there are always things to do. Everything from hokey fairs to jazz festivals, art festivals and major shows like Les Miz. Excellent acoustics at the U of I auditorium. I saw the Chieftans play with minimal amplification and it was clear as a bell.

    As I said, this is Grant Wood country. The land looks a lot like his paintings, although there is some hyperbole in his work. The area was settled by a lot of Rhinelanders because the hills reminded them of home and they thought they could grow good grapes here for wine.

    The Southeast is very much a Mississippi River culture. It's almost southern--more like "Tom Sawyer" than Yankee. The land is also rolling and less fertile, but much less expensive.

    South Central is very rural until you start getting near Des Moines. Of course Madison County is now famous for its covered bridges.

    Des Moines and Ames (ISU) are a little like Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. A business center with a nearby major college. Des Moines has some nice museums (nothing like Chicago, or for that matter Minneapolis) but still very impressive for a city its size.

    Central Northern Iowa is fairly flat and there isn't a whole lot to look at, but this is by far where the best soil is. (Though compared to most places in the world, bad Iowa soil is still pretty good. On my property in Eastern Iowa, I have black topsoil in places that runs 3 feet deep!)

    Northwest Iowa has the largest lakes (reminiscent of Minnesota) and scenic bluffs. Though most of the area is flat and laid out in perfect square miles.

    I'm not as familiar with Central Western and Southwestern Iowa, but I remember them as being fairly rural (with the exception of Council Bluffs/Omaha) and flat with bluffs and scenery by the Missourri River. I'm sure someone will correct me on this if I am wrong, or any other mistakes I have made here.

    The people are pretty much the same as anywhere else except in big cities. You have a majority of friendly, some jerks, people who want to climb the social ladder etc.

    Comparitively, violent crime is lower, alcoholism is higher, air pollution is lower and soil pollution is higher thanks to ag chemical inputs post WWII and corporate hog farming.

    Iowa has excellent education generally leading the nation with Minnesota and Wisconsin, although the bricks and mortar infrastructure is in great disrepair.

    Taxes are comparatively low, but there is an underfunding of arts and art education, and the state is currently running a budget deficit.

    In terms of politics, most of the state is very moderate with a lean toward the conservative, though we usually vote for a Democrat for president and we currently have a Dem for Governor. Consequently, state government is often gridlocked.

    If anyone was to move to a rural area here, you would want a soil test and a water test--perhaps even move to a rainwater catching system.

    Wow, this was a lot longer than I intended, especially since I'm the kind of person who would prefer to keep the good things about Iowa a secret.

    In truth, less than scrupulous corporations move here and find it easy to take advantage of Iowans' work ethic and honesty, so keep this info among homesteaders only!

    Perhaps the ugliest thing about Iowa is the extreme cold in winter and the extreme humidity in summer--two conditions necessary however for the flora and fauna that thrive here.
  9. Ann-NWIowa

    Ann-NWIowa Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 28, 2002
    Some areas of the state now have rural water piped in. South Central counties have Rathburn water. Wayne, Lucas, Appanoose, Decatur, Clark, Monroe for sure and possibly others. Those counties are poorest in the state. Last I saw Decatur had lowest per capita income. Wayne one of the highest populations over age 75 in the country. If you're thinking of moving to a rural area in the Midwest, be sure to check for factory hog/chicken/turkey setups within smelling distance as they can be a real blight on rural life. I prefer the hilly landscape of Southern Iowa but live in the flat prairie area of NW Iowa... where the only thing between us and the North Pole is a couple barb wire fences. Jobs are scarce in rural areas unless you are in education or health care. Pay is less but living costs are much lower too. There are a lot of small factories throughout the state making all sorts of things.