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Living a College Town Lifestyle in Iowa City, Iowa

The bright, scholarly college town of Iowa City, Iowa is one of the most literary communities in the U.S. It has won numerous awards as "Best small city," "most enlightened town," etc. Home to the University of Iowa, world renowned for its writing and English programs, this small but growing city of 67,000 has a wonderful history of culture, particularly when it comes to the craft of writing. Downtown there is the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk with bronze plaques in the sidewalks that are dedicated to 49 literary lions with ties to Iowa.

Iowa City was once the capital of Iowa and enjoys historic buildings from that era. The lively downtown set on the Iowa River riverfront and a bustling pedestrian mall are just two of its attractions. People hoping to visit or live in this pleasant cultural community will find neighborhoods along tree lined streets. Rolling hills and river valleys provide the local scenery.

Where to Retire in Iowa City and Home Prices

Because of its college town status Iowa City tends to be more expensive than most other communities in the state. The median home value in late 2021 was $240,643, according to The Northside Neighborhood is a popular area north of Downtown with older houses, brick streets and neighborhood shops and restaurants. Other neighborhoods mentioned include Longfellow, Goosetown or College Green. Living too close to the University can be noisy, but if one lives too far away you cannot easily walk downtown.

What Is Special about Iowa City

- The University of Iowa makes this a great college town
- A great literary tradition with the Iowa Writers' Workshop
- Popular pedestrian mall
- Riverfront downtown
- Busy downtown with nice shops and restaurants
- Highly educated populace
- Tree lined neighborhoods
- 28,000 sq. ft senior center in former post office

What Is Not Special about Iowa City

- Cold winters
- Somewhat isolated

Climate and Physical Environment

Rolling hills and gentle river valleys dominate the landscape here in east central Iowa. The town is on the banks of the Iowa River.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

The Iowa Writers Conference is one of the most prestigious institutions in the country, and includes graduates like John Irving and Flannery O'Connor. It is also home to the Iowa non-fiction conference, the Iowa Playwrights Program, the Iowa Summer Writing Conference, in addition to others. For would-be writers, this is the place to be. The town celebrates this heritage with the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk bronzes. A summer arts program and free concerts in the downtown pedestrian mall contribute to this great sense of culture.


Crime is well below average in Iowa City.

Medical Facilities

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics provides a comprehensive tertiary care medical center. Mercy Hospital is here. The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center in Iowa City is an NCI-designated Cancer Center.


Iowa City is served by the Iowa Interstate Railroad and the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (CRANDIC or CRandIC). There is also Iowa City Transit and the University of Iowa's "Cambus" system. The nearest airport with passenger service is Cedar Rapids (about 15 miles).

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