Any one of our agents will be the first to tell you that Iowa City is a great place to live. One of the best parts of our job is introducing new people to the area, especially those who have come from afar—from across the state, across the country, or even across the world. Whether our clients are moving to Iowa City for a job, to be closer to family, or for a change of scenery, we love being the ones to help them make that transition.
Thinking about relocating to the Iowa City area? We could walk you through what to expect in the relocation process, but nothing is as convincing as hearing it from the people who have lived it themselves! Here are the stories of 3 homebuyers who recently worked with our agents to make the transition to Iowa City.
Not Your Typical Move
Before we dive in, here’s a quick look on how the relocation process differs from your typical move.
A Community-First Approach
When chatting with a REALTOR® about relocation, housing is often not the first thing you’ll talk about. (We know that sounds odd coming from a real estate agency!)
Unless you’re relocating to be near family or are already familiar with Iowa City from your college days, you have to start any relocation by getting to know the community. Rather than asking about your wants and needs in a home right off the bat, our first priority is to make sure the Iowa City area is a good fit for you.
To do that, your agent needs to get to know you. What are you interested in? What type of lifestyle are you looking for? What are your hobbies? From there, we can help you find your niche in our community, oftentimes by showing you around town ourselves!
Tech Savvy and Trust
Once you decide that Iowa City is the right place for you, your agent becomes your liaison in the market. They’re no longer just your connection to the community—they’re also your boots (and eyes and ears) on the ground.
Your agent will spearhead your home search, as they are physically out and about in the market every day. And while you may not be able to drive around the neighborhoods hunting down For Sale signs, you can still actively participate in the search from afar. Our website is a great place to start, or download our Home Search app to easily browse listings on the go.
Depending on how far away you’re relocating from, it may not be possible to attend all—or any—showings in person. Virtual tours, whether they’re online or a video chat with your agent as they walk through the home, are your best friend during this process. Prepare to exchange a lot of photos and videos with your agent!
It’s not uncommon to buy a home sight unseen when relocating. This happens often when the market is moving quickly, such as in a competitive seller’s market. While it can be nerve wracking to put an offer in on a property you’ve never seen, taking time to travel to visit the home in person may cause you to lose out to a faster buyer.
This is where trust comes in. Trust is always important between you and your agent, but it’s especially important during the relocation process, and especially when purchasing a home you’ve never set foot in. You have to rely on your agent to tell—and show—it like it is. If you feel confident in your agent’s assessment of the property, you can make the investment with peace of mind, even if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes.
Make the Smart Move
After that, there’s nothing left to do but move! Long-distance moves can be a massive undertaking, which is why we’ve put together a few tips to help make your move seamless.
Client Spotlight: Real-Life Relocation Examples
Without further ado, let’s hear from a few of our past clients who have recently relocated to Iowa City!
1. A Fresh Start Near Family
Nicole Flynn and her husband, Seth Studer, were living in Brookings, South Dakota. Both were working at South Dakota State University in the English Department when they decided it was time for a job change.
“My husband had gone to college here in Iowa City,” says Flynn. “A lot of his family lived in Iowa, and he’d always had a real affection for Iowa City in particular. We thought it would be a good place to hit reset and start a new chapter.”
Flynn had been to Iowa City a few times to visit her husband’s family and for an academic conference or two. Rather than buy a house right away, they stayed with family north of Cedar Rapids while they settled into their new jobs—Nicole at Leepfrog Technologies in Coralville and her husband at Kirkwood Community College.
One day, Flynn mentioned to a coworker that they were going to start looking for a house. Her coworker provided a REALTOR® recommendation: Becky Halsch.
“Becky got what we were looking for right away,” says Nicole. “She seemed to really enjoy looking at houses with us. I never felt bad saying, ‘This place looks cute. I don’t know if it will work.’ And she would say, ‘Yeah, let’s look at it, I’ve been wanting to see that house!’ She was super available and super enthusiastic. It just felt so personal and non-corporate.”
Since they were already staying in the area, Flynn and Studer were able to attend showings in person—a rarity in the world of relocation.
Halsch helped them find the perfect home in an Iowa City neighborhood that’s close to all the action. They now enjoy walks along the Iowa River— they even took this photo near the Iowa River on their closing day!
They also love the easy access to downtown via a pedestrian bridge, where they attend the Farmers Markets and are trying out all the Iowa City restaurants, from Trumpet Blossom to St. Burch Tavern.
Since their move, they’ve stayed in touch with Halsch and even gotten together a few times.
“It felt like we were making a friend as much as we were buying a house,” says Flynn. “My husband and I have been happy here, and I hope we’ll be here for quite some time.”
2. Opening the Door to More Opportunities
Not all relocations happen across state lines, and not all buyers are able to see homes in person before they move!
Take Allison Judge, for example. She and her boys were living in the Ottumwa area, where she worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Earlier this year, she decided it was time to make a change for her family.
“We wanted to be in a diverse community with better opportunities for family, school, and work,” says Judge.
One community that could provide that? Iowa City. Luckily, Judge’s family already had a connection to an Iowa City REALTOR®: Daphne Patton.
“My sister-in-law and Daphne are sorority sisters!” says Judge. “My sister-in-law gave me her contact information, and the rest is history.”
Judge and Patton began their search. With Judge and her family located 2 hours away, it was impossible for them to come to Iowa City for every open house. Instead, they relied on technology.
In the end, they wrote three offers before the perfect house came along. As fate would have it, it was listed with another Urban Acres agent, Chris Campbell Boddicker. Judge put in the winning offer, sight unseen.
“I’m not sure what it was about Daphne’s personality, but I trusted her from the start,” says Judge. “We did a FaceTime walkthrough of the house we purchased and she pointed out multiple highlights of the house and things that would need to be updated.”
In late May, Judge closed on her family’s new home. They’ve spent the past 6 months settling into the community.
“Iowa City welcomes you with open arms,” says Judge.
3. More than a Job
Caroline Love and her husband, Robbie, were living in Florence, Alabama. Her husband was scouting out jobs in the medical field. They were mainly looking at locations on the east coast when a headhunter reached out about a position in Iowa. Shortly after, he met virtually with the people at Mercy Hospitals in Iowa City.
“Mercy seemed really family-oriented—better hours where you could really have a good family life,” says Love.
Love and her husband came up to Iowa for the official interview. Mercy put them in touch with a REALTOR® who had previously worked at Mercy and knew the Iowa City medical scene well: Becky Halsch.
Halsch took the Loves on a driving tour so they could get a feel for the area.
“It was really nice because I was able to see what day-to-day life would be,” says Love. “That was comforting. I think that’s why we were able to be like, ‘Yes, we are going to move here.’”
Aside from her mother, who is originally from Illinois and attended the University of Iowa for her freshman and sophomore year of college, Love had no connections to Iowa City. But between the few homes they looked at in person, the people they met, the stores they saw, and the energy of the area, they fell in love with Iowa City quickly.
“It’s like God was saying with neon lights flashing, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be,’” says Love. “‘This is what’s best for your family, this is where I want you.’”
Once the Loves were set on making Iowa City their home, it was time to find a house. With Caroline and her husband back in Alabama until the move, Halsch took the lead in Iowa City, sending along houses that fit their criteria as they popped up on the market.
Before long, Halsch got wind of a newer home, lightly lived in, that was about to go up for sale on the edge of Iowa City and Coralville. She snapped a few photos of the outside of the house and sent them to the Loves. It was just what they were looking for. One virtual showing later, they bought the house, not wanting to wait to see it in person.
“She was very thorough with updating us on the condition of everything,” says Love. “I trusted her – if she said something was this way or that way, I was like ‘Okay.’”
Halsch continued to be the point person in Iowa City for the Loves since they weren’t yet in Iowa to handle the details for themselves. The Loves also had their plate full with an 18-month-old and their second on the way—a busy time to move, to say the least!
“We were having a fence put in because we have a dog, and she came to the house and met with the fence guy for us,” says Love. “She’s given me so many recommendations for things around the house—handymans, painters. Whatever she could do, she would do. I consider her a friend now.”
Why Iowa (City)?
The Flynns could’ve gone elsewhere for a fresh start in their careers. The Judges could’ve found diversity and opportunities in other large Iowa communities, like Des Moines. The Loves could’ve chosen a hospital on the east coast with hours that were just as family friendly. So Why Iowa City?
We’ve written several blogs on why Iowa is the best state to live, and why the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Corridor is the best community in Iowa to live. So rather than rehash all that, we took it straight to the source and asked Flynn, Judge, and Love. Here’s what they had to say.
Photo credit: Seth Studer, taken on a walk
Flynn grew up on the east coast. As a self-proclaimed city girl who spent several years in South Dakota, she loves that Iowa City is the best of both worlds.
“It’s very liveable, it’s affordable, but you get a lot of the benefits of a larger city,” says Flynn. “There’s a lot more diversity of culture, space, and landscape than you would think. It’s been nice to have trees and see fall colors again and to go hiking near Quad Cities. But you also have great restaurants, bars, a film scene, and theaters. And you can afford to live here and do those things. It will exceed your expectations for sure.”
As for Judge, seeing was believing.
“I have heard it multiple times, but it really is the biggest small town you will ever live in!” says Judge. “The diversity, school district, outdoor experiences, and endless list of things to do will not disappoint. Best move I could have made for my family!”
Love agrees. Though she didn’t move to Iowa City for family reasons, Love has found that Iowa City is just what her family needed.
“Many people told me as we were deciding where to move that Iowa City was a great place to raise a family,” says Love. “And I’m discovering that for myself as well. If you have a family, move here. That’s my advice!”
We’ll Make the Transition Easy
Relocating is never a small decision, but we can help make the process easy. Whatever your reasons for choosing Iowa City—work opportunities, family, the culture—we’re happy to help you find your place in our community, literally and metaphorically. Reach out to one of our Urban Acres agents today to start the conversation!