5 Reasons Why North Liberty is One of the Most Popular Places to Live in Iowa

“I want to live in North Liberty!” 

It’s a statement our agents hear from buyers all the time. North Liberty is one of the hottest communities in the Corridor—and the state—right now, topping buyers’ location wishlists. But what makes North Liberty special? Why is it such a popular place to live? Even more importantly, what makes it a good place to live?

Our agents know North Liberty inside and out. Many of them call this community home, and one of our REALTORS® even sits on the town’s city council. If you’re considering moving to North Liberty, here’s everything you need to know about this up-and-coming community to figure out if it’s the right fit for you.


(Photo Credit: Wikimedia)

North Liberty’s History: A Step Back in Time

While most people view North Liberty as a newer community, it’s actually more than 100 years old. 

North Liberty was officially established in 1913, with an unremarkable population of less than 200. Located along the interurban railway between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids (known as the CRANDIC railway), it remained a fairly small community for many years. It grew steadily until the last two decades, when the population really began to boom. Fun fact: in 2005, North Liberty only had 2 stoplights! 

Now, what was once a “bedroom community” for Iowa City, Coralville, and Cedar Rapids has become a thriving community of its own. As the surrounding cities grew, North Liberty found itself situated at the heart of the Corridor, the perfect distance from both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. 

North Liberty by the Numbers

Over the last decade, North Liberty has been one of the fastest growing communities in the Corridor, rivaled only by Tiffin. It’s also been one of the fastest growing cities in the state as a whole, outpacing even Des Moines suburbs such as Waukee. Between 2010 and 2020, North Liberty had the fastest growing population in all of Iowa among towns of more than 5,000, according to U.S. Census data

But just how significantly is North Liberty growing? The community’s population ballooned from 13,374 in April of 2010 to 20,479 in April of 2020—a 53% increase. 

(Photo Credit: The Gazette)

Here’s a few other statistics that help to capture the size and feel of North Liberty: 

  • 5,684 acres or more than 8 square miles
  • 7 elementary schools* 
  • 2 junior high/middle schools*
  • 2 high schools* 
  • 1 private school 
  • 24.3 miles of recreational trails
  • 10 Pond and park areas 
  • 30.2 Average age of residents
  • $268,234 Median home value 

 

*One or more of these schools are located in Tiffin, whose school district (Clear Creek-Amana) encompasses a western portion of North Liberty.

Aside from population growth, North Liberty has achieved several other state rankings: 

  • ​​#4 Best Suburbs to Buy a House in Iowa (2022)
  • #9 Best Places to Buy a House in Iowa (2022)

 

North Liberty has earned plenty of national rankings as well:

  • #56 Best Suburbs to Buy a House in America (2022)
  • #36 America’s 50 Best Cities to Live (2019)
  • #9 Smartest City in the U.S. (2017)

 

We know numbers can’t tell the whole story, though. What’s inspiring this growth and prompting these top ratings?

 

1. A Leader in Location

The town slogan is “Connected to What Matters,” and the community lives up to that promise. North Liberty is equidistant to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, making it the geographical center of the Corridor. This unique connection to the area’s two biggest cities and everything they have to offer—from employment to entertainment and education—is a huge part of what has fueled North Liberty’s growth.

(Photo credit: Google Maps)

 

2. The Perfect Combination of “Urban” and “Acres”

North Liberty isn’t just about being close to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Nature is also never very far away in North Liberty. Aside from its 10 public parks and ponds and countless playgrounds, this community enjoys easy access to a number of the Corridor’s best outdoor attractions:

  • Sugar Bottom Recreational Area (5 miles away)
  • Sugar Bottom Campground (2.5 miles away) 
  • Lake Macbride, Lake Macbride State Park, and Lake Macbride Beach (4.5 miles away)
  • Coralville Reservoir, also known as Coralville Lake (14 miles away)
  • Devonian Fossil Gorge (6 miles away)

 

(Photo Credit: Tony Webster on Flickr)

Together, these places offer endless outdoor recreation opportunities. From mountain biking to hiking, boating, paddle boarding, canoeing, and swimming at the beach, North Liberty is a nature lover’s dream.

 

3. A Hot Housing Market

Aside from location, what makes North Liberty unique is the sheer number of housing options available. 

From the beginning, this community has been a unique blend of single-family homes and multifamily housing such as duplexes, condos, townhomes, and zero-lots. Detached single-family homes make up 41% of North Liberty’s housing, with duplexes comprising the next biggest portion at 29%—a significantly higher percentage of duplexes than any other Johnson County community.

(Photo Credit: The Gazette

North Liberty’s housing has expanded rapidly to match its fast-paced growth. There are many new residential developments in the works at any given time. This means North Liberty has a wider selection of new construction properties available than many other Corridor communities. Plenty of lots are also available for those who are looking to build their dream home from the ground up. Contact your Urban Acres agent to discuss what’s on the market in North Liberty’s current developments! 

If a brand new home isn’t on your wishlist or in your budget, don’t worry—the North Liberty housing market offers plenty of existing homes, too. Check out our current North Liberty listings to see what’s available.

 

4. Booming Businesses

As North Liberty’s population grows, so do the area businesses! In the last 5 years, Urban Acres has been a part of 29 commercial deals in North Liberty. You can find all of the necessities in town—a doctor’s office, grocery store, gym, and so on—yet all the perks of Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Coralville are still close at hand. This ability to be a stand-alone community and yet connect you to so many of the Corridor’s resources is one of the best parts about North Liberty. 

Grocery stores in town include Fareway and the area’s newest Hy-Vee, an 85,000 square foot store that opened in 2018.* Doctors’ offices include a Mercy clinic and a University of Iowa Health Care (UIHC) clinic— branches of the area’s major hospitals—as well as several family-owned practices. Gyms include Top Shape Gym, Planet Fitness, the North Liberty Community center, and several others.

(Photo Credit: Corridor Business Journal)

North Liberty is also home to major businesses across a wide array of industries, providing plenty of employment opportunities. GreenState Credit Union’s headquarters lie in North Liberty along I-380, along with a GEICO corporate office; Spotix Inc., a national hearth, BBQ, and patio retailer; Frontier Co-op, a wholesaler of natural and organic products; Heartland Express, a national transportation company; Grand Rail Development, a local development company responsible for much of the expansion in North Liberty and the Corridor; the Corridor Business Journal’s headquarters; a Whirlpool warehouse; and the list goes on. 

Further into town, you’ll find dozens of other thriving local, regional, and national businesses: Moxie solar, a regional leader in solar power; Advantage, a local home building company; Leash on Life, a store dedicated to helping you spoil your furry friends; AlphaGraphics, a full-service print store chain; and many others, from chiropractors to consulting businesses, car washes, and credit unions.

 

5. Excellent Eats and Entertainment

North Liberty isn’t all work and no play. There’s plenty to do here, from grabbing a bite to eat to attending local festivals.

Eats

Many locally-loved Iowa City restaurants have expanded into North Liberty from the surrounding areas: 

  • Wig & Pen
  • Heyn’s Ice Cream
  • Mosley’s BBQ
  • Bluebird Café
  • Falbo Bros Pizza*

 

(Photo credit: Tin Roost)

However, North Liberty boasts its own one-of-a-kind restaurants and bars as well, which draw people in from all over the Corridor: 

  • Tin Roost
  • Red’s Alehouse
  • Sugapeach Chicken & Fish Fry
  • Bobbers Grill, located on the edge of the Coralville Lake
  • J&A Tap 
  • Field Day Brewing, a new brewery and taproom set to open in 2023

 

No matter what kind of cuisine you’re craving, North Liberty has options:

Italian

  • ​​Rusciano’s Authentic Taste of Napoli
  • Mirabito’s Italian

 

Mexican 

  • Fiesta Mexican Restaurant 
  • Sobremesa Cuisine y Cantina
  • Rancho Nuevo
  • Jalapeño Mexican Restaurant

 

Chinese 

  • Yang Chow Wok
  • China Garden

 

Of course, popular chain restaurants have made their way into town, too: 

  • McDonald’s
  • Burger King
  • Pancheros
  • Arby’s
  • Dairy Queen
  • Jimmy Johns
  • Pizza Hut
  • Pizza Ranch
  • Scooter’s Coffee
  • Taco Bell (coming soon) 

 

New restaurants are also frequently popping up in and around North Liberty, whether they are locally-owned or beloved chains. Recent additions include:

  • Starbucks (with a drive thru)*
  • Jersey Mike’s*
  • Foundry Food + Tap*

 

           

(Photo Credit: North Liberty Blues & BBQ)

Entertainment

There’s also no shortage of things to do year-round. Major annual events include:

  • Blues and BBQ, a day filled with live music, craft beer, and of course, delicious BBQ.
  • Porchfest, where porches around town become stages as people gather to enjoy live music.
  • Beat the Bitter, more than a month of family-friendly events to embrace the cold and make the most of Iowa winters. 

Check out a full list of North Liberty’s community events

Other fun things to do in town include:

  • Diventures, where you can learn to swim and to scuba dive.
  • Colony Pumpkin Patch, a little slice of country in the middle of the city. Here, you can pick the perfect pumpkin and navigate the corn maze in the fall or pick sunflowers in the summer.
  • Quail Creek Golf Course, a 9-hole course perfect for golfers of all skill levels.
  • Leaderboard, a sports bar that also happens to be an indoor golf facility, complete with 5 PGA-endorsed golf simulators. They also have mini golf, skee-ball, darts, and pool tables, as well as pinball and other classic arcade games!
  • Toptracer, a subsidiary of Topgolf that is set to come to Tiffin’s Park Place neighborhood in 2022, just on the other side of I-380 from North Liberty.

 

*Though these are technically located in the northernmost part of Coralville and thus have a Coralville address, they are less than a quarter mile outside of the North Liberty city limit along Highway 965, making them easy to access for North Liberty residents.

A Bright Future: Recent Projects and Upcoming Improvements

Fast-growing communities must be able to adapt and expand quickly, and North Liberty has done just that. The town has invested tens of millions of dollars in public infrastructure projects to prepare for the future and ensure the city can sustain its continued growth. 

One major project nearing completion is the revamp of Ranshaw Way, a.k.a. Highway 965, which runs through town from north to south. This $7 million dollar construction project expanded Ranshaw way into 4 lanes through most of town. It also added turn lanes and a pedestrian underpass to cope with growing car and foot traffic.

(Photo Credit: North Liberty Website / YouTube)

A little further into town, another notable project is just beginning. North Liberty currently leases space for city administration offices. As a result, the community is investing $10 million into a new building that will house city administration, planning, building, communications, legal, and other departments. This building—referred to as the Civic Campus project—is expected to be completed in 2024. 

Despite its growth, North Liberty doesn’t have the distinctive, walkable downtown of Iowa City or Cedar Rapids. This could be changing soon, however. The city is in the early stages of approval for a plan that would rezone 71 acres of land on the north side of town. The development groups behind the project plan to transform the area into a combination of a commercial downtown development, single family homes, and multi-family apartment buildings. This project, known as Solomon’s Landing, could bring a downtown atmosphere to North Liberty similar to that of downtown Iowa City or Iowa River Landing in Coralville. 

       

(Photo Credit: KHAK)                                                                        Photo Credit: Gazette)

Last but certainly not least, the UIHC was recently approved to break ground on a $395 million dollar hospital facility in North Liberty along Forevergreen Road. As a leading hospital in the state and the nation, UIHC has rapidly outgrown its downtown Iowa City campus, and they looked to the budding community of North Liberty for its expansion. Despite the opposition of neighboring hospitals, the 469,000-square-foot facility has been given the green light to proceed due to the community’s need. The University of Iowa broke ground in October of 2021, and the hospital is expected to be completed by summer 2025. 

As the community continues to grow, city leaders are continuing to look to the future to create a deliberate plan for North Liberty’s expansion. Their “Connected to Tomorrow” campaign aims to spend a year gathering input from the public to build a vision for what the city could look like in the year 2040. 

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia)

There’s a Lot to Love about North Liberty

North Liberty’s location at the heart of the Corridor and its ability to stay ahead of the curve with abundant housing, dining, and entertainment opportunities has fueled its growth over the last 10+ years, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

Curious about this community? Want to live in North Liberty? We’re here to help you find your dream home—whether it’s in North Liberty or another Corridor community. Reach out to one of our agents today!

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