Iowa is often called a flyover state. Over the last few years, however, we’ve earned our fair share of accolades—and the bragging rights that come with them. For example, U.S. News named Iowa the best state in America, and we were even named the #4 best state to drive in (when the roads aren’t covered in snow, of course).
While we may be proud to call the Hawkeye State our home, we’re even prouder to live in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Corridor. Time and time again, the Corridor is ranked as one of the best places to live not only in Iowa, but in the Midwest and beyond.
There’s a reason that many of our agents have called the Corridor home their entire lives. If you’re considering moving to the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area (or even if you already live here and just need a humble brag), here are a few reasons why the Corridor is a great place to plant your roots.
1. Unbeatable arts and culture.
Iowa City is known as many things—home of the Hawkeyes, the site of Iowa’s first capital—but we’re also known for being one of the greatest small cities for the arts. The performing arts thrive at local classics like FilmScene, the historic Englert Theatre, Hancher Auditorium, and the downtown music scene. Our annual festivals put on by Summer of the Arts, such as Jazz Fest and Art Fest, are local favorites that keep arts and culture at the forefront of our community. Iowa City has also produced some of the world’s best writers and is home to the country’s oldest creative writing program through the University of Iowa. In 2008, UNESCO named Iowa City the world’s third City of Literature.
And it’s not just Iowa City. From the Amana Colonies’ many festivals to the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, arts and culture are a fundamental part of the entire Corridor.
2. Half a million strong. No two the same.
The Corridor is home to almost 500,000 people, all of whom hail from different walks of life —and even different corners of the world. The University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College are a large part of what makes this area special. Students, professors, and faculty flock here from all across the globe, creating a uniquely diverse population. The Corridor is an engaging blend of students, academic scholars, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, young professionals, and families who have had their roots in the area for generations.
3. Small town charm meets big city opportunities.
We may be biased, but nowhere else does the small-town feel that Iowa is known for mesh so well with an urban landscape. Nationally recognized companies such as Collins Aerospace, ACT, P&G, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Transamerica, and CRST exist alongside small, family-owned businesses, boutiques, restaurants, and shops that line the downtown streets. Even if you come for the urban vibes and city-life opportunities, you’ll stay for the homey feel and caring community that’s always ready to lend a hand. The Corridor is truly the best of both worlds.
4. We’re Urban and Acres.
From small cities like Iowa City and Cedar Rapids to growing communities like Tiffin and North Liberty and smaller towns like Palo and Kalona, the Corridor is home to communities of every size. Whether you prefer a luxury condo in the heart of downtown, a wide-open acreage in the countryside, or something in between, we have a place for you to call home.
5. There’s no better place to opt outside.
The Corridor is known for its abundance of recreational opportunities, both indoors and out. From rock climbing at the University of Iowa gym to cross country skiing in Lake Macbride State Park to mountain biking in the Sugar Bottom Recreation Area, there’s something for every outdoor enthusiast here in every season. The Corridor is also home to Palisades-Kepler State Park, dozens of campgrounds, and miles and miles of bike trails, such as the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. In fact, the Corridor is known for being bike-friendly, with both Iowa City and Cedar Rapids having previously been named Bicycle Friendly Communities by The League of American Bicyclists. Iowa City was also ranked #2 on a list of most fitness-friendly places in the nation.
Of course, there’s no denying the natural beauty of this area. When you plant your roots here, you get to witness the best of the four seasons. Watch the daffodils bloom on the Iowa City Pentacrest outside the Old Capitol in the spring; take in the summer heat lying on the banks of the Iowa River or Lake Macbride in Solon; witness the leaves change color at F.W. Kent Park near Oxford; and watch as the snow settles and downtown Cedar Rapids is transformed into a winter wonderland.
6. History Happens Here.
Though Iowa is known for its rich soil, our area of the state is also rich with history. Plenty of influential figures—both modern and historical—hail from our corner of the world.
In Cedar Rapids, you can drive past the boyhood home of famous artist Grant Wood. Take a trip down to Iowa City to see the Oakes-Wood Home, located in the Longfellow Historic District, where Grant Wood spent the last few years of his life and where he painted some of his most famous works.
The Corridor is also home to one of Iowa’s only two national parks—Herbert Hoover National Historical Site. Walk through the cottage where the 31st President of the United States was born, explore his hometown of West Branch, and visit his burial site.
Want to go even further back in time? Take a trip to the Devonian Fossil Gorge to see fossils that are 375-million years old embedded in the rock.
Of course, the history doesn’t stop with fossils and historic figures. Explore historic neighborhoods, landmarks, and homes throughout Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. We’re even the origin site of some more modern celebrities, such as Ashton Kutcher and Elijah Wood.
7. The numbers don’t lie.
You may be thinking: all of the above sounds great, but where’s the proof? The proof is in the numbers! Whether it’s statewide or nationwide, Corridor communities are constantly finding themselves named among the best of the best in studies, articles, and analyses. The rankings below speak for themselves.
- Ranked one of America’s 50 best cities to live in (2021)
- Named one of the best affordable American cities for creatives (2020)
- Ranked #4 in Livability’s Top 100 Places to Live (2019)
- Ranked #3 of the Top 20 Best Cities for Recent College Grads by Business Insider (2019)
- Ranked #1 best place in America for children for three years in a row (2017-2019); ranked top three (2020)
- Named Most Caring City in Iowa for its high population of workers in altruistic fields such as social work, healthcare, counseling, and teaching (2020)
- Ranked #13 in a list of Best Cities in America to Buy a House (2020)
- Ranked #16 for the Top Livable Mid-Sized Cities (2019)
- Ranked #4 on a list of Best American Cities to Work in Tech (2019)
The Corridor as a whole
- A report by Stacker.com ranked three Corridor communities in the top 100 places to live in the Midwest: Coralville (#91), University Heights (#83), and Mount Vernon (#80)
- North Liberty was named Iowa’s healthiest housing market, based home values and the average number of years spent in your home
We couldn’t have picked a better community to live and work in!
Thinking about making the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Corridor your home? Learn more about what each of the communities in the Corridor has to offer. Ready to start your home search? Contact an agent today or browse our latest listings!