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Cedar Rapids, Iowa SperlingViews



"Great Place to Live"


Great Place to Live - 7/17/2009
2 0
Abhd
Cedar Rapids, IA

From someone who has family scattered all over the country and has lived in the South, East, and Japan for a year, Cedar Rapids Iowa is as good a place as any.

There are various nice things about the city. I consider it the perfect size, first of all. It's not so large that you've got to worry about sitting in traffic, but it's large enough that there's a lot of things to do and see.

The weather could be better, but I don't mind it. The summers are generally mild, with this summer (2009) being extremely nice weather. As I write this, the forecast says it will be sunny and in the mid 70's this weekend. The summers can get pretty hot and humid sometimes, but it hasn't really happened this year. The winters aren't horrible, really. We usually don't get any snow until at least December, but most of it comes in January and February. In March, it starts to heat up again and we'll have a few days in the upper 30's and low 40's to melt off some of the snow.

Our unemployment rate is historically low in comparison to the rest of the country, even during the longest lasting recession since WWII, our unemployment rate is at 6.2%, which is 5th best in the nation. There is not a lot of poverty here, because our earnings are pretty comparable to the United States average, but our cost of living is significantly cheaper.

The crime here is not bad at all. Just like any city, there are a few hot spots for crime, but I would say that for 90% of the city, crime isn't a concern in the slightest, other than the simple small things that you see everywhere (kids tee-peeing peoples' yards, etc).

In the summers, there's lots of entertainment in Cedar Rapids and the surrounding smaller towns. Lots of festivals, weekly concerts downtown for $5, farmers markets weekly around the city, movies, bars, etc. It's not the excitement you get in a larger city, but you can usually find something to entertain yourself with. In a 20-minute drive, there's a couple lakes for fishing and recreation.

As far as education goes, there are lots of great high schools in town and the nearby state colleges are very highly regarded.

So, from someone who has lived in other areas of the country, I like it here. Lots of people who have lived here their whole lives tend to complain that they want to go somewhere more exciting, with better weather, etc. But most of these people end up moving away and realizing how great of a place the midwest is at a later point in their lives.

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Maggie
Vancouver, WA

Don't move here if you are a minority - 4/18/2014

My spouse works for the Feds and we have travelled and lived all over the US. This is the only city I have been refused service at a coffee house. I am a minority, Asian. I have to deal with the incessant stares from locals who apparently have never seen an Asian before. At the Marion Hyvee, this guy literally turned his head around to watch me as I passed him as if I was an alien from outer space. At the MAC gym, I get stares from people. I work at a hospital, patients and their families looked shocked when I am going to provide medical treatment and I also get stares from the staff. The Asians in Cedar Rapids are either adopted and speak fluently or they are immigrants/refugees who have super thick accents. I speak English fluently and have a PhD. So many people here think I was adopted! The Good: The crime rate is low, the schools are okay, and the housing/rentals are decent. The Bad: passive/aggressive natives, bad drivers who think they have the right away when getting onto the freeway, lack of AP classes, "Iowa Nice" is superficial, lack of diversity, lack of culture, lack of any recreational activities, the weather is either super cold or super humid, and lack of jobs for Masters/PhD level professionals. The snow and ice last for 6 months. You either deal with it or you move. If you work in Iowa City and have to commute, it's a very dangerous commute in the winter and dangerous in the summer due to deer. Winter tires do not help when you are on ice! Even the natives go into the ditches. CR is the city of 5 stinks. It stinks in this city and I feel like I am being poisoned. Sometimes the water from the sink stinks of rotten eggs. We don't drink the water because we were told there is so much fertilizer run off from the farms, it is not safe to drink the water. There is alot of environmental poisoning from the farms. There is a current study of why so many of the farmers have leukemia. We went to an Asian restaurant and was not seated because I think they thought I was the help! We just waited and waited at the door and no one from the restaurant approached us. We are from the West Coast. If you tell the natives about the negatives, they get really offended "But there is Brucemore, you should go to Brucemore". That statement pretty much paints the picture of Cedar Rapids.

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Greg
Marion, IA

Time to market - 1/3/2014

This is a fascinating area. There are very large employers that are international in scope with the associated forward thinking. The city tends to be bogged down in its ability to get things done - the amount of time to recover from the flood, the unwillingness of the population to support a small tax to address the future, the strange distrust between the city and its leaders, some of the persons voted into office. Very strange.

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shayna
Cedar Rapids, IA

Best Place to live - 12/9/2013

I've read some terrible reviews about this city and wanted to set it straight. I've lived here all my life and every time I think about relocating, the city always brings me back. Pros: low housing costs, lower gas prices, lower housing/car insurance, best schools in the country, nature trails. Cons: not the best concert scene, sometimes can be boring. We are not hillbillies or farm people, sure they exist here, but I never see them since we live in the city. Our city is expanding the culture scene, we already have an Art Museum, but we are gaining a couple of organic/natural food markets and expanding one of our malls. The best part about living in this city is that we are a 20 minute drive from Coralville/Iowa City which is a cultural hub at half the cost of living.

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amanda
Arlington, TX

Looking For A Change??? - 8/11/2012

I am hoping a few people in Cedar Rapids or Iowa City will read this and reply. I spent 25yrs in Milwaukee Wisconsin, I LOVE IT. The weather sucks but culture and life long friends made it the best! I have been in Dallas-Ft worth for 9yrs. Its OVER POPULATED, CRIME RIDDEN, LACK CULTURE. DFW is a huge bible belt city, but the people here are amoral and lack self control. Most people cheat on their spouses and only stay married for lifestyle, such as 2 incomes & appearances. The kids here lack principles & character. The economy is GREAT, so money isn't any issue here. But desire for money & extra money leads to crime, heavy drug use etc. This place is like any other large city: LA, NY, Miami, Chicago. I am about to become a parent and would like to slow things down a bit for my child's sake. I am also a professional black woman so in healthcare jobs aren't an issue. The problem I am seeing about Cedar Rapids is the lack of African Americans or Black Americans. Another man said 90% of black men date white women. I am not seeking a relationship but it does speak to the black community if we don't still together. Also, being very beautiful I don't like when the Hispanic women in Texas look at their husbands looking at me. I don't want to move to another city where there's a crazy racial divide. Speaking of Hispanic this place is Mexico North, everything is in Spanish and media says in 10 yrs whites and blacks will be the minority. Looking to return to the Midwest but need to hear more about the culture... of lack there off.

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Marilyn
Marion, IA

Lowest Housing Interest Rates since the 1950's - t - 6/7/2012

When my Mom bought her house in Waterloo, IA in the late 1950's,she paid a rate similar to what you see now; 3.5%. That kind of rate means you can buy a house for less than you will pay in rent. The benefits are; you get to choose your own colors, you can remodel it if you want to, you can live in a neighborhood with lots of big trees, or a water park nearby, or what ever you personally choose. Think about it, you will be glad you did.

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Kelly
Cedar Rapids, IA

EXPENSIVE - 1/16/2012

It doesnt matter where you live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, you do not get what you paid for. Houses that are falling apart that you cant even live in are over 100,000!

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John

Changed for the worse - 8/20/2011

We moved to east Iowa to Cedaar Rapids 4 years ago. It was nice then, little traffic, friendly people, employers who really did care. But today 2011, it has gone a 180. Meth is a huge problem around the colleges, people are driving fast and dangerous, road rage almost every day that I can see, some kids in schools are commiting suicide, principles arrested for filming boys in the bathrooms and porn, principle arrested for spaking kids on their Birthdays, teachers hitting students in my sons school, downtown has been torn apart for construction until 2013 and its hard to park anywhere. I could spend hours on why you don't want to move here. Maybe its because the population has grown over the last 2 years with out of staters for Rockwell Collins and other companies, even when locals need the jobs. I am a professional and I only know that I am looking into moving out of here ASAP.

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Jeff
Cedar Rapids, IA

Not for everyone - 2/5/2010

Cedar Rapids is not "a great place to live" like many would have you believe. First off, the flood from 2008 has devastated the city. All we hear about on the news at night are stories about the flood or some business that was affected by the flood. The city is going to take many years just to get back to where it was before that flood even happened. The weather here sucks for most of the year. High temps are below freezing for about 4 months out of the year. It's also politically liberal as well. As a result, high property taxes are also another selling point. There's also lots of interracial dating here. In fact, 93% of all black men have white girlfriends in Cedar Rapids making it one of the highest proportions in the entire US. There are no activities to do except going to a bar. They do have a barbecue roundup in late June in which they charge you $10 just to walk through the gate and then $10 for a tiny plate of 3 ribs. In other words, a rip off. The sun shines about 130 days out of the year with overcast or total cloud cover for the remainder of the year. The summers are very humid as well. If you like living in super cold winters with lots of snow and then sweat like a pig for 3-4 months in the summer, Cedar Rapids would be a great choice. Otherwise, don't move here.

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aliza
Cedar Rapids, IA

City of 5 Seasons - 12/8/2009

I have lived in Cedar Rapids for six years and have gone through the school system. I definetley think the schools here are very structured and productive. The test scores of Cedar Rapids Schools compared to those in the nation are very high. When I think of Cedar Rapids, I cant think of anything particularly negative about this city. Housing prices are generally pretty low and it is the perfect size to find a desirable job, home, and interesting attractions, while still maintaining a comfortable, "at-home" feel. Everyone is very friendly and neatral. It is very family oriented and even though it doesnt have the high line of stores that some large cities may have, it is within easy traveling distace to places that do. The change of seasons is a problem for some people, but for most it is a refreshing change from one month to the next. Overall, I'd have to say this is a very good place to live and grow.

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chris
Cedar Rapids, IA

QUality of Life in Cedar Rapids - 11/16/2009

I have lived in Iowa all of my life (60years). I was born and raised in Des Moines and moved here to Cedar Rapids in 1986 with my wife and two daughters after living in Guthrie Center, Iowa, Marshalltown, Iowa, and Sterling, Colorado....so I have lived in various sized towns and cities. Cedar Rapids is without a doubt the best of all the places we have lived. The oak woods are very pretty and there are lots of parks in the area. I like to trout fish and am within 2 hours of some very good trout streams up in Northeast Iowa. I enjoy the change in the seasons and do a lot of gardening as I enjoy being out of doors as much as I can. I am retired and a widower now and feel there are lots of things one can do for recreation in this area. There is the City Symphony Orchestra, local theater for plays, baseball and hockey teams to watch, and Iowa City and the Hawkeye's are only 30 minutes away. It's been a great place to raise a family. I worked here for 20 years and a commute to work took me 15 minutes. "RUsh Hour" is 15 minutes in duration. The streets need some work (potholes are plentiful) but traffic is well under control. Navigating took some time to get used to due to the diagonal nature of the street layouts here and the 4 quadrants (NE, SE, SW, NW). However, once you get that 4 quadrant concept in your brain then its easier to get around. Past problems with city odors have been pretty much taken care of once the meat packing plant shut down in the downtown area some years ago and the famous "MT Trashmore" (former county landfill) has been closed down and its odors have also pretty much disappeared from the city. So the air quality is much improved over past years. Water quality here is very good as far as I am concerned. No iron taste or algae taste in it. The city presoftens the water before it goes to homes so "hard water" is not a problem in Cedar Rapids. CIty services for water, sewer, trash and recycling are reasonably priced ($40.00/mo) and my electric and gas bills average $147.00/mo for my 2,200 sq ft home. Housing prices are very reasonable in most areas of the city (caution: stay out of the flood plain). I have no regrets. ITs been a good place to live and work and raise a family.

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Todd
Cedar Rapids, IA

Flood Last Year - 8/26/2009

The river running through town flooded last year to record levels. The flood had a major impact on many people, places, and things. We heard that it takes 10 years to recover from a flood like we had. Recovery is happening, but isolated parts of town are abandoned or semi-abandoned, walking/biking trails are still bad etc. Because of this I personally down graded the city - nobodies fault that it happened, but the flood changed things.

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Abhd
Cedar Rapids, IA

Great Place to Live - 7/17/2009

From someone who has family scattered all over the country and has lived in the South, East, and Japan for a year, Cedar Rapids Iowa is as good a place as any. There are various nice things about the city. I consider it the perfect size, first of all. It's not so large that you've got to worry about sitting in traffic, but it's large enough that there's a lot of things to do and see. The weather could be better, but I don't mind it. The summers are generally mild, with this summer (2009) being extremely nice weather. As I write this, the forecast says it will be sunny and in the mid 70's this weekend. The summers can get pretty hot and humid sometimes, but it hasn't really happened this year. The winters aren't horrible, really. We usually don't get any snow until at least December, but most of it comes in January and February. In March, it starts to heat up again and we'll have a few days in the upper 30's and low 40's to melt off some of the snow. Our unemployment rate is historically low in comparison to the rest of the country, even during the longest lasting recession since WWII, our unemployment rate is at 6.2%, which is 5th best in the nation. There is not a lot of poverty here, because our earnings are pretty comparable to the United States average, but our cost of living is significantly cheaper. The crime here is not bad at all. Just like any city, there are a few hot spots for crime, but I would say that for 90% of the city, crime isn't a concern in the slightest, other than the simple small things that you see everywhere (kids tee-peeing peoples' yards, etc). In the summers, there's lots of entertainment in Cedar Rapids and the surrounding smaller towns. Lots of festivals, weekly concerts downtown for $5, farmers markets weekly around the city, movies, bars, etc. It's not the excitement you get in a larger city, but you can usually find something to entertain yourself with. In a 20-minute drive, there's a couple lakes for fishing and recreation. As far as education goes, there are lots of great high schools in town and the nearby state colleges are very highly regarded. So, from someone who has lived in other areas of the country, I like it here. Lots of people who have lived here their whole lives tend to complain that they want to go somewhere more exciting, with better weather, etc. But most of these people end up moving away and realizing how great of a place the midwest is at a later point in their lives.

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Dale
Cedar Rapids, IA

Unless you own a farm..... - 6/8/2009

The Midwest in general and specifically Cedar Rapids is not a place to live, unless you own a farm. Unless you own a farm, one city is a good as the next and due to the horrible weather here, this is no place to live. The winters are very similar to weather you would find in Russia with severe cold and lots of snow. We had -29F this past January for a couple of nights. The summers are very humid and you sweat just standing outside doing nothing. I can see if you own a farm and you HAVE to be here to make your living running it, but if you don't own a farm, you have no business living here. We are also now paying higher taxes for a major flood that destroyed the downtown area. The electric company Alliant Energy decided to jack up their rates another 18% just for good measure even though our rates were already 45% higher than the average city in the US. Oh, and they own a nuclear power plant about 8 miles away from CR in which they ship off all the energy to other states (at our expense). Anyway, this is no place to live if you don't have to be here. I guess if you like punishing yourself, then live here, but like I said, unless you own a farm, you don't belong here. One city is as good as the next and Cedar Rapids or any city in the Midwest should be avoided if you can. Stay away from the snow belt, rust belt, flood belt, cold belt, humid belt, tornado belt, etc.

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Deb
Blackwood, NJ

re: - 5/19/2009

Thanks for you great comments. They are very helpful.

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Bp
Cedar Rapids, IA

Iowa -- it's exactly as others say - 5/10/2009

I read all the reviews and what others say about Cedar Rapids is accurate (the good and the bad). Although I'm originally from the mid-west, before moving to Iowa four years ago, I lived on the West coast in Seattle and California for a total of 15 years, so I think I have a sophisticated view on quality of life measures. I moved to Iowa City originally for graduate school and only moved to Cedar Rapids recently as a less expensive place to live until I complete my independent research as I am done with coursework and do not need to be in Iowa City. I didn't plan to be here as long as I have but I have to say that I've clarified what is and what isn't important to me about where I live and work. From the perspective of a single, 30-year old and having no kids, I have to say that I find the area really lacking. And I'm not even much of a going-out type of person anymore. I'm getting my degree from the University of Iowa and would certainly recommend that university for a graduate degree (the teaching assistant benefits are phenomenal), but make sure you don't get too comfortable here with the lower-cost of living (more on that later). The state has a real problem with keeping its graduates in the state after they complete a college degree. In fact, there are state initiatives to reduce the "brain drain" problem. As a result, the area is really mostly families. For me, I will be leaving the area as soon as I procure a permanent position in my field in another state. Given the recession, that could be a couple of years, but the extreme weather (winter and summer), lack of professional singles, and religiosity here are my motivation. The economy here seems to be "ok" in comparison to many other parts of the country, but I do think salaries are lower here. One thing to keep in mind is if your field is not here, don't move here because I think there is A LOT of competition for jobs that require some college or a degree. I realize that contracts the "brain drain" comment but there is this dynamic that people who earn a graduate degree from the University of Iowa, in particular a Master's degree, don't want to leave the area. Food...I'm not a fan of the food here either. One person said that the produce is substandard and they are right. Even in the spring and summer it is difficult to find decent produce. Traffic...in comparison to Seattle (one commenter said that they currently live in Seattle but want to move to Cedar Rapids)...total opposites. I almost always drive a mile a minute in any direction, which is really nice. Weather...that being sad, driving in the winter is dangerous here. Since that is the case, I recommend living near where you work to lower your chances of getting into an accident. Besides driving in the winters, winters preclude you from spending much time outside because of the low temperatures. Another commenter said that that wasn't much snow here. What, compared to Russia?? In my opinion, Iowa gets a good amount of snow here. People...difficult for me to say as I am intentionally not looking to make friends because I don't want to live in a such extreme weather state. I made a couple of friends through my graduate program at the University of Iowa, but honestly if I were to have moved here just for a job, I think I would have a very difficult time finding "my people". Cost of living...yes, houses and condos are incredibly less expensive compared to the West coast and probably to a lot of states. BUT I do not think rents are that much cheaper here -- compared to Seattle too. I'm actually paying more for rent and for electricity. Groceries are decently priced but you may want to go up to Minneapolis or Chicago for a truly fine dining experience. What I would say is take some time to determine what is important to you before making a switch to a state like Iowa. Ask yourself what you will compromise on and what you won't compromise on depending on your present situation and future plans and your priorities. Good luck!

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Jeff
Cedar Rapids, IA

Not so great - 4/20/2009

Cedar Rapids, as the rest of the Midwest, has some of the worst weather in the entire US. Summers are very humid just like living in the south and winters are extremely cold just like living in Canada. It's the worst of both worlds! We get tons of snow and the Spring season takes forever to arrive. Really, our window of nice weather goes from late May until early October, so that's 4-5 months. The rest of the time you are either wearing a parka or some type of jacket. The people here are rude too. Somehow CR won some award from some Allstate insurance company for having the nation's best drivers. If what we have are the best, I'd sure to see the worst! People here have never heard of turn signals and don't use them. If you let someone into traffic as a favor, they will just look at you and not thank you in any form. It's almost like you owe it to them. People are unfriendly for the most part. If you go just 10 miles outside of the city, you can be in small towns where they look at you as if you're from another planet! We won't even discuss that. Anyway, I can't think of any reason to live in Cedar Rapids, unless you believe in self-punishment. There are so many better choices out there. I would make Cedar Rapids one of the very last choices.

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sarah
Cedar Rapids, IA

Very few nice days - 2/27/2008

Although Cedar Rapids is a great city with low crime, great people, and lots of opportunity, the weather is terrible. We have had so much snow and ice this winter, then we get to look forward to tornadoes, rain, then hot humid summer. There's not very many comfortable days here.

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Clint
Barry, IL

Cedar Rapids - Pros/Cons - 2/16/2008

Pros: 1. Very low crime rate 2. Good school system 3. Low cost of living and housing 4. Affordable place to live 5. Diverse, stable economy 6. Home to Quaker Oats and several other industrial producers 7. An overall good place to live and raise a family Cons: 1. The city smells from the Quaker Oats factories 2. Not very much to do

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Lisa
North Bend, WA

Absence makes the heart grow fonder??? - 1/6/2008

I was born and raised in NW Cedar Rapids. I moved to Alaska at age 28,living there for 14 yrs and now reside Seattle. I always thought that Iowa was a"nice place to be from, but not a place to stay" well I have missed CR very often over the years. CR is MUCH friendlier than Seattle(very unfriendly people). I miss the beautiful change in the seasons and definetly have missed the outstanding education that my children did not recieve in either AK or Wa state. The cost of living does look attractive in CR, but I am a nurse, and the wages are very low in all of Iowa. I would consider moving back if I could make even half the wage I make here...I guess I'll need to wait for retirement.

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John
Cedar Rapids, IA

Quality of life - 8/9/2007

Cedar Rapids is a fairly large city (135K)in America's heartland. This is a good place to raise a family, as is Iowa in general. People are fairly friendly and it's pretty easy to get to know your neighbors if you want. In this area, we have great (though flat) biking trails, but little in the way of what most people would call "hiking trails." The scenery is pretty monotonous except in a few areas (e.g. Grant Wood country) that are blessed with some hills. The Mississippi Valley is also quite beautiful. Most of the good fishing spots in the state are outside of our Southeast quadrant, unfortunately. The climate if fairly extreme. Winter is colder and windier than upstate NY, but we are spared the snow. (Although there are places where the wind simply moves the same snow back and forth across the road several times a day!) The air in Cedar Rapids (the "City of Five Smells") can drive you indoors at times. Yeast, starch and food manufacture has some unpleasant side effects. And then there's the City of Cedar Rapids' Sewer (mis)Treatment plant......! The biggest drawback of living here is that Iowa is a "fly-over" state. While the U of I (in Iowa City, about 30 miles south) manages to atract some national acts, we are for the most part out of the mainstream. The food is surprising bad here! This is meat and potatoes county, and restaurants have a very hard time making it in Cedar Rapids. In a recent newspaper survey, chain outlets won in the categories of submarine sandwiches, Italian and Mexican food, and breakfasts. That shouldn't happen in an area as big as this (i.e. including the "Corridor" down to Iowa City, there are at least 250K people here.) Produce in supermarkets is also substandard, but there is a thriving farmers market circuit during the growing season. I like Iowa, but I am planning to move away. Not having a family, it lacks in too many areas to develop and sustain my enthusiasm. Condition your reaction to my comments by understanding my situation. Don't dismiss Iowa lightly--it has many qualities of life that "sexier" places are lacking.

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