The Waterloo-Cedar Falls area is a busy manufacturing and agricultural center dominated by such names as John Deere and IBP (meatpacking) among others. The downtown areas are typically Midwestern, functional and attractive mix of old and new. While entertainment and nightlife are minimal, there are waterfront parks and a well-used bike trail running 52 miles to Cedar Rapids on an old railroad grade. There are two noted science museums.
Cedar Falls lies 8 miles west of Waterloo and is home to the 13,000-student University of Northern Iowa. The area is vulnerable to the economic cycles of the farm industry, but has attractive housing costs and overall cost of living - among lowest in the state. Short commute times make it a stress-free place to live. Cedar Falls won a 2002 National Trust for Historic Preservation Great American Main Street Award.
Waterloo is situated on the banks of the Cedar River in northeast Iowa. The terrain is flat to gently rolling, mainly farmland. The climate is humid continental with four distinct seasons and highly variable temperature and precipitation. Summer is warm and humid, and receives most of the year’s rainfall as thunderstorms. Winter is cold and dry with occasional snow. There is some bitter cold, with an average of 3 days per year with a high temperature below zero. First freeze is early October, last is late April.