Not the worst place I've lived.
We lived in Iowa City for about 8 years. It has the benefits and pitfalls of most college towns. The University of Iowa brings with it great cultural events and a wide variety of ethnic restaurants, diversity etc. What I loved most about Iowa City was how politically active most people seemed to be (I loved caucusing!), the volunteer culture and overall dedication and pride in being educated.
The biggest draw back is the weather - there is NO good season. Summers are humid and hot, in the Spring in constantly rains, you get about two weeks of nice Fall weather and then it's cold and nasty for two months until it finally snows and then you are miserable until May, when you might, again, get two weeks of nice weather before it turns hot and humid - this obviously isn't specific to IC - but a big drawback of living in this part of the Midwest.
It's a college town - it's going to be expensive. Daycare, housing etc is way more pricey than other places in the Midwest but if you're coming from the coasts this might be normal to you.
My two biggest complaints: safety and rude people. I've lived in several different places in my life (one of them being Phoenix, AZ) and NEVER, NEVER in my life have I called the cops so many times as when we lived in Iowa City. In fact, I don't ever think I had to call the cops before or since. Once was for someone trying to follow me home and trying to get me to get out of my car (dressed from head to toe black in the middle of summer). Another time, someone tried to break in our front door in the middle of the night. One time, a guy started fighting with my husband and threatened to kill him when my husband insisted on getting the license plate back from the car we just sold him. People wandering around in the middle of the highway, etc. There just always seemed to be a lot of sketchy people wandering around.
Rudeness - Most of the friends we made were not from Iowa. They were other transplants searching for other people who do not use phrases like "The Iowa Way" or who did not possess an over-inflated sense of self worth simply because they were born and raised in Iowa. Customer service was horrible. Most people would act like they were doing you a favor instead of understanding that you were paying them for a service. Most of our neighbors were friendly enough but they seemed more interested in knowing our business so they could judge us or make passive aggressive comments instead of actually caring about us.
My kids' experience was pretty good. Parents were really into play dates and my kids had lots of friends to play with - just dealing with the parents was a little challenging - but I'm sure that's true everywhere!
Overall, I remember being really glad to leave.
A.L.L. | Plainfield, IN