Retiring in Iowa

1 min readLast updated December 19, 2023by Kate Morgan

Discover the pros and cons, best places, age-related benefits, and considerations for retiring in Iowa.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2022, Iowa had a population of approximately 3.2 million people, with over 18% of the population being over the age of 65, making it one of the top states with a large retirement population.

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Summary

  • Many people retire in Iowa for a laid-back lifestyle in the country.

  • More than 18% of Iowans are over age 65.

  • The advantages of retiring in Iowa include affordability, outdoor activities, friendly locals, and the cultural scene.

  • Some of the drawbacks include limited public transport and job opportunities and extreme weather.

  • Speak to a financial advisor about saving for an Iowa retirement.

What are the pros and cons of retiring in Iowa?

If you’re thinking about spending your retirement in Iowa, you must make an informed decision. To do this, you need to be aware of the pros and cons of retiring in this state known for its natural beauty and warm community spirit.

The pros of retiring in Iowa

The main pros include:

  • Affordability: Iowa's cost of living is generally lower than the national average, which is a huge advantage for retirees on a fixed income. Housing and healthcare costs are also lower than in many other states, making it a very attractive destination for retirees.

  • Outdoor activities: Iowa is home to numerous state parks, lakes, and trails, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping. The state is also known for its beautiful scenic drives and relaxing countryside.

  • Friendly community: Iowans are known for their welcoming and friendly nature, making it easy for retirees to feel at home and make new friends. The state is also home to many retirement communities that offer various services and activities for seniors.

  • Cultural scene: Iowa has a rich cultural scene, with numerous museums, theaters, and performing arts venues. The state hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, including the Iowa State Fair, the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, and the Des Moines Arts Festival.

The cons of retiring in Iowa

The cons you should be aware of include:

  • Weather: Iowa has a four-season climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The state is also prone to tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, which could be a concern for retirees living in certain areas.

  • Limited public transportation: Iowa's public transportation system is not as extensive as in other states, which could be a disadvantage for retirees who do not drive or prefer not to drive. This makes retirement in Iowa a less attractive option for many.

  • Limited job opportunities: Iowa's job market is not as robust as in other states, which could be a concern for retirees who want to work part-time or continue working after retirement. However, there are many opportunities for volunteer work and community involvement. 

Where are the best places to retire in Iowa?

If the pros outweigh the cons and you are still happy to consider spending your golden years in the Hawkeye State, you should also consider the best places to retire in Iowa:

  1. Des Moines: As the capital and largest city of Iowa, Des Moines offers a vibrant downtown area with cultural events and activities, museums, parks, and trails. The city also boasts excellent healthcare facilities and a low cost of living.

  2. Cedar Rapids: This city in Eastern Iowa is known for its excellent healthcare system, abundant outdoor recreation opportunities, and cultural amenities. Cedar Rapids is home to a variety of festivals, museums, and theaters, as well as a thriving downtown area.

  3. Ames: Home to Iowa State University, Ames is a college town that offers an active and intellectual lifestyle. The city has a low crime rate, affordable housing, and a range of recreational activities, including parks, golf courses, and hiking trails.

  4. Iowa City: Located in Eastern Iowa, Iowa City is a vibrant college town with a rich cultural and intellectual atmosphere. The city offers a variety of museums, galleries, and performing arts venues, as well as excellent healthcare facilities, making it one of the best places to retire in Iowa.

  5. West Des Moines: This suburb of Des Moines is known for its safe and family-friendly environment, as well as its low cost of living. West Des Moines offers numerous parks and trails, a variety of shopping and dining options, and a strong sense of community.

What age can you retire in Iowa?

The law does not mandate a specific age for retirement in Iowa. As long as you have the means to support yourself financially, you can retire at any age in the state. However, there are some age-related benefits and considerations for retirees in Iowa that might want to make you wait until you reach a certain age:

  • Social Security benefits: The earliest age at which you can begin receiving Social Security benefits is 62, but if you delay taking benefits, your monthly payments will increase. Full retirement age (FRA) is between 66 and 67, depending on your birth year. Delaying benefits until after FRA can result in even higher monthly payments.

  • Medicare eligibility: Medicare eligibility begins at age 65, regardless of retirement status. However, if you choose to retire before age 65, you will need to find alternative healthcare coverage until you become eligible for Medicare.

  • Age discrimination: It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on age.

  • Retirement savings: Regardless of retirement age, individuals need to start saving for retirement as early as possible. Many financial experts recommend saving at least 15% of your income for retirement. You could check out the average retirement savings in the US.

Is Iowa a good place to retire?

Although limited public transportation and job opportunities are considerations, Iowa is a great option for retirees. This state certainly is one to consider if you value a peaceful, affordable lifestyle and being closer to nature while still having access to cultural and recreational amenities.

Weigh up all the costs of retiring in Iowa with the help of a trustworthy, SEC-regulated financial advisor. Learn more about retirement at Unbiased, and let us match you with an advisor who will work with you to create a bespoke plan and offer you expert financial advice for life's biggest financial decisions.

Content writer

Kate Morgan

Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.

Want to retire in Iowa?

A financial advisor can help you plan and realize your dream retirement.