A Newcomer's Guide to Iowa City - Weather, Real Estate and More...

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268

Iowa City Weather - Wait 5 Minutes and it Will Change...

When I relocated to the Iowa City area back in 2000 the weather was a big concern for me. I was moving from a temperate middle European climate to Iowa that was known for its hot temps in the summer and oh so much snow in the winter. Did Iowa live up to my expectations? 16 years later I can say, sort of. I'm still not a big fan of the Iowan winters, but on the whole we don't get as much snow as I expected. And it doesn't stick around that long. In fact, there's a saying that I heard for the first time after moving to the Mid West. "If you don't like the weather in Iowa, wait 5 minutes, it will change."  That about sums it up. The highs are very high and the lows are very low. And you can never be sure what's coming next. It's not unusual for the temps to swing to extremes with little or no notice.

Iowa is also in a region that's prone to tornadoes. In 16 years I remember one tornado coming through and causing major damage in the Iowa City downtown area. That was in April 2006. There are often tornado warnings and watches in the springtime, which is why homes with basements are the most popular with buyers. If you buy a home or condo in the Iowa City area, you at least want to have a contingency plan for the stray tornado. Even if tornado touch downs are more rare, the Iowa City and Coralville area have their fair share of near misses with extremely high winds that do a lot of damage. And then there's the rain... June and early July 2014 were particularly prone to those famous Iowa storms. That was one of those years when we nervously watched the Iowa River rise and flow over its banks, as the photo below of City Park on July 3rd, 2014 illustrates - Looking much more conducive for ducks than for kids playing soccer, which is what you'll typically see on that (watery) grassy area at City Park! (We are having an unusually wet summer this year too, but nothing compared to this).

Flooding at City Park Iowa City July 2014


Seasonal Cycles that Move the Iowa City Real Estate Market

Does the weather impact the Iowa City real estate market? Real estate is seasonal. I think that applies to any market. Particularly in the Mid West people are more likely to want to move in the summer time than the winter time. As far as Iowa City is concerned, the market is affected just as much by the academic year at the University of Iowa and the UI Hospitals as it is by the season. The Fall Semester begins in August, so that provides an overlap when local buyers and buyers relocating to Iowa City are all in the market for a home at the same time. Buyers and Sellers moving up or down in the Iowa City area like to move in vacation time. Students and faculty for the UI are looking at the same time frame. Physicians coming, (or leaving), the UI Hospitals are also looking to buy or sell in the same time frame. What that means is that the real estate market in the Iowa City area is hot to the point of being on fire in the spring time. Houses and condos barely make it to market before getting offers accepted in all of the areas I cover - Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty. 


Single family homes are the most popular choice by buyers in the Iowa City area. Condos come in a close second, especially in the spring time with the buyers relocating to the Iowa City area for 3 - 5 years. The UI Hospitals is a teaching hospital. The doctors doing their training there work very long hours and don't have much time for yard work. On top of that, renting in Iowa City is quite expensive. Often times parents of students attending the UIOWA will buy condos for their sons and daughters as it not only works out more affordable, there is obviously also the freedom that home ownership allows that renting doesn't. Still on the topic of renting, let's not forget our local first time homebuyers who often consider condos their first choice when they get tired of paying their landlord's mortgage and make the decision to become homeowners themselves. In short, there are a lot of condo buyers in the Iowa City market come spring time! 

Iowa City - A Vibrant College Town with Something for Everyone

So far I've covered the weather and talked about some general real estate market trends and housing options in the Iowa City area. How about things to do? If you think Iowa City is a vibrant college town with a lot to offer, you'd be right. Iowa City is exactly that. In fact. Looking at it from the perspective of almost every demographic, Iowa City is a great place to live.  The City of Iowa City is "green" focused and creates an environment that is attractive to both families and those retiring to the area. There are for instance 42 parks in Iowa City. That's a lot of parks for what ultimately is a pretty small area! I can honestly say that it's quite something to show houses and know that there is almost always a park close by. This applies just as much to Coralville by the way, which is part of the greater Iowa City area. 

 Splash Pad Ped Mall downtown Iowa City

As I'm writing this in July, it seems fitting to mention the Summer of the Arts. The mission of the Summer of the Arts Program is to foster community spirit by bringing people together in the heart of Iowa City for cultural and art events. Coralville also hosts several events to encourage community spirit with the July 4th Celebrations and FryFest.

You really do have the best of all worlds in Iowa City and Coralville. On the one hand, a rural and friendly atmosphere with farmers markets and concerts in the park AND all the amenities you need close by. Easy access to hospitals is a given. The parks are known for their excellent walking and biking trails.  There are also wide and varied options of recreational activities, indoor and out, including special programs for both kids and seniors, showing just how important it is to have an environment that is inclusive for ALL its residents.

Posted by

Denise Hamlin, Realtor®


CARDINAL Realty, Coralville IA 

Licensed to Sell Real Estate in the State of Iowa


Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices 

Iowa City Area Real Estate Services


Please remember that opinions expressed in my blog are just that - opinions - not fact
For legal or accounting advice please consult with a professional
Although the information provided is deemed reliable, it's not guaranteed


Comments (8)

Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

What a great report on your local hometown Denise, I hope the soccer field doesn't flood all that often, but it would be fun to splash in if the weather is hot! That's pretty cool you have two built in buyer classifications, Doctor's AND College Kids! Well done, thanks for entering into my HOT Contest!

Jul 29, 2016 08:29 AM
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

Thanks Evelyn. I'm glad you came up with the idea. It made me think about all the things people consider when they move. It has been 16 years since I moved to the Iowa City area, but it doesn't take much to go back in my mind and remember how I was feeling when I made what was a very big move for me! 


Jul 29, 2016 08:39 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Dad went to IIHR for graduate school.  His thing was sluice gate. He applied for a slide rule patent calculating water spill over a dam. He was inside this red building researching for a few years .... What river is it?

Jul 29, 2016 12:52 PM
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

It's the Iowa River that runs through Iowa City Sam. Along with running through some of the north / north west neighborhoods, it also runs through the UI Campus downtown. Interesting to hear about your father researching here. Over the years I've had several AR Members commenting on my local posts who had some connection to Iowa City and they all have good memories of their time here. 


Jul 30, 2016 04:00 AM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty

Hi Denise Hamlin!

Thanks for a great Newcomers Guide to Iowa City!

We like your writing style!

We wish you great success with your blog posts and networking with other members of Active Rain!

We clicked the “Follow” button on your profile so that we will be alerted to your future blog posts and can read and comment on them, and we invite you to "follow us" - should you be interested. There is no requirement or obligation for you to do so, but we would be honored if you choose to do so!

Jul 31, 2016 05:53 AM
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

Hi Tony and Suzanne, 

Thanks for the positive reinforcement. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment.

Aug 01, 2016 02:24 AM
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

Yeah, I seem to have found my blogging voice again at last Corinne. Hope to write 20 this month for the AR challenge. We'll see how that works out. :)

Sep 01, 2016 09:21 AM