I often have clients who are moving to the greater Iowa City area, and they are unsure of where they want to live and they aren’t particularly familiar with the communities that create our area, or the neighborhoods within those communities. Naturally, people want to know, “What are the best neighborhoods in Iowa City?” In this blog post I’ll break down some of the major parts of Iowa City area to help you decide which neighborhood is the best fit for you! You can watch my video about this very topic here!
The greater Iowa City area is MORE than just Iowa City. When people say “Iowa City” they often mean a cluster of towns that make up the greater Iowa City area, which includes Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty and Tiffin. These towns have grown to the point where they are touching or almost touching on at least one boundary line or another. This blog post focuses on Iowa City neighborhoods, and I’ll focus more on Coralville, North Liberty and Tiffin in future blog posts.
Iowa City: East and West
Iowa City itself is divided in many people’s minds by the east side and the west side, with the Iowa River acting as the division line. Beyond the east and west sides, many people additionally divide the east side up as: east side, southeast side, downtown area and north end. On the west side of Iowa City there are also additional divisions, including the longstanding neighborhoods of Manville Heights and University Heights.
Old School Iowa City
Homes near downtown and the north end of Iowa City area going to be mostly older, character style homes on smaller lots. The neighborhood feel of these two areas is quaint and tight-knit, and people who want to be close enough to walk or bike downtown or to campus often like these areas. Many people love the tree lined streets and alleyways. Because of the proximity to downtown and the University of Iowa campus, you’ll find a mix of rentals in these neighborhoods. Home prices will vary, depending upon the size of the home and if it has been updated or not, but as of the end of 2019, you can find a few small, not very updated homes in the $140,000 price range, up to homes that were grand and stately in their day, now tastefully updated and priced in the mid $600,000s.
Peninsula Neighborhood: New Construction, Old Style
If you love the look of older homes, but not the upkeep, and
you’d like the prices to be more middle ground, a great option is the Peninsula
Neighborhood, which is a planned, mixed use neighborhood designed with
new-urbanism principals. The neighborhood is designed to be pedestrian-centric,
so one of the first things you’ll notice is that all garage parking is located
behind houses, off of alleyways. The homes were built with strict design
standards and all look classically from past eras with front porches to
encourage neighborliness. Yard space is very limited in the Peninsula, but
there is a dog park located here if your dog needs extra room to run. The
Peninsula offers condos, townhomes and single-family options. Condos and
townhomes start around $200,000, and single-family homes begin in the low
East Side Iowa City
Heading east from downtown you’ll find homes built in the 50’s, 60’, 70’s, and beyond, with homes generally getting newer the further east into Iowa City you go. The architectural styles vary, and include ranches, traditional two story homes and split foyers. I’ve had people not from this area comment that there are a lot of split foyers around here, so chances are, if you’re shopping in certain price brackets, you’ll have some on your list. Often these east side neighborhoods are within walking distance to schools and are quiet. Because real estate can be pricier in Iowa City than people realize, if they’re new to the area, many of these mid-century neighborhoods offer nicely-sized homes at more affordable price points than neighborhoods featuring newer construction. A small modest home in decent condition in these long-standing neighborhoods is going to generally start in price in the $150,000s, average-sized home 3 bedroom 2 bath homes will be priced in the mid $250,000s, and larger, more updated properties may be priced in the mid-to-upper $300,000s.
On the far east side of Iowa City you’ll find newer neighborhoods and still developing areas. If you’re looking for an east side home less than 20 years old, this is probably where you’ll end up spending a lot of time looking at options. These neighborhoods feature a lot of ranches and two stories, along with some split foyers, multi-levels and condo and townhome options. Condo prices start around $120,000 for small two bedroom two bath condos, and modest single-family homes start in price around $270,000. Prices go up to the $600,000s for larger, more finely appointed homes.
Home on the southeast side of Iowa City are divided into neighborhoods that were established in the late 1950’s, 1960s, and 70’s, with some new construction areas west of Sycamore Street and near Terry Trueblood Recreation Area. Older homes on the southeast side of Iowa City are some of the most affordable in the area, with prices beginning around $125,000, although you should expect some updates needed in that price range. New construction homes on the west side of Sycamore sell in the mid-$300,000s. There are also some affordable condos and townhomes on the southeast side of Iowa City, with prices starting right around $100,000.
West Iowa City
The west side of Iowa City saw much of its growth a later than parts of the near-downtown east side of Iowa City. Many of the west side homes will be similar in style to the east side of Iowa City, but slightly higher in price point. You won’t find a concentration of older “character style” homes on the west side, with the exception of the area around City Park, known as Manville Heights and some of University Heights, located near Kinnick Stadium. There are some real stunners of homes over in Manville Heights have seen fabulous renovations. This neighborhood is in high demand and frequently appreciated by folks who want close proximity to the west side of the University of Iowa campus, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the VA hospital. Homes in this area tend to sell for the mid $300,000s up to about a million dollars.
University Heights is an area people are often interested in when they want to be close to the west side of campus, Kinnick Stadium, or the hospital complex. Homes in University Heights range in style from older homes to sleek modern condos. The price point for homes in University Heights is steeper than other areas because of its prime location. Small condos in older buildings University Heights start in the mid $150,000s and sleek, modern condos are currently selling in the mid $500,000s. Small older bungalow style homes start in the mid $200,000, and thoughtfully updated larger homes have sold up into the mid $600,000s in the past year or so (2019).
Iowa City Real Estate
The east and west sides of Iowa City have a variety of home styles and price points. Which are the best neighborhoods in Iowa City really depends upon your needs and wants when it comes to a home, and you should consider questions like proximity to your work and other locations you frequently visit, shopping, neighborhood rental load, neighborhood schools, and price point. Most people find that they need to focus on a few prime points, such as price, location in relation to workplaces, and preferred schools, and then weigh their options as they evaluate what is available. If you’d like to have a more in-depth conversation about what you’re hoping to find, be sure to reach out by phone, text or email!