Your Guide To Retiring In Iowa

Iowa may not be the first place that comes to mind when considering retirement destinations, but this Midwestern state has a lot to offer retirees.

With its affordable cost of living, beautiful natural scenery, and friendly communities, Iowa can be an excellent choice for those looking to settle down and enjoy their golden years. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best places to retire in Iowa and what makes them so appealing.

Here’s what you need to know.

Cost of Living

Retiring in Iowa has the major benefit of a low cost of living, with a 10% lower cost than the national average. Housing costs are especially affordable with a 24% difference and utilities are 4% lower. Additionally, basic necessities like groceries and clothing are cheaper, with approximately a 4% lower cost than the rest of the country.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is a tax on assets and properties inherited after someone dies. It is often confused with estate tax, which is the tax on a transfer of someone’s estate upon death. Estate Tax is based on the value of the property.

Iowa has lenient inheritance tax laws which are set to be fully repealed by Jan. 1, 2025, with gradual annual decreases until then. Lineal descendants are exempt, but siblings face 3-6% rates and other relatives face 6-9% rates, with amounts over $100,000 facing the highest rate. Estates under $25,000 are exempt, and gifts made within three years of death may be subject to the tax.


Iowa has a humid continental climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters, with all four seasons more than present. Although the climate is generally mild and comfortable, summers are hot and sunny, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-90s. On the other hand, winters can be chilly, with temperatures averaging in the low 20s.

However, it is worth noting that Iowa occasionally experiences severe weather, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, and blizzards. Therefore, it is important for retirees to take these factors into consideration when planning their move to Iowa.

Outdoor Recreation

Iowa is known for its natural beauty, with many parks, forests, and lakes for retirees to explore. The state is home to more than 70 state parks and recreation areas, including the popular Maquoketa Caves State Park. This park features caves and limestone formations, and the Effigy Mounds National Monument, which has Native American burial mounds and scenic overlooks.

Additionally, Iowa is home to several scenic rivers and lakes, such as the Mississippi River, which provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and other water activities.


Iowa boasts a diverse cultural scene that retirees can explore, with numerous museums, theaters, and galleries to visit. Among these cultural destinations is the Des Moines Art Center. The art center houses a significant collection of contemporary art. In addition, the museum also features the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, a must-see attraction with over 30 sculptures located in downtown Des Moines.

Furthermore, the state has a lively performing arts scene with venues such as the Des Moines Civic Center and the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, which host various shows throughout the year. Retirees in Iowa can immerse themselves in the arts and cultural activities, making their retirement years more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Retirement Communities

Retirement communities can be an ideal option for retirees seeking a more active and social lifestyle. Iowa has numerous retirement communities, each offering unique amenities and services to help meet the needs of its residents. Depending on what your needs are, certain retirement homes will provide various social activities. Some may offer swimming pools, and golf courses to keep residents engaged and entertained.

For retirees who require specialized care, Iowa offers retirement communities that cater to their unique needs. These communities provide personalized care and support while helping to ensure that residents continue to enjoy an active and engaging lifestyle. With a variety of retirement community options available in Iowa, retirees can choose the perfect place that meets their specific requirements and preferences to make their golden years comfortable and fulfilling.

Planning Your Iowa Retirement

So now you know the perks of moving to the Hawkeye state. How do you save enough for a comfortable retirement?

When planning for retirement in Iowa, the truth is that the earlier you start saving, the better off you could be, thanks to the power of compound interest. But even if you began saving late or have yet to begin, it’s important to know that you’re not alone, and there are steps you can take to increase your retirement savings.

  1. Diversify investments beyond money: Diversifying investments involves having a range of where you invest and what you invest in. That could be currency, stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, or a small business.
  2. Put your retirement first: From grandchildren going to college to your children getting married, everyone is on a different financial track, so focus on yourself. Planning for retirement should be at the top of your investment priority list. Once you have your retirement plan in place, then you can start thinking about helping others.
  3. Plan for the unexpected: Disruptions to the economy (from the stock market to real estate to taxes and interest rates) has taught us anything is possible. Your long-term investment plan should be structured on this reality so you’re more prepared. Furthermore, it is vital to have an emergency fund in place to account for unexpected events.

How We Can Help

If retiring in Iowa is on your radar, trust Johnson Wealth and Income Management to help you achieve your financial goals. Our comprehensive range of services are tailored to help you maximize your retirement experience.

Here are some of the areas we excel in to help you make the most of your retirement:

  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning
  • Investment planning
  • Money management
  • Insurance planning
  • Lifestyle Management
  • Tax planning

Final Thoughts

After years of hard work, you deserve to enjoy the Iowa lifestyle without worry. However, it’s natural to want to ensure your family’s financial security in the event of unforeseen circumstances. At Johnson Wealth and Income Management, our experienced team of Fiduciary advisors provide professional and attentive services to help you take control of your financial future.

With two locations in Clear Lake and Humboldt, Iowa, we serve the surrounding communities of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. Even if you’re located elsewhere, our virtual retirement income planning service allows you to benefit from personalized and trustworthy financial guidance from the comfort of your home.

If you’d like more information on retiring in Iowa, come and visit us, call us, or shoot us an email. We are confident you’ll feel right at home.

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