Don't count Iowa out
By: Cayle Boatman (Marketing '16) originally posted at https://www.uni.edu/prp/blog/ on 5/28/2015
Growing up in small town, southern Iowa was an incredibly interesting adventure. Heading out to the farm on the weekends to drive trucks through mud or swim in the murky old pond water wasn't exactly the most glamorous life. There were more than enough days when I would leave the house in my filthy cowboy boots and not think a thing about it. There was no Walmart or McDonalds within city limits and you had to travel a good half an hour to buy school supplies or new gym shoes. These were the exact reasons why when I left for college, I thought for sure I would spend four years at UNI and get the heck out of Iowa. Reading this, you are probably thinking that these are also the reasons why the second you get that diploma you're hopping on a plane to LAX and leaving this state in the dust. You'll move out to LA, find that glamorous lifestyle, get paid millions of dollars, and live in a mansion similar to the Kardashians. Now, we all know that you can do anything you set your mind too, and if that LA lifestyle is what you have always dreamed of, go for it and don't look back. But, if you don't exactly know where you want to be after graduation and are confused as to what is the best fit, the comfortable and beautiful lifestyle you dream of is much closer than you think.
Did you know that the average salary for a recent college grad is $44,000 in Iowa? That $44,000 probably does not seem like a lot. It could give you a very comfortable lifestyle for a couple of years, but you are wondering what those big bucks in LA will get you. The truth is the average college graduate in California is only making $48,000. That $4,000 pay increase looks appealing, right? Not too fast. Looking at the cost of living in a large city like LA shrinks that $4,000 difference down to nothing. The cost of housing and transportation in Los Angeles is 120% higher than in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa. Companies in California are not paying you 120% of what your salary would be in Iowa to make up for that difference. Instead, they give college grads about a .9% pay increase to make up for that insane living cost. In downtown Des Moines, you can live in a two-bedroom loft for $1,000 per month. A one-bedroom apartment in downtown LA is nearly $4,000 per month in just rent. That $4,000 per month bill is going to make paying back student loans, buying a new car, or even starting a family so much harder. Now, let's say a few years down the road you want to buy your beautiful dream home in Cedar Falls, Des Moines, or Iowa City costing around $500,000. That same home in LA would cost you $1,100,000. With that kind of expense, you might be living in that $4,000 apartment for longer than you think.
In the past couple of years, Iowa has been developing their cities to make them more appealing to young professionals. Cedar Falls, Iowa's first gigabit city is part of the greater Cedar Valley area, which has spectacular biking trails, new housing developments, and a state of the art sports complex. Did you know that Forbes named Des Moines, Iowa the best city in the United States for young professionals? Forbes goes on to explain that Des Moines is a large hub in the finance and insurance world, opening many jobs for new college graduates. Along with a large professional network, Des Moines knows how to have fun. This beautiful city in Iowa is the home of the World Food & Music Festival, one of the largest farmer's markets in the nation, and of course the famous Iowa State Fair. Iowa City is another great example of what the cities in Iowa have to offer. With their yearly celebration of Oktoberfest, wonderful live music venues, and the Pedestrian Mall, Iowa City is a culturally vibrant place to live for young professionals. Iowa's cities are not lacking when it comes to fun, interesting activities for young college graduates to do in their spare time.
When you think of waking up in the morning, grabbing a hot coffee from Starbucks, and heading down the sidewalk to your beautiful office, you probably do not think of Iowa. But you should. Iowa gives college graduates many reasons to stay in this beautiful, booming state and many more reasons are constantly popping up left and right. When you get close to your graduation date and are trying to figure out what the next step may be, don't count Iowa out. After all, who doesn't love to get their boots a little muddy sometimes?