Iowa is a typical state in the center of the country, and when it comes to off grid living it is similar to Nebraska and South Dakota as well. Iowa has a population of around 3.2 million people, and it has only 3 cities that have more than 100k population like Des Moines with 200k population, Cedar Rapids with 135k population, and Davenport with around 100k population. Most of the population lives in smaller cities and towns all across the state.
Living off the grid in Iowa is legal, this is probably one of the best states for off grid living. This state is famous for growing crops, and a lot of off grid communities also have their own farms. The cost of living and the price of land is lower than the national average, but the property tax is higher than the national average.
If you want to live off the grid in Iowa then you will need a good wood stove as due to the high humidity the winters tend to be fairly cold, my personal recommendation is to use one that is on a pedestal Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
Life in Iowa is nothing spectacular, which is a big bonus, you probably don’t want to live off the grid in an “exciting” state. If you are thinking to move to this state and live off the grid then you should know 3 important things. Cornfields are everywhere, although most of the corn is actually grown for animal feed and not human consumption. Deer, there are a lot of deer in the state of Iowa although this is also a good thing, but the problem is that deer cause a lot of road accidents in Iowa.
Pig farms are also very common in this state, and they have a lot of tasty dishes made with their meat. The problem with pig farms is that they tend to contaminate groundwater, although the local officials have started addressing this problem, but this is a slow process. You will have no problem finding groundwater, but before you purchase land you should probably test the water, as other than watering crops you will not be able to use contaminated water for anything.
If you suffer from allergies then moving to Iowa isn’t a good idea, as the land is flat the pollen travels extremely easily, and sooner or later you will start sneezing constantly. You should also take into consideration the local weather, although winter can be punishing in certain years, but generally speaking, the climate gets much worse the further up north you go. The climate and the cost of living are relatively similar to Nebraska, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Nebraska ( Cheap land and cost of living ).
The same as the neighboring states, Iowa has a continental climate that is humid, this basically means that summers are hot and humid and the winters are cold and humid. During the summertime, the average temperature is around 90°F, and during the wintertime, it is around -10°F. In some parts of the states, winters can be brutal and you might even get temperatures of around -20°F.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in this state was in 1996 at -47°F, which is as cold as in the Arctic. Although the winters are punishing, during the summertime you can get the occasional heatwave, although this isn’t probably anything new as every year record high temperatures are recorded trough the world. If you want to live off the grid on the east coast then check out my recent article Off grid living in Rhode Island ( Size does matter! ).
Best crops to grow in Iowa
Most of Iowa is considered to be good farmland, currently, Iowa is in the first place in the entire country when it comes to corn and soybean production. You will also find plenty of farms growing rye, wheat, and oats. As you can see you have plenty of options when it comes to crops, on top of that you will also have no problem watering them as Iowa gets plenty of rainfall every year.
Freshwater availability in Iowa
Iowa has plenty of rivers and lakes so finding freshwater will not be a problem, groundwater is fairly accessible and harvesting rainwater is also legal. The one thing that you should keep in mind when it comes to groundwater is that in some areas where there are pig farms located the groundwater might be contaminated with fecal matter and other dangerous bacteria and parasites. Most people would think that if the land is on a higher elevation then the groundwater should be fine, the truth is that the groundwater is more or less on the same level for both hills and flat land. If you want to take a look at one of the neighboring states then check out my recent article Off grid living in Wisconsin ( America’s Dairyland ).
The wildlife in Iowa is typical for the local region, deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, badgers, and so on. Although one of the most destructive animals are wild hogs, these are either pigs that escaped from pig farms or wild pigs. Usually, they travel in big groups and cause a lot of destruction, especially in cornfields, in addition to this they are also very dangerous. It only takes around 3-4 weeks for a normal pig to turn into a wild one, their tusks get bigger, their fur also gets darker and thicker and they become very aggressive and territorial.
Generating off grid power in Iowa
- Solar power: Setting up a solar power system is one of the cheapest ways to generate power. In addition to the 30% federal tax cut which all states have, Iowa also offers a personal tax credit of 50% from the federal tax credit, basically, you will get the solar power system 45% cheaper.
- Wind power: There used to be a special tax credit for generating wind power in Iowa, although this has already reached its limit a couple of years ago. I am not 100% sure if the federal tax cut also applies to wind power, as in some states does but not in all of them, so you have to ask your local authorities for more information.
Iowa off grid laws
It is legal to live off the grid in Iowa, no laws will prohibit you from doing it and you can legally harvest rainwater as well. The laws regarding homeschooling are fairly relaxed, although you will have to contact the local authorities, as most government sites have either no information about it or the sites simply do not work, to get a general idea to take a look at https://hslda.org/content/hs101/IA.aspx.
Iowa price of land
The land in Iowa is fairly cheap, although this is true for most of the midwest states. Farmland is a little bit more expensive, although if you want to live off the grid you might as well get land and grow your own crops from zero, this way you won’t have to pay extra for the “farm” land. Groundwater is fairly abundant although you might want to make sure that groundwater is present before you buy any plot of land, and that it isn’t contaminated by the runoff from the pig farms.
Iowa property tax
The property tax in Iowa will sting a bit, it is at 1.53% which is around 30-40% higher than the national average. Although property tax is important but if you do not buy land on which you will also grow crops you will probably not feel the pain of paying such a high property tax, but then again why would you move to a state where you can easily grow several crops and not take advantage of it.
Iowa road access
Iowa is flat, the roads are of average quality but nothing so bad that you would have problems during the summer or wintertime. Although you might find it difficult to get from one place to another during some days of the winter.
Iowa cost of living
The cost of living in Iowa is around 17% cheaper than in the rest of the country. The housing sector is around 40% cheaper than in the rest of the country so the high property tax will not be an issue, and if you search well enough you will find almost dirt-cheap land. Transportation is also around 30% cheaper, although if you live off the grid this probably won’t affect you at all, on the other hand, health care is around 20% more expensive, so it kind of evens out.
The unemployment rate is around 2.6% which is extremely impressive, especially when you compare it to the neighboring states. With all that corn and pig farms you might think that most of the population works in the agricultural field, the truth is that most people work in health care, education, and manufacturing industries. Although you will have no problem finding a job both skilled and unskilled, but the low wage might sting a bit as it is only at $7.25 per hour.
Iowa crime rate
When it comes to violent crime, Iowa sits below the country average, there are 2.5 violent crimes per 1000 people and the national average is almost double at 4 crimes per 1000 people. As with all states, most of the crime happens in the bigger cities, and these are the ones that affect the statistics due to the higher population density.
Iowa natural disasters
The weather in Iowa can be extremely calm one minute and then suddenly get extremely violent, just like your ex-girlfriend. Tornadoes do occur, but the biggest problem is floods, as when it rains it pours, and floods can occur especially during the springtime when the snow has started to melt.
As you can see Iowa is a great state for off-grid living, cheap land, and the cost of living makes up for the high property tax. In addition to this water isn’t an issue, and you will be able to grow several crops and even livestock.