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Looking for new nursing opportunities outside your current location? Then consider moving to Iowa.  

In this article, you’ll discover what it’s like to live in the Hawkeye State. We’ve also provided you with some essential information on the state of the nursing work there. 

Comforting and Green: What It’s Like to Live in Iowa 

From its corn and pork production to the Iowa State Fair, Iowa is known for many things. It was named the 29th state of the United States in 1846, and it’s the only state enclosed by two rivers: the Missouri and the Mississippi Rivers. 

Iowa is also known for producing the Red Delicious apple, which was created by chance in 1880. It was then extensively cultivated since being introduced to the public in 1892. Iowa is also the home to the American Gothic house that inspired Grant Wood’s famous 1930 painting American Gothic. 

Maybe you’re curious, why Iowa is called the Hawkeye State? The Hawkeye State nickname was officially approved in 1838. The name was said to be inspired by a Native American warrior from the area, Black Hawk. Some also claim that the character of Hawkeye in the novel The Last of the Mohicans was the basis for the nickname.  

Now that you have an overview of what Iowa is known for, here are the reasons why you may consider moving there with your family. 

1. Low Cost of Living Across the State 

The average cost of living in the state of Iowa is $1,636, which is 1.23 times less expensive than the average cost in the United States. For a family of four, that would only cost an average of $3,852. Iowa also only ranked 52nd in the most expensive ranking on Meanwhile, the three best cities to live in are Ankeny, Des Moines, and Dubuque.¹

2. The Landscapes are Great for Cycling 

Iowa’s cycling culture and infrastructure make it a wonderful place to explore on two wheels with family and friends. Because of its numerous scenic routes and trails, it became popular with cycling enthusiasts. Cyclists and visitors can take in relaxing landscape views of prairies, rolling hills, and farmland. 

Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) is one of Iowa’s most popular cycling events that you can attend. It’s an annual week-long ride that will take event participants across from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River. 

Iowa also has a number of well-marked and well-maintained trails that casual bikers and serious cycling enthusiasts may enjoy. These include the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and High Trestle Trail. 

3. Iowa has a Rich Agricultural Industry 

If you love fresh produce, Iowa has rich farmlands that can provide you with access to excellent locally grown produce. Iowa’s also known for its dairy products and livestock. Take advantage of the state’s abundant farmer’s market that offers various products such as soybeans, corn, and other crops.  

Restaurants in the state also offer its residents and visitors farm-to-table dishes. You’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your cravings, from Midwestern-style breakfasts to flavorful vegan meals. 

4. Iowa has an Abundant Historical Legacy 

Native American tribes and immigrants have left their marks on Iowa’s traditions and culture. There was the Meskwaki tribe and the Ho-Chunk tribe followed by the wave of immigrants that included Dutch, Swedes, and Germans. 

This diversity in the state is celebrated through events and festivals like Des Moines’s annual Greek Festival, Story City’s Scandinavian Days, and Waterloo’s annual Irish Fest. 

Iowa is also home to several cultural institutions and museums that showcase its cultural heritage and history. These museums include the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, the Amana Colonies, and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. 

5. There is Little to No Traffic in the State 

Compared to many other states in the United States, traffic is minimal or almost nonexistent in Iowa. Even though there are busier areas in the state, such as Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, many of Iowa’s people are scattered across suburban and rural areas. 

This leads to generally less congestion on roads and highways, making it easier for residents and visitors to navigate the state without being stuck in heavy traffic. 

Related Reading: State Highlight: Maryland’s World-Class Institutions, Natural Beauty, and Abundant Career Opportunities for Nurses 

Nursing in Iowa: Expect Greatness 

Nursing in Iowa embodies the crucial and compassionate role healthcare professionals play in the state’s well-being. With a rich history of high-quality care and a strong commitment to patient advocacy, Iowa’s nurses combine expertise, empathy, and innovation to address the evolving healthcare needs of their communities, making a significant impact on public health.  

Here are the things you need to know about nursing in Iowa. 

6. Iowa is an Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact State 

The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) is a multistate licensure agreement for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) in the United States. It allows nurses to practice in multiple states that are part of the compact without having to obtain additional licenses. 

If you’re an eNLC license holder, it would be easier for you to get a nursing job in Iowa since it is a compact state. You don’t need to wait for licensure endorsement or undergo additional background checks and paperwork.² 

Related Reading: Is Continuing Education Worthwhile for Global Nurses? 

7. Nurses Get a Competitive Salary 

If you’re a registered nurse considering relocating to Iowa, the Hawkeye State offers above-average employment projections compared to the US national average. 

The average annual Iowa RN salary is $64,990, or $31.25 an hour, which is great for Iowa has one of the lowest cost-of-living figures in the country. Meanwhile, the projected RN employment growth for Iowa from 2018 to 2028 is 15.1 percent. Do note however, that your exact RN salary in Iowa may depend on location, job title, education, level of experience, type of facility, and other working factors.³ 

Move to the state of Iowa and you may live comfortably with your family with the salary you’ll start earning in a low-cost area.

8. Iowa has Highly Ranked Hospitals 

If you’re looking for the best employers, Iowa offers a number of the best facilities in the state and in the country. The U.S. News ranked the best hospitals in Iowa out of 122. Two of their categories for evaluation are specialty rankings and procedure and condition ratings. 

Four of them best met the standards of the ranking. They are as follows: 

  • University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City 
  • MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center, Des Moines 
  • UnityPoint Health-Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines 
  • UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, Cedar Rapids 

These hospitals were ranked for treating rare conditions and conducting difficult diagnoses, to help inform patients with similar conditions.⁴ Working at these hospitals can help you advance in your career as you gain valuable and unique experiences. 

9. The Best Universities for Nursing are Here 

Although it isn’t required to get a nursing license, a BSN is highly recommended to nurses as it can help them earn around $30,000 more yearly compared to non-BSN RNs. 

If you’re looking to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an Iowa school, there are many options for you. Here are some of the best universities with their annual tuition as of December 2022: 

  • University of Dubuque – Annual Tuition: $38,260 
  • Allen College UnityPoint Health – Annual Tuition: $20,610 
  • Dordt University – Annual Tuition: $34,600 
  • St. Ambrose University – Annual Tuition: $35,318 
  • Mount Mercy University – Annual Tuition: $36,606 

These institutions have an NCLEX passing rate of between 78 percent to 100 percent, guaranteeing that you will learn a lot from being enrolled in any of them.⁵  

Related Reading: State Highlight: Why Bring Your Skills and Family to Indiana 

Iowa Awaits Your Move 

Make the most of your nursing degree and NCLEX pass by pursuing a nursing career in Iowa. Relocate to the Hawkeye State and you’ll comfortably live as you work at your best in your chosen facility.  

Related Reading: Ready, Set, Succeed! How to Prepare for Your New Nursing Career in the US 


If you’re looking for your next nursing opportunity, PRS Global is here to connect you with employers in Iowa and other states through direct hiring. 

PRS Global specializes in staffing global nurses, bringing them to the best American healthcare facilities. We’ll help you take care of the hiring requirements! Get in touch with us today to know more about our process. 


1 Holland, Amanda. “Cost of Living in Iowa State, US.” LivingCost.Org, Accessed 26 Jun. 2023. 

2 Gaines, Kathleen. “Compact Nursing States List 2023.” Nurse.Org, 26 Apr. 2023, Accessed 26 Jun. 2023. 

3 “Average RN Salary in Iowa: See How Much IA Nurses Make.” NurseJournal.Org, 16 Jun. 2023, Accessed 26 Jun. 2023. 

4 “Best Hospitals in Iowa.” U.S. News, Accessed 26 Jun. 2023. 

5 Gaines, Kathleen. “Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in Iowa.” Nurse.Org, 28 Dec. 2022, Accessed 26 Jun. 2023.