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City Guide
Waterloo, Iowa: Not the One with Napoleon

Greetings, apartment scavengers, and welcome to your virtual Waterloo, Iowa leasing headquarters! Situated near the northeastern edge of the Hawkeye State on the banks of the Cedar River, Waterloo is famous for being the place where the mighty Napoleon met his demise at the hands of the Duke of Wellington … wait. That may be a different Waterloo. Okay, so maybe we’re not exactly summa cum laude material in the world history department, but when it comes to scoring you the apartment of your dreams, we guarantee we’re aces. So stick with us, ladies and gents, because a Waterloo pad even Napoleon would be proud of is just a few clicks away…

Children of the Corn…but less scary.

To paraphrase a certain baseball movie, this isn’t heaven. It’s Iowa: full of corn and farmer’s daughters. Still, there’s something a bit angelic about the cost of living in Waterloo, where studio apartments go for under $300, 1BRs are available in the $500 range, and even family-style, multi-BR apartments rarely cost more than $800. This, of course, allows you to spend your money on life’s more important things, like that pimped out John Deere combine harvester you’ve had your eye on for so long. Here a few other things to keep in mind before embarking on your quest for the primo apartment:

  • Waiting lists are pretty much unheard of in Waterloo and vacancies are a reality at most complexes year-round, so shop the market leisurely and thoroughly without worrying about letting your dream pad slip from your grasp.

  • Less than three percent of all housing structures were constructed in the 1990s or later, so hopefully you appreciate some old-school living quarters. Obviously, older units sometimes have structural issues that newer places don’t, so be sure to give your new digs an in-depth inspection before moving in to make sure everything is up to par (and code).

  • Pet-friendly rentals are notoriously difficult, although not impossible, to find in Waterloo so if you’re bringing a cat, dog, mountain lion, or troop of abominable snowmen along, you’ll soon discover your options are limited. The few apartment managers that do allow pets typically charge substantive, non-refundable pet fees upfront. Whether the fees are for pet hair removal or just a city-wide racket aimed at divesting you of some cash, unfortunately, they aren’t going anywhere.

  • Neighboring Cedar Falls is a college town that is home to the University of Northern Iowa, and the collegiate contingent definitely spills (stumbles?) over into Waterloo. Few apartments are dominated entirely by students, but we still recommend inquiring about an apartment’s tenants before signing a lease, since so many non-students feel out of place at a property inhabited mostly by ragged bands of keg-standing youth –and vice versa.

  • Some brand new 1-3 BR luxury units with well over 1000 sq feet of living space recently hit the market, so not every rental property in Waterloo is decades old. Whether you’re looking for a bargain bin studio with basic amenities, an ultramodern loft with all the bells and whistles you could imagine, or anything in between, you’ll find something that fits your tastes and budget in Waterloo.

  • Renting standards aren’t overly strict in Waterloo, but you’ll still need the basics, including proof of income, banking account info, a list of previous residences, contract to sign over your first born child, and your most recent 2-3 paychecks to score a lease. If you lack or one or more these things, a reputable co-signer will do just fine.

It’s not exactly West Side Story here.

Before choosing which apartment complex suits your style, it’s always wise to find the neighborhood that’s best for you. The different parts of Waterloo don’t have drastically different looks and feels. Our advice: seek out a variety of opinions about the different areas of the city, but spend plenty of time in a neighborhood–during both day and night– to see with your own eyes if you’re comfortable or not with its particular brand of joie-de-vivre.

The only subway we have serves sandwiches.

The MET city buses hit up various residential and commercial locations in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, but because Waterloo is so spread out and the MET routes are extremely limited, your only real option for traveling around conveniently is with your own set of wheels. Fortunately, traffic is as minimal as it gets and parking is ample. Cycling is also possible in Waterloo, but you may find that once the snow reaches the rooftops it may make for an uncomfortable commute to campus or work.

Yes, tractor pulling is as fun as it sounds.

At some point, you’ll probably feel the need to leave the comfy confines of your new humble abode and explore the city around you. Luckily, Waterloo features a variety of entertainment options, including a revamped downtown area with numerous shopping, dining, and drinking establishments. Other popular attractions include the John Deere Factory Assembly Plant (yes, this is real, and it also happens to be one of this industrial city’s largest employers), the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum (also real), and a variety of hiking, boating, and camping destinations. Waterloo isn’t exactly Manhattan or Miami Beach when it comes to culture and nightlife, but if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty to do, whether you’re a night owl or you prefer your fun more cornfield- and tractor-centric.

And now for the part you’ve been waiting for: scoring a dynamite rental in Waterloo. Congratulations in advance and happy hunting!