For some people, Nebraska is just another state somewhere in the middle of the United States. Believe it or not, they’re likely to be unable to even point it out on a map. But to you, reader, you’ve seen the treasures that Nebraska has to offer, and are finally considering moving there for good. Naturally, you have your questions, doubts, and inhibitions—can I afford to live in Nebraska? Are there enough job opportunities? And most importantly—is it a boring state?
Luckily for you, we are here to save the day with our unbiased, comprehensive take on moving to Nebraska. From the cost of living to crime rates to education and jobs, we’ve covered it all.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Nebraska
Similar to some of its neighboring states, Nebraska enjoyed a population boom in the second half of the 19th century, all thanks to the California Gold Rush. Currently, Nebraska’s population stands at around 1,952,000 and is growing at the rate of 0.45% each year. It covers over 77,350 square miles, making it the 16th largest state in the US in terms of size, and has a population density of 23.8 people per square mile. Packed into these 77,000 miles is a world of opportunity and loads of fun.
Nebraska’s capital city is Lincoln, and along with Omaha, it is one of the state’s more well-known cities. Its nickname, “Cornhusker State”, stuck to it due to the way residents used to harvest corn by hand before husking machinery was invented. Today, 92% of the state’s land is utilized by farms and ranches, and it produces the third-largest quantity of corn in the US in 2020. But none of these things stop it from having a diversified economy and that modern bustle we all crave so much.
In terms of natural beauty, Nebraska has much to offer: the Great Plains and their vast prairies, the Sandhills and their imposing dunes, the fascinating rock formations of the Panhandle, and the 80,000 miles of rivers and streams are just a few. The Nebraska National Forest is the largest hand-planted forest in the US, covering over 140,000 acres. Denver’s fun is only around a half-day drive from Omaha, and it’s easy to reach the Rocky Mountain National Park for those long weekends. Tubing on the Niobrara River, chasing after waterfalls…there’s no end to the list of things you can do here.
If you’d rather spend your time away from nature, head to Nebraska’s metropolitan areas for your fix of modern amenities. No matter where you go, there’s plenty of delicious food to savor and just as many recreational activities, from museums to zoos to the Indian Cave State Park. The people are warm and the atmosphere is family-friendly. Before you pack those bags and start throwing boxes into a truck in a bid to move here faster, read up about another important aspect of Nebraska – the crime rate.
Crime Rate In Nebraska
Crime rates need to be one of the deciding factors when narrowing down on what place to call home. Always pick a safe neighborhood or city to live in for better peace of mind. When it comes to Nebraska, the rate of violent crimes per 1,000 residents is 3.01, lower than the national median of 4. When it comes to property crimes like burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft, Nebraska has 20.39 crimes compared to a thousand residents. This is only just lower than the national median of 21.
These crime rates are a little high for the state considering how sparse the population is spread out, so pick a safe city to live in. Lincoln and Omaha are both fairly urbanized cities, so it’s no wonder that they both have higher crime rates than the other Nebraskan cities. Between the two, Omaha has the higher violent crime rate at 6.03; Lincoln’s remains below the national average at 3.88. The same scenario follows for property crimes, though both cities are higher than the national average.
Nebraska experiences all four seasons, alongside a bevy of natural disasters that range in intensity. Summers in Nebraska are hot and humid, and thunderstorms aren’t unexpected. The mercury hovers around 80°F from the months of June to August but the high humidity makes everything muggy. Fall sees dipping temperatures, and the hues of reds, oranges, and yellows make everything picture-perfect.
Winters in Nebraska are cold, and the mercury drops to below freezing at night. Daytime temperatures hover around 30°F from December to February, and there’s always plenty of snow and blizzards that come around.
Thanks to its location right within America’s Tornado Alley, a number of twisters make their way through Nebraska each year. They show up during spring and summer, and usually bring thunderstorms in tow with them.
How Expensive Is It To Live In Nebraska
If you haven’t yet factored in your budget when deciding where to move to, you’re doing something wrong. Budgeting is an important part of life, especially when you’re going to resume living in a new place. Thankfully, gauging how much you’ll need to earn in a year is made much easier with our information on life in Nebraska. Read on to know more.
Cost Of Living In Nebraska
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Nebraska has the 13th lowest cost of living when compared to all other states in the US. Overall, the cost of goods and services in Nebraska is 10.5% less than the costs nationwide. Nebraska has three metropolitan areas, and living in any one of these three will be relatively more expensive than living in its more rural regions. The most expensive is the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area, where the cost of goods and services is 6.2% higher than the state average. Nevertheless, it remains below the national average by a good 7.9%.
On the other hand, healthcare is expensive; on an average, a single adult will have to spend around $5,556 annually on healthcare, higher than the nationwide average of $4,266. The US average for a family of four is $12,950, but in Nebraska, it comes to around $16,786. Groceries are marginally less expensive in Nebraska thankfully; a single adult will spend an average of $3,025 annually on food, while the nationwide average is around $3,240.
No matter where in Nebraska you are, you’ll have to file those income taxes, for which Nebraska has tax brackets. The brackets are 2.46%, 3.51%, 5.01%, and 6.84% for Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, and Head of Household statuses respectively.
Buying A House
Buying a house in Nebraska is cheaper than buying a house in other states; typical home values across the state are around $147,800, while the national median home value is $204,900. But at 1.61%, the state’s effective property tax rate is among the highest in the country. Keep in mind though that property taxes change from region to region within a state.
Renting A House
Nebraska has pleasantly low rent rates, with average rates coming to around $805 a month while the national average is $1,023. Rent for a one-bedroom in Nebraska is around $670, while you can expect to pay around $1,119 for a unit with around 5 bedrooms.
Your utility cost is yet another aspect that gets factored into your total cost of living, comprising things like the bills of electricity, gas, water, telephone, and cable. In Nebraska, your average electricity bill can come to around $100/month, slightly lower than the national average of $107. Water bills can come to around $30, while the gas bill comes to around $95. Cable and Internet bills can come to around $100. Nebraska also has a sales tax of 5.5%.
Nebraska Economy And Employment Opportunities
Nebraska has plenty of job opportunities to make sure you have that salary coming in and its diverse economy ensures there’s a range of jobs to go around. Since 2015, the insurance industry in Nebraska has more than doubled in size, making it one of the big industries at play here. Manufacturing is yet another major industry. Of course, agriculture and food processing continue to be major industries; Nebraska’s economy has been based on agriculture since the mid 19th century.
Some of the major employers in Nebraska are the Offutt Air Force Base, Berkshire Hathaway, The University of Nebraska, Tyson Fresh Meats, and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. The average salary earned by residents is around $65,465 annually, while the median income is around $31,933. Nebraska’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.9%, significantly lower than the national average of 6.1%.
According to a study conducted by US News, Nebraska ranks 10th on the list of top states with good higher education, and 13th for its pre-K-12 education quality. Nebraska has around 368 high schools in Nebraska, out of which 320 are public schools and 48 are private schools. Nebraska enjoys a high school graduation rate of around 90%.
Elkhorn High School, Millard High School, Bennington Secondary School, and Lincoln East High School are some of Nebraska’s highly rated institutions. In terms of higher education, there are over 40 colleges and universities, of which there are 15 public institutions, 19 not-for-profit institutions, and 10 for-profit institutions. Several of these offer online degree programs. Nebraska Wesleyan University, Creighton University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Chadron State College are some of the top universities in Nebraska.
Getting Around Nebraska
Nebraska has some great road connectivity, what with its flat terrain and miles of interstate highways winding their way through the state. However, it’s a big state that has a sparse population compared to its size, so don’t expect too much when it comes to public transportation. Nebraska Public Transit is a program administered by the Nebraska Department of Transportation and this is what helps residents get around. But largely, each country and major city have its own modes of transportation.
Buses In Nebraska
Greyhound buses are a dependable way to get around the major cities since they stop in Lincoln and Omaha. There’s also the family-owned Arrow Stage Lines, a charter bus service that connects the state via four main locations – Norfolk, Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island. You can also opt for Burlington Trailways that connects Aurora, Kearney, Lexington, and Grand Island. City bus systems only exist in Lincoln and Omaha – StarTrans in Lincoln has stops at main points around the city while Metro Area Transit in Omaha gets you between the Henry Doorly Zoo and Downtown Omaha.
Amtrak’s California Zephyr line that connects San Francisco to Chicago runs through Nebraska, stopping at Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Holdrege, and McCook. You can catch Amtrak as it makes its daily commute once each day to and fro.
Apart from these, there isn’t much else to transportation in Nebraska. There are 91 airports but no international airports within the state. There are interstate highways you can take, like 76, 80, 129, 580, and 680 among others. While major cities have taxi services, you may be better off with ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft. Overall, you can’t get by without a car of your own in Nebraska.
Best Places To Live In Nebraska
Omaha isn’t the capital of Nebraska, but it is the most populous city in the state and also more well-known than Lincoln. A little less than 60% of the residents own their homes and the city is constantly drawing more and more people to it. Omaha can give you that quintessential Midwestern life without skimping on any modern amenities, and the city’s culture is vibrant and thriving.
The median home value is $230,326 and the average rent here is $830.
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This seemingly sleepy suburb is becoming one of the best cities to raise a family in Nebraska. Papillon is in no way deprived of the modernity that makes a suburb ideal, but it continues to maintain its close-knit communities, low unemployment rates, and good income rates. Plus, there are several great well-rated schools here!
The median home value is $303,497 while the average rent is $930.
Home to around 33,000 people, Kearney has several job opportunities across industries like business, agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and tourism. There’s the added bonus of low crime, economic and cultural diversity, and well-rated schools. Finally, its location on Interstate 80 means easy access to the rest of the state.
The median home value is $237,583 while the average rent is $732 in Kearney.
Is Nebraska A Good State To Live In
Right off the bat, Nebraska is a great state with plenty of opportunities and a growing cultural scene in its major cities. It offers a great way of life for people looking for a lower population density and a home without that crowded feeling. But the transportation is lax, and unless you live in one of the big cities like Lincoln or Omaha, you won’t have much to do. This can prove to be challenging for people moving from bustling cities with tons of activity. But for someone looking for a life with lots of opportunity, modern amenities and without a crowd, Nebraska is like a dream come true.
Is It Worth Moving To Nebraska?
Nebraska has several things that make it worth moving to, like a relatively cheap cost of living, loads of job opportunities, and the absence of a crowded and dense feeling. But Nebraska has a merge of rural and urban cities, and the lack of public transportation makes it hard to get around the vast, flat state. If these things are alright by you, then Nebraska is certainly worth moving to.
What To Know Before Moving To Nebraska?
Nebraska actually has a diversified economy, and with a low unemployment rate, has plenty of job opportunities. It is also a relatively cheap state to live in. However, there’s no robust public transportation system and you need to have your own car to get around. Plus, unless you live in a city like Omaha or Lincoln, you’ll be living a fairly rural lifestyle.
What Is A Living Wage In Nebraska?
Taking into consideration an average cost of living, the hourly living wage for a single adult in Nebraska is $14.93, while it is higher at $16.91 for two working adults with one child. The current minimum wage in Nebraska is $9, which falls short of its living wage.
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