If the only thing you know about Nebraska is that Lady Gaga likes to sing about it, prepare to be pleasantly surprised. The Cornhusker State may not be the most populous state, but what it lacks in crowds it more than makes up for in some supremely affordable, highly attractive towns, cities, and villages. If you’re thinking of making the big move, don’t commit to anything before reading our round-up of the 20 very best places to live in Nebraska in 2020.
If affordable housing is your priority, the $135,500 median home price in Wahoo is likely to appeal. As is the good school system, low crime rate, close, friendly community, and good selection of amenities.
With its close-knit population of 3,336, Auburn is proof that great things come in small packages. Although it might not be the ideal choice for anyone looking for 24/7 entertainment and a busy nightlife, those looking for a safe, friendly place to raise a family will find it hard to fault.
Nebraska has some of the most affordable properties in the US, something that’s more than evident in the $125,900 average home price in Sidney. Along with a tiny mortgage, residents can expect safe streets, a very respectable median income of $61,667, a good clutch of schools, and, despite its small size, an excellent array of shops, bars, restaurants, and leisure facilities.
If $75,667 sounds the kind of income you’d like a piece of, you might want to consider the tiny Omaha suburb of Bennington. Despite the very much higher than average median income, the average family home comes in at just $185,200 (just 1 thousand dollars over the US average), giving you a good idea of the kind of lifestyle on offer. It’s not just the affordability that makes the suburb so attractive: the small, caring community is an attraction in its own right, as is the wealth of gorgeous scenery, outdoor attractions, and its easy driving distance from the big city attractions of Omaha.
With its excellent proximity to Lincoln, Waverly makes an outstanding choice for anyone looking to enjoy the peace and quiet of small-town life without giving up on the thrills of the big city in the process. Join this tiny little community of 3,743, and you can expect low outgoing (the average property retails for just $158,800), high incomings (most households are earning the very decent income of $82,893, one of the highest in Nebraska), a good public-school system, great transportation links, and a close-knit, supportive community.
Unless you’re from Aurora itself, it’s very unlikely you’ve ever heard of this tiny slice of Nebraska paradise… which is just how its 4,469 residents like it. As small, cute, and shiny as a button, this is the kind of place where gentlemen still tip their hats to the ladies, where every newcomer is greeted with a pie, and where kids can play on the streets without undue concern. It’s also the kind of place where just $130,500 will get you a three-bedroom house with a garden- not bad when you consider the average wage is a very respectable $59,898.
There’s a lot of reasons to love Ralston. First up is the diverse, close-knit community, where everyone knows everyone else, but no one meddles in your business unless you want them to. Next up is the affordability, which is secured by the respectable median income of $55,837 and unbelievably low median home price of $138,600. Throw in safe, walkable streets, a great line up of round-the-year events, and easy access to the wider attractions of Omaha, and it’s easy to understand the appeal.
As one of Omaha’s largest suburbs (the current population stands at around 53,040), Bellevue has a lot to offer. Along with a very reasonable average home price of $140,800 (or $889, if you’d rather rent), there’s no shortage of shops (both of the chain and mom and pop variety), restaurants, bars, cafes, and entertainment venues. There’s also no shortage of well-paid job opportunities, at least if the average household income of $140,800 is anything to go by. Rounding of the pretty picture is a good handful of top-scoring schools, a low crime rate, and an active, friendly community.
According to Home Snacks, Holdrege has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. The median income, meanwhile, ranks at an impressive 19th place. Put those two things next to a supremely affordable median home price of $111,100, a good school system, a low crime rate, and a charmingly small- town vibe, and it’s easy to see why 5,497 people are very happy to call it home.
If you had to pick one word to describe Wayne, “cute” would probably be it. Small (just 5557 residents currently call it home), family- friendly, and with the kind of cozy town center lazy Sunday afternoons were made for strolling, it’s the opposite of everything big, brazen, and impersonal. If you want to live in the kind of place where everyone knows your name, this is it.
With a population of 33,082, Kearney is big enough to offer plenty by way of recreational fun and job opportunities, but small enough to feel family- friendly and welcoming…. something that’s more than evident by the comments some of its residents have left on Niche. “I love Kearney. There are many activities and events in the community that make weekends and free time fun. Plus, the city is growing even more! Kearney is expanding and changing with society, helping us all function and work together with the new Marshall's and Freddy's on their way!” says one, while another offers “I have been living in Kearney, NE for over 6 years now, this town has become home to my family and I. I feel safe raising my children here. Kearney is a very clean place to live and the community takes pride in that. This town is continuing to grow significantly, with new restaurants and fast food chains opening almost every year! Kearney is the perfect place to raise a family in, it has everything we need to fulfill our shopping needs without the dangers of living in a city.”
York may not have the big- city attractions of Lincoln or Omaha, but if its peaceful living and a small-town vibe that you’re after, you won’t be disappointed. Neither are you likely to feel hard done by with the average property price, which currently stands at an eminently affordable $126,900. Granted, there’s not much in the way of a buzzing nightlife, but there’s plenty of opportunities for good, all round family fun, including an excellent aquatic center, a children’s museum, a plethora of parks and green spaces, and your usual collection of shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Despite its median income of $60,589 being well above the national average, the average house price in Seward is distinctly below the US average at just $146,700, giving you a pretty good indication of the affordability of this desirable little town. Other than a hefty disposable income, residents can expect a slew of job opportunities, one of the lowest crime rates in Nebraska (last year, there were just 41.6 violent crimes per 100 k residents, compared to the national average of 465), a friendly community, plenty of family-friendly activities, and an easy 30 minutes’ drive into the capital city of Lincoln.
If $144,200 sounds an attractive price to pay for a family home, you may want to cast your eyes in the direction of Chalco. Not only does this small suburb of Omaha boast some of the most desirable house prices in Sarpy County, it also has one of its lowest crime rates, some of its best schools, highest median incomes ($73,609 by the last count), and, according to its residents, best neighbors (although we guess they would say that).
As suburbs go, you’ll find few better than Gretna. As well as offering excellent transport links into Omaha, it boasts a range of affordable housing options (at $174,400, the average family home sells for almost exactly $10,000 less than the US average), a crime rate that’s too low to even warrant a mention, a very healthy median income of $76,548, a plethora of job opportunities, and, according to Area Vibes, an education system that scores 84% higher than the US average for test scores and 11% higher for graduation rates.
5. La Vista
17,062 residents have made La Vista their home, and for very good reason. As well as offering some very affordable housing options (by the latest reckoning, most newcomers can pick up a good -sized family home for just $141,100), the suburb offers a bountiful supply of job opportunities, the above average household income of $63,034, some first rate schools, and a small town vibe that’s perfectly complemented by its easy access to the wider attractions of Omaha.
If you want to be right at the very heart of the action, Lincoln should be top of your list. As the state’s capital, it’s a treasure trove of things to do, see, and experience. The downtown’s charming mix of the old world and the new is guaranteed to appeal, while the smorgasbord of year-round events, activities, and festivities is sure to keep the whole family happy. Throw in a flourishing job market, an active, diverse community, a low crime rate, and one of the state’s best public school systems, and the appeal is obvious.
If big cities are your thing, you’ll find it hard to beat Omaha. Despite its considerable size (by the last count, the population was over 463 thousand), it’s managed to retain a family-friendly, welcoming vibe that’s a joy to experience. As you’d expect of such a large city, there’s attractions and amenities galore: whether you want to shop till you drop, dine out 7 days a week, or improve you mind with some culture, you’ll never be short of options. Factor in affordable housing (most single-family homes fetch around $146,500), a low crime rate, and a low overall cost of living, and it’s plain to see why the city ranks as one of the state’s most desirable.
If you’re looking to raise a family, you’ll find few better places in Nebraska to do it than Papillion. The mid-sized suburb of Omaha has a list of attractions a mile long, starting with a supremely affordable median property value of $172,700, and ending with the distinctly above average household income of $76,259. Along with the excellent affordability, residents can expect to enjoy a first-class clutch of schools, some great opportunities for hiking, biking, and outdoor pursuits, a quaint center bursting with restaurants, shops, and cute little cafes, and a small-town vibe that comes with the added benefit of being close to the big city.
If you want affordable housing, Chadron is where you’ll find it. Its small population of 5,704 has the benefit of some of Nebraska’s lowest property prices, with a good sized, 3-bedroom home fetching just $117,500 on the open market. Not that the good times stop there: with its small, active community, supremely low crime rate, excellent range of public schools, scenic location, and array of indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities, it’s without question one of Nebraska’s hottest destinations.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn