If you plan to relocate to the Cornhusker State, consider which regions might suit you best. Living in the remote Panhandle Region, or the northwest section, gives you lots of space as well as close proximity to water skiing, which can be found in Bridgeport. Plus, there are Indian powwows and horseback riding opportunities at Fort Robinson State Park in Crawford, a small town that’s home to buffalo, elk, sheep, deer and Texas longhorn cattle.
The Pioneer Country Region, located in southern Nebraska, is the birthplace of Arbor Day and home of the Arbor Day Farm. In this region you can walk among the petroglyphs of Indian Cave State Park, follow the Steamboat Trace Hiking Biking Trail and check out the historic downtowns of Pawnee City or Humboldt. To learn about the early pioneers to the Great Plains, visit the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice.
Ready for some urbanity? Head to the Metro Region in the southeastern corner to take in the arts and culture of Nebraska's capital and second largest city, Lincoln. Then explore nearby Omaha, the largest city, located on the Missouri River along the border with Iowa. With a metro area population of over 900,000 people, Omaha was named one of Money’s Top 5 Big Cities for 2015. In particular, they cited the affordable real estate, average commute of 18 minutes, burgeoning culinary scene and healthy economy.
Finally, while adults sniff, swirl and sip Nebraska wine at local vineyards, kids drink some Kool-Aid in the Frontier Trails Region in south central Nebraska, known for being the birthplace of that legendary flavored powder drink. After wine tasting, you can fish or boat in Harlan County Lake, the second largest in the state. Or you can visit the museums in Grand Island and Kearney, Nebraska’s fourth and fifth largest cities, which along with Hastings make up the region’s “Tri-Cities.”
In 2015, Nebraska was ranked the 14th most livable state in the nation by 24/7 Wall Street. Some of the primary factors were its low unemployment rate - the third lowest in the country at 2.9% in December 2015 – as well as its low poverty rate and strong ten-year population growth. On top of that, real estate values are well below national standards while goods and services are approximately 10% cheaper in Nebraska than the U.S. average.
As of early 2016, the median home value statewide was $138,867 – roughly $45,000 below the U.S. median – while the median rental price was $806. Things were only a tad pricier in Omaha, with a median home value of $140,820 within the city limits. One of Omaha’s most appealing suburbs, Papillion – ranked the second best small town in America by Money in 2015 – had a median home value of $175,207, which was still below the U.S. median of $183,000. In particular, Money praised the town’s 10% job growth, strong local employer base, good schools, reenergized downtown and quick nine-mile commute to Omaha.
For small city life with even lower prices, check out the Tri-Cities, where median home values in early 2016 ranged from $104,402 in Hastings to $120,019 in Grand Island to $159,395 in Kearney.
Of Nebraska’s more than 1.8 million residents, more than half live in the urban centers of Omaha or Lincoln. Approximately 88% of the population is white, 9% is Hispanic, 4% is black, 2% is multiracial and 1% is Asian, while by far the largest ethnicity reported in the state is German, at over 30% of the population. The median household income as of early 2016 was just below the national average at $51,672, with approximately 28% of the population holding bachelor’s degrees.
Thanks to Fortune 500 giant ConAgra and others, Nebraska's top industry is food manufacturing, including meat processing. Beef and pork are among the leading products, and it doesn’t hurt that Omaha is the home base for another Fortune 500 company, the Union Pacific Railroad, which helps to transport those meats and other commodities like corn and wheat around the country. Other leading industries include healthcare and financial services, the latter symbolized by two of the state’s most famous companies: Berkshire Hathaway, founded by Warren Buffett, and Mutual of Omaha. As of the 2015 Fortune 500 rankings, Berkshire Hathaway was the fourth largest company in the U.S. – in terms of revenue - after Walmart, Exxon Mobil and Chevron.
The 15th largest state in terms of land area, Nebraska has a climate that is typically continental. Warm winds come in from the west. In the winter, temperatures average about 40 and dip down to the teens. High temperatures in the summer range from 80 to 90. South central and southeast Nebraska are prone to droughts, while Eastern Nebraska is prone to flooding because of ice jams in the Platte and Elkhorn Rivers. Severe storms have also caused major damage to Nebraska properties. Thanks to its location in “Tornado Alley,” the state averages nearly 50 tornados a year, with peak tornado season occurring in May and June.