15 Best Places to Live in Nebraska

Written by Darren Griffiths
Updated on
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With fifty different states, knowing where to start when considering relocating to the USA is difficult. North, east, south, or west, every state has something wonderful to offer, should you choose to accept it. How about the Midwest? How about Nebraska?

Home to 1.9 million people, Nebraska is sandwiched between South Dakota and Kansas from north to south, with Wyoming and Colorado to the west and Iowa and Missouri to the east. This very neighborly state is transected by Route 80, connecting you to the rest of the country.

Whenever you’re researching a new place to live, several factors need to be taken into consideration. It is difficult to find a way to compile information about public school performance, access to commuter roads, and crime statistics all in one place without investing hours in creating a comprehensive spreadsheet.

Other factors, like the opinions of existing residents, are also of great value, for statistics don’t necessarily capture the real essence of a place. With all those factors in mind and a few more for good measure, we have compiled a list of Nebraska’s best places to live to make your decision-making process that bit easier.

1. Papillion

Papillion, NebraskaSource: Atomic Energy505 / Wikimedia

Located just south of Omaha, you’ll find the suburb of Papillion, one of Nebraska’s best places to live. Over the past tenth years, this suburb, in particular, has experienced tremendous population growth. Money Magazine even ranked this suburb second as the “Best Place to Live in America.”

During commutes, traveling to several locations will typically take you anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes. Residents here love to take advantage of its indoor and outdoor attractions, such as the Miracle Hills Golf Course.

Papillon is known for its stable economy, low cost of living, and arts and cultural scene, which makes it one of the best places to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Papillion are:

  • Shadow Lake Towne Center
  • Halleck Park
  • Patio Fun Park
  • Palio Bowl
  • Werner Park
  • Walnut Creek Campground
  • Tara Hills Golf Course
  • Sinnott’s Sand Bar
  • Marcus Twin Creek Cinema

2. La Vista

Source: Paltron / Wikimedia
La Vista

La Vista, Nebraska, has a population of around eighteen thousand people, just southwest of Omaha, and is considered one of the best places to live in Nebraska. While living in La Vista, you can access many parks and recreational opportunities, including golf courses.

La Vista offers shopping centers, dining locations, and attractions like the La Vista Aquatic Center. This community has authentic charm with many forms of entertainment, flavors, and residential choices.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near La Vista are:

  • Infinite Loop VR
  • Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.
  • Pint Nine Brewing Company
  • Beyond Golf – Bar & Kitchen
  • The Durham Museum
  • Fun-Plex Water Park & Rides
  • Prehistoric Putt
  • Fontenelle Forest

3. Lincoln

Lincoln, NebraskaSource: Katherine Welles / shutterstock

Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska and the second-largest city in the state. The town is between Chicago and Denver and has over two hundred thousand residents. Lincoln is also home to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Lincoln ranked as one of the best cities in America for young professionals due to its diverse economy, collaborative atmosphere, and strategic growth. Residents living in Lincoln enjoy its safe communities, excellent school system, infrastructure, and the number of trails available.

Lincoln also ranks itself the third most livable state capital, making it a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Lincoln are:

  • Lincoln Children’s Zoo
  • Sunken Gardens
  • Nebraska State Capitol
  • Lincoln Children’s Museum
  • Sheldon Museum of Art
  • Pioneers Park Nature Center
  • Holmes Lake Park

4. Omaha

Omaha, NebraskaSource: Henryk Sadura / shutterstock

The city of Omaha has been consistently known as a top destination for young professionals and families and is one of the best places to live in Nebraska. With a population of almost five hundred thousand residents, it’s considered one of the largest cities in America.

Despite ranking as a large city, it’s also known for its low cost of living, with the median home price sitting well below the national average. Omaha is also listed as one of the top cities for healthcare, which is a plus for families.

Although Omaha is a major Nebraskan city, many detached, classic American homes exist. The overall style of properties in Omaha is rather endearing in aesthetics. In terms of investment, you certainly get good value for money. A charming 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom family home just on the periphery of the CBD requires an investment of just $199,950.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Omaha are:

  • Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
  • The Durham Museum
  • Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
  • Omaha Children’s Museum
  • Heartland of America Park at the Riverfront
  • General Crook House Museum
  • Lewis & Clark Landing

5. York

York, NebraskaSource: cityofyork.net

Only home to 7,000 people, in many parts of the world, York would be considered a small town; in the USA, it is technically classed as a city. This micro-city is less than an hour’s drive to the Nebraskan state capital of Lincoln, meaning there are plenty of job opportunities should you be open to a small daily commute.

House prices in York are pretty ideal. The median value of property in the area is below the national average. Unsurprisingly, York is ranked as Nebraska’s second-best place to buy a house.

Locals want to mention that York is a wonderful place to raise a family. With the numerous parks, interactive exhibits, and museums for children, there is plenty to keep a young family busy, active, and entertained.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in York are:

  • Lee’s Legendary Marbles & Collectibles
  • York Area Children’s Museum
  • Clayton Museum of Ancient History
  • Wessels Living History Farm
  • Offsides Tavern
  • York Country Club
  • York Skating Rink
  • Sunset Bowl & Lounge

6. Wayne

Wayne, NebraskaSource: ali eminov / Flickr

Wayne, Nebraska, is a small town with a population of around five thousand residents, which makes for its tight-knit community. The residents in Wayne are friendly and welcoming and will always gather for any local events around town.

The local farmer’s markets and parades are popular among the residents of this small town. Whether enjoying the day at the park or attending a festival, there’s plenty to do in Wayne without breaking the bank.

Wayne has easy access to larger cities such as Omaha and Lincoln, making it desirable since it has an easy commute. The unemployment rate in Wayne is around two percent, well below the national average. In addition, its cost of living is a whopping eighteen percent lower than the national average.

With its thriving economy and low cost of living, Wayne is a great place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Wayne are:

  • Ashfalls Fossil Beds State Historical Park
  • Planetarium
  • Walking Trail
  • Wayne Chicken Show
  • Wayne County Museum
  • Wayne Country Club
  • Wayne State College

7. Chadron

Chadron, NebraskaSource: Ammodramus / Wikimedia

Located in northern Nebraska is the small town of Chadron. While living in Chadron, you can enjoy various outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping near Chadron State Park. The friendly community of Chadron makes meeting new neighbors and attending social events easy.

The unemployment Rae in Chadron is below two percent, well below the national average. The cost of living in Chadron is an outstanding twenty percent lower than the national average, one of the best percentages in the United States.

Although a suburban town area, Chardon has a rural, almost village-like feel, which provides a welcome contrast to inner-city living.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Chadron are:

  • Ridgeview Country Club
  • Museum of the Fur Trade
  • Chadron State Park
  • Wilds Bar & Grill
  • Eagle Theatre
  • Hilltop Lanes
  • Nebraska National Forest

8. Bellevue

Bellevue, NebraskaSource: Ammodramus / Wikimedia

Located south of Omaha in Sarpy County, you’ll find Bellevue, one of Nebraska’s best places to live. Bellevue is only twenty minutes from Omaha, so you’ll be close to all the extensive city amenities.

You won’t find many luxury homes in Bellevue, as most residential properties sell between two hundred and four hundred thousand. Although in the suburbs of Papillion and La Vista, properties are as they are, properties in Bellevue are just waiting for an injection of character and a bit of TLC.\

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Bellevue are:

  • Fontenelle Forest
  • Marcus Twin Creek Cinema
  • TreeRush Adventures at Fontenelle forest
  • Skate City
  • Stella’s Bar & Grill
  • Sarpy County Museum
  • Bellevue Little Theatre
  • Haworth Park
  • Shadow Lake Towne Center
  • Gifford Farm

9. Kearney

Kearney, NebraskaSource: K. Bradley Washburn / shutterstock

Buffalo County is the underrated city of Kearney. When people think about relocating to, or within, Nebraska, Lincoln, or Omaha often springs to mind. If you’re seeking the city lifestyle but are not attracted to Lincoln or Omaha, then Kearney should be seriously considered.

Over thirty-two thousand people proudly call Kearney home. There is a suitable amount of eateries and diners in Kearney, as you would expect of a city; the Chicken Coop Sports Bar & Grill and the Fanatics Sports Bar are popular hangouts for local people.

Low crime, a good selection of schools, and a culturally and economically diverse population all add to the strong community atmosphere here in Kearney that any family would be delighted to feel a part of.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in Kearney are:

  • Great Platte River Road Archway Monument
  • Big Apple Fun Center
  • Yanney Park
  • Classic Car Collection
  • MONA Art Museum
  • The World Theatre
  • Kearney Cinema 8
  • Kearney Area Children’s Museum
  • Trails & Rails Museum
  • Fort Kearney State Historical Park

10. Chalco

Chalco, Nebraska on MapSource: sevenMaps7 / shutterstock

Situated on the eastern side of Sarpy County is the city of Chalco, one of Nebraska’s best places to live. The town of Chalco overlooks the Missouri River and is conveniently located along Highway I-80 for easy commuting access. This suburb is only thirty minutes away from Omaha, surprisingly close to the big city if you need access to more amenities.

Chalco is known for its stable economy, low cost of living, and arts and cultural scene. The unemployment rate in Chalco sits around two percent, a whopping four percent lower than the national average. Regarding the cost of living, Chalco’s cost of living is around eleven percent lower than the national average, making it one of the most desirable places to call home.

Chalco is officially ranked as the second-best suburb to buy property in Nebraska. With those costs in mind, it’s not hard to see why.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Chalco:

  • Chalco Hills Recreation Area
  • The Amazing Pizza Machine
  • Boulder Creek Amusement Park
  • Lina’s Mexican Restaurant
  • Ling’s Asian Cuisine
  • Don & Millie’s Restaurant

11. Gretna

Gretna, NebraskaSource: shannonpatrick17 / Flickr
Gretna, Nebraska

Gretna is a small town in Nebraska that has a population of only about two thousand residents. This quaint atmosphere has a community where everyone knows everyone, and as soon as you enter, you’ll be welcomed with loving and open arms. The crime rate in Gretna is very low, making it a desirable place to live among families.

Gretna also prides itself on having an excellent school system and active community. While living in Gretna, they don’t have much entertainment; however, you’ll only need to travel a short distance to Omaha to experience some of the best shopping, dining, and entertainment options. As a resident of Gretna, you’ll be able to experience the peace and calmness of a small town while still being able to experience the extensive city amenities.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Gretna are:

  • Vala’s Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard
  • Holy Family Shrine
  • Nebraska Crossing
  • Werner Park
  • Lindt Chocolate Shop
  • Schramm Park State Recreation Area
  • Wildlife Safari Park
  • Walnut Creek Campground

12. Seward

Seward, NebraskaSource: lsommerer / Flickr

The small city of Seward has plenty of attractions and amenities for its residents to take advantage of. It has an excellent school system, which makes it a great place for educating children. The community of Seward prides itself on helping others in times of need and welcoming any new residents who feel they need to be put in the right place.

The crime rates in Seward are extremely low, making it a desirable city for people to raise and start a family. Seward is known for its college town amenities, educated population, and stable economy. Compared to the rest of the United States, the cost of living is around nine percent lower, which is exceptionally significant.

If you’re looking for a small city with low crime rates, excellent education, and a low cost of living, Seward is the perfect place to call home.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Seward are:

  • Bottle Rocket Brewing Co
  • Nebraska National Guard Museum
  • Red Path Gallery & Tasting Room
  • Junto Wine
  • Branched Oak State Recreation Area
  • Lincoln Children’s Museum
  • Lincoln Children’s Zoo

13. Bennington

Bennington, NebraskaSource: Ammodramus / Wikimedia

Nestled comfortably south of Highway 36, Bennington is easily accessible from the working hub of Omaha.

Although suburban in aesthetic, being home to just 1,600 people, Bennington is much more like a village. Friendly residents are familiar with one another and regularly engage in community-oriented events. 

Perhaps due to the small group of residents or the neighborly attitude they have adopted, but either way, Bennington is considered to be the second safest suburb in Nebraska.

Locals note that Bennington is an up-and-coming area. Housing and infrastructure are improving, and we can expect this small neighborhood to climb up the ranks over the next few years.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Bennington are:

  • Nate’s Stumble Inn Bar & Grill
  • Glacier Creek Preserve
  • Warehouse Grill & Drinkery
  • Standing Bear Lake
  • Stone Creek Golf Course
  • Runza Restaurant

14. Ralston

Ralston, NebraskaSource: Jared Winkler / Wikimedia

La Vista’s northerly neighbor Ralston is home to 5,997. There are few outstanding schools in Ralston, so it falls lower in our list of best places to live in Nebraska, but with excellent schools in La Vista, parents should pay little attention to this fact.

Due to the affordable cost of living, low crime rates, and proximity to Omaha city center, Ralston has a diverse population of residents, both ethically and in terms of economic standing. This helps create a vibrant and versatile feel to the area.

Local people say that Ralston is a lovely place to raise a family, quiet and safe.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Ralston are:

  • Entrap Games
  • Ben’s Game Zone
  • Approach Climbing Gym
  • Scorz Sports Center
  • Fun-Plex Waterpark & Rides
  • Winchester Bar & Grill
  • The Durham Museum
  • Omaha Lancers

15. Waverly

Waverly, NebraskaSource: Ammodramus / Wikimedia

And finally, concluding our list of 15 best places to live in Nebraska is the town of Waverly. With a resident population of 3,600 people, Waverly is a quiet and laid-back place to live. For example, there are ample green spaces to enjoy as a resident of Waverly, Wayne Park, and Jaycee Park.

The median home value here is below average but more expensive than desirable areas like Chalco. That said, the median rent is way below the national average. If you are looking to reside in Nebraska to save to get onto the property ladder, then Waverly would be a good place to start.

Local people are delighted with the quality of housing and their fellow residents’ friendly and welcoming nature.

Entertainment & Activities

Some of the best things to do in or near Waverly are:

  • Trackside Bar
  • Deer Springs Winery
  • Prairie Pines Nature Preserve

15 Best Places to Live in Nebraska:

  • Papillion
  • La Vista
  • Lincoln
  • Omaha
  • York
  • Wayne
  • Chadron
  • Bellevue
  • Kearney
  • Chalco
  • Gretna
  • Seward
  • Bennington
  • Ralston
  • Waverly