"The openness of rural Nebraska certainly influenced me. That openness, in a way, fosters the imagination." - Matthew Sweet plant
Life in Nebraska

Many settlers stopped in Nebraska on the way to California during the Gold Rush and never left. Does that mean Nebraska is better than gold? Possibly. People often think of Nebraska as being entirely in the Great Plains, but that's not true. Are there massive snow capped mountains or ocean front property here? No, but part of Nebraska is in the Dissected Till Plains. The state has two major cities, its capital Lincoln and its business center Omaha. The two metropolises are only about 50 miles apart in the southeast region of Nebraska. The rest of the state is a blend of small towns, smaller towns, really small towns, farms and national parks.

Moving to Nebraska

Nebraska is a pretty laid-back place, with plenty of space, but you'll still need the basics to apply for a rental apartment. Organize your credit report, rental history, references and proof of income. The apartment manager might request a criminal background check as well, but that's no problem, right? Oh, sorry, we thought you got that string of bank robberies in the '80s expunged from your record.

If you arrive by car to Nebraska, you're probably going to be driving for a long time in wide open areas that may not have many service stations. Take your vehicle to a mechanic before you go to make sure the tires, oil, and everything else is in good shape. Then keep an eye on the gas gauge and bring some spare radiator fluid.

Don't forget to get a Nebraska driver's license. You're required to register your car with the state within 30 days of moving there. If not, they take your car and hide it in a grain silo somewhere.

Winters are frigid here, so you may want to wait to search for apartments in Nebraska until spring or summer. Oh yeah, in spring and summer there might be a massive tornado or two. Keep an ear on the radio weather station to be ready. You'll be fine. There are a lot of types of natural disasters they don't have around here.

Where to Live in Nebraska

Moving to Nebraska means figuring out where in the state you're going to live. Check out the list below for popular cities and neighborhoods.

Downtown Omaha: Always a good place to start, no? Downtown overlooks the Missouri River and is the headquarters of dozens of companies, including Union Pacific Railroad. (The Pacific Ocean is not close.) It's mostly a business district, but you can find some hi-rise apartments to rent in Downtown.

Central Omaha: Here you can shop for furniture for your new apartment at the mom and pop store Nebraska Furniture Mart, owned by some guy named Warren Buffett. There are also a ton of restaurants here, the CoCo Key Water Resort (indoor water park!) and independent rock bars (not owned by Mr. Buffett).

West Omaha: A lot of malls here. There's a huge jewelry store, which is owned by, yeah, you guessed it. Take a break from shopping to go boating, hiking or fishing on one of the many lakes here, including Lake Cunningham.

South Omaha: It was once its own city, and was nicknamed "The Magic City." (Maybe Dorothy should have come here from Kansas instead of Oz, might have gotten into less trouble.) Now it's most known for its Historic District. if you find an apt for rent in South Omaha, it might be in a red brick building built in the late 1800s.

North Omaha: Home to the oldest community in Omaha, Florence, as well as the oldest building, the Bank of Florence. North Omaha has some of the most interesting architecture in Nebraska, with buildings from the early 20th and late 19th centuries designed in styles including Queen Anne, Georgian Revival, Jacobethan Revival, Romanesque and several other revivals. This area also has the deepest musical roots in the state, with a happening jazz scene dating back to the '30s. Today North Omaha hosts the Omaha Blues, Jazz and Gospel Festival.

Arnold Heights in Lincoln: This neighborhood (also know as Air Park, because of a now closed Air Force Base) is in the northwest of the city. If you choose a house to rent here, it could be one of the now privately owned military houses or in a new subdivision.

Near South in Lincoln: Many of the historic homes here have been converted into apartments, but some are being converted back into houses, so hurry up!

Wilderness Ridge in Lincoln: A good place to find new apartments and houses, contrary to the name.

Irvingdale in Lincoln: Has both houses built in the early 20th century as well as much newer homes...from the '50s.

Havelock in Lincoln: Live here to stock up on produce at the local farmers market each Tuesday.

Far Southeast in Lincoln: Relax, it's not that far. Lincoln isn't very big. This neighborhood has been growing quickly just in the past few years.

Bellevue: The oldest city in Nebraska is a tourist attraction, but with more than 50,000 residents, it's a decent sized town. The town has grown considerably since the 1990s, with expansion in both commercial and residential construction. Bellevue is part of the Omaha metro area, about nine miles to the south.

Kearney: If you want to be far from a big city, Kearney is the place to go. It sits in near the Kansas border, in South Central Nebraska, about 180 miles from Omaha. Despite having only 30,787 people in the 2010 Census, Kearney has solid cultural credentials, including the Robert M. Merryman Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Nebraska Art.

Grand Island: You might be surprised to learn that there is an island city in Nebraska. Grand Island residents would be surprised too, because other than the nearby Platte and Wood Rivers and a few lakes, this city isn't surrounded by water. But it is a good place to live a prairie lifestyle, with its heritage showcased in events and locations such as the Husker Harvest Days and the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer.

Life in Nebraska

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are highly regarded around here. If you don't know who they are, or support a rival team, you might want to brush up on your 'Huskers history a bit before chatting up your new neighbors.

They've got great steak, and they don't mind telling you about it. The best steakhouses are in Omaha, at places like Fleming's, but you won't lack for beef any place in the state. The official drink of Nebraska is it's native Kool-Aid, but you might find it hard to appreciate that if you're past the age of 10.

Beer is the staple (besides Kool-Aid?) but local wine is regaining popularity after the grape crops were devastated during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

Nebraska is known for abundant farmland, but there dozens of national and state reserves here as well. Among the places Nebraskans like to hunt, fish and hike are Toadstool State Park, Pine Ridge and Sand Hills (it's not all plains).

NE Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter’s satisfaction with their cities and states

Here’s how NE ranks on:

Overall satisfaction
Safety and crime rate
Jobs and career opportunities
Recreational activities
Quality of schools
Social Life
Commute time
State and local taxes
Public transit

Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released Nebraska’s results from the third annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. This survey, which drew on responses from over 45,000 renters, provides insight on what states and cities must do to meet the needs of 111 million American renters nationwide.

"Nebraska renters expressed general satisfaction with the state overall," according to Apartment List. "Interestingly, ratings for Nebraska vary widely across categories such as commute time and state and local taxes."

Key findings in Nebraska include the following:

  • Nebraska renters gave their state a B overall.
  • The highest-rated categories for Nebraska were quality of local schools and affordability, which both received A grades.
  • The areas of concern to Nebraska renters are weather (F) and public transit (D).
  • Millennial renters are unsatisfied with their state, giving it an overall rating of D.
  • Nebraska did relatively well compared to nearby Kansas (C) and Wyoming (F), but earned lower scores than Colorado (A+) and South Dakota (A+).
  • Nebraska earned similar scores to other states nationwide, including Tennessee (B), Arizona (B) and Pennsylvania (B).
  • The top rated states nationwide for renter satisfaction include Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho and Minnesota. The lowest rated states include Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana.

Surveyed Cities in Nebraska