Nebraska may seem like just another Midwest flyover state filled with miles and miles of corn. While that may be true (it is called the Cornhusker State after all), it also offers its people more than you might think.
For one thing, it has a thriving metropolitan center that’s been named one of the best places to live by U.S. News. Omaha may have more cattle than humans (true story), but it also has a rich history built from generations of agriculture and good ol’ hard work.
No matter where you choose to move in Nebraska, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.
If the Cornhusker State is tugging at your heartstrings a bit, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some things to know before embracing the Cornhusker state of mind.
In Nebraska, they treat their job market like the cattle they raise. They fatten it up nice and juicy, and then everyone can eat. The state unemployment rate is 2.8% , one of the lowest in the country. Nebraska is ranked 16th overall in best states for jobs, taking into consideration job opportunities and economic standing. Not too shabby, Nebraska!
While the job market seems to be doing fine and dandy, we can assure you that the citizens of this Midwest state aren’t all cornhusking. So where are all the fine citizens of this prairie state working? Well, the companies with the largest workforce include Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett's crown jewel), Union Pacific and Home Instead Senior Care.
As for specific professions that are booming in the state, web developer, home health aide and computer numerical controller machinist (you’re going to have to google that one) are the fastest growing jobs. Overall, five of the ten fastest growing jobs relate to health care. While the agricultural industry still sits on the iron throne (generating $7 billion a year in cattle alone), healthcare services is a steadily growing field. However, the non-farm industry with the most job growth in the last 12 months was the leisure and hospitality industry at 2.4%.
Another great piece of news is that this Wild West state is ranked 5th for affordability by U.S. News. With minimum wage at a whopping $9.00 an hour (anything higher than the average is a win) and an affordable cost of living, this may just be the sweet spot for anyone not scared of wrangling some cattle. If you are, maybe you should consider drinking the party punch elsewhere.
It’s not just the job market that’s stellar, cornhuskers know how to do housing right too. U.S. News ranks the state 4th for housing affordability. According to Zillow, the median home value is $157,800 and the median rent price is $1,250, but housing prices are predicted to go up 3.3% over the next year.
While affordable housing prices should definitely be at the top of your list, Midwest migration doesn’t seem to be top priority for transplants. The population in Nebraska in 2018 is estimated to be 1.93 million. That’s up just a bit from 1.82 million at the 2010 census. Meaning, the state has been experiencing a population growth of under 1% every year. While jobs are available and housing is affordable, the jury is out on whether this state will be the next California.
Since the state hasn’t seen a wildly huge population boom since the Gold Rush, building new houses hasn’t been a priority. Sources says that the majority of homes in the state were built between 1970 and 1979. In the urban areas (Omaha and Lincoln are the only two cities with a population of over 60,000), some new-construction homes can be found. In the 89% of villages that have less than 3,000 people, new construction is not a top priority.
People and Culture
Nebraska can pretty much be summed up in what we like to call the 3 R’s: religion, Republican, and wrangling (ok that’s not an “r” but it might as well be). For a state whose major industry is agriculture, it’s pretty obvious what the driving force behind its culture will be. Nebraska’s landscape of rolling hills and fertile plains is the perfect backdrop for the Wild West lifestyle many favor.
While the thriving urban area of Omaha houses almost a quarter of the population, it’s still a center of agricultural industry. It’s not out of the ordinary to see a person walking down the street in a suit, wearing cowboy hat, getting business done. The rest of the hundreds of villages (many containing fewer people than are invited to Prince Harry’s wedding) live a life pretty far removed from the hustle of cities.
With most of its population living rurally, the way of life in Nebraska is slower and more peaceful. It’s not always an easy life, but the farmers who have worked the land for generations would be more than happy showing any newcomers how cornhuskers get it done.
Must-Sees in Nebraska
For a state with so few people, it sure is loaded with fun things to do. Adventurous at heart, the spirit of Nebraska lies in its enchanting landscapes and agricultural roots.
Here are just a few must-sees for the Midwest state that offers way more than just corn (and cattle):
- Henry Doorly Zoo: Located in Omaha, this world-renowned zoo is praised for its efforts in conservation and research. It has also been named the World’s Best Zoo by TripAdvisor (they’re a big deal). Started as the Riverview Park Zoo in 1894, it has blossomed into a beloved attraction that features North America’s largest nocturnal exhibit and largest cat compound and the world’s largest glazed geodesic dome. Big props to this zoo-topia.
- Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park: Near the town of Royal, this massive reserve of fossils left after an ancient volcanic eruption offers a prehistoric look into the Midwest’s wild past. If you’re looking for some education for the little tykes, check inside the new Hubbard Rhino Barn. It delves into what paleontologists are discovering, including five species of early horses and three species of camels.
- Omaha's Old Market: This is 12 square-blocks of revived Midwestern charm. Fashioned from an old warehouse district, the charming shops, galleries and restaurants are a favorite among Omaha residents.
- Nebraska Star Party: Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Every August, families of all star-gazing levels gather at the Merritt Reservoir Snake River Campground, about 30 miles southwest of Valentine. They indulge in a night of stargazing revelry, while the almost total lack of light pollution makes for some of the darkest skies in the U.S.
- Valentine National Wildlife Refuge: More than 260 species of birds, as well as beavers, deer and muskrats (a mid-size semi-aquatic rodent in case you were wondering) call this rich area home. The sandy-bottom lakes throughout this 19,131-acre National Natural Landmark are surrounded by grasslands, which help feed the little rodents that thrive there.
- Oregon Trail Days: Located in the town of Gering, and heralded as Nebraska's oldest festival and western Nebraska's biggest event, this weekend will make or break your reputation as a real-life Cornhusker. Parades, home-cooked food, and cultural events are all wrapped up in this one uniquely Nebraskan event.
- Nebraska's Big Rodeo: Since 1921, this one-of-a-kind four-day event can been found in Burwell. Need a place to break in those new cowboy boots and hat? This is the place for it. If you’re a regular Joe looking for a good time, this is also the place for that.
Pros and Cons of Living in Nebraska
While Nebraska may seem like the Midwest’s shining glory, every state is bound to have some cons to wrangle alongside those pros. We’ve just happened to gift wrap them for you, so you can sit back and bask in the almighty knowledge every future Cornhusker should know.
Pros of being a Cornhusker:
- Education: The state is ranked 9th overall in the nation when taking into consideration cost of tuition, debt after graduation, quality of education, graduation rates, etc. The state also has over 20 universities.
- Economic opportunities: The state is not only ranked 5th for affordability, it’s also top-ranked in economic opportunity. The state’s booming economy, fueled mostly by agriculture (and its varying subsidiaries), has led to a lower poverty rate than the surrounding states and more opportunities for everyone.
- Omaha: Ranked among the best places to live in the country, Omaha deserves its own spot on this list. As a lively urban center (the most lively in the state), it’s a progressive hub for all the things we as social creatures love. The city caters to all types of Cornhuskers. You can just as easily get a delicious vegan meal as a steak. Also, as home to almost a quarter of the state’s population, it has seen exponential growth due to transplants looking for better economic opportunity (and hipper amenities).
Cons of being a Cornhusker:
- Location: The location is not ideal for some. It’s pretty far removed from any oceans and major mountain ranges. As a consequence, there are minimal hiking and walking trails (not to mention beaches...which there are none of). If a bit of flavor in your landscape is important, maybe look somewhere outside of the prairie states that dominate the Midwest.
- Weather: Nebraska sees some of the highest numbers of tornados of any state. If you’re up for braving the violent storms, let alone the severe temperatures year-round, give it a whirl. If dealing with things flying through the air isn’t your thing, maybe consider a state with calmer weather patterns.
Just in case you’re ever feeling a bit rebellious, here is the cream of the crop of bizarre laws in this state. Every state seems to have some head-shakers no one really cares to talk about anymore (or chooses to ignore). Nebraska’s just happen to be extra-bizarre.
Weird laws to know about in the state:
- Men aren't allowed to run around with shaved chests. Men, you might as well grow your beard, buy some chaps, and embrace the rugged rancher lifestyle. There’s no turning back.
- Mothers can't give their daughters perms without a state license. We’re imagining an at-home makeover gone terribly wrong.
- Bars can't sell beer unless they are also brewing a pot of soup: A win-win for sure. Who doesn’t love a good bowl of soup and a beer? Especially when tornados and snowstorms are knocking on the front door.
Welcome to Nebraska
You may be thinking this Midwest state sounds like a dream. Or you may now be thinking it would be your worst nightmare to live there. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle and can barely remember your breakfast (let alone any of the many things we’ve had to say on the subject).
Take our little pieces of advice to heart or not, but just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy. Our resources are here to help you make the best decision. If you’re feeling like being a Cornhusker might just be the golden ticket to your life of utter bliss, take it. There are plenty of upsides to make it worth it. About two million other people seem to think so, and it looks to be going well for them.