Thinking About Making the Move to Omaha Nebraska? Read This Guide First
Table of Contents
- What Are The Neighborhoods in Omaha?
- How Is The Job Market In Omaha?
- How Is The Omaha Real Estate Market?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Omaha?
- Is Omaha A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like?
- What Are Popular Things To Do In Omaha?
- Pros and Cons of Living in Omaha
- Fun Facts About Omaha
Considering moving to Omaha? Trying to figure out what to expect before you pack up and go? You’re in the right place. Here, we’ll cover everything Omaha has to offer, from the cost of living and jobs to food and nightlife.
Omaha, located in Nebraska’s far eastern region near the border of Iowa, is full of surprises. It is often overlooked by people on either coast as a city not worthy of a visit, let alone to move to.
That condescending notion couldn’t be further from the truth. Omaha is a city full of spectacular development, bustling nightlife, vibrant arts and cultural activities, and fantastic nature. Although the Nebraskan winter is notoriously cold, it only makes you appreciate the beautiful and mild spring and summer seasons more fully
People looking to move to the city are right to be curious and maybe even a little apprehensive. However, read on, and you’ll find that Omaha is a fantastic place to live, offering its residents enough activities for three cities of the same size.
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What Are the Neighborhoods in Omaha?
There are many different and diverse neighborhoods that make up Omaha, Nebraska. It is a medium-sized city, with a population of 475,862 within the city limits and 975,454 people living in the greater metro area. There’s a neighborhood for every type of person, and here we’ll cover a few of them.
- Aksarben/Elmwood Park – A mix of condos, houses, and apartments, this historic district was once home to the Aksarben racing track (Aksarben is Nebraska backward).
- Elkhorn – Once separate from Omaha, this area has its own school district as well as chic and modern eateries and cafes.
- Dundee – Home to Warren Buffett, this neighborhood is full of wonderful historic houses and new developments. Perfect for raising a family.
- The Old Market – A historic district from the old Omaha that has since converted into a lively entertainment hub filled with restaurants, concert venues, and street artists and musicians.
- Blackstone District – Known for food and beer, with multiple breweries and famous establishments peppered throughout the district.
- Midtown Crossing – One of Omaha’s most scenic settings, this neighborhood has a plethora of free community events throughout the year, as well as plenty of shopping and eating.
- Little Bohemia – A historic Czech neighborhood, this area has become a staple for artists and musicians, as well as singles and young couples looking for a lively place to date.
How Is the Job Market in Omaha?
If you’re thinking of moving to Omaha, Nebraska, the job market is obviously an essential factor to take into consideration. Unless you already have a job lined up, knowing the major employers and state of the economy in Omaha can make or break your decision to move.
In late 2020, Omaha had an unemployment rate of 3.4%, with a long term average of 3.51%. That number is substantially lower than the national average of 6.7%. Although these statistics are affected by lockdowns and closures due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Omaha unemployment rate has remained relatively steady in spite of the times.
Omaha’s solid economic underpinnings account for its steadfast performance. The city boasts a regulatory environment that makes starting and continuing a business much easier than other cities. For this reason, major companies have remained in Omaha for decades, providing thousands of jobs across multiple job sectors.
Here, we’ll go over the major industries in Omaha, as well as the top companies to work for.
The Omaha economy is well-diversified, meaning no single industry accounts for more than one-third of the greater metropolitan area’s employment and economic activity. Workers from all different backgrounds will likely find open positions available for them in Omaha.
The agriculture industry is one of the major drivers of the Nebraskan economy, not just in Omaha. Due to an abundance of farmland and ideal weather conditions, Omaha is one of the critical centers of the farm-to-plate pipeline, providing workers and transportation for the goods produced by farms in the surrounding area.
Nebraska consistently ranks towards the top of agricultural production in the country. It ranks number one in ethanol production, fifth in corn production, fourth in soybean production, and is among the top livestock, dairy, and poultry producers in the nation.
In Omaha, many agriculture employees live in the city and commute to their jobs on farms in the greater metropolitan area. Due to the diversity of raw materials grown and harvested in the state, agriculture companies need a wide range of employees to fill positions in every part of the supply chain.
Military & Defense
Omaha is home to 65 military and defense companies, including the Offutt Airforce Base. Many lifelong private and public defense industry workers live in Omaha. It has remained one of the major industries throughout the major metropolitan area that underpins the Omaha economy’s relative success.
The presence of the airforce base, as well as NSA-approved development projects, has consistently added jobs to the Omaha economy. If you’re in the defense industry, there is a job in Omaha with your name on it in all likelihood.
Construction and Development
Construction is a major industry in Omaha, and there are almost constantly new development projects underway to revamp historic districts or create new business opportunities in the downtown area.
Construction jobs make up 6.8% of local employment, 0.6% above the national average. These are well paying for Nebraska but often pay under the national average.
Manufacturing jobs make up 9% of Omaha’s total employment, under the national average of 10.4%. Many of these jobs relate to other major industries in Nebraska, including agricultural equipment and machinery, ethanol production, and meatpacking.
Although there is some growth predicted nationally for manufacturing jobs, the Omaha economy doesn’t reflect that. In all likelihood, the rate of manufacturing jobs in the region will remain relatively stable over the next decade or so.
Making up nearly 12% of all employment in Omaha, retail trade is one of the region’s biggest industries. Many Nebraskans work in malls, retail stores, and small businesses selling various products.
Projections on growth in retail trade vary, as competing online businesses like Amazon are cutting into the market for in-person shopping. However, you can expect there to be plenty of retail jobs available if you plan on moving to Omaha.
Finance and Insurance
Surprising to some, Omaha is a financial hub of the Midwest and the country. In fact, there are multiple Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies that have headquarters in the city. Investment giant Berkshire Hathaway is one of them, and founder Warren Buffett is an Omaha local.
Capital gains tax laws and a relaxed business regulatory environment make Omaha a great place for financial institutions to base their operations. There are many jobs available in the financial sector, making up 8.3% of employment in the city, almost double the national average.
Healthcare and Social Assistance
The healthcare and social assistance industry employ the most people out of any other industry in Omaha. Due to an aging population and the presence of multiple reputable medical institutions and universities, demand for professionals in this field is growing.
In Omaha, healthcare and social assistance professionals make up 15.4% of the total employed. If you’re a medical professional looking for a place to settle down, Omaha could offer enough opportunity to make it a worthy consideration.
Top Companies to Work for
In this section, we’ll go over the top companies to work for in the Greater Omaha metropolitan area.
Established in 1921, Offut Airforce Base employs over 10,000 service members and other employees, making it the largest employer in the Greater Omaha metropolitan area. It is home to USSTRATCOM (United States Strategic Command) and is a major hub for U.S. military operations.
Many service members are stationed in Omaha to fulfill their careers in the Airforce. While the move isn’t forever for some, the Offut Airforce Base retains thousands of employees permanently in the area.
Estimates put the economic impact of the airforce base on Omaha alone at nearly $2 billion per year.
One of the top-100 medical schools in the country, the University of Nebraska Medical Center is the second-largest employer in Omaha. The institution is constantly looking for new employees across multiple departments, so if you’re a medical professional or just looking for a good job, this might be the perfect place for you to apply.
Headquartered in Omaha, Berkshire Hathway is a legendary financial investment and commodity management firm. The founder, Warren Buffet, is actually from Omaha and is one of the richest people in the world.
Working for such a company can be intimidating, but no other firm in Omaha can offer amazing opportunities for career growth like Berkshire Hathway can. Although the firm pays less than some of its competitors, the rate reflects the cost of living in Omaha, Nebraska, and there is plenty of room for upward mobility to increase your salary.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
How Is the Omaha Real Estate Market?
Anyone considering moving to Omaha needs to be aware of the state of the local real estate market. Even if you plan on renting, there may come a time when you want to buy your own home or investment property.
From November 2019 to December 2020, property values rose 7.9%. In contrast, housing prices nationally rose only 4.29% in the same period. Experts predict property prices in Omaha to climb again over the next year by 10.8%.
These increases can mean a couple of things to potential home buyers and property investors looking at Omaha for their next purchase. First, if you want to buy, now is the time. Since prices are rising, you could end up losing thousands of dollars if you choose to wait.
Second, if you want to invest in a rental unit or flip houses, Omaha is an incredible market to breach. The potential for huge profits if you flip the house in a couple of years’ time is very real and can’t be matched by many other markets for the same initial investment cost.
It would be useful to know what the average house price in Omaha is before you decide to invest or move there. According to Zillow, the typical home value in Omaha is $212,775 for a three to four-bedroom house.
In comparison, the national median home value is $247,084. While experts expect housing prices to rise, you can expect Omaha home values to grow at a quicker pace.
Omaha’s housing market is very competitive, meaning there are usually multiple offers on houses from different prospective buyers. If you’re looking into moving to Omaha, waiting too long could cost you your dream home in the area.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in Omaha?
Omaha is one of the cheaper cities to live in in the United States. Your daily expenses amount to far less than other comparable cities, giving you more bang for your buck no matter what your needs are.
If you consider the average national cost of living to be 100, then the cost of living in Omaha would be 89.8. This means that it’s around 10.2% cheaper to live in Omaha than the rest of the U.S. on average.
Here, we’ll give you a breakdown of how much main life expenses will cost you in Omaha.
Food and Groceries
Nebraska is a hub for agriculture, and produce grown and harvested in the state is priced well below the national average. Things like corn and soybean products will be cheap and readily available.
However, in terms of the general costs of groceries per household, Omaha is only 3.4% lower than the rest of the country. To give you an idea, here is a cost breakdown of common household groceries in Omaha:
- Milk (1 gallon, regular) – $2.18
- White Bread (1 loaf) – $2.22
- Eggs (dozen) – $1.45
- Lettuce (1 head) – $1.47
- Apples (1 pound) – $2.16
- Chicken Fillets (1 pound) – $4.25
- Potatoes (1 pound) – $1.31
Utilities, such as electricity, water, and an internet connection, are also just under the national average, around 1.4% less. Compared to a competitor city like Des Moines, Iowa, you would pay around 16% more. However, compared to other competitors like Kansas City, Missouri, Omaha comes in around 3% less.
On average, the total basic utilities (electricity, water, garbage, heating, cooling) in Omaha is around $186 per month for a standard 85m2 apartment. You can expect to pay just under $80 for a basic package that includes 60 Mbps, unlimited data, and/or cable/ADSL for an internet connection.
Transportation costs are fairly average in Omaha. You won’t pay much more or less than what people might pay in cities with a similar size and population density.
Here is a breakdown of average transportation costs in Omaha:
- One-Way Ticket (Bus) – $1.38
- Monthly Pass (Bus) – $55.00
- Gasoline (1 galon) – $2.26
- Taxi Ride (1 mile) – $3.66
Buying a car is also pretty close to the national average in Omaha as well. A Toyota Corolla Sedan, or the equivalent new car, is about $23,200. The downtown area is fairly dense, but the greater Omaha area is very suburban, meaning you won’t spend too much on gasoline in bumper to bumper traffic.
Healthcare and Medical
Healthcare costs can vary wildly depending on your gender, age, and any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. However, you can expect to pay around $620 per month for standard medical insurance. You can opt for more or less coverage depending on your risk and needs, but $620 is the estimated price for many standard policies available for Nebraskan insurance customers.
In general, health and medical services are under the national average. For example, if you require a health aide for yourself or a loved one, the average cost in Omaha is around $21 per hour. For the rest of the state, the average is $24, meaning home living assistance is lower throughout the Greater Omaha area.
Nebraska is a progressive income tax state, meaning people in Omaha pay more as their income increases. The rates start at 2.46% and go up to 6.84%. For example, if you earn $52,000 per year as a single filer, you can expect to pay $2,157 in state income tax.
While other states have a separate capital gains tax, Nebraska counts money made from long or short-term investments as part of your regular income. This is a major reason why so many investors call Omaha home. For example, if your regular salary is $42,000, but you made an additional $3,000 in stock gains, you wouldn’t have to pay a separate, higher tax rate for the $3,000. You would just pay your progressive tax rate for the total $45,000 you made that year.
In Omaha, the property tax rate is 1.6%, making it the 9th highest in the country. This high number is largely due to the fact that Nebraska is mostly farmland, with over 90% of all land devoted to growing crops or raising livestock. While other states have many more properties to collect tax on, Nebraska is fairly limited, justifying the high property tax rate.
The gas tax in Nebraska is 33.20 center per gallon, higher than the 27.6 cents per gallon national average. A high gas tax rate can cause issues in a larger city where people spend the majority of their driving time stuck in traffic. Since this isn’t as big of a problem in Omaha, the relatively high gas tax doesn’t create as pronounced of an impact.
Finally, the sales tax in Omaha is 7.0%. This includes the 5.5% Nebraskan sales tax, plus the 1.5% that Omaha adds on. The national average is 7.10%, so this rate is fairly similar to the rest of the country.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
Is Omaha a Good Place to Retire?
When retirees throughout the United States look for somewhere new to call home, they look for places that are not expensive, have good quality healthcare, and are relatively safe and free from crime. With a lower cost of living than the national average and plenty of activities to keep yourself busy during your golden years, Omaha is a fantastic place to retire.
While many people flock to states like Florida and Arizona for retirement, sunshine and palm trees come with a price. The cost of living in those states is much higher than in Nebraska, which costs just over 10% less than the national average.
Despite this, Omaha and Nebraska as a whole do have some of the highest property taxes in the country, at 1.6% of property value. So if you’re planning on retiring in Omaha by purchasing a home, then expect to pay more in taxes than another retirement hub such as Florida. However, home prices are well below average, so you may end up saving more in the long run.
If you or a loved one prefer, there are plenty of independent living communities available throughout the Greater Omaha metropolitan area. These serve as an excellent alternative to buying a new home for retirement, and the cost is often far less because you’re renting the space and you aren’t paying taxes on the property.
Some of the most popular independent living communities in Omaha are:
Another important aspect to consider before moving to Omaha is medical care. The Nebraska Medical Center is among a few well-respected institutions providing top-notch medical care to the population of Omaha. For seniors, you can expect no better medical care anywhere else in the country.
There are also many assisted living facilities in Omaha. The city has the medical infrastructure and qualified care necessary to take care of you or your loved one through retirement, in your own home, or in one of these facilities. Some of the best assisted living facilities in Omaha include:
- Brighton Gardens of Omaha
- Bickford of Omaha – Hickory
- The Waterford at Roxbury Park
- Bickford of Omaha – Blondo
- The Waterford at Miracle Hills
No matter what your medical needs may be, there is definitely a qualified assisted care facility that will provide top-tier care in your retirement.
In Omaha, 19.6% of the population is over 55. As such, you can be certain there are plenty of activities to keep you busy through your retirement.
Golfing is immensely popular in Nebraska due to having the perfect landscape for large and luxurious courses throughout the state.
Since the Missouri River runs through Omaha, various water activities are also popular. Fishing, kayaking, boating, and anything else you can do on the water, you can do in Omaha.
If you’re an art connoisseur, there are plenty of museums and art galleries to suit your fancy. Places like The Durham Museum, The Joselyn Art Museum, and The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts often showcase world-famous artists in fantastic facilities.
What Are the People and Culture Like?
Omaha is one of the most diverse cities in Nebraska and the Midwest in general. Historically, people of many different religious and ethnic backgrounds chose Omaha to settle in, fostering much of the diversity in the neighborhoods we discussed before.
As such, it’s hard to nail down a single defining feature that describes what the people are like in Omaha. However, we’ll do our best to give you a proper overview of the local culture and what to expect in terms of customs and norms that are prevalent throughout the greater metropolitan area.
Omaha, and Nebraska in general, is traditionally a majority Christian population across multiple denominations. However, nearly half of Omahans don’t identify with any religion at all.
Omaha has a long history of ethnic migration from around the world, and as such, the religious landscape is ever-changing. In fact, Muslims now make up the second-largest religious demographic in the city, something unthinkable only 20 years ago.
Omaha is a mostly Republican city, with most public offices held by members of the Republican party. This is indicative of Omaha’s historic leaning toward the political right.
However, times are changing. In the 2020 election, Democrat Joe Biden garnered a rare win in Nebraska, reflecting a growing population of Democrats and Independents in the state.
In Omaha, no matter your political leaning, you should be treated with friendliness and respect.
- White (Non-Hispanic) – 65.7%
- Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) – 12.1%
- White (Hispanic) – 11.3%
- Asian (Non-Hispanic) – 3.67%
- Two+ (Multiracial) – 3.06%
People in Omaha, and the Midwest as a whole, are well-known for being very friendly, especially to newcomers. Midwest nice isn’t just a saying; it’s a code many people live by, known in Nebraska as “Nebraska nice.” They were raised that way and often go out of their way to help or do something nice for their neighbors.
That being said, of course, there will be rude and unfriendly people no matter where you go. The key is making yourself known to your neighbors, and eventually, you’ll get to experience Nebraska nice first hand.3 Ways To Sell A House Without High Commissions? Learn More.
What Are Popular Things to Do in Omaha?
Living in Omaha, you’ll have an abundance of outdoor and indoor activities available to occupy your time. Nature-lovers, party-goers, and parents and kids all have something perfect for them to do.
For the Kids
- Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium – A world-class zoo and aquarium filled with wildlife from around the globe.
- Strategic Air Command and Space Museum – Filled with a variety of permanent and temporary exhibitions year-round and open for events like birthday parties and school functions.
- The Durham Museum – This museum is perfect for kids who love everything to do with trains.
- Missouri River – Cutting through Omaha, the Missouri River is publicly accessible for a variety of watersports and activities.
- Outdoor Movies – There are plenty of open spaces and drive-ins offering free summer movies.
- Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course – An outdoor adventure company offering highline ropes courses and aerial adventure experiences.
- Thunderhead Brewing – A fantastic brewery with excellent craft beer and great food.
- Wicked Rabbit – A speakeasy bar located in the hidden door of a small liquor store with a cool vibe and excellent cocktails.
- Retro Rewind – Great dance hall featuring classic hits from the 80s and 90s.
Pros and Cons of Living in Omaha
No matter what city you’re talking about, there’s always going to be some drawbacks. While life in Omaha is great, it does have its unique problems as well. Here is an easy-to-digest list of the pros and cons of living in Omaha.
- Perfect place to raise a family
- Relatively safe with a low crime rate
- Housing affordability and upward growth
- Low cost of living
- Many different museums and art galleries
- Easy drive/commute anywhere you need to go
- Not much to do outside the city limits
- High property taxes
- Cold winters
Fun Facts About Omaha
Here’s a list of fun facts about Omaha that you might not have expected to learn!
- Omaha was one of the few cities in the country where a Japanese balloon bomb exploded overhead.
- Johnny Carson got his start in broadcasting in Omaha at WOW Radio and Television, kicking off a legendary career that spanned decades.
- Omaha is home to the world’s largest coffee pot, an icon of classic Americana.
- Omaha is also known as Swim City USA due to being a hub for US Olympic Swim Team tryouts.
- Omaha invented the famous Reuben sandwich, not New York City.
- Omaha is part of the burgeoning “Silicon Prairie,” where tech giants like Microsoft and Apple pursue new developments in the area due to its affordability and open space.
If you’re still on the fence about moving to Omaha, Nebraska, consider taking a trip out to the lovely city and do some of the fun activities we’ve mentioned. Maybe in a few year’s time, you’ll consider Omaha to be your home!
Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Nebraska Resources? Check These Articles Out!
- Read This Before Selling a House in Nebraska (FSBO or with a Realtor)
- How To Sell A House In Nebraska Without A Realtor
- What Are Nebraska Flat Fee MLS Listings?
- Did You Know That We Buy Houses In Nebraska (Fast And For Cash)?
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.