States – Nebraska


Many people consider retiring in Nebraska because of its wholesome environment, natural scenery, and abundant healthcare. Nebraska was rated among the 10 best states to retire in 2015 by Investorplace.

It is a quintessential Midwestern state, located mostly on the Great Plains, with hills, bluffs, and prairies, and farms and ranches scattered throughout the landscape. There are over 30 national and state parks which are well-maintained and offer good ways to enjoy the outdoors. With 1.8 million people, the Cornhusker State is the 8th least densely populated state.

The weather in Nebraska varies widely. The summers are usually hot and winters are cold and snowy. There is a marked difference between the eastern and western parts of the state. The east has a humid continental climate, with approximately 31.5 inches of precipitation a year, while the western part of the state has a semi-arid climate and only about 14 inches of annual precipitation. Overall there are 25 to 35 inches of snow annually in the winter.

Additionally, Nebraska is in Tornado Alley: its climate and flat topography give rise to heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes in warm weather during the spring and summer.

Nebraska’s low cost of living is a major attraction for many retirees. The cost of living in Nebraska is among the lowest in the nation, almost 22 percent lower than the US average. The median home price in 2015 was $130,000 which is well below the national average. This is in large part due to the availability of land and low population density. Local production of crops, meat and related food products also help keep prices low.

The tax structure is relatively high, however. The state income tax has four brackets and the top rate is  6.84%, ranking 18th in the country. Social Security benefits and out of state pensions are taxed. The state sales tax rate is 5.5%, about the national average; local districts often add on top of that. Property taxes are relatively high. Counties in Nebraska tax an average of 1.76% of a property’s assessed value per year.

Nebraska boasts a high quality of life and rates high among residents’ satisfaction. The state’s diverse landscape offers something for most everyone. Cities, farmland, and open plains coexist harmoniously. There’s Omaha, with a bustling business atmosphere and an active art environment, and small towns like North Platte, former home of Buffalo Bill. The transportation infrastructure consisting of railroads and well-maintained highways enables people to get around readily.

Here are a few places worth looking at as retirement destinations.


In a 2012 Gallup poll, Lincoln was rated the top city in the U.S. for wellbeing. This was based on residents’ low chronic disease rates and healthy behaviors such as frequent exercise and less smoking, as well as overall life satisfaction. The city was also rated among the 10 best places to retire in the U.S. in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report.

The capital of Nebraska is located in the southeastern part of the state, on flat wetlands surrounded by gently rolling hills. It has an unemployment rate of 2.2% and active manufacturing, service, and high-tech industries. There are many live music and performance venues, including the Lied Center, which puts on national tours of Broadway shows, concerts, and guest lectures.

Lincoln is home to the internationally known musical group Zager and Evans, and several other noted ensembles. The city has over 60 pieces of outdoor art including a 15-foot-high ceramic sculpture of a human head, which is one of the largest ceramic sculptures in the world. The University of Nebraska hosts many sports teams, including the nationally ranked football team and over 20 other men’s and women’s NCAA Division I teams.

Annual city events include Celebrate Lincoln in June, Uncle Sam Jam around July 4, Boo at the Zoo in October, and the Haymarket Farmers Market which runs from May to October and features food, crafts, and plants from vendors from across the state. Lincoln has an extensive park system with over 125 city parks, connected by 133 miles of walking and bike trails. The Sunken Gardens is a major tourist attraction.

There are also five public recreation centers, nine outdoor public pools, and five public golf courses. The city has three hospitals and a major airport.


Located in the eastern part of the state, Columbus is a small town of 23,000 that ranks high for amenities. Columbus is home to a number of notable people such as former heavyweight boxing champion Leon Spinks and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

It is also home to a number of attractions. Glur’s Tavern, built in 1876, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest operating tavern west of the Missouri River.

The Andrew Jackson Higgins National Memorial in Pawnee Park commemorates significant events in U.S. history. Exhibits include a life-sized replica of a boat with bronze statues of soldiers exiting into the sand. The memorial includes sand samples from 58 beaches of historical significance including beaches from the D-Day landing, and beaches in Korea and Vietnam. The site also features the Freedom Memorial, which incorporates steel from the remains of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Regular events include the Platte County Fair, sponsored by the Platte County Agricultural Society; live thoroughbred horse racing and weekly auto races in the summer; the  Columbus Marching Festival in September, featuring high school marching bands from around the state and the region; and the Columbus Days Parade in August.


Kearney is a town of 32,000 with many amenities and good weather. Some major attractions include several museums that display the history of the region and its participation in the Mormon, Oregon, and California Trails and the Pony Express.

Another historical attraction is the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument. This exhibit traces the history of the Great Platte River Road from the Oregon Trail days to the present day. President Bill Clinton toured the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument during a visit to Kearney in 2000; Jack Nicholson was also filmed in a scene at the Archway for the movie About Schmidt.

Kearney has an active artistic community. It hosts the Museum of Nebraska Art, the state’s official art museum, which houses artworks spanning the 19th century to the present. The 750-seat Robert M. Merryman Performing Arts Center is a live performance theatre completed in 2006. The 5,500 seat Viaero Event Center hosts concerts and other live events, and is home to the Tri-City Storm, a hockey team that plays in the United States Hockey League.

For more information about retirement in Nebraska:

State overview in facts and figures

State taxes

State services for senior residents

Profiles of major cities

Retirement communities

Best regions for retirement