Most Affordable Places To Live In Nebraska For 2020

We used data and science to determine which places in Nebraska go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Nebraska.

If you’ve never visited Carhenge in Alliance or caught an astronomy show at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, then you’ve not witnessed what 1.9 million Nebraskans already know; they have some of the most affordable fun to be had in America.

Coincidentally, Nebraska has some of the most affordable places to live in the country as well, and HomeSnacks is here to unravel where you can live in Nebraska on a budget for 2020.

How did we create the ultimate guide to maneuvering Nebraska’s most affordable places to live? We took a look at the US Census and the cost of living data for the Cornhusker State. We were especially interested in home and rental prices. Our conclusion, Nebraska should be one of our fastest growing states based on the amount of work available and its higher than normal wages, but housing is currently difficult to find.

Now, don’t let the housing shortage deter you: they are working on it. More importantly, when you do decide to take the Nebraska plunge, you’re going to need to know where your money will go the furthest.

The places on our most affordable Nebraska list boast great home prices, safe neighborhoods, and lots to do. Any one of these cheaper Nebraska places would be a great place to enjoy life while saving money. Want to know more? We suggest you crank some Maroon 5, grab a basket of Nebraska’s famous Rocky Mountain oysters, and keep reading.

The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Nebraska For 2020

1. SchuylerSchuyler, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,301
Median Household Income: $54,798

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest place to live in Nebraska, look no further than Schuyler, a city an hour north of Lincoln. What makes Schuyler so affordable? Well, Schuyler has the first least expensive homes for sale in Nebraska, with a median price tag of $85,800. Even more importantly, with a median income of $54,798, Schuyler has the best home price to income ratio in the state. If you’re looking to lock down a job before making the move, the Cargill beef processing plant is the city’s largest employer.

2. AllianceAlliance, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 8,313
Median Household Income: $51,932

Alliance ranks as the second most affordable place to live in Nebraska. It’s also home to Carhenge, a quirky roadside stop on the western edge of the Sandhills of Nebraska that replicates Stonehenge (but with cars). If you decide to move to Alliance, a home will set you back about $109,800 or rent will cost you around $610/month. Whether you’re renting or buying, know that you’ll be enjoying the fifth best housing to income ratio in Nebraska.

Alliance is located centrally in the Nebraska Panhandle.

3. SidneySidney, NE

Population: 6,732
Median Household Income: $58,784

Located in the Nebraska Panhandle just north of the Colorado border, Sidney comes in as the third cheapest place to live in the state. The median home price in Sidney is $113,900 and the median income is $58,784. That means that Sidney’s population pays the third smallest proportion of their income on homes statewide. At $714/month, the rent in Sidney is also super affordable. Those looking to learn more about the city’s ties to the rugged frontier days on the late 19th century will definitely want to pay a visit to the Fort Sidney Museum.

4. South Sioux CitySouth Sioux City, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 12,994
Median Household Income: $53,199

South Sioux City is more than just a sibilant-heavy tongue-twister; it’s also the fourth least expensive place in Nebraska. Homes in South Sioux City are the fourth most affordable statewide, with a median price of $111,400. Renters also get the 11th best deal in Nebraska. If you do decide to settle down here, we recommend visiting Siouxland Freedom Park for relaxing picnic beside the Missouri River.

South Sioux City is located just south of Sioux City, Iowa (obviously).

5. LexingtonLexington, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 10,067
Median Household Income: $53,701

Located along Route 30 in southern Nebraska, Lexington ranks as the fifth most affordable city in the state. You’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere in Nebraska that has cheaper homes for sale, because Lexington has the second lowest home prices statewide, with a median price of $87,800. And with a median income of $53,701, Lexington residents enjoy the second best home price to income ratio in Nebraska. Military buffs will be delighted to have the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles right in the neighborhood. And don’t worry that this inexpensive place with lots of weaponry on display is dangerous; we named Lexington among the safest places in Nebraska.

6. MccookMccook, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,580
Median Household Income: $44,473

McCook is a city and county seat of Red Willow County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 7,698 at the 2010 census.

7. HoldregeHoldrege, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 5,476
Median Household Income: $51,615

While other cities higher up on this list may have cheaper homes, they don’t hold a candle to Holdrege when it comes to affordable rent. The median rent in Holdrege is a measly $571, about half the average rent in Nebraska. And with a median income of $51,615, Holdrege residents pay the 12th smallest proportion of their income on rent statewide.

Holdrege is also home to the Nebraska Prairie Museum, where you can learn about the WWII German POW Camp Atlanta.

8. YorkYork, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,859
Median Household Income: $54,724

Located between Lincoln and Grand Island, York ranks as the eighth least expensive place to call home in Nebraska. York is another city that makes this list thanks to it’s affordable rent. While the median rent of $680 is slightly higher than Holdrege, York’s median income of $54,724 is also slightly higher. Overall, York has the eighth best rent to income ratio in Nebraska. And if you’re into quirky novelty museums, Lee’s Legendary Marbles and Collectibles makes a great day out on a budget.

9. CreteCrete, NE

Source: Public domain

Population: 7,050
Median Household Income: $44,469

While Crete may be the least affordable place for renters on this list, the city makes up for it other ways. Like by having the third cheapest homes for sale in Nebraska, at a median price of $94,100. Or by having the sixth best home price to income ratio statewide. And it’s hard to put a price on being named the best place to raise a family in Nebraska.

Crete is just a short drive southwest of Lincoln.

10. PapillionPapillion, NE

Population: 20,466
Median Household Income: $80,853

Papillion’s inclusion on this list is a bit of an oddity. On the one hand, this Omaha suburb has the most expensive homes on this list by a wide margin, with a median price tag of $180,700. On the other hand, as one of the richest cities in Nebraska, with a median income of $80,853, residents are well able to pay higher prices for homes. And while Papillion’s median rent of $890 is the highest on this list, it’s only by a small margin. Which, combined with Papillion’s aforementioned affluence, gives the city the best rent to income ratio in Nebraska. But it’s not just about the dollars and cents in Papillion; it’s also one of the best places to live in Nebraska. Sounds like an all-around good deal to me!

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Cornhusker State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Nebraska
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it’s actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Nebraska to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a “Cost of Living Index” by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 32 places in Nebraska that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in Nebraska according to the data is Schuyler. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Nebraska Cheapskate

If you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Nebraska, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Nebraska for 2020.

Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Nebraska according to the data:

  1. Lincoln
  2. Omaha
  3. Wayne

For more Nebraska reading, check out:

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.