Overlooking the majestic Missouri River, Omaha is Nebraska's largest city. Despite its physical size (and ever-growing population of nearly half a million), the city retains a charming small-town feel.

This gem of the Midwest has been lauded for its low cost of living, good schools, plentiful job opportunities and laid-back lifestyle. Omaha is family-friendly, with low unemployment and a stable economy. Life is good here, and those moving to Omaha have plenty to look forward to.

Cost of living in Omaha

Omaha's reasonable cost of living is a serious draw for those looking to enjoy a high quality of life without an equally high price tag.

Housing is affordable at 16 percent below the national average, although if you plan on buying a home, you'll need to budget for property taxes – some of the highest in the US. Nebraska state income tax is also fairly high.

Omaha's public transport system doesn't cover the city well enough to be solely relied upon, so you'll need a car to get around. Because of this, transport costs are slightly higher in Omaha than in cities where public transport is more comprehensive. The good news is that owning a car in Omaha is pretty affordable compared to elsewhere in the State. Specifically, gas and insurance rates are lower here than in many other US cities.

Getting around in Omaha

Public transportation in Omaha is limited, with bus services provided by Metro Transit. Driving is generally the easiest, most fuss-free way to get from A to B. The city is too spread out to get around solely by foot or bicycle, so investing in a set of wheels is pretty much mandatory in Omaha.

On the plus side, traffic is reasonable outside of rush hour, with the most common commute time being 17 to 19 minutes. That's well below the US average of 26 minutes. Parking is fairly easy to find in Nebraska, so driving isn't too much of a headache.

If you're from outside of Nebraska, you'll need to surrender your valid out-of-state driving licence in exchange for a Nebraska licence. This must be done within 30 days of moving to the city.

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Working in Omaha

Omaha has a strong local economy, with an unemployment rate significantly below the US average. The city's economy is diverse, lending it strength. Major industries include finance, healthcare, technology and insurance. Several Fortune 500 companies have headquarters in Omaha, including Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific Railroad and Mutual of Omaha.

The combination of low unemployment, a strong economy and a low cost of living make Omaha the ideal choice for career growth and stability.

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School in Omaha

Education in Omaha, whether public or private, is typically of a high standard. There are various options to choose from depending on needs, preferences and budget.

Omaha Public Schools manages the district, serving over 50,000 students. Public school attendance is determined by home address, with students guaranteed a spot in their local elementary, middle and high school. Pre-K placement isn't guaranteed and is based on eligibility and available space. If students wish to attend a different school than the one they've been assigned, they can apply to change schools.

More than 60 private schools are also available throughout Omaha, many religiously affiliated. Most are co-educational, though there are a few single-sex primary and high schools.

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Healthcare in Omaha

Just over 90 percent of Omaha residents have health insurance, and over 60 percent of insurance holders have their insurance provided by their employer. Others are enrolled in government schemes such as Medicaid and Medicare or are subscribed to non-group plans.

Healthcare is one of Omaha's largest employers, and the city is replete with excellent hospitals. Some of the most highly recommended institutions include CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center, CHI Health Lakeside and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

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Climate in Omaha

Omaha has four distinct seasons, with hot, humid summers and cold, wet winters. The sun shines in Omaha for more than 200 days a year, but come wintertime, the snow falls thick and heavy on the city, with a yearly average of 13 inches (33 cm). 

While Omaha's location technically puts it in the section of the US termed 'Tornado Alley', tornadoes rarely hit the city directly. The last major tornado was nearly 50 years ago, in 1975. That said, it's always better to be prepared, so new arrivals should keep an eye on the news for any adverse weather events and should follow any government advisories.

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Accommodation in Omaha

Omaha's accommodation options are varied, and with new apartment buildings springing up in the downtown and midtown areas over the past few years, there's more choice than ever. These new apartment blocks often include shared amenities like gyms, pools and clubhouses. On the other hand, older apartments will be more budget-friendly but aren't decked out with the extras.

Like any other city, Omaha has some neighbourhoods that are more desirable than others. Some of the most highly recommended neighbourhoods are Benson, Papillion, Dundee, Millard and Little Bohemia.

Most lease agreements are for 12 months, with the option to extend. Utilities aren't usually included in the rental price, but this can vary, so be sure to read your lease thoroughly to understand your responsibilities.

Find out more about Renting and Buying Accommodation in the USA.

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Lifestyle in Omaha

Though Omaha is landlocked, with neither sea nor mountain decorating the horizon, the city still offers plenty of adventure, both in and out of doors.

One of Omaha's greatest claims to fame is the Omaha Zoo, having previously been ranked as among the best zoos in the country and even the world. Science buffs should explore the Kiewit Luminarium, which has over 100 interactive exhibits.

Culinary options in Omaha are a feast for the senses. Meat lovers are in for a treat, as Omaha is well known for its legendary steak restaurants, and there are many highly recommended spots to be tried and tested.

During the summer, the Missouri River and nearby lakes are great spots to picnic, hike, swim, boat or just relax in the sun. Mahoney Park is another fantastic option, with a wide range of activities. Options vary throughout the year depending on the weather, including mini golf, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and ice skating.

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