The state of Nebraska is in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern regions of the United States. It is bordered to by South Dakota to the north, Iowa to the east, Missouri to the southeast, Kansas to the south, Colorado to the southwest, and Wyoming to the west. The population is 1.9 million which is the 37th highest in the nation, so any senior who is looking to live in a state that doesn't have too many people may find Nebraska a good choice for retirement. The state is large at 77,358 square miles, making it the 16th largest state in America, with a population density of 24.6 people per square mile which ranks 43rd in the country.
Nebraska’s nickname is the “Cornhusker State". Nebraska is home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team. In fact, when Memorial Stadium, the home of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, is full it holds more people than any Nebraska city except Lincoln and Omaha. The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln, but the city of Omaha is the largest city in the state. 89% of the cities in the state of Nebraska have fewer than 3,000 people. Of the 93 counties in Nebraska, 53 of them reported declining populations at the end of the last century while the urban areas have experienced tremendous growth. Nebraska has the 24th highest percentage of senior citizens in the country, with approximately 13.5% of Nebraskans age 65 or older. However, is this mainly rural Midwestern/Great Plains state a good choice for senior living?
Costs of Assisted Living in Nebraska
The median cost of Assisted Living care in the state of Nebraska is $3,510 per month while the national average is $3,628. While the average cost of care in Nebraska is lower than it is nationally, that is to be expected as Nebraska is a state with a lower cost of living and it is also a very rural state – almost 90% of the cities in Nebraska have less than 3,000 residents. The costs of assisted living in Nebraska may vary due to the needs of the residents within a facility and, in a state as rural as Nebraska, you may find only one or two Assisted Living Facilities in a county so Assisted Living Facilities will be forced to offer different levels of services to different clients at different prices, or residents will be forced to go far from home to get the care that they need. Within the state of Nebraska alone, the costs of assisted living facilities vary from $3,200 per month in Grand Island to almost $4,620 in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Home Health Aides and Adult Day Care are other ways that Nebraskans can care for seniors. In Nebraska, the state median for Adult Day Health Care averages almost $1,260 per month or close to $15,100 per year. A Home Health Aide in Nebraska costs, on average $4,480 a month, or almost $54,000 annually. Although Home Health Day Care is much cheaper than Assisted Living in Nebraska, it is usually only offered for between eight to twelve hours per day and Home Health Aides costs are for a 44-hour week. It is also important to remember while Home Health Aides are important and helpful, they are not licensed nurses, nor are there licensed nurses available if necessary which is something that is available in most Nebraska Assisted Living Facilities.
In Nebraska, a semi-private room in a nursing facility costs close to $68,000 per year, and a private room will cost close to $77,000 annually. By the year 2030, seniors can expect to see the cost of Assisted Living in Nebraska to be around $64,000 per year – an increase of almost $22,000. The cost of Nursing Home Care will increase to approximately $102,000 for a semi-private room and almost $116,000 for a private room by 2030. Also, as the regulations increase in both nursing homes and in Assisted Living, the prices of care within these facilities will increase as well.
Seniors can expect to pay different prices for assisted living in Nebraska, depending on the city they choose as their senior living option. For example:
- Grand Island, Nebraska - $3,650;
- Omaha Area, Nebraska - $4,000; and
- Lincoln, Nebraska - $4,620;
Pros and Cons of Senior Living in Nebraska
We have gathered the pluses and minuses for seniors when choosing whether to live in and retire to Nebraska:
- Cost of Living – the state has a lower cost of living than the national average. The cities of Omaha, Hastings, and Lincoln are all cities with a cost of living that is lower than the national average;
- Low unemployment – Nebraska has the lowest rate of unemployment of all states at 2.5%, therefore retirees who are looking to supplement their income should have a relatively easy time finding a job;
- Outdoor Activities – Nebraska is known for its farming and rural areas, however there are also a surprising number of areas that are under the management of the National Park Service, including: Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, California National Historical Trail, Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail, the Oregon National Historic Trail, Missouri National Recreational River, the Pony Express National Historic Trail, and Scotts Bluff National Monument. Areas maintained by the National Forest Service include: the Nebraska National Forest, Oglala National Grassland, and Samuel R. McKelvie National Forest;
- Crime Rate – the rate of violent and property crimes in Nebraska is lower than the national average. On a scale from 1-100, violent crime in Nebraska ranks at a low 25, while property crime (burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson) in Nebraska ranks at 33. The U.S. Average for violent crime is 31.1 and for property crimes it is 38.1;
- Cultural Activities – There are also ample cultural and entertainment activities for seniors living in Nebraska, particularly in the larger cities where there are art galleries and theaters;
- Taxes – Nebraska is not the most tax-friendly state for senior citizens;
Financial Information for Nebraska Seniors
Nebraska has an income tax that is divided into four brackets – ranging from 2.46% to 6.84%. Nebraska uses the same deductions standards that are used federally. Seniors can claim a larger standard deduction as can those that are blind. There are other exemptions as well, including:
- Nebraska Personal Exemption Credit – a credit equal to $130 per exemption claimed on your tax return which is non-refundable;
- Nebraska Child/Dependent Care Credit – this is available with AGI (adjusted gross income) less than $29,000, equal to between 100% and 30% of the federal credit;
- Nebraska Earned Income Credit – equal to 10% of the federal credit;
- Credit for Tax Paid to Another State – available to those who have paid income taxes in another state;
- Credit for the Elderly or Disabled – the same amount as the federal credit; and
- Beginning Farmer Credit – available to taxpayers who are deemed eligible for it by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Nebraska has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, with the average being 1.88%. That is the 6th highest effective property tax rate in the United States.
Nebraska has an inheritance tax but the amount due varies on the relationship of the inheritor to the person who died.
Nebraska is not a tax-friendly state for seniors, due to the following:
- Income from Social Security for Nebraska seniors is partially taxed;
- Withdrawals from retirement accounts for Nebraska senior citizens are fully taxed;
- Public pension income for seniors living in Nebraska is fully taxed; and
- Private pension income for Nebraska seniors is fully taxed.
The cost of living is lower in Nebraska than it is in other states with housing being the biggest difference. Out of 100 points, Nebraska ranked below the national average with a cost of living of 88.40. Nebraska rated higher the categories of overall (88), grocery (96.3), health (94), housing (74), transportation (95), utilities (99), and miscellaneous (84).
Places of Interest for Seniors Living in Nebraska
There is a number of things that could be interesting to senior citizens in Nebraska. Some of them include:
- Henry Doorly Zoo – located in Omaha, Nebraska – this is a world class zoo that is known for its breeding program of endangered species;
- Lauritzen Gardens – Omaha’s Botanical Center, located in the South Omaha, Nebraska. Seniors living in Nebraska can enjoy this combined arboretum and botanical garden which are open daily and an admission fee is charged.
- Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, also known as Scout’s Rest Ranch – located west of North Platte, Nebraska – a living history state park that was established in 1878 with 160 acres south of the Union Pacific tracks by Buffalo Bill Cody. The 4,000-acre ranch was sold in 1911 and has, since 1964, been under the management of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. 25-acres of the ranch is a historic state park and was dedicated as National Historic Landmark in 1978. It is open on weekdays from April to October and the house and outer building are open for tours, including a museum which documents Cody’s life from being a rider on the Pony Express to his Wild West shows;
- Carhenge – located in Alliance, Nebraska – this self-described “quirky” attraction is a replica of Stonehenge created from old automobiles;
- Lee G. Simons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari – located in Ashland, Nebraska – a drive-through adventure zoo which leads seniors and all other visitors through different lands and features animals such as Sandhill Cranes, antelope, and Buffalo. Most animals may be seen from the car, but the Wolf Woods section does require a short walk.
- Chimney Rock National Historic Site – located in Bayard, Nebraska – seniors living in Nebraska can check out this natural land rock formation that stands over 300 feet above the bordering North Platte River valley. The peak of Chimney Rock is 4,228 feet above sea level. This prominent rock formation served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail, during the mid-19th century. It is still visible for travelers today along Route 26 and Nebraska Highway 92;
- Mayhew Cabin and Historic Village – located in Nebraska City, Nebraska. It was built in 1865 and it is the sole recognized Underground Railroad place in. There is a hollowed-out area underneath the cave to illustrate where the escaping slaves were hidden;
- Great Platte River Road Archway Monument – located in Kearney, Nebraska – this arch spans Interstate 80, formerly the Great Platte River Road, which runs East to West, and holds 79,000 square feet of exhibits on both the route’s evolution and importance;
- Mormon Pioneer Cemetery – located in Omaha, Nebraska – the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery is located at 3301 State Street in present-day Florence in the northern part of Omaha. It is the burial site of hundreds of Mormon pioneers who lived in the area known as “Winters Quarters” which is now in North Omaha, Nebraska. Winters Quarters was the home to around 2,500 members of the “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” during the winter of 1846-1847 while they waited for better weather to continue their move westward. During their stay, they built more than 800 cabins and the settlement remained populated until 1848. However, 359 of the pioneers were buried at the site and three graves can still be seen today. There is a monument to commemorate the Mormon’s plight that was dedicated in 1836 by Salt Lake City artist Avard Fairbanks. The statue depicts parents who have committed the body of an infant to his grave; and
- Starke Round Barn – located near Red Cloud, Nebraska – this is the largest true round barn in the world and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is three stories high, 120 feet in diameter, 400 feet in circumference and the center silo has a diameter of 28 feet and is 60 feet high.
Some cities to consider for Nebraska Senior Living
Here are some cities or towns that could be an excellent choice in your search for a senior living community in Nebraska:
- Holdrege, Nebraska – located in, and the county seat of Phelps County, Nebraska. The population of Holdrege, Nebraska is approximately 5,700 residents of which over 20% are seniors age 65 or older. Last year, Holdrege ranked #1 out of 35 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #12 of 38 of the “Best Places to Live in Nebraska,” and #2 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in Nebraska;
- Gering, Nebraska – located in, and the county seat of, Scotts Bluff County – Gering is the 7th largest urban area in Nebraska and part of the Scottsbluff, Nebraska Micropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Gering is approximately 8,400 of which approximately 17% are age 65 or older. Last year, Gering ranked #14 out of 35 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #3 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska,” and #21 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Live in Nebraska;”
- Blair, Nebraska – a city located in, and the county seat of, Washington County, Nebraska. Blair is part of the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population of Blair is approximately 8,000 of which around 15% of the population belongs to the senior community age 65 or older. Blair has its own hospital, the Memorial Community Hospital, and the county courthouse in town. Last year, Blair ranked #6 out of 35 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #10 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska,” and #19 of 35 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Nebraska;”
- Fremont, Nebraska – located in, and the county seat of, Dodge County, Nebraska. Fremont is also located along the Platte River about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, and 50 miles northeast of Lincoln. Midland College is in Fremont. Last year, Fremont ranked #16 out of 135 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #11 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska,” and #16 out of 35 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Nebraska;”
- Wayne, Nebraska – located in, and the county seat of, Wayne County, Nebraska. Wayne is also home to Wayne State College. The population of Wayne, Nebraska is approximately 5,690 of which around 12.5% are age 65 or older. Last year, Wayne ranked #8 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #17 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in Nebraska” and #8 out of 39 of the “Best Places to Live in Nebraska;”
- McCook, Nebraska – located in, and the county seat of, Red Willow County, Nebraska. McCook is the home to the only house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The population of McCook is estimated to be around 7,500 people with approximately 20% of the seniors living in McCook who are age 65 or older. Last year, McCook ranked #4 out of 35 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #7 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska,” #9 out of 35 of the “Healthiest Places to Buy a House in Nebraska,” and #18 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Buy a House in Nebraska;”
- Nebraska City, Nebraska – a city located in, and the county seat of, Otoe County, Nebraska. Nebraska City has been designated by the Nebraska State Legislature as the oldest incorporated city in the state. It is also the home of Arbor Day, the Lewis and Clark Center, and the Mayhew Cabin - the latter is the only site in the state recognized as a station on the Underground Railroad. The population of Nebraska City, Nebraska is estimated to be around 7,300 with over 20% seniors who are 65 years of age or older. Last year, Nebraska City ranked #2 out of 35 of “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #12 of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska,” and #16 out of 38 of the “Most Diverse Place to Live in Nebraska;”
- Wahoo, Nebraska – located in, and the county seat of, Saunders County, Nebraska. Wahoo was the home of the John F. Kennedy College which has since closed. The population of Wahoo, Nebraska is approximately 4,500 residents, with almost 21.5% of residents belong to the 65+ senior community. Last year, Wahoo ranked #3 out of 35 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #24 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Raise a Family in Nebraska,” and #6 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska;”
- Kearney, Nebraska – located in Buffalo County, Nebraska. This is the city where University of Nebraska at Kearney is located. The population of Kearney is approximately 32,000 with close to 11% of whom are age 65 or older. Last year, Kearney ranked #11 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #3 out of 38 of the “Best Places to Live in Nebraska,” and #4 out of 35 of the “Healthiest Places to Live in Nebraska; and
- Bennington, Nebraska – located in Douglas County, Nebraska. Bennington was originally called Bunz Town but was changed to be named after Bennington, Vermont. The population of Bennington is approximately 1,700 with 13% of that population who are seniors age 65 or older. Last year, Bennington ranked #20 out of 35 of the “Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,” #2 out of 13 of the “Best Suburbs to Live in Omaha Metro,” and #4 out of 28 of the “Safest Places to Live in Nebraska.”