The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nebraska For 2021


We used science and data to determine which places in the Cornhusker State are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst places to live in Nebraska.

Most Americans have never been to Nebraska. In fact, many couldn't even tell you exactly where it is on a map. However, as the people who live in the midwest know, Nebraska is an awesome state. In fact, when we ran our rankings on the worst states to live in America, Nebraska came in 2nd last right after Iowa.

It's a pretty nifty state.

But is it all roses there? Definitely not. Just like any other state, Nebraska has its trouble spots. This article aims to determine, using science, the absolute worst places to live there. Don't shoot the messenger, this is all using data.

But after analyzing 30 cities with more than 5,000 people, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Nebraska:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nebraska For 2021

  1. Crete
  2. Grand Island
  3. Scottsbluff
  4. Plattsmouth
  5. Omaha
  6. Alliance
  7. Lexington
  8. Fremont
  9. North Platte
  10. Beatrice

What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we're picking on small town America, that's not the case.

We understand there's a lot of good in every place.

However, according to data (which doesn't measure things like beauty and 'friendly people'), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Nebraska? That would be Crete.

Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2021.

If you're looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.

For more Nebraska reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nebraska For 2021

Crete, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,043
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $97,400 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (6th worst)
More on Crete:  Data | Photos

Greece's Crete provides the home of the mythical minotaur. What about the Nebraska version? Nothing quite as impressive. In fact, the name was chosen in part because it fit an alphabetical pattern for towns along a major railroad line. Though it might be lacking in man-bull hybrids, the town does have some distinctions -- for instance, it serves as home for Doane University. So that's something.

The community lands on this list mostly as a result of its poverty rate, which runs at 26.1%. This comes amid a 5.3% unemployment rate and a $45,717 median income. Bad schools also afflict the community. Most local institutions score worse than a 6/10 on Great Schools.

Grand Island, NE

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 51,147
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $140,800 (18th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (10th worst)
More on Grand Island:  Data | Photos

No, Grand Island isn't an island. Unless you consider a community of 51,147 people in the middle of a largely rural state an island of city in a sea of prairie. Otherwise, like the rest of Nebraska, Grand Island is landlocked.

That's not why it ends up on this list, though. It earns its dubious distinction as the number 2 worst spot in Nebraska because of questionable housing and an unimpressive school system. Crime presents an issue as well, with a crime rate 20% higher than the national average.

Still, Grand Island does draw some positive notice as well. Centrally located in the state, it hosts the Nebraska State Fair each year.

Scottsbluff, NE

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 14,737
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $116,600 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.4% (worst)
More on Scottsbluff:  Data | Photos

Scottsbluff is the 3rd most dangerous place in Nebraska. Here, you have a 1 in 34.0 chance of being the victim of a property crime every year. Can you imagine? In a small city in the middle of Nebraska, and you have to deal with stupid criminal activity.

Income levels are the 2nd lowest in the state, and the unemployment rate is the highest in Nebraska.

If you want to do anything 'fun', you have to drive 90 miles to Cheyenne.

Plattsmouth, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 6,448
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $114,400 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (2nd worst)
More on Plattsmouth:  Data | Photos

Plattsmouth ranks as the 4th worst place to live in Nebraska for 2021, let's take a look at why.

The crime novelist Raymond Chandler grew up in Plattsmouth. If it's good enough for author of books like The Big Sleep and the creator of private detective Philip Marlowe, it should be good enough for anyone, right? Maybe not.

Plattsmouth, located in the eastern part of the state, about a half hour south of Omaha, suffers from doubtful housing and a lack of diversity. In addition, the local schools fall short of expectations. None score better than 5/10 on Great Schools.

Located near the Missouri River and the Iowa border, Plattsmouth does have its draws. This includes the Schilling Wildlife Management Area.

Omaha, NE

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 475,862
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $159,700 (26th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.3% (9th worst)
More on Omaha:  Data | Photos

Omaha is the biggest city in Nebraska. And like any major urban area, it struggles with its share of challenges. Top among these: safety. Omaha lands on this list mainly as a result of its high crime rate, which tops the national average by more than 70%.

This overwhelms some of the more positive aspects of life in Omaha. The city's economy hums along quite nicely, with a 4.3% unemployment rate and a $60,092 median income. Housing, education, and affordability are all inviting as well. Meanwhile, as a city, you have plenty of amenities, including the Joslyn Art Museum and the Durham Museum.

Alliance, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 8,235
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $105,600 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (3rd worst)
More on Alliance:  Data | Photos

how to get attention. Located in the east-central part of the state, the town features Carhenge, a tourist draw that uses automobiles to recreate the famous British landmark of Stonehenge. Sure, why not?

Unfortunately, you might need a little druidical magic to get through a typical day in town. The economy is sluggish, with an elevated unemployment rate and a 15.2% poverty rate. Housing in town is weak as well. The education system also disappoints, with the local schools topping out at a 3/10 on Great Schools.

It ranks as the 6th worst place to live in Nebraska for 2021.

Lexington, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 10,097
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $92,400 (worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (5th worst)
More on Lexington:  Data | Photos

Lexington once provided a stop for the Pony Express. Nowadays, it still acts as a convenient stopover, located just off I-80 in the south-central part of the state.

The town sports an unimpressive economy, with a 5.5% unemployment rate and $52,885 median income. This results in a poverty rate of 14.1%. The local school system also leaves a lot to be desired. None of town's public institutions scores better than a 4/10 on great schools.

There are some bright spots to life in Lexington. This includes the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles.

Fremont, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 26,437
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $132,700 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.6% (4th worst)
More on Fremont:  Data | Photos

Fremont gets its name from famed explorer, John C. Frémont, who also served as the first Republican nominee for president in the 1850s. If only life in town lived up to that exciting legacy. Instead, locals are stuck with a sluggish economy, inadequate housing, and an substandard school system. (Though, to be fair, it does house one of the country's biggest manufacturers of Spam...so there is some excitement.)

Aside from pressed-meat production, the economy lacks vigor. It leaves 14.0% of the population below the poverty line. As for the schools, none has a rating higher than 3/10 on Great Schools.

North Platte, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 23,892
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $118,900 (10th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (11th worst)
More on North Platte:  Data | Photos

In most cases, a good economy will keep a town off these worst lists. Sometimes, though, financial stability isn't enough. That's the case with North Platte, which boasts a relatively strong economic situation. However, housing and safety concerns leave the community as the number 9 worst spot in Nebraska.

Crime is the major issue for North Platte. The local crime rate tracks 50% above the national average.

Situated along I-80 in the south-central section of the state, North Platte has its draws. This includes Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park Museum and Cody Park Railroad Museum. It also hosts the annual Miss Nebraska contest.

Beatrice, NE

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 12,300
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 6)
Median Home Value: $106,600 (5th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 3.8% (13th worst)
More on Beatrice:  Data | Photos

At least in Beatrice you can go to the movies or bowling if you want to get out of the barn yard for an evening. However, don't forget to lock your door when you're out and about. Beatrice has the 19th highest crime ranking in the state.

Every year that you're in Beatrice city limits, you have a 1 in 63.4 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That's a lot of stolen cell phones, laptops and tractor tires. There were also 22 violent crimes here in 2021. That means rapes and attacks.

For a small city in Nebraska, that's a lot.

Beatrice also has a very low rated public school system when you consider the amount of money spent on students, and the number of students per class.

Income levels are also far below average in Beatrice, which is about 45 minutes south of Lincoln.

How we determined the worst places to live in Nebraska for 2021

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We don't think it's a stretch to assume that people like the following things:

  • Good education
  • Lots of jobs
  • Low crime
  • Low poverty
  • Nice homes
  • High incomes
  • High population density (Lots of things to do)
  • Short work commutes
  • Health insurance

The data comes from the Census's most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight -- if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.

Furthermore, only cities with at least 5,000 people were considered -- leaving 30 cities.

We then ranked each city from 1 to 30 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.

Next, we averaged the rankings into one "Worst Place To Live Score".

Finally, we ranked every city on the "Worst Place To Live Score" with the lowest score being the worst city in Nebraska -- Crete. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Nebraska. You can download the data here.

This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.

Wrapping Up The Worst In Nebraska

If you're looking at areas in Nebraska with the worst economic situations, where there's higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.

And in the end, Crete ranks as the worst city to live in Nebraska for 2021.

If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Nebraska:

  1. Kearney (Pop. 33,464)
  2. Seward (Pop. 7,176)
  3. La Vista (Pop. 17,078)

For more Nebraska reading, check out:

Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Nebraska?

Rank City Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
1 Crete 7,043 5.3% $97,400
2 Grand Island 51,147 4.2% $140,800
3 Scottsbluff 14,737 6.4% $116,600
4 Plattsmouth 6,448 6.0% $114,400
5 Omaha 475,862 4.3% $159,700
6 Alliance 8,235 5.9% $105,600
7 Lexington 10,097 5.5% $92,400
8 Fremont 26,437 5.6% $132,700
9 North Platte 23,892 4.1% $118,900
10 Beatrice 12,300 3.8% $106,600

How Is The Area In ?

16 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Places To Live In Nebraska For 2021

  1. All of this crime in rural Nebraska? All of this crime in these towns around and in Tecumseh, what are they stealing, what is the crime, poor robbing from the poor, I don’t understand this, We had plans to move to Tecumseh, now I’m wondering if this is a good idea.:-(

    1. We moved into Tecumseh 2 yrs ago this month. I really like it and they have a great grocery store, 3 banks, wonderful hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office connected to hospital, wonderful school, a hardware store that has about everything you need, farm supply store, 2 drug stores, Chevy dealership, great sheriff/police department, several floral stores, insurance agencies, great café, bowling alley, several places to obtain your desired alcoholic beverage. Yes, there is some crime but I don’t recognize the names as they are a diff. nationality. These individuals come to Tecumseh for work.
      I don’t think you would regret moving to Tecumseh. There is the chicken processing plant (Smart Chicken) and prison is hiring.

  2. They should check the fact. Auburn’s school system is one of the highest rated in the state. Hard to believe that crime is an issue considering most people do not lock their doors. Just shows you can’t believe everything you read. Auburn is a wonderful town and a great place to live and raise a family.

  3. I live in Wymore and own a business in Beatrice. I don’t know where you went to school but your calculations are not only off but incredibly bias. Housing is always cheaper in smaller towns. Development is another factor of housing costs. We are 15 minutes away from both Beatrice and Marysville.. of course big business isn’t going to set up shop here. Population density levels being a negative is an opinion NOT a fact. Most people move here to get away from a big city, I know I did. We moved here 5 years ago from Houston, Texas. I think for future posts you should probably stay away from topics that are way over your head. Stick to articles that don’t take brains…… like cities with the most Ashley Madison accounts.

  4. Well, the author did warn not to freak out at this article. I think crime-wise, you have to take this list with a grain of salt. I live in Omaha and even though we do have crime here, it makes these small towns look like the safest places on earth which they are, relatively speaking. When I visit or pass through these places (not these towns in the list necessarily), I have a feeling of security and peace. Kind of nice for a city slicker like me!

    God bless small town Nebraska.

  5. I went to Red Cloud. I can see why it’s number 3. It’s a place I wouldn’t want to raise my family. Many of the homes need some serious tender loving care or just demolish them. There’s nothing to do in that town. You have to drive miles to go shopping for anything. It’s only my opinion!!!!

  6. Gosh, I live in North Platte, and it does suck. High crime, major drug problems, very high cost of living. Homes run from $100,000 to over $1,000,000. School system produces under educated kids. Can’t figure how North Platte missed the boat.

  7. Yeah you need to check your facts and info more clearly. I have spent years traveling this state for wrestling and I would agree with maybe 1 town on this list especially when compared to northern towns in very low populated areas. Take Naper for example. Less than 80 population with the vast majority of those being farmers. Great for them but anyone not farming? NO jobs. Sure you can get an old house for $100 a month but no schools (kids bussed out over 30 miles away to a county combined high school), no jobs, no grocery store, etc. It’s a dying town and everyone is fleeing. The cities you have on here are growing and have people who stay for the comfort of the small town living. You surveyed 1000 people? Out of roughly 1.8 million? A true study to determine what you are assuming here would require at least 10 times that spread throughout the state. This is irresponsible journalism or fiction. Writing at best.

  8. “Of course, many of these cities would rank highly if they were in other states, since Nebraska has its stuff figured out.” ROFL!

  9. Lincoln should be number 1 with the way the City has its hands in your pockets All the time!! There have got to be more phoney fees, and taxes in Lincoln than any other city in the Midwest!! The City has the worst streets and worst managed City government, including the worst Mayor in the State!

    1. I totally agree and when it rain my street will not drain and you can see bugs and
      mosquitoes all over. Also a couple years ago I ended up with West Nile. I pay a lot of tax and I get nothing for it but rising my tax’s. I did drive around one day a notice that none of our board of directors including our mayor. Not one crack or bad streets in any of those areas. But they have to have enough money for there new streets and out of pocket extras.

    2. YES! You’re absolutely right! The Near South neighborhoods stink! I had my car broken into and vandalized! Bedbugs and poor landlord managment of buildings. Wages are outstripped by rising rents. Its a town of elitists and bureaucrats and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services is only second worse to its Texas counterpart.

  10. As a retired senior,love a town with cheaper housing.All over the midwest you will find these towns,some with homes below $50,000.Take Emporia Kansas.Not
    exactly a ghetto,is it?

  11. Beatrice had inequality in education and I am sure they have found a way to continue this practice. It’s been a life ruiner for me. I was forced to move here at 4 years old. I have not been able to to leave. It’s absolutely terrible. They are racists and then they claim that racism is fake. They know that things aren’t true that they say but they insist that they are. The ckergy around here do not encourage people to be a different type of community. They embrace hatred and ignore mercy. It’s not just Beatrice but the entire southeast. They don’t give chances because they think they deserve to see good results and have no blind faith as they have no faith. They only attend church for social standing. When ever you have a group like these folks who oppress so heavily those oppressed rise up and it becomes a bad place to live. It’s like ying and yang. Unfortunately these folks are so deceived by the evil in this world they actually believe they are great. In the end they will find out not so much. United we stand divided we fall and this community is divided to the extreme and it’s been falling for decades.

  12. An Anmerican you think being here since 4 years old is bad. Try living here for you whe life. Yes it bad here in Beatrice. But it way to change thing is to show them a new world out there. But I know that hard to do. But MLKJ have done it in the 60’s.

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