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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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


Population: 7,043
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $97,400
Unemployment Rate: 5.3%
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

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Population: 51,147
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $140,800
Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
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

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Population: 14,737
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $116,600
Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
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


Population: 6,448
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $114,400
Unemployment Rate: 6.0%
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

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Population: 475,862
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $159,700
Unemployment Rate: 4.3%
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
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Population: 8,235
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 13)
Median Home Value: $105,600
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
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


Population: 10,097
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 3)
Median Home Value: $92,400
Unemployment Rate: 5.5%
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


Population: 26,437
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $132,700
Unemployment Rate: 5.6%
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


Population: 23,892
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $118,900
Unemployment Rate: 4.1%
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


Population: 12,300
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 6)
Median Home Value: $106,600
Unemployment Rate: 3.8%
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
11 Hastings 24,906 2.5% $119,800
12 York 7,841 3.9% $132,300
13 Bellevue 53,324 5.2% $148,900
14 Lincoln 283,839 3.4% $169,800
15 McCook 7,587 3.6% $109,000
16 Wayne 5,557 3.2% $133,000
17 Sidney 6,572 2.2% $111,000
18 Norfolk 24,424 3.7% $145,400
19 Schuyler 6,284 3.1% $102,800
20 Blair 7,781 3.4% $148,500
21 Chadron 5,591 2.9% $127,200
22 Gering 8,254 5.1% $138,200
23 Columbus 23,195 3.2% $145,500
24 Ralston 7,321 3.5% $147,000
25 Holdrege 5,455 0.6% $127,200
26 Gretna 5,037 0.3% $185,500
27 Papillion 20,423 2.5% $189,900
28 Kearney 33,464 2.8% $178,900
29 Seward 7,176 1.6% $158,700
30 La Vista 17,078 2.1% $154,300

How Is The Area In ?

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.

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.