20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Omaha

The biggest city in Nebraska is far from a sleepy farm town. It’s a big city (and growing), but there’s a small-town, “Nebraska Nice” vibe to Omaha, which is home to four Fortune 500 companies, a thriving arts scene, amazing food and one of the best music scenes in the country.

Oh, and there’s the low cost of living, affordable housing and really low unemployment. In Nebraska, the cost of living is 11.5 percent lower than average, but workers earn only 1.8 percent less than average, meaning your money goes much further in Omaha. But that’s not all.

1. You might run into the richest man in the world.

Warren Buffett is an Omaha native, and he just happens to be one of the most successful investors of all time. The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway has a net worth of more than $75 billion, currently placing him at No. 2 on Forbes’ list of richest people. The richest, Bill Gates, is a friend, and they’re always spotted together during the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.

2. It only takes 20 minutes to get everywhere.

Seriously. Rush hour in Omaha is laughable compared to bigger cities. Your work commute won’t eat up a huge chunk of your day. Meeting friends for a drink is quick and easy. With less driving, you’ll suddenly find yourself with lots of free time

3. Everyone drives cars.

You can catch a bus or grab an Uber in Omaha, but most people drive their cars to work and school. The city is spread out, and so far, there’s no train. But don’t fret. It’s easy to get around, and there’s parking available everywhere, even in the heart of downtown.

4. We don’t live on farms.

Forget the open plains, fields of grain and rolling tumbleweed. Omaha is a city. With a population around 850,000 in the metro area, people live in houses and apartments. The farms are (for the most part) outside of town.

5. You don’t need to go to a farm to see the animals.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one the best in the country, and it’s praised for the massive number and diverse range of animals as well as its one-of-a-kind exhibits. And they’re constantly adding new animals and attractions.

6. Omaha’s music scene is incredible.

Bands including Bright Eyes, 311 and Cursive all hail from Omaha, and there are more playing every night in dozens of rock clubs scattered throughout the city. At some point, you could catch the next big thing at The Waiting Room Lounge for under $10, and you just may run into a famous musician while grabbing beers at Pageturners Lounge.

7. One of the best indie rock labels is down the street.

A bunch of music-minded friends banded together and created a record label to release their music. That label became Saddle Creek Records, and releases from Bright Eyes, Cursive, The Faint and others made Saddle Creek one of the most recognizable indie labels around. Saddle Creek’s offices are based in downtown Omaha and attached to Slowdown, a 500-capacity rock club.

8. Omaha is in fortunate company.

Four different Fortune 500 companies call Omaha home. Berkshire Hathaway, Union Pacific, Peter Kiewit Sons’ and Mutual of Omaha are all headquartered in Omaha, and each employs a host of local people.

9. Prepare for extreme weather.

It’s not uncommon for the temperature to exceed 100 degrees in the summer or hover around 10 degrees in the winter. You’ll need a full range of hot and cold-weather gear.

10. The sports teams aren’t professional, but they’re still very good

Even without pro sports, there are tons of great sporting events. Creighton basketball is a huge draw (ranked No. 10 nationally). Omaha Storm Chasers baseball plays in Triple A (and they have $1 beer nights). The U.S. Olympic Swim Trials go down every four years in Omaha. And every single summer, Omaha hosts the College World Series, which features two weeks of elite baseball (and tailgating and bar-hopping) at the recently constructed TD Ameritrade Park.

11. People love the Huskers.

On Saturdays in the fall, you may notice your usual haunts are vacant and the streets feel empty. It’s not the zombie apocalypse. It’s Husker football. Everyone is either watching the game on TV or traveled to Lincoln to sit in Memorial Stadium, which holds enough people to be the third largest city in Nebraska on game days.

12. Yeah, the steaks are that good.

You know Omaha Steaks, but you can also get your fill of delicious beef at steakhouses such as Brother Sebastian’s, Johnny’s Cafe or The Drover, an out-of-the-way spot where their signature steaks are aged in whiskey.

13. Everyone is Nebraska Nice.

“Nebraska Nice” was the state’s tourism motto for a time, and it couldn’t be more accurate. Strangers strike up conversations, and anyone you stop on the street is happy to give directions. Really.

14. It’s a great place to raise a family.

Low cost of living. Great job prospects. Easy to get around. Affordable housing. Tons of family-friendly activities. Forbes ranked Omaha No. 8 on its list of best places to raise a family.

15. You might end up in a movie.

There aren’t a ton of movies filmed in town, but with Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Alexander Payne around, you may have a few chances to grace the silver screen. Payne tends to feature his hometown in his films. His latest movie, “Downsizing,” features shots of Omaha Steaks, La Casa Pizzaria and Payne’s high school, Creighton Prep.

16. Omaha invented the reuben.

One night at a poker game at the Blackstone Hotel, the chef assembled a sandwich of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. It was a hit with the guys at the table, including its namesake, Reuben Kulakofsky, and the sandwich ended up on the hotel’s menu and, eventually, on menus across the country.

17. Omaha’s home to a few famous faces.

Among the celebrities, sports stars and leaders that were born in Omaha are President Gerald Ford, Malcolm X, Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, Terence Crawford, Henry Fonda, Bob Gibson, Nick Nolte, Andrew Rannells, Nicholas Sparks and Gabrielle Union.

18. Omaha has great museums.

Joslyn Art Museum has a fantastic art collection, and best of all, it’s free. Then there’s the Durham Museum, a history museum housed in Omaha’s Union Station.

19. You can spend a day in the Old Market.

Once a warehouse district, the Old Market is now a nightlife, arts, shopping and, most especially, food destination. The red and brown brick buildings and the worn brick roads are more than 100 years old and home to quirky little shops like the Imaginarium, unique storefronts in the Passageway, breweries like Brickway and decadent restaurants such as V. Mertz.

20. You have to have a Runza.

You’ll have a fast food story to tell when you have a Runza, a unique sandwich featuring ground beef, cheese and cabbage baked inside a roll. It’s amazing.

Kevin Coffey