60 Nebraska cities and areas designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 2,000 were considered.
When young families settle down, they look for opportunities in the job market and in quality schools for their kids. We wanted to identify the best in Nebraska, and so we asked the following questions as we analyzed cities and towns across the state:
1. Does the town have good public schools? We measured schools’ academic performance with ratings from GreatSchools. This non-profit compares a given school’s standardized test scores to the state average to obtain a rating on a 1 to 10 scale (10 representing the highest score). Higher ratings led to a higher overall score.
2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at both median home values in each town and ongoing monthly home costs, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
3. Is the town growing and prospering? We assessed a town’s economy by looking at median household income and income growth over the last decade. Higher income and greater growth led to a higher overall score.
Broken Bow made the list of the top 10 communities to live in the state of Nebraska. The top 10 is as follows: 1. Gretna; 2. Seward; 3. Gothenburg; 4. York; 5. Aurora; 6. Holdrege; 7. McCook; 8. Broken Bow; 9. LaVista; 10. Sidney
Broken Bow is the seat of Custer County, and it offers one of the most affordable real estate markets in the country. The median home value is $79,500, about a third of the national average for new homes sold. The city also offers many recreational opportunities, including a city pool, lakes and several golf courses.
The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:
1. GreatSchools city rating. GreatSchools city ratings are calculated by averaging the weighted overall rating for each school in the city (weighted by the number of students enrolled at the school)
2. Median home value from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
3. Monthly homeowner costs from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
4. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP03, half-weighted)
5. Income change between 1999 and 2011 from the U.S. Census (data sets P053 and DP03, half-weighted)