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Why Lincoln, NE, Is a Best Place To Live

The best of urban living in a rural state helps make Lincoln a modern city with a prairie sensibility.

By Emma Smith on December 5, 2022

Lincoln skyline and Nebraska State Capitol. The Nebraska State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of Nebraska and is located in downtown Lincoln.

Lincoln, NE, is known as the site of the University of Nebraska and its top-ranked football team, but the city on the plains has become a powerhouse example of great education, business advancement and entrepreneurial growth. These factors have earned the city a ranking on our Top 100 Best Places to Live list

Economy in Lincoln

“Lincoln’s companies laid the foundation for its economy and provided opportunity,” says Wendy Birdsall of the Chamber of Commerce. “Now, they’re partnering with the city’s young entrepreneurs. It’s incredible to see the momentum that Lincoln is experiencing and the success companies have found here. Lincoln’s collaborative business community works to lay a strong economic foundation allowing entrepreneurs and new businesses to thrive.”

Lincoln’s business leaders developed the city’s technology park, which has provided startup opportunities for 30 of the city’s businesses. Its success has meant the creation of the 251-acre Nebraska Innovation Campus at UNL, already occupied by the first tenant, ConAgra Foods. In 2012-13, the city experienced a 1.71 percent growth in the labor force, underlined not only by the universities and as the state government seat but by the presence of banks, insurance companies and healthcare providers.

Schools in Lincoln

Education is a serious priority. “With consistent graduation rates and ACT scores, Lincoln Public Schools rank among the top in the nation for education,” Birdsall says. “The community approved the investment of $250 million in school facility upgrades, allowing for the best learning environments for students.”

Higher education is represented not only by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln but by the presence of Doane CollegeNebraska Wesleyan UniversityConcordia UniversityUnion College and Southeast Community College. Nearly 70 percent of Lincoln residents have at least some college education, with more than 45 percent having at least an associate degree.

Of course, the city’s reputation as a best place to live and work extends to its cultural attractions, diversity and available housing. With so many colleges, the diversity factor is high, in part because Nebraska remains aware of its own immigrant heritage, celebrating its 19th-century migrants of a variety of backgrounds — the kind exhibited in the novels of Willa Cather — and maintaining that heritage through food and culture, as well as welcoming contemporary immigrants to better the city. 

Living in Lincoln

Lincoln’s robust Parks and Recreation Department includes 132 parks, public pools, golf courses, and a nature center. The city also boasts more than 130 miles of walking and bike trails for residents.

Birdsall says, “You can get just about anywhere you want to go using both on-and off-street bike routes. There are also several miles of trails within our parks. We also host the annual Lincoln Marathon, a qualifying run for the Boston and New York marathons.”

Of course, the city also has a growing food culture, great arts and museums (in part thanks to the presence of the universities), and a wealth of cultural attractions, including the beautiful Haymarket District, which preserves the city’s past and showcases a variety of restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

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