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Old 02-21-2009, 06:29 PM
 
1 posts, read 1,446 times
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I spent a few days in Omaha recently. I was on a business trip there and was evaluating the possibility of moving there permanantly.

Generally here are my observations:

- Omaha is a generational community. Almost all the people i met there were those who were born and bred in Omaha or neighboring Nebraska towns. Not only that their parents and grandparents also were born and bred Nebraskans. My conclusion was that Omaha is a town with very strong family values and ties.
- On the flip side the town is 'inward focussed'. Meaning people dont know and dont care about what goes on in the rest of the world outside of their silo's.
- That being said people are welcoming of outsiders and generally very proud of Omaha. Almost every local i met in Omaha thought it was the best town on the planet. I asked about harsh winters and they said well it is rough but its a lot better than Minnesota. I asked about the hot summers and they shot back and said that while summers are hot, at least they have real summers unlike San Francisco (where i am from) where even in the summers people have to wear a jacket. So in a nutshell people are very proud and protective about their town.
- I found people were friendly, helpful and nice. The demographics are highly skewed and the population is predominantly caucasian. Of course very different from what i am used to here in San Francisco. I am not caucasian but i still found people to be really forthcoming with help and advice
- Cost of living is a mixed bag. Homes are big and 'relatively cheap'. But it is not a walk in the park. People in Omaha do not make that much as well. From my observations a $60k salary is a princely sum for many in Omaha, so put a $300k home next to it, the stakes are high. Tack on those sky high property taxes, heating costs, snow removal contractors etc, costs add up.
- Ok high property taxes yes but from what i heard local schools are generally good. Again i do not know how good and what standards are applied to judge their quality but the wide consensus was that those high property tax dollars were put to good use on local school projects.
- From an out of towner perspective, Buying a large, new and nice home in Omaha is easy these days. There is plenty of supply on the market and new home construction is still happening. However, i think it will be tough to sell, no matter what home you are trying to sell. It is a very bad sellers market and personally given taxes and market dynamics i am discouraged to put any investment towards a home there at this time.
- I heard that the taxes and insurance on cars is quite expensive. I did not look into this a lot but that is not exactly a very welcoming thought.
- I found that eating out was expensive. Options to start with were limited but the prices were quite high. For instance a meal at a mexican chain in SF would cost me $8, In Omaha that same meal cost me $12. A cup of ice cream was $6 when i could get the same for $4 in SF. I was surprised and cannot reason why?
- Entertainment is a downer. I lived in downtown Omaha, just one block down from Old Market. That place dies after 7 pm and even during the day i did not actually find it to be that vibrant. Personally was not impressed. I cant compare it with anything i see here in SF. That is not a fair comparison but still it was absolutely dissapointing to see no life in the heart of downtown after hours.
- Shopping is a downer. There were very few well known retail chains there. It seems like most business is locally owned and managed. I saw one Costco in the entire city. There are a few good shops in the mall in the regency park area but generally shopping is a downer.
- Natural or scenic beauty - You cant find it here. It is flat with few trees.
- The biggest irony about Omaha is that despite being located close to the center of the country, travel is almost always a very time consuming process. The only direct flights in and out of Omaha are to Minneapolis, Chicago and Denver. So if you want to go to San francisco, New york, Washington etc, it will take you a lot of time even when your actual flying time might be 3 - 4 hours.
- Oh finally the weather - It is a world away from San Francisco. We all know Omaha does not get good grades for weather.

My own observation was that Omaha still has a long way to go in order to become a vibrant town that can attract outside talent and investment. Part of me felt that perhaps the people in Omaha do not even want too much outside influence but i could be wrong. On the plus side, West Omaha seems to be relatively progressive and has attracted investment. However if it is just dollars that it attracts and no talent, then in the long run things will hit a wall and progress will stall. I think there is still some ramp ahead for Omaha as a back office town where people can set data centers and call centers but we call know how call center jobs are moving out of the US into India and other places. That being said, the town is full of great and nice people who have strong family values. It is also a decent place to raise kids.
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Old 02-21-2009, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Tampa (by way of Omaha)
13,920 posts, read 19,101,999 times
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Pretty decent post. Sounds fairly objective. I don't quite agree with all of it though, so let me offer my 2 cents.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rangvesh View Post
- On the flip side the town is 'inward focussed'. Meaning people dont know and dont care about what goes on in the rest of the world outside of their silo's.
Disagree with this to an extent. As we've seen with the current recession, the radical changes that can happen in the rest of America and the world doesn't effect Omaha like most other places. It's not that Omahans are oblivious to the world, they're just worried about Omaha in a "control your own destiny" sort of way.

Quote:
- Ok high property taxes yes but from what i heard local schools are generally good. Again i do not know how good and what standards are applied to judge their quality but the wide consensus was that those high property tax dollars were put to good use on local school projects.
Yes, I think Omaha is pretty good with it's tax money. The schools, police and fire departments are all top notch.

Quote:
- I found that eating out was expensive. Options to start with were limited but the prices were quite high. For instance a meal at a mexican chain in SF would cost me $8, In Omaha that same meal cost me $12. A cup of ice cream was $6 when i could get the same for $4 in SF. I was surprised and cannot reason why?
Not sure how things are in SF, but I found meals to be a little cheaper in Omaha than down here in Florida.

Quote:
- Entertainment is a downer. I lived in downtown Omaha, just one block down from Old Market. That place dies after 7 pm and even during the day i did not actually find it to be that vibrant. Personally was not impressed. I cant compare it with anything i see here in SF. That is not a fair comparison but still it was absolutely dissapointing to see no life in the heart of downtown after hours.
Yes, downtown Omaha needs to become more of an after hours place, a sentiment that was echoed by citzens recently at a discussion forum about the plan for DTO.

Quote:
- Shopping is a downer. There were very few well known retail chains there. It seems like most business is locally owned and managed. I saw one Costco in the entire city. There are a few good shops in the mall in the regency park area but generally shopping is a downer.
This is pretty much the way Omaha likes it. We'd rather see our own succeed than bring in a national chain. Personally, I prefer it that way.

Quote:
- Natural or scenic beauty - You cant find it here. It is flat with few trees.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personally I find lots of beauty in and around Omaha.

Quote:
My own observation was that Omaha still has a long way to go in order to become a vibrant town that can attract outside talent and investment. Part of me felt that perhaps the people in Omaha do not even want too much outside influence but i could be wrong. On the plus side, West Omaha seems to be relatively progressive and has attracted investment. However if it is just dollars that it attracts and no talent, then in the long run things will hit a wall and progress will stall. I think there is still some ramp ahead for Omaha as a back office town where people can set data centers and call centers but we call know how call center jobs are moving out of the US into India and other places. That being said, the town is full of great and nice people who have strong family values. It is also a decent place to raise kids.
Omaha has seen alot of improvements in the last 10 years, and I'm sure things will continue improving as well.

Again, overall I thought this was a pretty good post. Welcome to the forum!
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Old 02-22-2009, 01:26 AM
 
1,221 posts, read 2,130,551 times
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Omaha will never be SF, but I think a few of your observations could use a critique. It isn't hilly like Pittsburgh, Knoxville or SF, but it's considered to be one of the hilliest cities in the US. I live in the DC metro area (but hail from Omaha), and frankly I think Omaha is one of the least expensive cities I've experienced for going out to dinner, unless you're hanging out at V. Mertz, Paxton Chop House, Sullivan's and similar places. Omaha might seem xenophobic to you, but you'll find that in most parts of the country. You're from a city that's probably one of the most tolerant/open/diverse/progressive (and least xenophobic) cities on the planet. In other words, I don't think comparisons between the two cities are all that meaningful or fair. I do think, though, that Omaha has an unusually sophisticated arts and music scene for a city its size. I don't know how you like to spend your free time, but whenever I'm in town I avail myself, and I always find a lot of activities to keep me occupied. Sometimes you need to scratch the surface a little to find those hidden gems that exist in every city.
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