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Traveling nurses have the best of both worlds. Not only do they get to pursue their passion of helping those who are in need, they also have the chance to enjoy different cities whenever they transition to a new hospital or medical center. There are countless professional and monetary opportunities for nurse managers, nurse practitioners, LPNs/LVNs, and other specialty nursing positions who travel for a living.
However, with thousands of cities that house a variety of demographics, population rates, and attractions across the U.S., which locations are the best fit for individuals who are a part of the traveling nursing industry? That depends on what you’re looking for. Some nurses may be interested in going where they can make the most bang for their buck; others may want to check out a popular vacation spot where they can really enjoy their downtime.
Here are the top ten cities in the U.S. that are best suited for traveling nurses.
#10 – Atlanta, Georgia
Population: 447,841 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 9.8%
Cost of Living: 0.9% below the national average
If flying south for nursing opportunities is something you want to explore, consider Atlanta. Georgia’s capital city is listed as the seventh highest when it comes to salary in a recent study. Traveling nurses can make an estimated $57,000 to $97,000 annually. Besides the paycheck perks, Atlanta is home to a number of fun things that traveling nurses can enjoy in their downtime. Some of the most popular stops in the Atlanta area are the Fox Theatre, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Turner Field, and College Football Hall of Fame.
#9 – Boston, Massachusetts
Population: 645,966 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 10.1%
Cost of Living: 21.2% above the national average
The city of Boston has a lot to offer traveling nurses. Besides a competitive salary near $66,000 to $99,000 annually making it one of the highest paying cities for travel nurses, “The City on the Hill” is home to well-known medical facilities like Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center, all of which have earned top spots in U.S. News & World Report’s best hospitals in Boston list. When off the clock, traveling nurses can see everything that Boston has to offer, including Fenway Park, Museum of Fine Arts, Freedom Trail, Boston Public Library, and Arnold Arboretum.
#8 – Anchorage, Alaska
Population: 301,010 (2014)
Persons 65 & Older (2013): 8.5%
Cost of Living: 9.3% above the national average
Anchorage is the most populated city in Alaska and has wild life views that are fit for a postcard. With an ever-growing healthcare industry, there is a high demand for nurses in Alaska with a variety of specialties that need to be filled temporarily. The Providence Alaska Medical Center is the state’s largest hospital, Alaska’s largest private employer and is a nationally recognized trauma center. This medical center has also won a handful of awards for their high-quality care and high performance over the years. Nurses who come to Anchorage on assignment can enjoy Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Lake Eklutna, Kincaid Park and the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
#7 – Fayetteville, North Carolina
Population: 204,408 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 9.7%
Cost of Living: 9.7% below the national average
If locating to the east coast for work is something you are interested in, consider Fayetteville, North Carolina. With the city continuing to grow, the demand for traveling nurses is high in this area. This city is also home to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. Traveling nurses will not only enjoy the low cost of living in Fayetteville, but everything that this military base city has to offer residents and visitors. Some of the most popular spots to visit are Cross Creek Linear Park, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, River Trail, and a number of festivals that run throughout the year in downtown Fayetteville.
#6 –Tucson, Arizona
Population: 526,116 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 11.9%
Cost of Living: 4% below the national average
If you are looking to work among a young, college town demographic, Tucson would be a great fit for you since Tucson is home to the University of Arizona and number of art and community colleges. The demographic in this area provides a great social environment for residents and visitors. With a high demand for temporary nurses and the number of hospitals and medical centers in the area, such as Tucson Medical Center, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, and Saint Mary’s Hospital, traveling nurses will have endless opportunities when calling this desert landscape home for a few weeks.
On your days off, don’t forget to check out what the city and landscape has to offer! Make sure to visit the Rialto Theatre, St. Augustine Cathedral, the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, the Reid Park Zoo or the Tucson Mountain Park. If you are looking for a road trip adventure, the Grand Canyon National Park is only a five hour drive north.
#5 – Denver, Colorado
Population: 649,495 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 10.4%
Cost of Living: 6.5% above the national average
This capital city is home to a number of regionally ranked hospitals and medical centers that have been recognized for particular specialties and procedures. Regionally recognized hospitals in the area are Rose Medical Center, Denver Health Medical Center, and Presbyterian- St Luke’s Medical Center. Porter Adventist Hospital is both regionally and nationally recognized. This year, the state of Colorado was named as the second best state for nurses by WalletHub.com. Much like Austin, Denver experiences shortages of nurses, so finding a nursing job in this area could be easier.
Even though the cost of living in Denver is 6.5% higher than the national average, this area is perfect for traveling nurses who are looking for a city with endless outdoor activities. Popular spots to visit are the Denver Zoo, Denver Botanical Gardens, Coors Field, or Washington Park.
#4 – Las Vegas, Nevada
Population: 603,488 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 12%
Cost of Living: 1.6% below the national average
Traveling nurses who are interested in enjoying a vacation spot with casinos, shopping, restaurants and other entertainment opportunities on their days off will love calling “Sin City” their home. Besides taking in everything that “The Strip” has to offer, Las Vegas is also located within an hour of some well-known recreational locations such as Mount Charleston and Lake Mead. Mount Charleston offers snow skiing in the winter and hiking trails in the summer. Lake Mead offers tours of the famous Hoover Dam as well as boating, swimming and fishing almost 365 days a year.
With Las Vegas’s reasonable cost of living, 1.6% below the national average, and nursing opportunities always on the rise in this ever-growing area, committing to this city in Nevada may be the perfect fit for you!
#3 – New York, New York
Population: 8,405,837 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 12.1%
Cost of Living: 30.2% above the national average
New York is home to some of the most well-known hospitals and medical centers in the United States, many of which are nationally and regionally ranked for their procedures. Regionally recognized hospitals are New York-Presbyterian University Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Traveling nurses who commit to New York are going to be making top dollar. According to the ONWard Health Care survey, traveling nurses that come to this city can make anywhere between $64,000-$109,000 annually. However, the high cost of living in “The City That Never Sleeps,” 30.2% above the national average, may make this location a good spot for only a short-term commitment.
Even if you will only be in this area for a few months, there are plenty of entertainment opportunities to enjoy on your time off such as Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Wall Street and the number of museums such as the The Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, just to name a few.
#2 – San Jose, California
Population: 998,537 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 10.1%
Cost of Living: 48.2% above the national average
If earning top dollar is what you are after, consider visiting San Jose! According to a survey that was conducted by Onward Healthcare, San Jose is the leading city when it comes to highest salary for traveling nurses. This survey shows that California cities, like San Jose, have the biggest monetary benefits. California as a whole is ranked fifth for highest salary by state. Traveling nurses who commit to this area can earn anywhere between $73,000-$116,000 annually. Even though you may find yourself making six figures, the cost of living in San Jose is astronomical, as it is 48.2% above the national average.
Even if you are only in San Jose for a few weeks, this area offers endless opportunities and events to enjoy in your off time. Some of the local’s favorite stops in San Jose are San Pedro Square Market, Winchester Mystery House, West Wind Capital 6 Drive-in and, of course, the beautiful beaches.
#1 – Austin, Texas
Population: 885,400 (2013)
Persons 65 & Older (2010): 7%
Cost of Living: 10.1% above the national average
Austin is home to a number of well-renowned hospitals and medical centers, many of which have been named top ranking facilities for particular specialties and quality patient care. The top four facilities in the Austin metro area are Seton Medical Center Austin, Seton Northwest Hospital, the University Medical Center Brackenridge and the Seton Medical Center Williamson. These four facilities were named the region’s best locations for residents in the Austin area by the U.S. News and World Report’s list of Best Hospitals for 2013-14.
Austin has also been named on Forbes’ annual list of America’s Fastest Growing Cities. A growing city means a high demand for healthcare professionals. Texas has been known to fall victim to nurse shortages, so finding a job in this area may be easier than other cities. Some may consider moving to Austin for only a short-term stay since the cost of living is approximately 10% higher than the national average. However, the Austin area is cheaper than other cities in Texas.
When nurses are off the clock, they can enjoy “The Live Music Capital” by visiting a number of venues and nightclubs that are located downtown. Some of the most popular places to visit are Kingdom, Rain on 4th, Elysium and Hangar Lounge. If you are in the area in March, be sure to take part in the South by Southwest festival, the largest musical festival in the world that got its’ start in 1987.
All quick facts are courtesy of the latest United States Census Bureau.
All images have either been provided by a listed organization or are licensed under the Creative Commons.