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Nurse.com Blog

Best Cities to Be a Nurse

Honolulu hawaii

Whether you're a seasoned RN or just starting your nursing career, finding the right location can significantly impact your job satisfaction, salary, and overall quality of life.

We’ve compiled some of the best cities for nurses to help you pick your dream destination. Whether you’re drawn to bustling urban life or prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, these cities offer great opportunities for nurses.

Highest paying cities for nurses

California is the highest paying state for nurses, with its large metro areas paying top-dollar for health care staff. The Santa Cruz area boasts the highest median annual wage for nurses at $175,350, according to research by Vivian Health.

Other California cities, like Modesto, San Francisco, and San Jose also pay nurses well, with average salaries topping $100,000, according to Indeed.  

If you’re not interested in the Golden State, check out the highest paying cities outside of California:

  1. Honolulu, Hawaii — Median salary: $127,020. Who wouldn’t want to work in paradise? Honolulu’s tropical climate, pristine beaches, and higher wages make it an inviting place for nurses. Despite its isolation from other states, Hawaii hosts several organizations that support nurses’ professional development.
  2. Bend, Oregon — Median salary: $108,310. This town is an excellent place for nurses due to its outdoor recreational opportunities, dog-friendly environment, gorgeous weather, and thriving craft beer scene. However, the town’s small size means there are fewer job opportunities than in other locations.
  3. Fairbanks, Alaska — Median salary: $107,880. In Fairbanks, jobs are abundant. Despite a higher cost of living, the experiences and quality of life make it an appealing place to live. However, it’s essential to consider factors like the harsh weather and higher crime rates.
  4. Danbury, Connecticut — Median salary: $105,370. Located 50 miles northeast of New York City, Danbury offers a diverse community, welcoming residents from various backgrounds. With an unparalleled quality of life, excellent healthcare facilities, and a high safety ranking, Danbury provides an ideal environment for nursing professionals.
  5. New York City, New York — Median salary: $103,540. The Big Apple is a bustling hub for health care professionals. While the cost of living is high, New York City compensates with an average nurse salary that makes it worthwhile. Nurses can find diverse job opportunities and access to world-class medical facilities.  

Cities with the best quality of life

When it comes to quality of life for nurses, several factors play a crucial role. These include climate, culture, safety, recreation, education, healthcare, and transportation.  

Let’s explore some of the best places for nurses to live:

  1. Seattle, Washington — Seattle combines natural beauty with a thriving healthcare industry. Nurses enjoy picturesque views of Puget Sound, nearby mountains, and lush greenery. The city’s cultural diversity, outdoor activities, and strong job market contribute to an excellent quality of life.  
  2. Portland, Oregon — Portland offers a laid-back lifestyle, friendly locals, and a strong sense of community. Nurses appreciate the city’s emphasis on sustainability, outdoor recreation, and arts and culture. The cost of living is reasonable, and the Pacific Northwest scenery is a bonus.  
  3. Denver, Colorado — Denver boasts 300 days of sunshine, making it an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts. Nurses can explore nearby hiking trails, ski resorts, and national parks. The city’s healthcare system is robust, and the cost of living is manageable.  
  4. Austin, Texas — Austin’s music scene, tech culture, and warm climate create a unique blend. Nurses benefit from a reasonable cost of living, friendly locals, and a thriving job market. The city’s food scene, live music, and outdoor festivals add to the overall experience.

Remember, each city has its unique perks, and the best fit depends on your personal preferences and career goals.