Across any industry, salaries and hourly wages can vary widely from one state to another. For registered nurses, salary often depends on degree, training level, number of years in healthcare and even the department in which nurses work.

Nurses’ salaries vary depending on where they work in the United States. This is due to several factors including the cost of living. After finishing medical school, nurses must decide whether to relocate or not. A nurse will need to ask the following kinds of questions:

What is more important to you as a nurse:

  • A state with a higher average nursing salary?
  • A state with a nurse-friendly hospital?
  • A state with more job availability?

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted the average salary for a registered nurse was $68,450 for the year 2016. The highest 10 percent earn over $102,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $47,000. Obviously, a nurse’s ideal salary should factor into the decision where he or she wants to work.

Job Openings, Salaries, and Other Statistics

report by Wallet Hub revealed there are several factors used to determine what makes a location a good or bad place for a nurse to live. Job availability is a primary concern. Moving for the sake of a higher salary is of no benefit if the job opportunities there are limited.

In terms of job availability, Utah, Hawaii, Mississippi, New York, and Washington score the lowest for nursing availability, while the District of Columbia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Vermont offer the highest number of job openings. If it’s the highest salary you are after, then Wyoming, Nevada, Michigan, Texas, and Arizona are the places for you, while you are likely to earn the least in Maryland, New York, Vermont, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii.

The issue is a state with the highest job availability offers the lowest salary and the state with the highest salary offers the lowest job availability a large portion of the time. So, a nurse needs to decide if job availability or salary is a more important factor.

The following are the best places for nurses to live in 2018.

  1. San Francisco, California

According to, San Francisco always comes the top of the list as an ideal place for nurses to settle. The medical industry in the area offers a generous salary that more than covers the cost of living. Moreover, the convenient public transportation options make it easy to save money on commuting.

  1. Dallas or Houston, Texas

Top RN to BSN ranks three different hospitals in the state of Texas among the top 30 most nurse-friendly hospitals in the country. If a supportive work environment is a top priority, Dallas, Houston or Texas are ideal places to call home.

  1. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston offers the highest pay scale anywhere along the East Coast of the United States. The city offers multiple job opportunities for nurses as well as for those nurses interested in teaching or researching trends in medication.

  1. New York City, New York

For someone who does not mind the fast pace of a busy city, New York City, New York, is a dream location for nurses. Spoiled for choice with many high-quality nursing facilities, New York City has a lot to offer.

 Baltimore, Maryland

Typically, a nurse moves to Baltimore with the dream of working at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The annual salary for nurses in this state is $65,280. This is near twice the average annual cost of living in the state for a single adult, which is $33,994.

  1. Honolulu, Hawaii

The Hawaii Health Systems Corporation plans to invest millions of dollars into the healthcare industry over the next few years. This should provide additional job opportunities. Ideally, a nurse should not move to Hawaii until after locking into a nursing job. While it is a wonderful place to live and work, there is a lack of job opportunities currently.

  1. Anchorage, Alaska

For some reason, the high turnover rate in the city of Anchorage results in a constant flow of nursing job opportunities. However, it isn’t an ideal choice for a nurse fresh out of medical school as the health facilities here only hire nurses with adequate job experience.

  1. Los Angeles, California

Like San Francisco, Los Angeles offers a desirable annual salary and convenient public transportation which allows for savings in other areas.

  1. Seymour, Indiana

Seymour is home to the most nurse-friendly hospital in the United States. Schneck Medical Center was a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award a few years ago for going above and beyond with quality standards.

  1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is home to a wealth of job opportunities for nurses. It is home to one of the biggest and best children’s hospitals in the United States, so there is always a demand for pediatric nurses.

Either way, it must be solid a fit all around. There really is no point in living in a state that is high-paying, but you are left wanting for a job after a few months.
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