Best Cities for Nurses to Live and Work

If you are a nurse, or want to be one, and are looking for the best places to live, according to a new study head to one of the coasts. Thinking about becoming a nurse and not sure if its the right fit for you? Take our quiz.

A new study by ValuePenguin found that cities in California and Massachusetts took up 10 of the top 25 slots in their rankings (full list on the website). The rankings were based on three key categories: median salary, cost of living and location quotient. High salaries in expensive cities typically did not place as well as cities with slightly lower median salaries but a lower cost of living. By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the 2.7 million nurses employed in the U.S. in May 2014 earned $69,790 on average, or an hourly wage of $33.55 so if you aren’t making that, you may want to consider a move.

Best Five Cities for Nurses

1. Redding, Calif.*

With strong, top-50 scores in every category we analyzed (full methodology below), Redding took the top spot in our rankings. It’s no wonder: Two of the city’s top four employers are expansive medical centers. Redding is already anticipating even more growth in the attractive job sector.

2. Lawrence, Mass.*

The first of three Massachusetts cities to rank in the top 10, Lawrence is the least populous city among our top five but recorded a top 20 location quotient to make up for this fact. The University of Kansas’ nurse residency program, which is one year long, reported that job retention rates for its nurses have been higher than 95% for the past five years.

*Statistical region includes: Methuen, Mass., and Salem, N.H.

3. Hanford, Calif.*

Despite having just 1,180 positions in its metro area, Hanford checked in at No. 3, in part because its annual average salary ($91,340) was 40% higher than the study’s average. The second of four California cities to crack our top 10, it includes the city of Corcoran in its metro area. A recent Corcoran hospital job posting seeking a registered nurse sought a 36-hours-per-week full-timer who had a minimum of one year of emergency department experience.

*Statistical region includes: Corcoran, Calif.

4. Worcester, Mass.

Overcoming the fact that it’s 16% more expensive to live there than it is in the average American city, Worcester improved from its sixth-place standing in our 2013 study for nurse practitioners. A dozen miles south of Worcester, the most populous city among the top five, is Oxford, Mass., the birthplace of pioneering nurse Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross.

5. Ann Arbor, Mich.

Recording the study’s eighth-best location quotient (1.96), a metric that speaks to the demand for a given profession’s demand within the city, Ann Arbor rounded out our top five. It doesn’t hurt to have the University of Michigan’s nationally-ranked nursing program within the city limits. The university’s health system had the country’s 32nd-largest largest hospital in 2014 — it had 931 beds. There will be another new clinic in the area, thanks to federal grant money stemming from the Affordable Care Act.

Winners in Big, Medium and Small Cities Categories

ValuePenguin, a financial research firm, acknowledged that its difficult to compare a small city to a large one. So they separated the safest cities into three categories: cities with populations less than 100,000 people, midsize cities with populations between 100,000 and 500,000, and larger cities with populations greater than 500,000. Here are their findings:

Top 5 Largest Cities:

Worcester, Mass

Boston, Mass

Napa, CA

Detroit, Michigan

Philadelphia, PA

Top 5 Midsized Cities:

Ann Arbor, MI

Chico, CA

Rochester, MN

Charleston, SC

Providence, RI

Top 5 Small Cities:

Redding, CA

Lawrence, Mass

Hanford, CA

New Haven, CT

Durham, NC

Massachusetts Celebrates
boston.com celebrated the results with the headline, “Massachusetts crushed this ranking of best cities for nurses,” stating that it was of little surprise that Massachusetts is a great state for nurses based on its long list of famous hospitals.  They encouraged more nurses to head their way – or if not east, then west – to California.

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Lindsey McCoy MPA, is an Executive Medical Recruiter and former CEO in the not for profit sector.

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