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Best Cities for Nurses

Best Cities for Nurses

Nursing is one of the most important professions in the healthcare field. As the population ages, and as healthcare technology continues to advance, the demand for Registered Nurses continues to grow. Registered Nurses can work in a variety of healthcare settings, with 60% working in hospitals, and the rest in clinics, doctors’ offices, home health care settings, long-term care facilities, and others. Additionally, for many Registered Nurses, their jobs involve shift work or working on rotating schedules, and they may be required to work overtime or overnight shifts.

Obtaining a position as a Registered Nurse requires graduating from an accredited nursing program, passing a nursing examination, and obtaining a license from their state. Registered Nurses may also choose to pursue additional qualifications such as becoming an advanced practice registered nurse.

Becoming a Registered Nurse requires dedication to the craft, education, and care for patients, and the profession is rewarded with higher than average salaries and the satisfaction of helping others. In this report, AdvisorSmith studied the best places for Registered Nurses to consider pursuing their careers.

We ranked 375 of the largest U.S. cities in this study by their relative attractiveness for nurses pursuing careers as Registered Nurses. In this study, we list the top 50 cities for Registered Nurses. We also explore the top-10 small, midsize, and large cities for nurses.

Best Cities for Registered Nurses

1. Rochester, MN

Rochester, Minnesota is the third-largest city in the state of Minnesota. This midsize city is located along the Zumbro River and is named after Rochester, New York, the hometown of the city’s founder. Rochester is home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, one of the top hospitals and medical centers in the world. The Mayo Clinic has hosted heads of state, Hollywood celebrities, and elite athletes seeking out specialized medical treatment.

The presence of the Mayo Clinic makes Rochester the #1 city for registered nurses in our study. RNs in Rochester earned $77,920, which was 6% above the national average wage, while the cost of living in Rochester is only 1% above the national average. In addition, Rochester had 226% more jobs for registered nurses compared with the average U.S. city.

2. Flint, MI

Flint, Michigan is a midsize city located in Mid Michigan. General Motors was founded in the city in 1908, and the city was an important auto manufacturing center through the 1980s. Major employers of nurses in the city include the Hurley Medical Center, which is a teaching hospital affiliated with the medical schools at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. McLaren Flint is another teaching hospital affiliated with the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Registered Nurses in Flint earn an average salary of $74,990, which was near the national average. However, the cost of living in Flint is 18% below the national average, meaning nursing salaries stretch further. Additionally, the city of Flint hosts 53% more nursing jobs on a per-capita basis compared with the average U.S. city.

3. Bay City, MI

Bay City, Michigan is a small city located alongside Lake Huron. Historically, Bay City grew due to the presence of lumber mills and shipbuilding. Its location on the Saginaw River made the city an ideal location for floating logs down the river to mills and factories. Today, Bay City hosts the McLaren Bay Region Medical Center, which is the top employer in the city. This hospital provides substantial employment to registered nurses in the city.

Average nursing salaries in Bay City are $75,160, which is 2.5% above the national average salary. In Bay City, the cost of living is 18% below the national average, which makes the salaries for registered nurses more valuable. Bay City also hosts 26% more nursing jobs compared with the average city.

4. Redding, CA

Redding is a midsize city in the northern part of California, situated along the Sacramento River. The town was established due to its location as a terminus for the Central Pacific Railroad. Growth in the town commenced due to copper and iron mines in the vicinity and later continued because of the construction of the Shasta Dam nearby. The lumber industry also contributed significantly to the city’s growth.

Redding hosts two major hospitals, including the Shasta Regional Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center Redding. Nurses in Redding earn average salaries of $96,220, which is 31% above the national average. Additionally, Redding has 30% more jobs for registered nurses compared with the pool of all jobs in the city.

5. Modesto, CA

Modesto is a large city located in California’s Central Valley and was originally a stop on the railroad connecting Los Angeles and Sacramento. As with many Central Valley cities, Modesto was an important agricultural city, and George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, was born in the city. Several large hospitals in Modesto include Memorial Medical Center, Tenet Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, and Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.

Registered Nurses in Modesto earned an average six-figure salary of $106,460. Even though Modesto’s living costs were 16% above average, this salary was sufficiently high to overcome the higher costs of living. Modesto also had 12% higher employment for registered nurses compared with the average U.S. city.

Top Cities for Nurses by Population

AdvisorSmith’s study segmented the top cities for registered nurses into small, midsize, and large cities. Because nurses choosing a city may have different lifestyle preferences, we broke down the comparison by looking at cities with populations under 150,000, populations between 150,000-500,000, and populations of 500,000 and above.

Top 50 Cities for Registered Nurses

Below, we list the top 50 cities for registered nurses. We include information about the total number of nursing jobs in the city, as well as average hourly and annual salaries, the location quotient, the cost of living, and the city size.

RankCityCity SizeHourly Average SalaryAnnual Average SalaryTotal JobsLocation QuotientCost of Living
1Rochester, MNMidsize$37.46 $77,920 7,6403.26101
2Flint, MIMidsize$36.05 $74,990 4,3101.5382
3Bay City, MISmall$36.13 $75,160 8701.2682
4Redding, CAMidsize$46.26 $96,220 1,7201.3106
5Modesto, CALarge$51.18 $106,460 4,1401.12116
6McAllen, TXLarge$33.90 $70,520 5,5001.0677
7Bloomsburg, PASmall$28.26 $58,780 3,0903.5690
8Corpus Christi, TXMidsize$37.72 $78,470 3,850186
9Lima, OHSmall$33.34 $69,340 1,8901.8585
10Pueblo, COMidsize$33.20 $69,050 2,1601.7885
11Saginaw, MIMidsize$31.49 $65,500 2,7801.679
12Sherman, TXSmall$30.83 $64,130 1,8602.0383
13Augusta, GALarge$32.77 $68,150 6,9001.5583
14Vallejo, CAMidsize$57.61 $119,830 3,1701.14139
15Battle Creek, MISmall$32.80 $68,230 1,7001.4983
16Kankakee, ILSmall$33.80 $70,290 1,4901.6688
17Sacramento, CALarge$55.85 $116,170 18,2400.93133
18Greenville, NCMidsize$29.36 $61,060 4,1502.7389
19Morgantown, WVSmall$31.12 $64,730 3,0502.3289
20Beaumont, TXMidsize$33.94 $70,600 3,3301.0282
21Wichita Falls, TXMidsize$31.21 $64,920 1,3701.1977
22Danville, ILSmall$31.62 $65,770 6701.2679
23Dayton, OHLarge$32.28 $67,150 11,6701.5484
24La Crosse, WISmall$33.92 $70,550 2,6601.7791
25Buffalo, NYLarge$35.22 $73,250 11,4801.0386
26Killeen, TXMidsize$31.53 $65,570 4,3101.5282
27Vineland, NJMidsize$38.01 $79,060 1,6001.3397
28Hanford, CAMidsize$39.97 $83,140 9401.0999
29Carbondale, ILSmall$30.98 $64,450 1,8901.7784
30Huntington, WVMidsize$29.47 $61,290 5,0601.982
31Lubbock, TXMidsize$33.18 $69,010 3,9201.3586
32Detroit, MILarge$34.04 $70,810 20,6301.3889
33Pittsfield, MASmall$40.51 $84,260 1,2401.52108
34Fresno, CALarge$43.76 $91,010 7,5600.99109
35Bangor, MEMidsize$34.90 $72,600 2,0401.5594
36Muncie, INSmall$29.59 $61,550 1,1901.2677
37Gainesville, FLMidsize$32.42 $67,430 5,4702.0494
38El Paso, TXLarge$33.23 $69,120 5,6900.9283
39Lansing, MIMidsize$35.75 $74,360 4,0600.9390
40Decatur, ILSmall$29.75 $61,880 1,1301.1377
41Philadelphia, PALarge$39.55 $82,270 30,9001.68111
42Winston-Salem, NCLarge$30.00 $62,390 9,8501.8386
43Cumberland, MDSmall$30.48 $63,400 1,2301.6285
44Eugene, ORMidsize$42.40 $88,190 2,9000.93108
45Watertown, NYSmall$35.18 $73,170 8401.0591
46Detroit, MILarge$34.44 $71,630 41,4701.0389
47Carson City, NVSmall$39.79 $82,760 8001.4108
48Rockford, ILMidsize$31.51 $65,550 3,6701.2684
49St. Cloud, MNMidsize$37.04 $77,030 2,7401.2899
50Amarillo, TXMidsize$31.16 $64,810 3,0701.3184

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Our study considered several inputs in order to rank the best cities for registered nurses. We included data from the Occupational Employment Statistics data set from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as a cost of living index.

Living costs in each city

We used a cost of living index to adjust salaries when comparing cities. A large factor in the quality of life that a nurse can afford is the cost of essentials like housing, transportation, food, entertainment, and other components of the index. We adjusted nursing salaries in this study, ranking cities with a lower cost of living with a higher score.

Average salaries for registered nurses

The average salary for a registered nurse nationwide was $73,550. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that nursing employment will increase 15% over the period 2016-2026, which is much faster than overall national job growth.

In this study, we compared nursing salaries for 375 cities. Cities that offered higher salaries for registered nurses were ranked more highly in our survey.

Availability of jobs for registered nurses

Our study looked at the number of jobs available for registered nurses in each city relative to the total employment in each city. We used the location quotient, which measures the density of registered nurse jobs on a per-capita basis. The higher the location quotient, the more highly a city ranked in the study.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were over 2.9 million registered nurse jobs in the United States. The state with the most registered nurses was the most populous state, California, having over 280,000. South Dakota was the state with the highest concentration of nursing jobs, with a location quotient of 1.47.

[1] Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index
[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
[3] Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics

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