Travel Nurse Pay: Maximize Your Take-Home with Low-Cost States

Health Carousel Travel Nursing
February 23, 2018
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Travel nurse pay is determined by many factors—compensation packages can include hourly wages, housing stipend, and living expenses. Due to the varied nature of a travel nurse’s rate, it can be challenging to definitively say where a travel nurse will make the most (or the least) money. The travel nurse’s experience, specialty, and the hiring unit’s level of need all play a part in determining a traveling nurses take-home pay.

Another factor to consider is the cost of living of the destination. As a money-savvy travel nurse with your mind on the bottom line, read on to find the states in which you can likely maximize your take-home pay during your stay.

CNBC used the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 2016 annual average Cost of Living Index to compile a list of the most expensive states in which to live. The determination was made based on common grocery cost, energy bill, doctor visits, and home price, and is, therefore, not overly scientific, but it gives a good indication of where a travel nurse might have more money going out than into their wallet.


Oklahoma is the fifth-cheapest state in the country based on CNBC’s analysis of the state’s average home price, common grocery prices, and energy costs. Working in Oklahoma can be low on a travel nurse’s list of desired destinations, which may work in your favor if maximizing pay is your main goal.


Travel nurses heading slightly southeast will find the fourth-cheapest state (by cost of living). You can secure an apartment for roughly $700 per month—roughly six times less than a (most likely smaller) apartment in Boston; it will cost you half as much to heat or cool that space as it does in Boston, also.


Michigan is the third-cheapest of all U.S. states when considering cost of living. Detroit is making a comeback, and the Great Lakes are an excellent travel nurse destination. Gasoline, groceries, housing, and energy prices are all reasonable, ensuring the money you make stays in your pocket. Even better, Michigan is the 21st-best paying state in the country for nurses! The median hourly rate is more than $32 per hour. Michigan is the perfect combination of high pay and low cost of living for travel nurses.


The next least-expensive state in the country is Indiana. This Midwest state boasts modest home and energy prices, as well as inexpensive groceries. Great state parks and up-and-coming city life just might secure Indiana a spot on your travel destination list.


Mississippi is the cheapest state in the nation in which to live. The average home price is less than $200,000 (roughly a 10th of that in the most expensive state in the country). Unfortunately, it is also the third-lowest paying state for nurses, with a median hourly rate of less than $27. It might still make your list for its fascinating history and beautiful gulf beaches.

Nurses who travel have a myriad of motivations for their journey. While money isn’t everything, expenses do pop up, and those expenses are definitely lower in some states than others. When deciding on your next travel nursing contract, consider the cost of living to ensure you can make the most of your time.

Find Your Next Travel Nursing Job

Ready to nail down your next travel assignment in one of the cost-friendly states listed above? Check out the Health Carousel Travel Nursing job board now for open nursing positions in these locations (and more).


Cohn, Scott. America’s 10 most expensive states to live in 2017. 11 Jul 2017.

Highest Paying States for Registered Nurses. 5 Apr 2017.            

Health Carousel Travel Nursing

Find the Travel Job that’s Right for You

Interested in how the pay stacks up in other states not on this list? Our trusty Super Nurse sidekicks are standing by to answer any questions you have. Click below to get information on opportunities in other states!

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