Recent real estate trends have noted a considerable average median home price increase in the housing industry. This combined with inflation has increased the estimated cost of living across the country. Yahoo recently released an article naming the cities where paychecks go the furthest or the cheapest major cities to live in. As a travel nurse, you will have to take into account the housing and cost of living expenses, which can eat into your take-home pay. Below we review the importance of affordable living for travel nurses and how nurses can make the most out of their pay. We also discuss some of the cheapest major cities to live in as a travel nurse. Cheapest major cities to live in. As a travel nurse, you will have to take into account the housing and cost of living expenses, which can eat into your take-home pay. Below we review the importance of affordable living for travel nurses and how nurses can make the most out of their pay. We also discuss some of the cheapest major cities to live in as a travel nurse.
Importance of Affordable Living Today
With United States inflation rates over 6% in 2022, affordable living is now more important than ever. The median household income is around $70,000. Also, real estate trends show increasing average median home prices, making it more difficult for everyone to afford the increased cost of living. Since the average medical home price is increasing, this also affects where the median rent stands or median monthly rent. Since travel nurses usually rent out housing while on assignment, their median monthly housing cost is affected. This eats into their take-home pay.
The United States unemployment rate stands at 3.6% in February 2023. With the nursing shortage, there are still plenty of travel nursing jobs available. However, travel nurses have seen a slight decrease in their travel assignment pay rates. There are some cities where travel nurse pay packages are higher. But don't be fooled by the higher pay rate, as the median rent stands higher along with the average median household income. This means your paycheck won't go as far. For example, workers in San Francisco average some of the nation’s highest wages and median household incomes. However, the cost of living and average median home prices are remarkably high along with the state income tax. So you’d think that your take-home pay is so great after paying the bills, but that isn’t the case sometimes. There are some assignments in San Francisco where travel nurses are still bringing home more, even after adjusting to the high cost of living.
How Travel Nurses Can Make the Most Out of Their Pay
As a travel nurse, it's important to make the most out of your paycheck. There are several items to consider to maximize your savings. First, when looking for an assignment location, research ahead of time. Look up the median monthly rent, median household income, median monthly rent, and average median home prices in the area. Compare these to the rest of the United States. If they are higher than the national averages, does the pay package account for this? Meaning do you have a higher hourly pay rate or are the tax-free stipends higher? If not, then you may want to steer clear of this location.
In addition to looking at the median home prices and median monthly rent, check the state income tax rate. States taxes can cut into your paycheck as well. Instead, look into assignments in states that don't have income taxes. States that do not have income taxes are Florida, Nevada, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wyoming, and Texas.
Also, research where the unemployment rate stands for the area. It may be harder to find an assignment in a lower unemployment rate area since there is a larger number of people unemployed.
The following are U.S. cities that feature the highest weekly wages, adjusted by regional price parities:
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California $1,706
California-Lexington Park, Maryland $1,277
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California $1,244
Seattle-Tacoma Bellevue, Washington $1,227
Midland, Texas $1,190
Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina $1,179
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas $1,170
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut $1,164
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts/ $1,161
Huntsville, Alabama $1,127
As you can see from the list above, there are many cities throughout the U.S. that have similar regional price parities. As a travel nurse, it's important to note that most larger cities have more travel assignments to choose from. This is because major employers include large regional medical centers and hospitals.
More Expert Nursing Advice
Considering the technology titans and many regional medical centers headquartered around San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle, there’s little mystery as to why wages are so high. However, it’s not just professionals in the technology sector that are pulling the average upward – nurses in cities like San Jose are doing well enough to lift the area’s average median household income. The average salary for a software engineer in San Jose is $110K, according to Glassdoor.com. Nurses in San Jose average $112K, a sum exponentially higher than the $average median household income.
You can read the article in its entirety here. Also included in the reading is a list of cities that average the lowest weekly wages, including some light analysis of what could cause these factors. Given this data, you may want to consider assignments where the median household income is higher. Also, consider an area where some of the major employers include regional medical centers, so you will have many assignments to choose from.
Also, consider cities where the cost of living or the average median home prices are lower than in other parts of the country. Typically, when the average median home prices are lower, this means that the median monthly rent is lower too. Depending on your hourly wage and tax-free stipends, a lower cost of living may increase your take-home pay.
Of course for travel nurses, compensation will vary by assignment, facility, and role. But it doesn’t hurt to know where paychecks are going the furthest and some of the cheapest major cities to live in. Estimate your expenses and housing and subtract these from your pay package. You may find assignments in major cities where you are able to add more money to your savings!
Learn More with Health Carousel
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Frequently Asked Questions
What major city has the lowest cost of living?
In recent real estate trends, the major cities where the average median home prices are lower include Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Louisville, and Detroit. Usually, this translates to a lower cost of living, which means more money in your paycheck. According to U.S. News, Hickory, North Carolina, and Green Bay, Wisconsin are some of the cheapest cities to live in. This is especially important for travel nurses who want to maximize their paycheck.
In what city do travel nurses make the most money?
Major cities in California and Washington boast some of the highest paying travel nurse assignments in the country. However, since the median monthly rent and cost of living are higher than the national average, this can take away from your savings. Estimate your living expenses and compare this to your travel nurse pay package.