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Top 10 Dream Cities for Travel Nurses


Travel nurses are privy to many exciting benefits and opportunities, one of which is an incredible flexibility of work location. If you love being a nurse and you want to experience the field from one coast of the USA to another, travel nursing affords premium opportunities, fantastic salaries, and the ability to change scenery often.

While every nurse has his or her opinion on where they enjoy working the most, there are some cities that continually make the lists of favorites. Whether your dream is to work in the big city or beachside, the nation offers incredible opportunities and competitive pay, benefits, and locations to make it happen for travel nurses.

Following are some of the hottest dream cities for travel nurses that make repeat appearances on those “Top Cities” lists:

1. Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas is a high-ranking city on many lists for travel nurses, and it’s for a good reason! Not only is the city beautiful and loaded with plenty of sights to see and things to do at any given time, but it is also home to the number one cancer hospital in the country, according to U.S. News’ report of best hospitals: The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is a highly sought-after facility for nurses, with an average annual nursing salary of $70,000. Add to that a cost of living in Houston that is lower than the national average and you’ve got a city that is a dream come true for many travel nurses.

2. Denver, Colorado

Denver is a city that boasts delicious craft brews, the Rocky Mountains, historic mountain towns and miles of hiking and biking trails – not to mention some of the most scenic drives in the nation. As home to the University of Colorado Health System and Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Denver offers its nurses on average a rate of $30 per hour – and that’s not all. The icing on the cake is that Colorado is a compact state, which means if your initial nursing license is compact, there is no need for you to apply for licensure again here.

3. Rochester, Minnesota

No list of dream cities for travel nurses would be complete without Rochester. The city is home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, which is ranked in the top five in all major categories in the nation for the past two years: cancer, orthopedics, and cardiology. With three other states within short driving distance, the opportunity for adventure is boundless. Any nurse looking for adventure within the field and outside of it will love Rochester.

4. New York, New York

The city that never sleeps offers something for every travel nurse, regardless of what he or she is searching for. There is never a lack of things to do in the city, and thanks to the many public transportation options, getting to and from any major hospital or medical center is a breeze. New York City is home to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Hospital for Special Surgery, and New York-Presbyterian, among many others. Navigating the city is easy with all the transportation options, and the opportunities for travel nurses are plentiful.

5. Salem, Oregon

Salem hospital has seven – that’s right, seven high-performing specialties for travel nurses to explore. Nurses are in high demand in this city – in fact, the number of nursing jobs available has increased by 32% recently in the city over the past five years! Salaries for travel nurses in Salem are higher than the national average salary, which is just another reason it makes our list of top cities for travel nurses.

6. Ann Arbor, Michigan

The state of Michigan offers some of the fastest-growing and impressive medical networks in the nation, and Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health centers. This network has made lists of the country’s top hospitals frequently in the past two years, and there is a growth in demand for nurses here. The city of Ann Arbor also boasts an eighth-best location quotient of 1.96, which speaks of the demand for nurses within the area.

7. Philadelphia, PA

If pediatric nursing is your bag, you’ll find that pediatric nursing jobs are never in short supply in Philadelphia. It’s a city with a higher-than-average cost of living, but the opportunities for travel nurses make up for it. There are two prestigious hospitals in the city: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania Hospital (U Penn). Philadelphia is also home to one of the most recognized and largest children’s hospitals in the United States.

8. Boston, Massachusetts

Rounding out our list of the top 8 dream cities for travel nurses is the historic city of Boston. With plenty of culture, fun activities, rich American history and so much more, the city offers a lot to do for travel nurses. There are several medical and research facilities in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, most of which are affiliated with universities. The top-rated hospitals in the city are the Data Farber Cancer Institute and Boston General, both of which provide ample opportunity and life-changing experiences for travel nurses.

9. Durham, North Carolina

In the past five years, nursing jobs in North Carolina have increased by almost 20%, making it prime territory for travel nurses. Durham is home to Duke University Hospital, listed by U.S. News as one of the best hospitals in 2017-2018, along with Duke Regional Hospital and Select Specialty Hospital. Wake Forest Medical Center and the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill also provide incredible opportunities for travel nurses looking to enjoy a lower-than-average cost of living coupled with some of the most prestigious places to work in the nation.

10. Baltimore, Maryland

As home to one of the most famous hospitals in the world – Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore ranks among the top destinations for travel nurses. Ranked #1 in the state and #3 in that nation in U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best hospitals for 2018-2019, Johns Hopkins continues to set the bar in healthcare standards and revolutionary care. Travel nurses will find that Baltimore offers access to Atlantic City, Philadelphia, New York City, and Ocean City in three hours or less. Hourly rates for nurses in Maryland are $20-$30 per hour, and the state, like Colorado, is a compact state.

While there are hundreds of additional cities across the country that offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for healthcare professionals, it’s important to remember that every location, every facility, and every travel nurse has so many unique gifts to offer the world. Aligning the talents, skills, and personalities of travel nurses with the unique opportunities each place in the country offers is a thrilling experience that only ends when the travel nurse decides that perhaps, once and for all, he or she has found a “home” in which to settle for good.


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