As a forward-thinking traveling healthcare professional, finding the best cities for nurses to work is likely a large part of your assignment selection. You can be selective depending on your career and life objectives.
And since you live in the U.S., there are 50 states and literally thousands of cities, towns, and districts with even more hospitals, clinics, and other facilities for you to choose from.
So what are the best places to live as a nurse?
The answer depends on your ideal lifestyle!
Whether you are seeking the hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps or the relaxed vibe of a city known for its natural beauty, we can help.
Perhaps you are still trying to determine what kind of off-duty life will be the most fulfilling. As a caregiver, it’s important to create a life outside of work that includes time to recharge and relax.
Because the activities you do to recharge and relax may differ from the next nurse, be sure to take this into account when exploring new locations.
We’ve selected the best cities for nurses on travel assignment based on a number of professional and lifestyle indicators:
- cutting edge medical care
- top city lifestyle
- best outdoor adventures
Let’s take a look!
Best Cities for Nurses: Cutting Edge Medical Care
If your objective as a travel nurse is to work in some of the most advanced medical facilities, the following cities are a good choice.
1. The New York Metropolitan Area
An apple a day keeps the doctor away—but that doesn’t mean the Big Apple doesn’t offer some impressive opportunities for travel nurses to beef up their résumés.
The city’s top medical institutions include:
- New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- New York State Psychiatric Institute
- NYU Langone Medical Center
- Mount Sinai Hospital
- Hospital for Special Surgery
- Hackensack University Medical Center
2. The Greater Boston Metropolitan Area
Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding area are some of the best cities for nurses to live. They are known for world-famous medical schools and research institutes, including Harvard Medical School, Tufts Medical School, and Connell School of Nursing at Boston College.
So it’s not surprising that some of the most pioneering treatments are developed and applied in the hospitals in this area.
The following are all known as leading hospitals—and having worked there is a huge feather in any travel nurse’s cap:
- Massachusetts General Hospital
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
- McLean Hospital
- Boston Children’s Hospital
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Learn more about the area, and browse Massachusetts travel nursing jobs.
3. The Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
While plastic surgery might be the first specialization that springs to mind when you think of Los Angeles, the city’s hospitals are among the world’s most advanced in a wide range of areas.
Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration ranks Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center among one of the most technologically advanced in the world, with virtual robotic telemedicine, robotically assisted surgery, and more cutting edge techniques available.
Other top ranked medical facilities in the nation include:
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- Keck Medical Center of USC
- Huntington Memorial Hospital
Learn more about the area, and browse California travel nursing jobs.
Other Best Cities for Nurses to Work
Is your primary objective of being a travel nurse is to sample city life throughout the United States?
Of course, in addition to cutting edge medical care, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles are all fascinating metropolitan areas in their own right. But the following places each also offer a unique experience that every city slicker will enjoy.
Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, the Windy City is the third largest city in the U.S and certainly one of the best cities for nurses to work.
Traditionally a city of immigrants, the city offers a colorful blend of cultures that shines through in its neighborhoods, art, music, museums, festivals, cuisine, and shopping areas.
Yet despite being densely populated, Chicago has more than 570 parks—including beaches and nature areas, if you need to connect with nature now and then.
And don’t forget about sports, with the Bears, the Cubs, the Blackhawks, and the Bulls all calling the city home!
Learn more about the area, and browse Illinois travel nursing jobs.
5. San Francisco
When you think of San Francisco, you probably think of hippies, streetcars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz.
But the city has much more to offer than this.
There’s plenty to explore and enjoy in terms of architecture, shopping, cuisine, and culture with neighborhoods like:
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Haight Ashbury
- Mission Hill
- Castro District
If you enjoy museums, then the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, the Museum of African Diaspora, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art are all a definite must-see.
And festival lovers will have a blast here, with every month offering an array of events ranging from well-known celebrations such as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and Castro Street Fair to the Black Choreographers Festival and the Tater Tots and Beer Festival.
Learn more about the area, and browse California travel nursing jobs.
For an entirely different kind of city experience, visit Miami, a unique blend of business and culture with very significant Hispanic influences.
Its many neighborhoods include Downtown, the Design District, picturesque Coconut Grove, and Little Havana—each worth spending at least a weekend to explore.
Shopping opportunities abound, and with both designer outlet malls and high-end malls like Bal Harbour Shops, there’s something for every budget.
If you enjoy the nightlife, then this is definitely the place for you, with rooftop bars, beach lounges, and happy hour hotspots attracting locals and tourists alike.
Of course, the perfect way to recuperate from a night on the town is to spend the next day on one of the beautiful beaches in and around the city!
Learn more about the area, and browse Florida travel nursing jobs.
Make the happiest place on earth your next stop! You may be surprised to know that Orlando is home to much more than Disney World.
In fact, Orlando and its surrounding towns have grown into a booming metropolis, full of five-star cuisine, arts, history and culture, and golf courses galore.
With literally dozens of hospitals within the city limits, Orlando is one of the best places to live as a nurse, especially if you love having fun!
Located in central Florida, Orlando is in proximity to both the east and west coasts. Depending on what kind of beach day you want, you can head either direction and hit the water in no time.
Popular vacation spots like Miami, St. Petersburg Beach, St. Augustine and Savannah can all be reached in under four hours when driving from Orlando.
Best Places to Live as a Nurse for Outdoor Adventure
Being a travel nurse is also an excellent way to explore the many natural wonders of our country. If this is you, then you’ll love these places!
Named the No.1 Sports Town in the U.S.A. by Outside magazine, Boulder, Colorado is simply the best place for people who enjoy:
- rock climbing
- horseback riding
- …and much more!
A love for adventure, the outdoors, and environmental conservation is what brings most people to this modest town—and it shows.
This small town only has just over 103,000 human residents, but in the 450,000 acres of spaces surrounding it, you can see a wide variety of furry and feathered creatures including the Colorado chipmunk, white-tailed deer, and even elk if you’re very lucky—and very patient!
Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands and only has approximately 67,000 inhabitants. It’s easy to imagine why Hawaii is one of the best places to live as a nurse.
Kauai’s natural beauty and mild climate attract more than 1.3 million visitors every year—which means there are plenty of employment opportunities for traveling nurses.
The island is more rural than its bigger siblings and begs to be explored for those who have a love of natural beauty and a flair for adventure. In addition to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, you can explore Waimea Canyon, hike the Kalalau Trail, or spend a day on the Na Pali Coast.
Whatever you do, though, don’t forget your camera, because you’ll definitely want to have something to remember Kauai’s breathtaking scenery by!
Learn more about the area, and browse Hawaii travel nursing jobs.
Looking for a small town feel while still living in a bustling cityscape? Charleston is easily one of the best cities for nurses thanks to its endless southern charm.
Normally a city with nearly one million people could never be compared to a small town. When it comes to Charleston, they’ve managed to maintain everything that’s made them the gem of the south, even as they’ve grown.
With neighboring city Mount Pleasant across the river, the medical field is booming in this region, locally known as the “Lowcountry”. Nature abounds in the Lowcountry known for its tidal salt marshes, hundred-year-old oak trees, and endless wildlife. Charleston is made for outdoorsy-types thanks to its proximity to both the ocean and the mountains.
Now, Charleston isn’t only for the nature-lovers! Loving food and fun is also a good thing if you choose Charleston. Endless local fare and some of the best southern boutiques can be found throughout town.
Of course, this is just a small sampling of the many beautiful, interesting, and exciting places to explore in our vast country!
There are endless incredible locales for a traveling nurse to call home. Choosing a city over a rural area ensures ample work opportunity often paired with a stable or growing climate. Cities also offer more diverse populations which are great for nurses who seek to strengthen their cultural competency.
If you’re looking for the best cities for nurses to live, consider these:
- New York
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
Did we miss any of the best cities for nurses to work when on travel assignments?
Share your ideas with us in the comments below!