Salt Lake City, Utah

25 Highest Paying Cities for Nurses in 2022

Discover Which Cities Pay Nurses the Highest Salaries in the United States

There are several reasons why a career in nursing is such a wise choice for those who answer the call. In addition to having one of the most noble, satisfying, and reliable careers, nurses also enjoy having very “portable” careers.

It’s not uncommon at all for a nurse to find themselves in a situation that requires a move to another city or even another state. The good news is that the nationwide demand for nurses will allow your career trajectory to carry on uninterrupted, despite the move. Of course, if your move is to a different state, you’ll need to apply for licensure in that state and pass its NCLEX. However, that is a small price to pay for the opportunity to possibly improve your pay as well as your long-term career prospects.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the 25 highest paying cities for Registered Nurses (RNs) in the United States. We’ve also factored in each city’s cost of living so that you can compare relative incomes between destination cities more accurately.

(Related: Click here to read our comprehensive guide on how to become a Registered Nurse)

How Much Do Nurses Make?

We have tapped into the definitive resources of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to provide you with the income data for this article. Nationwide, RNs earn an average salary* of about $80,000 per year, with an average hourly wage of around $38 per hour. The average annual wage for those RNs earning in the top 10% across the country can be as high as $116,230.

Click here to review our list of the highest paying nursing jobs in the U.S.

Top-Paying States for Nurses

Before we explore the details of the 25 top-paying cities for RNs, it makes sense to know which states pay their RNs the most. According to BLS data, the top-5 highest paying states for RNs are:

  1. California

  • Average Annual Salary: $120,560
  • Average Hourly Wage: $57.96
  1. Hawaii

  • Average Annual Salary: $104,830
  • Average Hourly Wage: $50.40
  1. Massachusetts

  • Average Annual Salary: $96,250
  • Average Hourly Wage: $46.27
  1. Oregon

  • Average Annual Salary: $96,230
  • Average Hourly Wage: $44.27
  1. Alaska

  • Average Annual Salary: $95,270
  • Average Hourly Wage: $45.81

The Highest Paying Cities for Nurses

When you answered the call to become a nurse, the prospect of unlimited wealth probably didn’t factor into that decision. But we all have bills to pay and financial goals to meet, and even nurses are compelled to examine the financial implications of their career decisions.

Our Methodology

The city where you work can have a significant impact on an RN’s actual earnings. Some cities, on average, pay RNs high salaries. Others pay comparatively low salaries. Such information is all well-and-good, but it lacks context to provide you with the clearest possible financial picture. This article will help you make sense of the range in RN salaries by factoring in each city’s cost of living index (COLI).

A city with a high COLI means that a dollar won’t go as far there as the same dollar earned in another in a city with a lower COLI. The average COLI for all the cities compared in this article was 156. So if you lived in San Jose, California for example, its COLI is 195 – about 25% higher than the average city in our list.

Based on the COLI for each city, we adjusted their annual average wage to account for the difference in the cost of living. In the example cited above, the average salary* of $146,870 in San Jose, minus that city’s 25% cost of living premium, the adjusted annual income decreased to $105,651, which still makes it one of the highest paying cities for RNs.

Now, onto our list of the 25 highest paying cities for RNs, starting with #25.

#25. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

As the largest city in Utah, Salt Lake City is home to approximately 197,756 residents. Salt Lake City boasts some of the nation’s best ski resorts, such as Snowbird, Canyons, and Brighton Ski Resort. The Wasatch Front also has hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails easily accessible for Salt Lake City residents.

Of the top employers in Utah, the University of Utah (including their Hospital) ranks #1, and Intermountain Healthcare ranks #2 with an annual average employment of 20,000 or more. Salt Lake City is also home to the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is one of the leading NCI-designated cancer research facilities in the world. Overall, Salt Lake City is an excellent place for aspiring nurses to work!

How Much Do Nurses Make in Salt Lake City?

  • Registered Nurses in Salt Lake City make an annual average salary of $72,650.
  • RNs in Salt Lake City earn an average hourly rate of $34.93.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $97,230.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 151
  • Salt Lake City is 1% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary based on Salt Lake City’s COLI is $73,254.

#24. Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

If wide-open spaces are your thing, along with a strong local economy, affordable cost-of-living, and hopping arts and entertainment districts, Fort Worth is your kind of town. Just for fun, throw in museums, professional and college sports, great restaurants, and lively nightlife, and we’re sure you’ll be happy to call Fort Worth home.

Healthcare plays an important role in the economy of Fort Worth in particular and across the entirety of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in general. The largest healthcare providers in Fort Worth include the Cook Children’s Health Care System, the JPS Health Network, Texas Health Harris Methodist, and the Baylor Scott and White All Saints Medical Center.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Fort Worth?

  • Registered Nurses in Fort Worth make an annual average salary of $77,990.
  • RNs in Fort Worth earn an average hourly rate of $37.50.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $103,570.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 147
  • Fort Worth is 3% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Fort Worth’s COLI is $80,688.

#23. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

The colorful desert landscape of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is reflective of the city’s vibrant arts and food scenes as well as its Native American Hispanic cultures. Home to close to 68,000 city residents and about 144,000 in the metropolitan area, Santa Fe offers an almost endless list of things to see and do, including hiking, biking, skiing, river rafting, exploring historical sites, and enjoying the  unique flavors of Santa Fe cuisine.

There are three major hospitals in Santa Fe including, St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Santa Fe Indian Hospital, and Presbyterian Santa Fe Medical Center. There are also many smaller healthcare organizations, systems, and providers in Santa Fe.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Santa Fe?

  • Registered Nurses in Santa Fe make an annual average salary of $99,410.
  • RNs in Santa Fe earn an average hourly rate of $47.79.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $99,410.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 146
  • Santa Fe is 4% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Santa Fe’s COLI is $81,033.

#22. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

You’d be hard-pressed to find a city with more civic pride than Detroit, Michigan. And justifiably so. Steeped in history, industry, innovation, and culture, Detroit is home to 639,111 residents and 4,392,000 in the greater metropolitan area – nearly all of whom demonstrate the drive and the spirit to inspire a new renaissance for this great American city. Every day, Detroiters enjoy the city’s low cost of living, its thriving arts scene, and an incredible variety of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Of Detroit’s top employers, hospitals comprise two of its top ten employers. Topping this list is Detroit Medical Center (DMC), with 11,497 employees, followed by the Henry Ford Health System, with 8,807 employees. Additionally, Detroit has over ten more major hospitals, including the John. Dingle VA Medical Center, Harper University Hospital, Hutzel Women’s Hospital, Sinai-Grace Hospital, and the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Detroit?

  • Registered Nurses in Detroit make an annual average salary of $76,210.
  • RNs in Detroit earn an average hourly rate of $36.64.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $100,470.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 142
  • Detroit is 7% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Detroit’s COLI is $82,095.

#21. Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay, Wisconsin

Green Bay, Wisconsin, is the perfect combination of small-town feel and big-city amenities. A perfect example of this is that Green Bay is the smallest of all cities with an NFL franchise. With only 107,395 residents within the city limits, and about 320,000 residents in the metro area, Green Bay still manages to host a thriving arts scene, revitalized downtown district and all manner of dining, entertainment, and water activities along its waterfront.

Green Bay has four major hospitals and several healthcare organizations within the city limits. Bellin Health, including Bellin Hospital, employs over 3,000; Humana employs 2,800; Aurora Bay Care Health Center has 2,500 employees spread out over multiple locations within Green Bay; United Healthcare’s health benefits arm employs over 1,800 people, and St. Vincent Hospital employs over 1,600.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Green Bay?

  • Registered Nurses in Green Bay make an annual average salary of $68,860.
  • RNs in Green Bay earn an average hourly rate of $33.10.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $82,180.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 123
  • Green Bay is 19% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Green Bay’s COLI is $82,095.

#20. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City – known as “The Big Friendly” – is the largest city in Oklahoma, with about 681,000 residents and nearly 1,426,000 living in the greater metropolitan area. The city’s cost-of-living and cost-of-housing are well below their national averages and make Oklahoma City one of the best cities for first-time homebuyers.

Healthcare plays a large role in the city’s economy, with the headquarters of Integris Health, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Mercy Health headquarters, and OU Medicine occupying four of the city’s top ten employers. Just south of the Oklahoma City limits, the Norman Regional Hospital would also easily rank among those top-ten employers.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Oklahoma City?

  • Registered Nurses in Oklahoma City make an annual average salary of $68,510.
  • RNs in Oklahoma City earn an average hourly rate of $32.94.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $85,810.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 121
  • Oklahoma City is 21% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Oklahoma City’s COLI is $82,773.

#19. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is a historic river city in Tennessee with a population of 633,000 and a metropolitan population of 1,338,000. The city of Memphis sits atop the bluffs that overlook the Mississippi River. Its low cost of living and great work/play mix makes Memphis a very attractive place to live. Oh, and the food. Abundant locally grown produce makes its farmer’s markets among the world’s best. Throw in a great restaurant scene, a festive nightlife, and a growing economy, and you’ve got the ingredients for a great place to live.

Residents of Memphis benefit directly from the major economic and social impacts that the healthcare industry has on the city of Memphis. Rating agencies and healthcare professionals consistently rank Memphis’ doctors and hospitals among the best in the nation. And the city is flush with world-class hospitals, including St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, and Regional One Health.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Memphis?

  • Registered Nurses in Memphis make an annual average salary of $28,300.
  • RNs in Memphis earn an average hourly rate of $32.84.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $93,070.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 120
  • Memphis is 21% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Memphis’ COLI is $82,795.

#18. Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland

Located in the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore, Maryland, is a major port city with a population of about 585,700 and a greater metropolitan population of 2,845,000. On land, residents of Baltimore celebrate the city’s historical sites, including the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, Fort McHenry, and the many museums that bring the city’s nearly 300-year history to life. On the water, Baltimore offers incredible sailing, boating, and kayaking.

Healthcare plays an essential role in the economy of Baltimore and in the lives of those who live there. There are over 49,000 healthcare workers in Baltimore County, which is home to 5,000 healthcare employers. In the city of Baltimore, nine of the top 14 employers are hospitals and healthcare organizations, with the number one spot belonging to the world-renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Baltimore?

  • Registered Nurses in Oxnard make an annual average salary of $82,650.
  • RNs in Oxnard earn an average hourly rate of $39.74.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $106,690.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 152
  • Baltimore represents the average cost of living for all cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Baltimore’s COLI is $82,795.

#17. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island

As the capital of Rhode Island, Providence is the state’s most populous city and one of the oldest cities on the Eastern Seaboard. About 1,191,000 people call Providence home, and when you include the greater metropolitan area, its population rises to 1,600,000. Many historic buildings make up the city’s skyline, but Providence’s East Side neighborhood in particular boasts the largest contiguous area of buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Providence residents enjoy a 1,200-acre park system and one of the highest number of restaurants per capita of any U.S. city.

The healthcare industry in Providence is strong. In fact, of the city’s top-ten employers, hospitals account for six of them, including Rhode Island Hospital, Lifespan Health System, Women’s & Infants Hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center, and the Miriam Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Providence?

  • Registered Nurses in Providence make an annual average salary of $82,670.
  • RNs in Providence earn an average hourly rate of $39.75.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $106,810.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 152
  • Providence represents the average cost of living for all cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Providence’s COLI is $82,815.

#16. Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Located in the Willamette Valley in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon, stands at the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers. Portland is home to roughly 652,000 residents, with a greater metropolitan population of about 2,513,000. Thanks to its abundant rainfall, Portland is known for its lush, public green spaces and prized indoor attractions like the Portland Art Museum, The Portland Theater, coffee houses, restaurants and bookstores. When the rain subsides, the nearby Columbia River Gorge offers beautiful scenery with plenty of hiking and cycling trails that lead you to more than 90 nearby waterfalls.

While technology, financial, and manufacturing industries dominate the city, the healthcare industry is well-established, with eleven major, private and non-profit hospitals to serve the community, including two with Level I trauma units.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Portland?

  • Registered Nurses in Portland make an annual average salary of $98,700.
  • RNs in Portland earn an average hourly rate of $47.45.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $128.180.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 176
  • Portland is 16% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Portland’s COLI is $83,316.

#15. San Diego, California

San Diego, California

Located on the southern-most tip of coastal California, San Diego is the second-most populous city in California, with about 1,287,000 residents and a greater metropolitan population of approximately 3,297,000. The people of San Diego are also very diverse, with a strong mix of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian cultures. San Diego also offers a fantastic variety of world-class outdoor activities on land and water, including sport fishing, sailing, surfing, whale watching, and water tours, golfing, cycling, hiking, hang gliding, and skateboarding. Adding to San Diego’s livability are its museums, boardwalks, Major League Baseball team, and perhaps the mildest weather on the planet.

In the past decade, San Diego emerged as one of the nation’s leading healthcare and biotechnology development centers. In fact, among San Diego’s leading employers, healthcare organizations comprise three of the city’s top ten employers.

How Much Do Nurses Make in San Diego?

  • Registered Nurses in San Diego make an annual average salary of $111,620.
  • RNs in San Diego earn an average hourly rate of $53.66.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $158,550.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 190
  • San Diego is 25% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on San Diego’s COLI is $83,959.

#14. Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

As the most populous city in Alaska, Anchorage is truly the gateway to adventure. The city’s approximately 291,000 residents (and roughly 398,000 for the metropolitan area) are blessed with a relatively moderate climate thanks to maritime weather influences. So there’s no shortage of opportunities to enjoy the city’s music and folk festivals as well as the surrounding area’s unending list of outdoor activities. When the weather turns cold, Anchorage’s arts and entertainment heats up with art galleries, concert venues, museums, plus indigenous arts and culture exhibits.

High-quality healthcare is plentiful in Anchorage. The city has six hospitals in total, including Providence Alaska Medical Center. With 401 staffed beds, it’s the largest hospital in the state. Anchorage’s other hospitals include Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital, Elmendorf AFB Hospital, Northstar Hospital, and Saint Elias Specialty Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Anchorage?

  • The annual average salary for Registered Nurses in Anchorage is $110,200.
  • RNs in Anchorage earn an average hourly rate of $52.98.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $205,060.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 167
  • Anchorage is 10% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Anchorage’s COLI is $136,420.

#13. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Situated on the western shoreline of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is home to roughly 578,000 people, with a metropolitan population of about 1,575,000. Milwaukee boasts an extensive park system and a city-wide love for the water as witnessed by the tremendous popularity of sailing, boating, and kayaking. Art lovers find Milwaukee’s five major art galleries add to the city’s quality of life, as do its many cultural festivals – they don’t call Milwaukee “The City of Festivals” for nothing.

Healthcare plays a vital role in the economy of Milwaukee. In fact, 27% of all jobs in the city are healthcare-related jobs. There are several health systems in Milwaukee including Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex, Aurora Health Care and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. Each system manages a combined total of nine hospitals, a medical school, a blood center and a Ronald McDonald House. There is also a collection of non-profit organizations in Milwaukee, including the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the Endometriosis Association.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Milwaukee?

  • Registered Nurses in Milwaukee make an annual average salary of $76,750.
  • RNs in Milwaukee earn an average hourly rate of $36.90.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $101,340.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 135
  • Milwaukee is 11% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Milwaukee’s COLI is $85,453.

#12. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Most wouldn’t guess that San Antonio, Texas is the seventh-most populous city in the U.S., but with a population of nearly 1,435,000 people within the city limits and about 2,559,000 in the greater metropolitan area, the secret is now out. Perhaps more notable is the fact that 64% of the population is Hispanic, making San Antonio the largest majority-Hispanic city in the country. The downtown River Walk and numerous parks, museums, and festivals make San Antonio one of Texas’s best-kept (former) secrets.

The healthcare and bioscience industries make a significant impact on San Antonio’s overall economy, with nearly one in every five San Antonians working in the Healthcare or Bioscience industries and 50,000 new jobs added over the past decade. The two major hospitals serving San Antonio are Methodist Hospital and Baptist Medical Center, with multiple medium-sized hospitals sharing the caseload.

How Much Do Nurses Make in San Antonio?

  • Registered Nurses in San Antonio make an annual average salary of $75,110.
  • RNs in San Antonio earn an average hourly rate of $36.11.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $100,410.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 129
  • San Antonio is 15% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on San Antonio’s COLI is $86,587.

#11. Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas

With nearly 2,305,000 city residents – and over 7,120,000 in the metropolitan area – Houston is the quintessential Texas city. Houston defines cultural diversity thanks to its numerous waves of Hispanic, Latin American, and Asian immigrants. Residents of Houston have no excuse for boredom thanks to its 337 city parks, roughly 75,000 acres of green space, 19 museums, five major professional sports franchises, and numerous skate parks.

When it comes to healthcare, few cities in the world can compete with Houston. Located in the heart of the city, the Texas Medical Center (TMC) features the world’s highest concentration of healthcare and research organizations, all concentrated in a mere 2.1 square mile district. The TMC contains 21 hospitals, 9,200 patient beds, 54 medicine-related institutions, four medical schools, seven nursing schools, three public health organizations, and two pharmacy schools.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Houston?

  • Registered Nurses in Houston make an annual average salary of $84,960.
  • RNs in Houston earn an average hourly rate of $40.85.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $109,730.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 145
  • Modesto is 5% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Houston’s COLI is $89,015.

#10. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

As the second-most populous city in Arizona, Tucson hosts a population of approximately 542,600. The city is located in the Sonoran Desert and is surrounded by five mountain ranges that provide residents with a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, camping, and snow skiing. The city itself is a year-round hive of activity. From its world-renowned Gem & Mineral Show to the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Fourth Avenue Street Festival, locals and tourists alike have no trouble staying busy.

The Tucson economy is driven primarily by tourism, the University of Arizona, high technology, and defense. However, healthcare still plays an important role in the city’s overall fiscal and community well-being. Banner University Medical Center is the city’s seventh-largest employer of Tucson’s largest employers. Other hospitals in the city include Northwest Medical Center, Tucson ER & Hospital, Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, and Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Tucson?

  • Registered Nurses in Tucson make an annual average salary of $76,660.
  • RNs in Tucson earn an average hourly rate of $36.86.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $99,980.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 127
  • Tucson is 17% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Tucson’s COLI is $136,420.

#9. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Albuquerque, New Mexico, delivers the most authentic spirit of the Southwest with its unique, multicultural history. The roughly 564,600 residents of Albuquerque – 916,500 when you include the greater metropolitan area – enjoy 310 days of sunshine per year, which translates into perfect weather for cyclists, hikers, skiers, hot-air balloonists, and golfers. For those who crave city life, Old Town Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Biological Park, and the Albuquerque Museum are just the beginning of everyday amenities for residents.

Albuquerque is a high-tech city, and that tech focus spills over into a thriving healthcare industry. Presbyterian Healthcare Services and Lovelace-Sandia Health System are among its many tech employers among Albuquerque’s top-ten employers. The University of New Mexico Hospital is the city’s largest hospital and is the primary teaching hospital for the University of New Mexico. Other hospitals in the city include the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center, Lovelace Medical Center, and Lovelace Women’s Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Albuquerque?

  • Registered Nurses in Albuquerque make an annual average salary of $76,740.
  • RNs in Albuquerque earn an average hourly rate of $36.89.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $98.920.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 127
  • Albuquerque is 17% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Albuquerque’s COLI is $89,474.

#8. Newark, New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey

Laying just a few miles to the west of New York City, Newark, New Jersey, is the state’s largest city with a population of approximately 311,500. Residents of Newark enjoy an impressive array of local amenities that are the envy of much larger cities. These venues include the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark Symphony Hall, and the renowned Newark Museum of Art’s three locations offering science galleries, a planetarium, a sculpture garden, and gallery space for children’s art. The city’s festival calendar is packed with family-friendly events, including its Cherry Blossom Festival, the Lincoln Park Music Festival, and the Newark Black Film Festival.

While Newark is one of this nation’s major air, shipping and rail hubs employing many thousands of people, it also has plenty to offer in terms of healthcare and nursing jobs. Newark is home to five major hospitals, including its largest, Newark Beth Israel University Hospital, University Medical Center – with the state’s busiest Level I trauma center, Children’s Hospital of New Jersey, Saint Michael’s Medical Center, and Columbus Hospital LTACH.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Newark?

  • Registered Nurses in Newark make an annual average salary of $94,920.
  • RNs in Newark earn an average hourly rate of $45.63.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $128,580.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 159
  • Newark is 4% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Newark’s COLI is $90,723.

#7. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Located in the Low Country along the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is a vacation destination with roughly 37,000 year-round residents. In peak summer months, that number can swell to 150,000. Leisure activities like golfing and fishing are extremely popular among the local population, but so too are its island parks, beaches, the performing arts, wine festivals, its annual PGA Tour event, and its symphony orchestra.

While Tourism dominates the local economy, healthcare plays a major role on the island. In fact, Hilton Head Regional Medical Center is the island’s third-largest employer.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Hilton Head Island?

  • Registered Nurses in Hilton Head Island make an annual average salary of $69,450.
  • RNs in Hilton Head Island earn an average hourly rate of $33.39.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $83,140.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 101
  • Hilton Head Island is 34% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Hilton Head Island’s COLI is $92,833.

#6. Oakland, California

Oakland, California

Located in the East Bay area, Oakland, California, is the home of the busiest port within San Francisco Bay. With a population of about 440,600, Oakland ranks as the eighth-most populous city in California and one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. Oakland’s cultural diversity, supplemented by its busy ports and proximity to locally-sourced meat and produce, means that foodies there have life by the horns. Oaklanders also enjoy a vibrant arts scene that includes music, art, the performing arts, and a steady stream of festivals and events.

The healthcare industry is strong in Oakland, with many career opportunities for nurses. Among the city’s top ten employers, healthcare organizations make up four of the top spots with the headquarters of Kaiser Permanente (along with a major medical center in the Piedmont Avenue area), Children’s Hospital of Oakland, Alameda County Medical Center, and the Sutter Bay Hospitals and Foundation.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Oakland?

  • Registered Nurses in Oakland make an annual average salary of $149,200.
  • RNs in Oakland earn an average hourly rate of $71.73.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $205,060.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 205
  • Oakland is 35% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Oakland’s COLI is $97,529.

#5. Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada, has lots to offer its residents that might fly under the radar of tourists. With a population of about 635,000 and a greater metropolitan population of 2,265,000, Las Vegas residents have access to plenty of year-round activities that include hiking trails through Red Rock Canyon and the surrounding Spring Mountains. Head east to Lake Mead and enjoy amazing boating, water skiing, swimming, hang-gliding, fishing, and even more hiking trails. In the city, you’ll find flourishing arts districts, NFL, NHL and WNBA franchises, world-class restaurants, 68 city parks, 123 playgrounds, 109 skate parks, six pools and four city-owned golf courses.

The Las Vegas economy is dominated by tourism, gaming, and conventions, but its healthcare sector is very strong. There are ten hospitals in Las Vegas with 250 or more staffed beds, including Sunrise Children’s Hospital, University Medical Center, Spring Valley Hospital and Medical Center, Summerlin Hospital & Medical Center, and Mountain View Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Las Vegas?

  • Registered Nurses in Las Vegas make an annual average salary of $92,720.
  • RNs in Las Vegas earn an average hourly rate of $44.58.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $124,130.
  • Cost of Living Index (COLI): 142
  • Las Vegas is 7% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Las Vegas’ COLI is $98,972.

#4. Spokane, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Spokane is the largest city in Eastern Washington state and is its cultural and economic hub. Metropolitan Spokane hosts a diverse population of about 573,000 who enjoy a bustling downtown district that balances in-town charm, exceptional natural beauty, and hundreds of acres of city parks. One of them, Manito Park features five major garden areas, including the world-famous Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden.

Spokane is transitioning from a manufacturing-based economy to a service economy and is actively developing its strength in the medical and health sciences fields. The result was the addition of two medical school branches to the University District. Spokane also is home to six major hospitals, including Sacred Heart Medical Center, Deaconess Hospital, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Northwest Behavioral Health, the Spokane Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Providence Holy Family Hospital, and MultiCare Valley Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Spokane?

  • Registered Nurses in Spokane make an annual average salary of $89,890.
  • RNs in Spokane earn an average hourly rate of $43.21.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $123,250.
  • Spokane’s Cost of Living Index (COLI): 136
  • Spokane is 11% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Spokane’s COLI is $99,493.

#3. San José, California

San José, California

San José, California, is the largest city in Northern California by both population and area. Located on the southern-most shores of the San Francisco Bay, San José hosts a population of about 2 million and is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. A thriving arts scene incorporates San José’s Native American, Latino and American influences. You’ll also find that San José is also home to many world-class art museums, technology museums, Mexican heritage museums, Egyptian museums, railroad museums, and textile museums, to name just a few.

Among San José’s many tech employers, healthcare employers occupy two of the top 15 employers in the city, including Kaiser Permanente and Good Samaritan Hospital.

How Much Do Nurses Make in San José?

  • Registered Nurses in San José make an annual average salary of $146,870.
  • RNs in San José earn an average hourly rate of $70.61.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $204,240.
  • San José’s Cost of Living Index (COLI): 195
  • San José is 28% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on San José’s COLI is $136,420.

#2. Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California

Situated north and east of the Bay Area, Sacramento is California’s sixth-largest city boasting a population of roughly 525,000 and an extensive park system that includes 5,000 acres of parkland and recreation centers. Sacramento’s rich history contributes to the city’s thriving culture and economy. Its residents enjoy a remarkable variety of performing art, visual art, museum, and musical entertainment options on top of its world-renowned farm-to-fork foodie scene.

Apart from Sacramento’s state government, the healthcare industry has a substantial presence in the city and represents four of its top-ten employers. Those employers include UC Davis Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and Dignity Health/Catholic Healthcare West. Just between these four employers, they represent approximately 40,000 high-quality healthcare industry jobs.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Sacramento?

  • Registered Nurses in Sacramento make an annual average salary of $134,350.
  • RNs in Sacramento earn an average hourly rate of $64.59.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $187,360.
  • Sacramento’s Cost of Living Index (COLI): 174
  • Sacramento is 14% more expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Sacramento’s COLI is $136,420.

#1. Modesto, California

Modesto, California

Topping our list of the 25 Highest Paying Cities for Nurses, Modesto, California, offers the perfect combination of excellent pay and relatively low cost of living. Located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Modesto has a population of roughly 218,500. Despite its relatively small size, Modesto offers a wide variety of activities, including rafting on the Stanislaus River, an active arts scene, and close proximity to Yosemite National Park.

Modesto’s primary economic driver may be based on agriculture since it’s located within one of the world’s most fertile and productive agricultural regions. However, there is also a robust healthcare industry that employs many thousands of people. In fact, four of the city’s top ten employers are in the healthcare field, Memorial Medical Center, Doctor’s Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Modesto?

  • Registered Nurses in Modesto make an annual average salary of $121,090.
  • RNs in Modesto earn an average hourly rate of $58.21.
  • For those in the 90th percentile of wages, your annual salary can climb as high as $205,060.
  • Modesto’s Cost of Living Index (COLI): 133
  • Modesto is 13% less expensive to live in than the average of all the cities in our study.
  • The adjusted average salary for RNs based on Modesto’s COLI is $136,420.

There are many important factors to be considered before committing to a new place to live. Starting with your career, you should consider the long-term employment prospects in your destination city. Additional considerations include the cost-of-living/income ratio, proximity to a support network of family and friends, the climate, the local education system, available arts and cultural activities, your commute, and the size of the city itself.

Moving to a new city is a major life change. As you decide where your RN career might take you – or where you might take your nursing career – you should carefully consider all of these factors before making your decision. If you’re looking to take the next step in your nursing career, you should explore the hybrid (80% online/20% in-person) format of our Bachelor of Science Nursing program which is designed to accommodate an RN’s busy work/life schedule.

Click here to learn more about all the programs and opportunities available to you at Provo College.