The Top 10 Cities for Nurses in the USA

Being a nurse is a rewarding and fulfilling career. From patient care on the hospital floor to assisting surgeons in the operating room, a nurse’s career possibilities are endless.  We’re proud to offer our nurses some fantastic opportunities for nursing positions, but where in the country offers the best prospects?

We analyzed wage and location data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospital quality scores, and cost of living of scores in cities across America to find the top 10 places to live for nurses in the USA. See our rankings and methodology below:

  1. Bloomsburg, PA

Total score: 225.84

Part of the larger Bloomsburg-Berwick Metropolitan area, this Pennsylvania town has a modest population of just over 14,000. It has the highest concentration of Registered Nurse jobs in the USA, earning it a place in the overall top 10.

  1. Jackson, MS

Total score: 232.4

The largest city in Mississippi and one of the spiritual homes of southern blues music, Jackson is a vibrant and diverse city. Not only that, but the city has a cost of living 26% lower than the national average. So, with a Registered Nurse’s average wage already $4,000 over average, Jackson could be a shrewd financial career move.

  1. Pueblo, CO

Total score: 238.36

Known for its warm climate, Pueblo is the 9th largest city in Colorado, and situated in the Midwest’s Banana Belt. The city benefits from one of the lowest costs of living in the country – 16% below average – which means wages stretch a lot further than usual.

  1. Knoxville, TN

Total score: 241.1

On the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain’s National Park, Knoxville has a rich history and a creative scene known for its popular country and bluegrass music. Despite the size of the city, at just under 190,000 residents, it still has a cost of living under the national average. However, lower than average wages for nursing positions in the area mean it doesn’t climb any higher than 7th.

  1. Columbia, MO

Total score: 245.08

Nearly 1 in 6 people work in healthcare in this Missouri city, so it’s safe to say the industry is the beating heart of employment in the area. With five hospitals to choose from, nurses have a wealth of options – and The University of Missouri School of Medicine is close by, just in case you’re looking to brush up on any qualifications!

  1. Cape Girardeau, MO

Total score: 248.46

Like its larger neighbor, Columbia, Cape Girardeau is defined by its healthcare industry. The city has  two massive medical centers (St Francis and Southeast Health) serving residents of four surrounding states. Plus, a cost of living score of 13% under the average means competitive wages in the city stretch further than the more expensive Columbia.

  1. Huntington, WV

Total score: 271.7

Known as The River City, this bustling West Virginia city is one of only three in our top 10 which rank in the top 25 cities for each of the three nursing positions used in our methodology. The already high wages for Nurse Anesthetists are also helped by a cost of living a full 10% under the national average.

  1. Winston-Salem, NC

Total score: 273.84

The first of two North Carolina cities in the top 3, the “Twin City” benefits from some of the finest hospitals in the country – two of them, the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the headquarters of Novant Health, employ almost 20,000 people in the area. When the city’s low cost of living is taken into account, the city boasts some of the highest wages in the country.

  1. Durham, NC

Total score: 333.64

Like Winston-Salem, Durham is home to two major medical centers – Duke University Hospital and the Durham VA Medical Center. As a result, the city has some fantastic opportunities for nurses looking for work in the area. With a score of well over 300, it is the only city that comes close to challenging the number one spot, sporting consistently high wages and an 8% below average cost of living.

  1. Rochester, MN

Total score: 486.96

This Minnesota city is the clear choice for nurses looking for their next career stop. It has the highest concentration of both Nurse Anesthetists and Nurse Practitioners and comes in a close second for Registered Nurses. Home to the nationally renowned Mayo Clinic, the nonprofit medical center is by far the biggest employer in the city, employing over 30,000 people in total. With consistently above average wages and a cost of living 2% cheaper than the national average, all those nurses are seeing the benefits in their pay-packets too.


Surprised at the top 10? Want to share your own stories of nursing in America? Let us know what you think of our results by commenting below, on Facebook, or via Twitter @sunbeltstaffing.


Location Score: In order to rate locations based on their location, the location quotients for every US city or every three nursing positions were taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), giving each Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) a location quotient score. This score ranks each area based on the relative concentration of specific jobs in that area compared to other areas.

Three positions (Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioner and Registered Nurse) were chosen to give a range of nursing positions with varied wages. The top 50 from each of these positions were taken. To progress to the next round of scoring, areas had to be featured in at least 2 out of 3 top 50 lists. They were then given a score based on how many of the three lists they featured in and a weighted percentage score based on their overall location quotient. Each location was then given an additional points total according to their cost of living score. Cost of living scores were sourced from

Wages Score: Once a top 20 was established, using location quotient data, the average wage of each available profession in each given area was adjusted according to the cost of living score in each city and compared to the average wage for that profession. Each city was given a percentage point score based on the difference between their average wage and the national average for that profession.

Hospital Quality Score: Hospital Quality scores were sourced from Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Grade, which ranks US states based on the percentage of their hospitals which are rated as ‘A’ by Leapfrog. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is a public service provided by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety, and transparency in the US health system.


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