For some travel nurses, the appeal of jumping into the healthcare gypsy lifestyle is more about finding adventures in new parts of the country—for others making money is still a major motivator.
But keeping the money you make as a traveler can be just as hard as making it. With a good chunk of your income going towards travel and living expenses, not to mention the unpredictability of temporary staffing, finding the best places to work where you can make your dollars stretch is tough.
We’ve narrowed down the five states where you can work and earn the most bang for your buck, based on data from our Travel Nursing Pay Package Rankings and Cost of Living By State list.
Our five best states were selected using the following criteria:
- Each state had to rank among the top 20 highest pay packages offered.
- Each state had to be at least 5 points or more below the 100.00 baseline of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis regional price parity index.
This gave us the best balance of how much you can make vs. how much you can expect to spend, as you can save significantly more money in states below 100.00 even if they don’t offer sky-high pay packages like California or New York, where the high cost of living negates the benefit of significant earnings.
Let’s start from the bottom and work our way to No. 1.
Louisiana just barely edged out Montana to make our Best Value list. The state currently ranks No. 20 for highest pay packages, but what gave it the edge is its cost-of-living rating, which is almost 10 points below the national average (90.4)
Now that Louisiana is part of the enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact as of May 31, we expect to see more competition for jobs as many more travelers will have easy access to the state by December.
Wisconsin comes in at No. 4 on our Best Value list, thanks to its No. 17 ranking for highest travel nurse pay packages and low cost of living rating at 92.8, more than 7 points below the national average.
Since the state is one of the less-traveled vacation spots in the U.S. and a prime target for frigid but profitable winter travel jobs, the low cost of living means there’s plenty of opportunities to earn money in The Badger State.
Speaking of profitable northern states, right across from Wisconsin is our No. 3 Best Value state, Michigan.
Michigan ranked slightly higher in our pay package list at No. 14 and subsequently had a slightly higher regional cost of living at 93.3 on the index.
Both Michigan and Wisconsin made our Highest Paying Jobs post this week.
Indiana consistently ranks among the top 10 most applied-to states for travelers in the first place, so the fact that it boasts the No. 12 slot in pay packages and a dirt-cheap cost of living rating at 90.3 percent.
Some of the cities that regularly have job listings on the StaffDNA boards include Fort Wayne, Bloomington and Indianapolis.
With only one decimal point lower than Indiana on the cost of living index and several ranks above Indiana in terms of pay packages, Iowa takes the cake as our top Best Value travel nursing state.
Out of all the other states on this list, Iowa is the true exception in that it currently ranks in the top 10 highest paying states, yet comparatively in the middle in travel nurse applications each month.
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