By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
My husband and I started preparing to work as a travel nurse and travel physical therapist about nine months before we planned to leave. We had a tax home ready, sorted through and sold most of our belongings, and researched which states would be easiest for us to find jobs in at the same time.
When the time rolled around to actually start applying for jobs, we were surprised when a very lucrative nursing position popped up in central Wisconsin. As it turned out, physical therapy licenses were fairly easy to obtain for Wisconsin as well so we decided to head north for our first assignment as a travel couple.
Needless to say, our friends and family were a little underwhelmed when they found out we were heading just eight hours north for our first grand adventure. Everyone had assumed we would go somewhere exciting like New York City or exotic like Hawaii. Keaton and I stayed optimistic and were very excited to use the financial gain from the contract to get ahead on some student loan debt right out of the gate.
Looking back now, we talk about how much we really enjoyed our assignment in the Great White North. In addition to making some great financial strides, here are a few other reasons we look back on our time in Wisconsin with a smile:
Lots of friendly folks.
I was born and raised in the Midwest so I thought I knew friendly people, but the welcome we felt everywhere in Wisconsin was something special. I even noticed that the environmental service workers would go out of their way to help keep patients comfortable.
I never had a lonely lunch since staff would make conversation with anyone, and my wonderful co-worker even went out of her way to take me to get a rental car when my SUV broke down on the way to work.
Fall in Wisconsin is insanely beautiful.
One of the first things I noticed about Wisconsin was how green it is. There aren’t any towering mountains, but the rolling hills and fields are all lush and there are trees everywhere.
When the leaves changed during our assignment, I was absolutely blown away by how gorgeous it was. The temperature also stayed fairly steady for a good month and a half, so the reds, oranges, and yellows stuck around for a while.
It is easy to travel to some other fun Midwest cities.
During our time in Wisconsin, we also took trips to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Madison. All of these towns were within four hours of our home base which made traveling there extremely cheap and easy.
We got to ride the Amtrak from Milwaukee to Chicago and experience Christmas at Mall of America in Minneapolis. These trips would not have been nearly as convenient coming from other states.
Wisconsin does two things extremely well—food and beer.
The town we lived in was not huge, but there was a never-ending supply of local cuisine and breweries. We extended our contracts and stayed for 19 weeks and still had places on our list that we didn’t get to visit.
While Wisconsin is known for cheese curds, we also had some incredible pizza, burgers, and soul food during our time there. Plus there was always a local beer that matched perfectly with any of the above.
Cost of living is low and pay packages are solid.
The second-highest pay package of my travel career so far was in central Wisconsin, along with our lowest rent payment. Because the cold sets in early, hospitals tend to pay a little better to entice anyone who is nervous about the cold to try it out.
In addition, we paid $1,300 a month for a private home with a yard and garage. The extra bonus here was that all yard work and snow removal was included. While dealing with snow in November wasn’t my favorite, I would definitely do it again if I was looking to make some serious financial progress in a short period of time.
There are plenty of outdoor activities even when the cold weather comes.
One of my favorite parts about Wisconsin was the fact that the world did not stop when the cold weather came.
We may not have been able to swim or hike in 10 inches of snow, but there were a lot of other outdoor options. Within a 15-mile radius, there were snowmobile trails, snow shoe trails, and ski slopes. Winter in Wisconsin will not stop you from getting some fresh air and sunshine if you are prepared to bundle up against the cold.
Despite all of the odd looks and looks of concern from family and friends I firmly believe we were not crazy for starting our travel careers in Wisconsin. The welcoming staff combined with low cost of living allowed us to get comfortable and save a nice bit of cash before being more picky about where we went for each assignment.
Wisconsin will forever have a special place in my heart, and if you ever get the chance to work there I would say go for it!
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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