Get over California.

  1. Aloha,

    I'm new to the site and am new to the world of nursing. A few of my friends currently work for Kaiser in Oakland. I am a teacher in Oakland and live in Berkeley. For those of you who are unfamiliar to the Bay Area, this is the region of the "East Bay". Most people work in "the city" as we reference it colloquially, or San Francisco, and live in the East Bay. As you can gauge from the name chosen, I am hoping to enter said world of nursing and am currently taking prereqs in order to do so. However, there is a lot I've learned on this journey so far and I want to share my experience with you guys who are considering relocating.

    Alas, I think from what I've learned on the boards so far, everyone wants to be here. I want to tell you a little bit about that reality so hopefully more people will realize why home is where you're better off.

    I make below/circa 50k, average for a teacher in California. My boyfriend works in tech and makes below/circa the mid 100k region. Our rent is $2,600 for 1/3 of the small house we live in- before utilities, which can be high because it gets freezing here also. We share said house with two other families. From an "ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE COUNTRY SAVE HAWAI'I OR MANHATTAN" standpoint, the house itself is rather small. Not only that, but we were extremely lucky to even find one as the market itself is very competitive. It took months and we lost two we wanted badly in the process.

    Nursing salaries are "more" in the Bay Area....KIND OF. Kind of NOT, also. It is one of the very few areas in the nation where the benefits of home ownership versus renting is financially debatable. Also, our taxes are very high. After taxes, I take home about 35K and my boyfriend rakes in around high 80's, 90's, depending on how the STARTUP is going. That's the thing too- the industries here can be fickle. One day you're raking in the dough, the next you're unemployed. Something to think about with the lack of stability if you have a partner in tech. There also aren't nearly as many jobs as there are elsewhere. I've conducted tons of nursing informational interviews and all of the nurses I've spoken to who were new grads had to move somewhere else for a while first. Those who didn't had to wait, unemployed, paying Bay Area rent on debt, for 1-2 years.

    Additionally, crime is high. This is just a fact of life here. Anecdotally though obviously close to home, my boyfriend was physically assaulted this year by a stranger at night. The injury was bad enough that it culminated in a CT Scan and surgery. After the attack, he was in the ER for 8 hours and worked from home with a broken jaw for two months. True story. In downtown Oakland I am verbally assaulted about twice a week. A friend of mine witnessed a stabbing in the city while out one night in a "normal" area. If you are a nurse in a peaceful community and you have dreams of making more in the Bay Area, I can promise you it isn't worth it.

    It won't pan out financially and there is a huge chance you are walking away from something good. I am 30 and would LOVE to not have housemates. However, everyone I know has housemates or roommates. Two of my friends in tech make 150K and each have multiple roommates. There is a very high chance that my boyfriend and I will NEVER own a home. We are young, productive, have good educations and good connections, and still- this may never translate into stable jobs and home ownership. This means listening to my neighbor's kids practice piano 24/7 through the walls (no offense to them, but they are beginners and besides who wants to not be able to control what they hear when they're home?), never having a dog (very common here, unfortunately), and never owning our own space.

    I think people see the salaries of nurses here and think "that could be me". But there aren't tons of jobs, they are very competitive to get, and for those of us who are already here we look at transplants and think "you left WHAT again? A family? A yard? A salary commensurate to the region you call home?"

    Don't just see that big number and think it's going to the bank. It's not. It's going to the landlord. There are so many things you will realize you gave up once you get here that you'll miss. I'm not saying this to say stay away from our turf. I'm saying this because I would be truly heartbroken to leave something good and realize the reality here and I don't want that for anyone.
    Last edit by Ms.PreReqs on Nov 9
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   caliotter3
    Yeppers. Fixed income source $21 more than the new rent to exist in a third world dump where one can never rest, much less sleep or breathe air instead of smoke and other pollutants. Don't tell us to relocate. Some were born and raised in California and would never dream to tell another person that they are expected to move for the sin of not being in the top 1%.
  4. by   shibaowner
    To the OP: I understand your frustration. However, the SF Bay Area has always been very expensive. Los Angeles is becoming almost as bad. San Diego is also becoming increasingly expensive. In other words, living along the coast of California is expensive.

    On the other hand, the inland areas of California are very inexpensive, have many great recreational opportunities, and are desperate for healthcare providers. You may wish to consider relocation to obtain a good RN position in a cheaper area. Your high-tech hubby could try to find a job that allows remote work. Specifically, there is a high demand for RNs and NPs in Fresno, Bakersfield, Redding and other Central California locations, as well as in the desert areas like Imperial County.
  5. by   Wolf at the Door
    Maybe buying a home and settling in the Bay is not that nurses future. I would do it only to get some financial gain and move on 2-3 years. Kaiser for instance would be an employer I would have considered only because they have locations outside of California.
  6. by   outriton
    I actually moved from Oklahoma, one of the cheapest states to live in, to the Sacramento area. Despite the increased cost of living, I still come out ahead after the HUGE increase in pay. I went from about $22/hr to about $61/hr. With the patient ratios, ancillary staffing, mandatory breaks, etc., my quality of life is way better. I can actually do all the patient care I never had time to with a mandatory 2, if not 3, ICU patients and don't come home with a sore back or needing to work OT to pay my bills.

    Nurse pay at the hospitals in Sacramento is very good because there are just a handful of hospital systems that negotiate collectively with insurance companies for reimbursement and the pay has to be fairly competitive with the Bay Area since nurses could theoretically live in Sacramento but work in the Bay Area. Sacramento is also relatively cheap for being a California city.
  7. by   NickiLaughs
    Quote from outriton
    I actually moved from Oklahoma, one of the cheapest states to live in, to the Sacramento area. Despite the increased cost of living, I still come out ahead after the HUGE increase in pay. I went from about $22/hr to about $61/hr. With the patient ratios, ancillary staffing, mandatory breaks, etc., my quality of life is way better. I can actually do all the patient care I never had time to with a mandatory 2, if not 3, ICU patients and don't come home with a sore back or needing to work OT to pay my bills.

    Nurse pay at the hospitals in Sacramento is very good because there are just a handful of hospital systems that negotiate collectively with insurance companies for reimbursement and the pay has to be fairly competitive with the Bay Area since nurses could theoretically live in Sacramento but work in the Bay Area. Sacramento is also relatively cheap for being a California city.
    This is what I tell others also. The bay isn't worth it.... inland Northern California is doable and has a good quality of life. Though it seems they're fighting that in current contract negotiations. Other states would have this potential if they learned form the strong union presence here. Despite higher wages the hospitals are still making bank...
  8. by   ICUman
    Quote from NickiLaughs
    Though it seems they're fighting that in current contract negotiations....
    What do you mean when you say "fighting that in contract negotiations"?
  9. by   Wolf at the Door
    Inland places like Fresno and Roseville are on the Kaiser Northern California Contract. You can get a home or condo for less than 100k in Fresno and still get paid like you work in San Francisco. That is not right. My friend that works in a wine country Kaiser says they (not the union but the nurses within the union) want those who live in lower cost of living places to get off the Kaiser Nor Cal contract. However overtime more people are going to the capital for the lower housing cost and will eventually drive up prices just like Oakland. Might be better to stay united than divided. Best scenario would be to give premium area pay diff for working in the Bay cities.
  10. by   forevergreatful
    sorry that you had to experience this. the incidences that has happened to you and your family is very sad. Ive lived in oakland 35 years and my experience is amazing. Also there is a lot of hospitals in san francisco and oakland that hire new grad nurses. I only know this because I'm in nursing school in san francisco so we do our clinical rotations in oakland and san francisco and i work along side a lot of new grad nurses. everywhere in the bayarea isn't expensive, it just depends on what part you are moving to. east oakland has some cheap areas, san leandro and hayward also. the problem is that a lot of places done advertise online and you have to drive through the neighborhoods. i wish luck and hope your view of the city can be changed with time. IVE been in my place I'm at now for 5 years 2bd townhouse in oakland newly built i pay half the price you pay. its crazy how prices has shot up in just a small period of time.
    Last edit by forevergreatful on Nov 23

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