My husband and I lived in Vail for a couple of years in the late 80's. Since it's been a while since I lived there I'm sure my impression of the Vail Valley should be taken with a grain of salt, but on the other hand...I can guarantee you things haven't gotten more affordable there. ;-)
I LOVED living there, but the cost of living was completely unmanagable. I was not in nursing then (and still am not - I'm a student), so I can't comment on our household income vs. what it might be for someone in nursing. I do know that most of the people in our age bracket had at least one roommate and often worked two jobs.
My husband and I both worked at a local radio station that did NOT pay well; I'm hoping VVMC treats their nurses much better than what we were dealing with! ;-)
We managed to find a really wonderful little condo (on Bighorn Road in East Vail) for $500 a month, which was insanely cheap back then. It took a serious amount of searching and looking at places to find it. We would go to Glenwood Springs a couple times a month for groceries. It was worth the drive to get the difference in prices, but things have really changed in Glenwood. It's become more of an "extension" of Aspen than it used to be, so I think it's a safe bet that prices there have gone up quite a bit. It might no longer be worth it to drive for groceries, and the prices in the Vail stores can be painful.
Anything like tires for the car or birthday presents went on our credit card, so after two years of that we simply had to move. It truly was a wonderful place to live, especially if you're into outdoor activities. Aside from the obvious (skiing, boarding and cross-country skiing) there are tons of things to do. There are hiking trails everywhere, and the summers are PERFECT. The average temp in the summer is in the mid-70's. Actually, the only bad thing about summers in Vail is that they're so short! (The old saying is, "I really love Vail in the summer, so I made sure I was home that weekend.)
Aside from the sporting/outdoor activities, Vail has an incredible cultural life. They have things like the Vail International Dance Festival that are truly wonderful.
If you like to shop, prepare to spend tons and tons of money. If you like to WINDOW shop, Vail Village is one of the best places in the world for that. They keep the entire area clean and gorgeous at all times; it's one of the prettiest, cleanest places I've ever seen. There are tons of interesting and different kinds of shops to poke around in.
Vail is not an actual city like Steamboat Springs or Aspen; there are many ski areas that popped up around towns that have been in existence since the 1800's. Vail is not one of them; the town was built specifically to service the ski mountain. I'm 46 years old...and I'm older than Vail. For this reason we sometimes referred to it as Plastic Bavaria...it sometimes has a little bit of a cartoonish/Disney feel to it. There aren't any gorgeous, restored (and authentic) Victorian homes in Vail, but it is still very beautiful there.
(In the 60's when Vail was in the planning stages, Warren Miller [the ski movie maker] was offered two lifetime ski passes and an acre of what is now Vail Village...for five thousand dollars. He passed. He's probably STILL kicking himself.)
Vail has one of the best mass transit systems I've ever seen. The buses are free (kind of, anyway...they're funded through the really high sales tax) and run regularly and on time. Vail Village is a pedestrian-only area: no cars allowed. The public buses are clean and a wonderful way to get around.
I believe the McDonalds near Vail Village is one of the few in the world (if not the only one) that provides subsidized housing for its employees. It really is insanely expensive to live there. Before the laws got changed and it was easier for non-citizens to work in the U.S., financially independent kids from around the world would come to Vail, get a position (usually with Vail Associates, operator of the ski mountain), work enough hours to get the free ski pass and then ski their brains out while living in Mommy and Daddy's condo. A lot of hotels and service-oriented businesses would pay peanuts for wages, but offer free season passes. Once the law got changed and it became nearly impossible for kids to do this, the price of everything went way up; hotels, etc, had to hike their already-ridiculous rates in order to pay legit employees.
If you like to ski and/or golf, it's paradise. Just be prepared to pay for it! My understanding is that VVMC is one of the premiere places in the Rocky Mountain Region to go for any kind of ortho work...for obvious reasons. They see a lot of ski/sport-related injuries there.
It was fun to type this out - a little stroll down memory lane. Good luck! I hope you love it there as much as I did!