Hello, Floridians! :>) Questions, if you're willing...?

  1. Hey, all! I hate to be typing the same ole', same ole' here, but I have some questions and would LOVE YOU FOREVER if you could take the time to answer them!

    My family lives in Florida and they are encouraging us big-time to move down there. This is sort of a now-or-never situation; it's either going to be happening or we're staying put, period. Naturally, I'm a bit anxious about this, especially considering I just started a new job, but I'm having a serious emotional breakdown here! I miss my family to bits but I love it here and have never lived anywhere else.

    In the spirit of adventure, I've agreed to discuss this realistically with my husband so we can decide one way or the other.

    Okay, ready for details yet?

    First of all, I've been a nurse for two years in the NICU. I'd like to stay within this unit if possible, but would consider other units if and only if I had no other choices.

    We're looking at three larger cities: Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa. I have driven through all three and seen bits of them on vacations, but never really experienced these cities in a real way, and time does not allow us to go down and leisurely take a peek at them. We're having to depend on word of mouth and internet info/brochures from the Chamber of Commerces, etc. to make our decision.

    We're looking at moving either in or near (within, say, a forty minute commute in high traffic) to a larger city so that not only will there likely be more hospitals, but my husband will have more of an opportunity for employment (he's flexible, so this decision really resides on me finding a job in a good hospital with a decent rate of pay).

    I would be interested in hearing WHATEVER you have to say about these cities, good or bad, or whatever cities are nearby that you might know of. I can't afford luxury housing or anything, so we're looking in the range of a small rental home or apartment for somewhere in the neighborhood of $600/mo (don't even know if this is possible; let me know!).

    Here are the questions:

    1) What is the NICU situation? I have found some hospitals with Level III NICU's (Wolfson in Jacksonville, Arnold Palmer and what's the other one...? Orlando Regional? Florida Hospital? Can't remember off the top of my head...in Orlando. All Children's in Tampa.) that seem to be quite large and are, I'm assuming, considered regional facilities that transport in a large number of their patients. Are there others that you know of? I know that not all of you are pedi/infant nurses, but anything you know of would be helpful. I'm doing this blind!

    2) Working night shift NICU in a regional NICU here I'm making 23 dollars/hr including base pay and night diff. What are your night diffs like? Anyone know anything about the payscales in the hospitals I mentioned above? I know that I'll be making less, and I understand that the cost of living is lower in many areas of Florida than where I'm currently living. I'm just wondering how much less! Are we talking a dip below 20/hr? Answer this if you can, don't worry about it if you can't. I'm sure I'll find out when I get in touch with the recruiters! I'm not interested in contracts or relocation assistance; I want to be free to move if it sucks.

    3) What are these cities like? My mother was suggesting smaller towns, like...I may get this wrong, so don't laugh...Plant City if we're moving to Tampa? Places like that. Sort of out of the city but within commuting distance, places where we can get a better quality of life. I've lived in the city all of my life and need some open space and clean air. My husband, on the other hand, is a surfer, born and raised in Cali. He's craving a city within driving distance to some really beautiful beaches, and we'd both like places that have places nearby that aren't suburbanized to hell (I'd like to live outside of Old Navy Town, if that makes any sense! Keep your Starbucks and give me an open sky any day of the week. There's so much concrete here it makes me physically ill!). I am more than willing to commute, as I said, for culture and entertainment, as well as work.

    I was down in Deland/Daytona Beach in December, and when we stopped and asked for directions, the girl at the counter kept saying over and over, "Why would you want to go to Jacksonville? It's HUGE! It's so BIG!" like it was Manhattan or something. Now, I've seen moderately sized cities; I grew up in a town of about 2 million+ for the entire metro area. My town was smaller than Atlanta, which, to me, was so big it scared me to drive through it!!! I've heard the same thing about Orlando. Everybody says, "Don't move there! The traffic will make you weep! It's big and gross! The highway caves in and your car will drop into a sinkhole!" etc. etc.

    Can someone PUH-LEEEEEEZE give me some real info here?

    I know that everyone's busy and all; please take your time in answering. I have read every single post on here, and have taken all things that I possibly could that have been said into consideration, but not many people are talking about these areas (aside from Tampa, in another discussion).

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! I really, really appreciate it!

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    About NICU_Nurse, BSN

    Joined: Jul '01; Posts: 2,150; Likes: 84


  3. by   NicuRN73
    Dear NICU_NURSE,
    I am a fellow NICU nurse. I am from the Panhandle area.. Actually Perry. Small dot on map on western side of Florida... An Hour south of Tallahassee.. Don't expect pay to be very good. You are Lucky to even get $20 an hour.. I had three years experience with charge in a regional center that also did transports in Tallahassee.. (Tallahassee Memorial) My pay rate was $17.49. Tallahassee had done it pay homework. It rivaled Jacksonville, Orlando, Even Gainsville with Shands. South Florida You will make more, over the $20 range, but the price of living in South Florida eats it up so it is comparable to North/Central Florida area. Good thing is Florida has no income tax.

    Because of the pay, I have been doing the travel nursing avenue for almost two years. I have heard good things from Wolfson, Shands and even Arnold Palmer. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.. You can email me at nicurn73@yahoo.com.

  4. by   NICU_Nurse
    Kathy, thank you! I've saved your email address. Did that pay rate include any diffs, or was that just your base rate? (biting my nails) Do you remember what they were paying for weekends? I know all the hospitals pay differently, but I have been hearing that Florida has been increasing nursing rates in the last few years (hoping this isn't all baloney!). My current base rate is about $20/hr here, but I work nights and try to work as many weekends as possible to up the rate. Were you on days?

    What is considered South Florida? To me, looking at a map, I'm guessing Tampa/St. Pete? Or is it lower than that?

    Do you find that with no income tax that it evens out? Have you ever lived in another state? I just wonder what difference that makes- is it a substantial one, or is it so negligible that it makes no difference? (Guess it's time to whip out a paycheck stub, huh?)

    I looked at Gainesville, but it seemed to me that that was the only high-level NICU in the area. I do have a fear of moving to a one-horse town, if you know what I mean! If there's only one hospital, what happens if you hate it?

    Thanks, again, for your reply! I know people end up answering questions from all those who want to move, and I know that can get irritating, but I don't know what else to do! Thank you, again and again!

    I really appreciate it.
  5. by   caroladybelle
    South Florida is more like Ft.Myers, Miami, Boca Raton.

    Rents are higher so pay is higher.

    It is in your best interest to know Spanish if you work in South Florida (or anywhere in Florida for that matter).

    Do not know about NICU care, but as the west coast of South Florida (Naples/Ft. Myers) tends to be mostly retirees - it might not have the most opportunities.

    Have you checked out travel nursing? Perhaps they can give you some "local" travel assignments. However, NICU (as with peds, L&D, etc.) will probably not have as much as the population of FL is older.

    Word of advice: Start early getting a licensure by endorsement. Florida is one of the most expensive and bureaucratically PIA states to get licensed and it takes monthes.
  6. by   neneRN
    I'm in central FL, right between Tampa and Orlando. New grads start at just over $19/hr where I am with $3 and change night diff. We do have a weekend program that pays an additional 33.3% on top of your base rate. The hospital I'm at is 800+ beds, non teaching, I'm not sure what level our NICU is- we're a Level II trauma and level II PICU. Email me at res0a3tp@verizon.net if I can help!
  7. by   NICU_Nurse
    Thank you! That pay is a bit better than I'd heard- perhaps because you're more southerly in the state?

    I'm really torn! I've been contacting nurse recruiters all day and asking for packets and whatnot, just to sort of see what's out there and what I'm in for. I'll have more questions when I take a look at them!

    I'm just confused- I really, really don't know where would be the best place to work, and this decision affects all other decisions- what city we move to, housing, husband, etc.

    How do you all like living in Florida? I know that you all live in diferent areas, and may have different interests, but generally what do *you* think of it? What are your pro's and con's (not just nursing-related)?
  8. by   ERDIVA2B
    I'm Fort Lauderdale. South of your target area. Pay is better. $21,oo base, $ 3.00 eves diff, $ 4.00 night diff, plus and extra $ 4.00 weekends. My perdiem job at another ER pays $ 38 weekday nights and $ 40 weekend nights.

    Housing is more expensive and you need to choose the right neighborhoods, gotta be careful. Definitely no property between you and your neighbors.

    Think Central Florida if you want more open spaces, I plan to move with my husband early next year. I can't wait to get out of South Florida.

    We've been looking into Lakeland, has a Level 2 trauma center, Winter Haven, or Poinciana, Kissimmee area, still close enough to Orlando to take advantage of its Hospitals.
    I do a lot of my research online. Hospital websites and such, new home developments, builders. Its much nicer in Central Florida.
    South Florida is sooo crowded!
  9. by   rmprn
    I live in Central Florida, northeast of Orlando. I work Per Diem at a small community hospital and make $32 for dayshift. They pay 10% diff for nights and weekends. I think you could get at least $23 for full-time, maybe more if you negotiate it right. Don't be afraid to ask for more!! Now is when we have the POWER to do that!

    My advice to you would be to take a travel assignment THIS WINTER in central FL. You will get a furnished apt and make around $30/hr. That gives you 13 weeks to drive around and find out where you want to live. This is assuming you don't have kids that you have to worry about school and all.....
    Plus, the travel companies will help you get FL licensure.

    I grew up in Plant City. It's okay, but not really close to any OCEAN for your surfer hubby! My hubby surfs too, we live 45 min from Cocoa Beach. The gulf coast of FL is no good for surfing. Still, it's beautiful. We live where there are great schools for the kids and a very family oriented city. And I can get to downtown Orlando in less than 30 minutes.

    Rent here is about $1000-1200 a month for a house, not sure what an apt would run you though. Both Tampa and Orlando are growing, and both have lots of "suburbs" that you could commute to. I have lived in both places so you can PM me with any questions you have!
    I also lived in Jacksonville and hated it. Too many rednecks (at least where I was living, not trying to offend any Jacksonville residents. I did like the weather in Jax though).

    Good luck to you!
  10. by   rmprn
    There are ads looking for NICU and OB nurses CONSTANTLY.
    FL is not just for old people :-) Don't sell yourself short!
  11. by   dreamon
    ERDIVA2B--is the traffic in fort lauderdale pretty bad? I was looking into moving to that area after I finsh nursing school. I would prefer Miami, but I don't know anyone down there and alot of people tell me Miami is awful, but they never say why. So I picked Ft. Lauderdale because it's nearby.

    I am still pretty young, so thats why I like a place with some nightlife and interesting things to do.

    Anyone have any info on Aventura,Fl? Thanks!
  12. by   NicuRN73
    Dear Dreamon,
    I have finished an assignment in Ft Lauderdale at Broward General. Traffic isn't bad. About what you would expect with a big city. People drive like Maniacs regardless where you are, however I think Miami and Detroit,Mi have more than their share. Very Pretty area Ft Lauderdale. Enjoy..

  13. by   Tweety
    All Childrens Hospital is in St. Petersburg, not Tampa. But St. Petersburg is a better place to be in my opinion. The pay however, isn't going to be near what your getting. I can't guess because I don't know what they pay there.

    St. Petersburg, especially the downtown area where All Childrens is is an up and coming medium size city that offers everything you could possibly want. Nice beaches, plenty of things to do, restaurants.

    But the pay is low, there of course is city crime, traffic is much better in St. Petersburg than surrounding areas because it is so spread out.

    The weather is nice too. Winters are cold, but not freezing.

    Plant City is so country. If your looking for good property and communiting distance to Tampa, think Pasco County.
  14. by   JenNJFLCA
    Pasco County is nice, but if you work downtown (at Tampa General for instance) that's a long commute (longer than 40 mins) during rush hour. Plant City is very country, but there are plenty of open skies there too. They're doing some major construction on the 275/4 merger (aka Malfunction Junction) so that can be a sticky commute. I live in a small apartment in South Tampa (the most expensive part of town) but I don't pay much and I also go the opposite way of traffic in the morning, so I love it. West Tampa and New Tampa are big traffic nightmares, so I don't recommend that!
    I am a nursing student, so I can't tell you anything about jobs, but I hope I was of some help!