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!