My brother is an RN in Manhattan. I am an RN in SC for now....Jacksonville, in the future. (My home is in Jax, but hubby has final active duty tour in SC....)
Anyway, my brother looked at moving to FL but was horrified at the pay disparity. I pointed out that he got a VERY small apt in NYC for $3000 per month. (That is nearly my full month's net pay!) Our home in FL is 2000 sq ft, 4 BR, 2 BA on a decent sized lot with a beautiful back deck my husband built. We pay $1350/mo PITI (principle, interest, taxes, insurance). My parents and my sister's family live on Long Island. Their annual property tax is around $8000(!) where mine is $3000 for a much larger (and newer) house. BTW, both mom and sis are nurses too!
Both my brother and I are smokers. Here a pack of Marlboro's is $5.50. There, over $10. Gasoline is cheaper and 99% of our roads and bridges are toll free! You never have to scrape windows in the winter! But, it is hot and humid. I have never been to Miami, so I can't talk about their traffic, but I laugh at what they call rush hour here!!! Try the LIE, BQE or the Cross Bronx Expressway someday and THAT is traffic!!! LOL
FL has 0 income tax. If you work in NYC, you will pay Fed income tax, NY state income tax and NYC income tax. No small chunk of change!
Florida is a right to work state. In my 49.9 yrs of life, I have never worked where there was a union. Never harmed me. No, I don't earn what my brother does, but I have a more laid back style of living, enjoy the river and the beach, we have jet skis, motorcycles(1 Honda VTX1900 and 1 Harley), and a boat. We also have road bicycles which can be ridden nearly all year and 2 kiacks (sp?). Spring is here already and all the trees are in bloom. I am sitting on my back deck right now while typing this. It is a comfy 69 degrees out right now and Miami is warmer!
In Jacksonville, my fellow classmates got jobs paying $21.50/hour base. SC gave me $22.50 but they have 5% state tax....so my classmates take home more.
Miami is a democrat stronghold in FL, so if you are a democrat, you will be among like-minded folk. It is also heavily hispanic, so I would highly recommend you learn Spanish. I am sure that will help your application stand out among those who can't.
California is also, as you can remember, a very high cost of living state with nightmareish traffic. In 1984, when I was a young 2LT in the USAF, I was stationed there. A 1 BR apt with NO AC was $575/mo....50% of my net pay! Three years later....I rented a 3 BR 1500 sq ft townhouse outside of Eglin AFB in Ft Walton Beach FL for $390/mo! At that point, that 1 BR in CA was now $750/mo.
If you look around the country, you will find that all your union states are also high cost of living. It goes hand in hand. When an employer has to pay more for his employees, he raises the cost of his product to the buyer. Homes cost a ton because union construction workers cost more than non-unionized. Everything is taxed heavily in those areas because of the political landscape there.
When you sit down and do the complete math, you will most likely find that you will have the same, or better, lifestyle in a right to work state as you would in a state that is unionized. Many of the union nurses here might disagree with me.....the only difference I see a union make for nurses is in CA where in acute care, nurse to patient ratios are mandated and reasonable. In FL, you will find you get 1:6 or 7 on a Med/Surg floor. In my SC hospital, I get 1:5 at nights and it isn't unionized. My hospital is owned by Tenet. In FL, I see from posts here, Tenet isn't so generous in ratios.
You have to ask yourself what it is you are looking for....a high paycheck that spends just as quickly or a low paycheck where you can hit the beach whenever you want!
Another point about taxes.....If you, as a NYC nurse, marry another NYC nurse, your joint income will cross that magical line of $250K and you will be in that group of "rich" that "needs to pay their fair share"! Do the same here, and you are nowhere close to that!
A bit of history here....I was raised as 1 of 5 children to an Active Duty USAF officer and nurse wife. I lived all over the country. I went to St Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, Queens for HS and Manhattan College for my first degree in Electrical Engineering. I became an RN in Feb 2011. I have my ADN. I earn the same as the BSN's here. However, I plan on going to USA(south alabama) for my RN-MSN in Informatics beginning this Summer.
FL is the retirement capital of the country and you will be among familiar folks d/t NY retirements here. NPs are going to be a mainstay of medicine down here as the boomers retire and Obamacare takes over. Get your NP and you will be in high cotton down here!
Good Luck in whatever you choose!