Hey, man...don't knock it 'till you've tried it!
The DC area is a great place to live. (I lived there for four years after I graduated from college, and will possibly be going back there for grad school and to "settle down.") You have tons of world-class entertainment (Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theater, and whatever the Smithsonian or others bring in for the 4th of July or other events); some of the best museums in the country (Smithsonian goes without saying, but there is also the Newseum, the new spy musem, and many others); a great (and free) zoo, featuring pandas and some of the coolest primate exhibits (the "O" line and the golden lion tamarin "boot camp" in the summer) I've ever seen; fabulous sports (the Washington Capitals being my personal favorite, but I have a lot of friends who love the soccer team, or who take the train up to Baltimore to go to Camden Yards); good eatin' (El Pollo Rico, a total dive in Arlington, is one of the primary reasons I'll never be a full-blown vegetarian...there's more civilized restaurants, like Jaleo, as well); great biking/multi-purpose trails...I could go on and on and on...
Phew! I'm glad I got that off my chest. However, unfortunately, I don't have a lot of answers for the original poster's questions. I looked into the job openings at Georgetown University Hospital (http://www.georgetownuniversityhospital.org
), and I'd noticed that they'd posted a salary range for their staff RN positions: all said "21.50/hr+" But that's just one hospital.
One thing you might try is calling or emailing local schools
with nursing programs
(Georgetown, George Mason, University of MD, etc.) and pose as a prospective student. You could ask them straight-up what starting salaries are in their area. I'm sure that they get asked that a lot, so they should have some numbers available at their fingertips.
Best of luck in DC!