Best Place to Live/Work in Virginia

  1. Hello all,

    I am graduating in December from my RN nursing program in Florida. I am looking to take my NCLEX in Virginia and relocate there.

    Which areas would be the best to live/work? What are the "good areas", and which areas should I stay away from? What is the typical starting rate for a new grad? What is the average rent? Any other opinions/suggestions you may have that will help aid this transition will be extremely appreciated!

    Thanks in advance :redpinkhe
  2. Visit NURSESTAR profile page


    Joined: May '08; Posts: 54; Likes: 6


  3. by   anonymurse
    From what I hear, it's rough for new grads all over VA (except if you graduate from a school attached to the hospital you're applying to). So if I was a new grad, I'd start by applying for Federal (mostly civilian jobs on military installations) and State (mostly prison) nursing jobs. The stability and benefits of these jobs make them worth considering even in good times (and if you're going to relocate again and again, the Federal jobs really stand out).
  4. by   Kevin RN08
    I'd echo the previous post. And add VA is a big state, what is bringing you here? What are you looking for?
    Eastern VA, or Hampton Roads, is the area that I'm most familiar with starting Grad Nurse positions are right at the $20/hr range. It is split between the "southside" (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake) and the peninsula (Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg), the peninsula pays about $1/hr more. The main hospital systems are Sentara, Riverside, Bon Secours add in the federal government (DoD, Vets Administration) ( Williamsburg has more than their share of LTC facilities and a State Hospital (Eastern State Hospital). Right now I the market for New Grads isn't very good.
    I can also speak for Richmond to some degree, the pay is much better ($25ish) than the eastern (Hampton Roads) area and there seems to be more opportunities for New Grads. VCU Health System, Bon Secours, Doctor's Hospital, and Vets Administration are where most opportunities are.
    I know very little about the DC/Northern Va area other than it is EXPENSIVE and congested. RNs are paid well, but the cost of living is high.
    Newspaper sites:
    Norfolk/ VB:
  5. by   NURSESTAR
    Thank you both so much for your response. Well, nothing in specific is bringing me to Virginia..I do have a couple of friends that have done travel nursing there and have told me they liked it a lot. Plus I dont think ANYWHERE else in the US, has a worse job market than down here...yes its that bad. I am utterly tired of South Florida, I need a fresh start and change of scenery pronto.

    How much would a nice 2 bedroom apt or townhouse go for in a decent area? lets say East VA and Richmond?

    Also, I was checking out the board of nursing websites...what is the difference of Virginia and West Virginia...are they two different states? Because there are two different websites and requirements for each...(pardon my ignorance).

    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond!
  6. by   Pixie.RN
    Quote from NURSESTAR
    Also, I was checking out the board of nursing websites...what is the difference of Virginia and West Virginia...are they two different states?
    Yes, they are two different states.
  7. by   NURSESTAR
    Thanks! Definitely need to brush up on my Geography...

    Rent prices?
  8. by   Kevin RN08
    I really wouldn't be one to ask about rent, I've owned my own home for too long I thought the newspaper sites could help you with that, they should atleast have links to do some comparing.
  9. by   NURSESTAR
    Yes you are right, thank you so much for the links.
  10. by   UVA Grad Nursing
    Virginia is a large state with many different locales. There are over 100 hospitals in Virginia as well.

    I would recommend taking an extended vacation to Virginia and see the various areas (Tidewater, Richmond area, Southside, Southwest, Roanoke, Valley, Charlottesville, DC area, Winchester area). See what area pulls you the most. Then apply for jobs in that area.
  11. by   smn2010
    i would suggest you do some research, on your own, before moving to virginia. relocating without a job could place you in a serious bind. the cost of living alone between the hampton roads/peninsula area of virginia compared to norther virginia is tremendous. factor in the state of west virginia and you are talking "night" and "day" as far as surroundings and things to do.

    i would also suggest you view the agape center website and begin applying for new grad rn positions (or positions that require < 1 year experience). the website is located at: you will see all the hospitals in virginia.

    as a previous poster suggested, you should also consider government employment (v.a. hospitals and military bases). go to to search for nursing positions. keep in mind, the goverment takes a minimum of 4-6 months before you will even be contacted for an interview! so hopefully you have a substantial savings account to cover rent, utilities, miscellaneous expenses etc. until you get a job.

    rent in hampton roads/peninsula area of virginia will vary dependent upon what city you are in and how close you are to the water/ocean/bay in each city. example a "very nice" 1,000 square feet 2 bedroom/2 bath condo/apartment in norfolk, va on the bay can run you $700-1100. the same thing in virginia beach, va on the ocean can run you $1000-1400!!! big difference!!! the same square footage in hampton/newport news will also vary. for more information, go to - select a state, then select an area and look at the "housing" information ('apartments/homes'). this should give you an idea of what rental costs are. you will also be able to view a picture of some of the properties.

    regarding where to live (safest/dangerous neighborhoods), try viewing the city-data site: select the state of interest or do a "search" of (example) safe neighborhoods in hampton roads, virginia, norfolk, chesapeake, etc. this site is made up of people who will give you their first-hand opinion regarding the u.s. and other countries. they will provide you will information about what neighborhoods are considered "best", what school systems are best, who is hiring, things to do, places to go for fun, etc. you may even find a thread already created about virginia (northern virginia, hampton roads area, peninsula, etc.) that will help you determine where you should consider living. keep in mind, the comments are from people who are "locals" to the area.

    use a cost of living comparison calculator to determine what works best for you. i have used the one by cnnmoney and sterlings bestplaces.
    * cnn money:
    * sterling:

    as for salaries, well, that will vary greatly also. while the base pay may only be $20-22 dollars the night shift differential varies from medical facitlity to facility. for instance: sentara norfolk general offers a $9.00 night shift differential along with a $3.00 weekend/night differential. all the other sentara facilities only offer a straight $8.00 night shift differential (weekends are the same). children's hospital (chkd) offers about $7.00 night shift differential along with about $2.00 for night shift/weekend. hampton roads/peninsula hospitals do not pay additional money for previous cna experience if you are a new grad whereas richmond, va and northern virginia hospitals do!! your base pay could begin at $24-25 once you incorporate previous cna experience and before adding night shift differential! west virginia hospitals, sorry, even with night shift differential, the pay is too low!!!

    since you are graduating in december, i hope that you have begun to apply for new grad positions. most hospitals begin the process of hiring new grads by october/november of each year. if they have new grad programs (northern virginia) that begin in january/february/march 2010, you may be very near the cut-off for applications to these programs. if you haven't gotten any interviews or job offers lined up, you may be putting yourself in a bind. additionally, if you are hired as a new grad, you could get your relocation expenses covered as well as an nclex review course (kaplan, hurst). if you plan to wait until you move here to find a job, you will be placing yourself in the same situation you are already in--in florida. no job and lots of competition.

    as an fyi. research has been conducted and the top 8 states in most need of rns are: arizona, california, idaho, nevada, new mexico, oklahoma, texas and utah. an article that comes to mind is located at: but there are more extensive research/reports available. as you can see...virginia is not one of them. not trying to discourage you; just want you to be aware. since you indicated that nothing in particular is bringing you to virginia, you should focus on what you want to do as a nurse, where you really want to work and the states/areas that are in greatest need of nurses right now. also, your geography is not too good. the fact that you did not know that virginia and west virginia are two completely different states leads me to believe that you may be setting yourself up for trouble since you are relying solely upon how well "travel nurses" like the area. virginia (not west virginia) has many, many nursing programs that put out many, many new grads throughout the year. you have much competition for few new grad slots if you come to the larger cities. on the other hand, if you are interested in rural nursing, there is a great need for nurses at rural medical facilities in about 45 of the 50 states. the salary is good, even better than the larger medical facilities. they usually have 10-25 beds (some swing beds) and they do not "throw their new grads to the wolves." florida has about 11 facilities that are considered "rural". have you checked into those??? the training is not as structured as the larger facilities; however the staff will work with their new grads and usually allow a minimum of 6 months but as long as 12 months to get acclaimated because you need to get certified in at least 3-4 areas within your first year of employment.

    peruse the agape center site and look at the hospitals in virginia as well as other states that you "might" consider moving to.

    sorry for the lengthy post; but i hope the information above has been helpful. :spin:

    best of luck as you complete your nursing program.
    Last edit by smn2010 on Oct 16, '09
  12. by   NURSESTAR
    Thank you so much for all the information
  13. by   Pokytrokyt
    I live in Northern Virginia and can echo some of what you've already heard. The advantage of living in the Metro area (VA, DC, MD) is you have a lot of choices of hospitals to work in, plus the government (Fed and VA). If you're tight for cash, you might leave most of your stuff in storage in FL for awhile, and just rent a room in a nice neighborhood that's convenient to Metrorail and/or Metrobus. Too many people moving to the DC area think they have to live right near a Metrorail stop. Not true, if you live someplace that's also close to a regular Metrobus line (it integrates with the Metrorail system).

    Another place to look for places to live in the Metro DC area is You will find that rents are higher inside the Beltway, and especially inside DC, unless you live in a scary neighborhood. :-
  14. by   NURSESTAR
    I am moving with my SO, and we both have enough savings for rent and expenses until we get a job...a room wouldn't be an option..I have started to sell most of my furniture... We plan on driving up there and taking only the essentials..and buying new things over there...hence the whole "fresh start".

    We definitely plan on visiting in December for a good week to check out the area before making the final move.

    Thanks again for all your posts and suggestions.