California or Phoenix??

Nurses General Nursing


I know that I probably should not be posting this here but there doesn't seem to be any threads that are actually active at this time. I'm hoping to find some real answers. I live in Ohio. I have 13 years experience at the Cleveland Clinic main campus in Neuro. I'm currently working on my BSN so I will have it when I move. I really wanna move to San Diego or somehwere on the coast but I don't know if my chances of getting a job out there are good and honestly, I'm kinda afraid that I'll have a hard time surviving out there due to the cost of living. I also was told that Phoenix would be a great place to go. High paying RN positions and low cost of living but they have more nurses than jobs. Any advice at all? I need to get out of Ohio and I definitely wanna move to the southwest. Help?

Wow, having lived in both places for most of my life I can tell you that San Diego is very different from Phoenix.

Keep in mind that California is huge and should be viewed as a country, not a state. There are many coastal cities besides San Diego and with very different cultures and politics.

For someone with your experience I have no doubt you would easily find a job in Phoenix, they just have too many inexperienced new grads is all.

Personally I would look into Sacramento before you decided. It has a very similar cost of living to Phoenix but is within the Bay Area salary range due to proximity with many of the facilities belonging to the Bay Area unions.

Highly recommend that you travel to each place to see if you would like it.

Travel to San Diego and Phoenix this summer.

Thank you for the reply! I considered Sacramento for awhile. I will have to look back into that. Thanks!

Specializes in ICU, Research, Corrections.

Highly recommend that you travel to each place to see if you would like it.

Travel to San Diego and Phoenix this summer.

I would not recommend visiting Phoenix in the summer, it is quite hellish in the summer. San Diego has much more pleasant weather. Have you considered Las Vegas? It's runs about 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix and I believe it is also easier than CA for an experienced nurse to find a job.

Vegas is an good suggestion. Nurses in LV make excellent wages and have a low cost of living.

I wouldn't consider Phoenix to pay that well. It's better than out East or Midwest but it certainly doesn't pay better than Vegas or San Diego.

Specializes in NICU.
I would not recommend visiting Phoenix in the summer, it is quite hellish in the summer.

I'd suggest that's a strong argument for visiting now, before planning a potential move there.

Every travel nurse says contracts in California are the best. I also think you should try it out before moving. It will give you a good idea about the actual cost of living as well as the work environment. You can also show them what a great nurse you are and get hired at a hospital you like. Good luck!


I have lived in CA all my life. The cost of living here has reached an all time high. I live in the SF Bay Area - on the Oakland side of the bay. I have also lived in the Los Angeles area for about 8 years. To give you an idea, an older (60 years or so) house, 3BD 1 BA house goes for around $600,000.00. Total lot size around 1200 sq. ft. This is on the lower end and in areas such as San Leandro, Hayward, etc.. This is also because I do not live across the bay in the San Mateo/San Francisco counties area. There, the exact same house will go for about $800,000.00. Los Angeles is a bit more affordable, but in general the costs are now quite similar. Everybody is heading to San Diego because you cannot beat the weather. In the last 10-15 years, many housing developments have popped up in the general vicinity so prices have steadily gone up.

If I had the means, I'd even move out of California right now. I'm lucky I live w/ my mother in our family home or else I'd be homeless. Sure, the jobs pay well out here, but it will all be going for rent.

Many people commute from Sacramento to the SF Bay Area and many Bay Area folks have packed up and moved to Sacramento. Even Sacramento has gone up in price, but still a little more affordable than the SF Bay Area.

As much as Phoenix feels like you're walking into the depths of hell in summer, I'd probably choose there because at least you'll have a good chance to afford to buy a decent home and/or not spend 90% of your paycheck toward housing.

Yeah, like everybody mentioned here before........take a trip for a few days and scout each area out. They both have their pluses and minuses.

Good Luck!

Specializes in MDS/ UR.

I would consider your personal life and social needs too.

I live and work in Sacramento and my daughter is going to school in San Diego. With the wages to COL in Sacramento, I live pretty comfortably, keep a horse and support my daughter while she goes to school in San Diego. I live in a desirable area (not affluent) and my rent is 17% of my income. I make a wage comparable to an experienced acute care nurse.

If I were you, I'd get my foot hold in Sac, live much cheaper than me in a modest apartment without supporting college kids and a horse, work a couple of years to save some serious money and then move to San Diego. It is pretty cool down there, but I'd want to live in certain areas, not way inland, and it would help to go in with a cushion.

San Diego has a lot of Kaiser hospitals and they use scads of travelers. You can go that route and get paid to scope out the area. Los Angeles has far more Kaiser hospitals and, it seems, half the staff are travelers. In all fairness they do not treat travelers well but if you are thick-skinned and stick to going about your work it is doable. All the coastal cities are quite expensive to live in but pay is better than Ohio.

Sacramento and a lot of central California has occupational due to farm work and is likely an easier area to be hired (travelers do not desire this area.) We don't have a nursing shortage; new grads are having a terrible time.

And then there is traffic wherein you crawl along the freeway at 5 MPH and take an hour to travel 10 miles especially when you hit border patrol and all traffic bottlenecks into one lane, like a DUI checkpoint they have this in an area you cannot turn around or get on a side street. Still San Diego traffic is 100 times better than L.A.

I do not know what the job market is like in Phoenix, I have heard the summers are brutally hot but I think Arizona housing is far more affordable. I cannot say enough good things about job recruiters, they can look into permanent and temp positions; their whole job consists of finding you a good match and they do not cost you anything. I have loved every job recruiter I have ever had.

Specializes in Neuro.

I grew up in Sacramento and later moved to Phoenix to work. I much prefer Phoenix. Much lower cost of living here. In my opinion, more options for jobs in Phoenix. Having lived in both places, I can say I'd never move back to California

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