Canadian Nurse Wanting to escape the Cold - Advice needed

  1. Hi everyone,

    First off, I appreciate all advice either good or bad about this potential life changing decision. I am very excited and pretty scared at the same time but I am just not happy here in Canada anymore and I can't get any further South in this country haha.

    My plan, since I was a small child, is to move to Florida as it is my "happy place" as I feel at peace when I am down there.

    I plan to move for various reasons:

    1) I have family in Orlando, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Melbourne,Clarmont and Ocala whom I have not had the chance to really know in my 30 years of life that I have spent up here in Canada.

    2) The Florida lifestyle seems to appeal to me as well as most of the South. I am huge fan of warm weather and love outdoor activities and I am no longer impressed with snow, I feel as though if I want to see snow I will go visit it.

    3) I live in a decent sized city 200,000 pp - Windsor, Ontario across from Detroit, Michigan and after being here for so long, I am in need of a change and adventure.

    4) I am single and hope to meet a nice Southern girl as my father did when he met my mother many years ago in Florida. The dating pool here has become stale and I am sick of the six degrees of separation that I keep experiencing in this city.

    My personal, educational and employment backgrounds (briefly) are as follows:

    1) I obtained my 4 year Honors Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree in 2011.

    2) I am currently employed as a Shift Supervisor/Charge Nurse at our local hospital on the Stroke and Orthopedic unit where I oversee 26 to 52 patients and manage 4-10 Registered Practical Nurses (our LPN equivalent). I have substantial management experience in University as well as a good volunteering background.

    3) I am a Dual American and Canadian citizen therefore I have the following documents - USA Passport, Canadian Passport, Social Security Number, Social Insurance Number. I have Canadian Nursing License but I need to obtain my American Nursing License.

    Timeframe: By the time I get things sorted out up here with work and money and licensing etc.. I am planning a September move or at the earliest June of 2012.

    Information that I am looking for discussion on:

    1) Where to Live ? taking into consideration that I am single and looking for a good Florida experience - I have done some driving around down there and realize the beach is only 2 hours away or less so not too worried about that. I love to shop and I love to golf and fish. I want to live somewhere safe and I will probably be renting to start off for the first year or so until I get to know how things work in Florida and the USA in general.

    2) Where to work ? Which hospitals are good and which ones should I stay away from.

    I want to become a better nurse and want to learn. As for units: I am open to working Rehab still as I really like it and the inter-professional aspect that comes with the Unit. Retirement homes - Not really looking long term care facilities - more like assisted living places. I have a very strong desire to work in Peds - been my ultimate goal since I started nursing but it is very hard to get a job up here as we only have one peds floor in our city. I am also open to working at specialist office and private practices.

    3) Cost of living - This is the most confusing aspect I think I will face when I move to Florida and as I continue to do research. I have done a lot and I still can't wrap my head around it.

    My current situation here in Canada is as follows - I currently work part time - as it is hard to get full time in this city. I make 31 per hour and have been at my current hospital for a year an a half - I will have just over 2 years experience when I leave. In Canada, we are taxed like crazy - 13 percent on everything - but we do get free healthcare so its a fair trade I guess. My 31 an hour equates to 31 x 37.50 = 1162 on a full time week. I pay 22 percent income tax to the Feds and 10 percent to the Ontario Govt... so basically a third of my money is taken by the Gov't if I stay here in Canada.

    Gas is around 5 dollars per gallon here and I pay 120 a month on car insurance with 1 accident on a 2000 VW GTI.

    I can live comfortably here paying my bills and having some spending money if I make 2700 a month renting a 1 bedroom apartment in the city center for 1350 a month all in.

    I am wondering what I can expect to make in various areas of Florida ? I have looked and seen pay as low as 22 an hour ? for an RN - it seems low but I am thinking COL in Florida is less that here and might make up for lower pay ? My main question is - can an RN live comfortably in Florida or are we the working poor like in bigger Cities like Toronto and Chicago ?

    I just want to know if things are kind of comparable ? If it is then I am going to jump on the plane and make this move. Ill trade snow for sun any day.

    Thanks in advance for any help anyone can give me

  2. Visit DaveB profile page

    About DaveB

    Joined: Nov '12; Posts: 4


  3. by   CP2013
    Check the Bureau of Labor statistics website. Florida has some of the lowest paid nurses in the nation. We get paid in sunshine. Haha.

    It can be done, $22 is roughly a starting salary, $25 roughly for people with less than 3 years experience from what I have heard in central Florida.

    We have a glutton of new grads every year in the bigger cities (Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, etc) because nursing schools are pumping them out every year. You're in a good position because you will have your 2 years of experience.

    If you can believe it, there are rural areas in Florida that are still offering $15,000 sign on bonuses in a hospital with pay starting at $25/hr.

    But you're single so I'm guessing rural may not be your thing? I live in Orlando, and the pickings are slim, and I am in my late 20's. I am not into night life like clubs, but Orlando has a good amount of night life if that's your interest.

    If you prefer to be closer to the water so you can fish and go out often, there are hospitals on the coast. There are also tons of lakes in Florida if freshwater is your guilty pleasure.

    There are certainly opportunities in Florida. Couldn't hurt to try. If you don't like it, you can always bid adieu and try something else!

    Best of luck in your pursuits, whatever they may be!
  4. by   cmp715
    Check out for info on COL and such.. It is an awesome forum. I have found a wealth of good info there before I moved from Cali to Florida.
    I just moved to St Augustine (just south of Jacksonville) and I have just started interviewing at a couple hospitals here. To me, RN pay is low here compared to California but so is rent and gas! Also, there's no state income tax here so that pretty much evens it all out.
    I have 6 years of experience so I have been getting calls back from multiple hospitals that I've applied with. I heard that new grads have a very hard time finding a job here but that shouldn't be something to worry about for you with your 2 yrs of exp. I have a job offer in my hand but I think I might get another one next week. It'll be interesting to compare the rates and benefits. They offered mid 20s/hr with about 3 extra for wknd. Night shift diff is about 3 and it's 9 on the wknd. Since I'm new to FL I have NO CLUE if this is a decent offer - which is why I kept interviewing. We'll see if I get an offer next week.
    Good luck with everything! Let me know if I can answer anything else. Oh, St Augustine is fun. Downtown is packed with bars, restaurants, art galleries, live music. I've only been here a couple months but I like it a lot so far! No clubs here but I'm A-ok with that. Very very old little town with a lot of history. It's on the beach, an hour south of Jax and 2 hours north of Orlando. There are about 6-7 hospitals within a 40-mile radius.
    Good luck!
  5. by   cmp715
    Also, TONS of golf courses here, I'm sure you'll research it if the area sounds interesting. And it seems like everyone loves fishing around here.
    Gas is $3.38/gal here, a GREAT perk for me coming from the west coast.
    As far as hospitals, I know Shands in Jax is a level 1 trauma center and teaching hospital and I've read pays "really" well. I have no idea what that means. Then there are St Vincent's Riverside and St Vincent's Southside that look decent and I'd consider working there. The Baptist Hospitals (Downtown and South) have Magnet recognition but I heard they pay low. If you want to work for a prestigious hospital, modern and good nurse-pt ratio, look for a "Magnet hospital". Then there's Mayo Clinic Hospital - that would be undeniably my 1st choice but I have a huge suspicion that it takes to "know someone" to get in the door there. Flagler Hospital - again, I've heard great things about. Sorry I can't say I'm 100% sure on any of this info - its just from my own research and I've actually been to a few of these hospitals to check them out. Like you, I wish I knew more about their ratios, pay, benefits, but I don't. I posted some questions on these boards but didn't get very specific answers. Hope whatever I shared helps you.
  6. by   DaveB
    Well step one of my move / plan is complete --- finished off my Credit Card debt I am now going to go on a working vacation in a month and visit some of the hospitals that I am interested in. I am curious as to what kind of luck I will have getting a tour of the facilities ? I want to make sure that this is where I want to be and such and to see the differences between our hospitals and yours. I am planning on writing the NCLEX in May and staying up here until October to get some more certifications and to have more experience --- Ideally I will be leaving Canada in December 2013- I will have then have 2.5 years experience and hopefully the job market will have changed a bit ? What do you all think ? Do hospitals offer tours to prospective employees ? is HR interested in even talking to people interested in joining their organization > ? what are your opinions on Retirement home nursing ?
  7. by   Sandibeach63
    Hey Dave just read your thread . I too live in Windsor , am Canadian and want to work in Florida in the future. I currently work in Detroit at Davita ( out patient dialysis) which will enable to transfer there as Davita is statewide, No clue in salary . I love the out patient clinic as off every Sunday and Christmas , New Year . I do get the Canadian holidays off and offer to work the American . You can research any state liscencevand endorse to the state of Florida. I personally like Naples as I have family there and visit 4 x a year . Best of luck . Are you at the Dieu or met?
  8. by   tosca rose
    hi dave, i know your post is old, just wondering if you will able to manage to move? im currently in montreal still waiting to take my oiiq exam. but i have nclex before. i also want to move in florida.. sunnyside, i'm not fond of cold anymore..