Moving to area, job advice

U.S.A. Virginia


Hi everyone,

I'm graduating in December with my BSN degree. I have nearly 9 years of experience as an EMT-CC (I'm from New York, so this is pretty much paramedic level with IV experience, EKG, intubation, etc). I'm looking to move to the NOVA area, DC, Baltimore, or even Virginia Beach areas. Does anybody have any input on job salaries vs. cost of living, which hospitals to consider, etc? I'm hoping to do emergency department, or even critical care/ICU nursing with my background. Also, does anybody think my EMT-CC experience will help me with my job application/salary?

I'm been pursuing these threads trying to get a handle on whether or not the new nurse grad salary is worth it in some areas with cost of living and nothing is really updated.


Hi gigles,

I moved down to Alexandria va last November from the Bronx. And it is very different. We don't like it much, and are actually considering moving back up that way.

Anyways you should try Virginia hospital center in Arlington, they are always hiring and it's a nice place to work. A lot of the nurses that he started when I started were new grads. And your experience would be acceptable. I'm not sure what the starting rate for nurses is though. I just know their hiring process for all employees is the same and it was very easy. Also, inova hospital is good too from what I hear and they pay a bit more than vhc.

Now the cost of living is pretty high! For a two bedroom rent starts from 1400 and up depending on the area and the apartment and that's with out utilities. Gas water electric and trash is seperate at least in this area. From what I've noticed nurses live outside va like in dc or md and commute everyday because of pay and cost of living differences. Down by Virginia Beach I believe the cost of living and salary is less.

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CEN, CPEN, TCRN.

I was an EMT-P for more than 5 years when I became an RN, and it did not factor into my salary with Inova. But it helped me get the job!

Specializes in ICU.

What makes you pick those places? Cost of living in Virginia Beach is high. Pay is very low. With five years of ICU experience I was offered a salary staff position of 61k with the government. I declined because I made that when I started out in another state 5 years back where the cost of living was much much lower. An apartment in a decent area of Va Beach is going to run you 1k on average unfurnished no utilities for a 1br 1bth no garage or carport. The apartment will not be updated. Virginia has an annual car tax and if you drive a Benz you pay luxury car tax.

The DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia please use DMV when asking about the area. Its much easier for you) area cost of living is very high. Nurses salary does not go far unless you commute. The traffic is insane. I would try Baltimore better pay, less traffic, and cost of living is reasonable. Richmond, VA or Philly (might be hard to break into those hospitals as a new grad.). Even with exp I got two calls out of many applications.

Relocating due to a relationship. Also, 1k for a one bedroom that does not include utilities is very cheap for me considering what I am used to where I live now.

I've heard conflicting information on cost of living in VA Beach, and VA in general, and am looking for as much input as I can collect.

I'm definitely looking more into the Baltimore area as of right now.

A lot of the nurses that worked at Virginia hospital center lived in Maryland (Prince George county) and would commute to Arlington. I guess all due to cost of living. Also, some parts of DC are cheap and easy to commute to va for Work. You just have to check out the traffic in those areas.

Specializes in ICU.
Relocating due to a relationship. Also, 1k for a one bedroom that does not include utilities is very cheap for me considering what I am used to where I live now.

I've heard conflicting information on cost of living in VA Beach, and VA in general, and am looking for as much input as I can collect.

I'm definitely looking more into the Baltimore area as of right now.

i discussed what's included for 1k .

It's not cheap when they are paying you 4500 a month. Meaning take home after insurance cost 3k net. 1k for rent. 200 for utilities. Food 400. Student loan & Car payment for me is 900 right there. Leaving you with 500 for cellphone,gas,eating out, tolls, entertainment, travel, savings, 401k retirement.

I can chime in for the Virginia Beach area. Your EMT experience and BSN degree will certainly help you get a new grad gig in the ED or ICU here, but I can pretty much guarantee it won't help give you a higher starting pay. This area has one large hospital system, a much smaller hospital system, an independent hospital, a military hospital, and a VA hospital. That's pretty much it--very little competition means relatively lower pay for the cost of living. (Just a theory, but I also attribute this phenomenon to the military. This area has the highest population of active duty military personnel in the entire country, and because they receive housing stipends, it serves to inflate the cost of renting a house or leasing an apartment/condo. Also just a theory, but the big military population means there's a constant supply of nurses coming and going, so there's often no need to offer lucrative incentives to hire/retain employees--particularly new grads, which we have a pretty good supply of from all the schools around here.)

Five years ago the starting pay for a new grad RN (regardless of degree, prior non-RN experience, or specialty) was around $21/hr here. I don't think it's gone up much, maybe a $1/hr or so an hour. Plus the differentials offered around here aren't great compared to other metro areas. Something like $4/hr for night shift, $4/hr for weekends (but just if you're hired to work weekends only), and $1/hr for specialty certification. As already mentioned, decent 1-bedroom apartments go for around $1100-1200/month. If you live somewhat frugally and don't have a whole lot of monthly financial commitments, it's a fine place to be. Others struggle. If I wasn't now married with a second income to support us, I probably couldn't afford to live here unless it was with a couple roommates. I say all this not to dissuade you from this area, but just to help frame pay expectations with cost of living. (Internet searches estimate RNs in this area make around $60K--that's realistic with about 10 years of experience unless you're doing a lot of overtime and/or collecting shift differentials, then maybe after 5 years or so. Otherwise expect around $40-45K in your first year as a new grad.)

If your credit is even remotely decent, you could buy a 2000+ sq ft house in Chesapeake or Norfolk with a mortgage of around $1000/month. The children's hospital, the Navy hospital, and Riverside in Newport News pay better than the dominant chain here. If you want cutting edge ER, check out VCU in Richmond. VCU is the only Level I adult and pediatric trauma center for all of central Virginia. They were major researchers and advocates of ECPR. Their trauma and resuscitation research is top-notch.

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

After living there for 13 years, I think I can also vouch for the salaries not being too hot in the Hampton Roads area. A lot of it is because as a PP said, it's a military area and there's often a lot of turnover. People will leave after 2-3 years because their family is being stationed elsewhere, or spouses who get a full-time job while the active duty member is being deployed will cut back to part-time or even quit when said spouse returns. Plus, it seems like most military spouses are either nurses or teachers, since both careers are rather portable.

Cost of living...well, VA Beach is a tourist trap, so prices there can run higher than if you went west/north. I don't know about apartment rents, but I own a house there and my mortgage is about 1,500/mo. When we lived there, it was possible--tough, but possible--to get by on one salary. It took a lot of creative budgeting, though not incurring any school debt helped tremendously (I opted for the less costly ADN). I rent it out now and get $1800/mo for it, but it is a large house.

As far as finding work as a new grad, Sentara (the largest hospital chain) and Bon Secours (second) both have their own nursing programs, so guess who gets first priority for the new grad programs in their facilities? After they place their own graduates first, then outside grads get a chance...and that was told directly to me by a Sentara recruiter. I imagine Bon Secours works similarly.

ETA: I forgot about Riverside...which also has its own nursing program.

Plus, there's several nursing programs in town whose students have done clinicals at these and other facilities, so you'll have competition. Not impossible to get hired in a hospital as a new grad--I did--but don't expect to land that job within a week or two.

Not telling you to discourage you, but to give you a heads-up so you know what you're getting into. Your healthcare experience will give you an advantage over the new grads who just have clinical experience to go on.

Best of luck.

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