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Moving to Portland, start as traveler?

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Hi all!

I'm a NICU RN with 9 years experience. I've always worked as a regular, NOC shift employee. I'm moving my family of 4 from Santa Cruz, CA to Portland, OR in July. I put my resume on Indeed while I wait for endorsement, and have been inundated by calls from Travel Nursing agencies who are "impressed with my resume" and are telling me they can set me up with a 13 week contract to get us there and then help me with per diem or get hired on as a regular employee after the contract. It's appealing to have housing paid for in the school district of our choice while we buy our own home but I worry about stability once the contract is up, not to mention home financing based on contract nursing rather than permanent.

I'm also considering pediatric home health through an agency but worry the pay would be too low. I'm the sole breadwinner (for now) and it seems like I won't have any trouble finding work in the metro area but any advice is appreciated. My main objective is to get OFF night shifts and have a better work/life balance while my kids are still young! I'll be leaving behind an awesome job making a base rate of $71/hr plus shift diff but even that won't buy us a house in Santa Cruz plus I'll be stuck on NOCs here at least 15 more years!😩 Is $75k a year too much to expect in Portland? I will also have my IBCLC next year but I don't see many lactation jobs posted for the area. Is it saturated with lactation consultants?

Im starting at square one knowing little to nothing about the different agencies and contracts but so far I've spoken with Maxim, PSA, Integrated, and Prolink so far...

(I know there's a lot to unpack here but again, any advice is appreciated! Thanks!)

Wolf at the Door

Has 7 years experience.

Have you applied with Kaiser in Oregon?

Most Portland area hospitals are unionized through the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), so if you search Google for, say, "OHSU ONA Contract", you can easily pull up the current contract and find your exact rate of pay plus any differentials you would make.

OHSU is currently renegotiating and I'd recommend staying away from getting hired with them until the new contract is signed. There's rumblings of a strike in June so just a heads up for that... Worst case scenario, you get hired and then don't get paid due to an active strike. Hopefully it won't come to that.

Also day shifts are harder to find here than they are in less desirable places to work. Good luck!

I say this as a huge fan of travel, skip the travel offers. Your housing will not be free, it will be taxed as ordinary income as you will not be working away from home like most travelers. Your health insurance will suck. No paid time off, holidays, or vacation. You are far better off starting as staff, and will likely score some moving expenses and perhaps even a good sign on bonus. The orientation will be far better, reducing your overall stress level at a time where you are working on multiple things outside of work.

I don't know the pay situation in Portland, but your hourly pay is unlikely to be less than $40 and may be over $50 with your seniority (my guess is 90 to 110 K before OT). While Portland is not cheap, I have to think the cost of living is less than Santa Cruz, so you may find buying a house more affordable even on the reduced gross income.

BTY, you may be changing jobs at an optimal time in your career. Some union scales cap seniority at 10 years for new hires, even though internally they go up to 20 years. So no "wasted" experience in terms of earning power.

Sun to rain, quite the change!

Thanks for the input guys! Kaiser Sunnyside is my first choice but I was waiting to apply until my license comes through (around May 25th). I'm also an ADN and don't plan on doing a bridge program until probably 2019 or so. Will that be an issue? Should I jump in and apply now anyway?

So the recruiter who told me my "taxable " income would be $22-25/hr but the "non-taxable" housing stipend on my first assignment that would bring me up to $50-70/hr total was bs? She said they would use my Santa Cruz address for the first time but I'm concerned about what happens after.

Sounds like bedside nursing up there pays way more than the adds I've seen! That's a relief! I was expecting at least a 50% pay cut! Even with that, it's a much more reasonable cost of living! "Fixer" houses go for $1mil+ around here, plus I LOVE the rain!😃

Also, thanks for the info on OHSU! That happened to me at my second job... on strike within 3 weeks of hire!í ½í¸³ No fun!

I am a big fan of unions though and we have a really strong one here in Ca. How is it up there? Staffing ratios? Benefits? Is OT mandatory?

The nursing union here is the closest anyone has ever been to getting Medicare for all in CA! I hope Oregon will follow suit!

Wolf at the Door

Has 7 years experience.

why not just relocate to a less expensive area in california like sacramento or fresno etc. UC Davis in sacramento is an excellent facility to work for. HR and management are very professional, unlike the Bay Area HR & Management (Stanford, Kaisers, and UCSF all stink it up).

Kaiser recently opened a Santa Cruz location.

Lived in Fresno for 2.5 years and HATED IT! My husband feels the same about Sacramento. The summer heat and air pollution are miserable, not to mention the politics.

Wolf at the Door

Has 7 years experience.

Lived in Fresno for 2.5 years and HATED IT! My husband feels the same about Sacramento. The summer heat and air pollution are miserable, not to mention the politics.

Politics are unavoidable. Politics are included free of charge for every staff job. Running to Oregon like a lot of people are doing might not be the solution. I would take a per diem job or nurse registry work before I uproot my family. Have you only worked in California? You can get this wonderful day shift job and still be unhappy with how the hospital is ran. Do you all like rain?Portland has experienced the most wet days ever this rainy season | OregonLive.com

So the recruiter who told me my "taxable " income would be $22-25/hr but the "non-taxable" housing stipend on my first assignment that would bring me up to $50-70/hr total was bs? She said they would use my Santa Cruz address for the first time but I'm concerned about what happens after.

As you should be. In fact, if she puts her full statements to you in writing, the IRS has an excellent criminal case against her for tax fraud.

But back to you, the recruiter and agency will not be present at your audit and you will owe back taxes, penalties, and interest. Not worth even a low audit risk considering a staff job will have very similar or higher total compensation. If you keep your residence in Santa Cruz, then the tax free income is legit but countered by paying double rent.

Sounds like Portland is a dream location for someone who loves rain. Too much traffic in Seattle and Portland has great urban bike trials.

Sacramento is a great suggestion by the way, Bay Area pay and lower housing costs. But not much rain. Consider also Eureka CA. Pacific NW weather and sixty degrees year round. Housing costs are very low, nurses can afford to buy their homes homes there.

Politics are unavoidable. Politics are included free of charge for every staff job. Running to Oregon like a lot of people are doing might not be the solution. I would take a per diem job or nurse registry work before I uproot my family. Have you only worked in California? You can get this wonderful day shift job and still be unhappy with how the hospital is ran. Do you all like rain?Portland has experienced the most wet days ever this rainy season | OregonLive.com

I meant US politics, not job. I can be a bit oblivious when it comes to workplace stuff. I just keep my head down and do my work. However, I cannot stand to be surrounded by Republicans. We're diehard liberals.

I MUCH prefer rain over extreme heat, but I really hadn't given Sac much thought. I'll bring it up with the family. Being closer to where my kids call home and still close to beautiful terrain (Tahoe) might be a compromise worth exploring.

I've always felt like a Pacific North Westerner at heart, but number one priority is happy family!

I imagine you are going to move somewhere in the Portland metro area- Tualatin or Hillsboro- Portland proper is expensive, and even more so if you want a good school district. Most employers being union will take a long time to get back to you, so travel/contract is a great way to hit the ground running at a good hospital.

Kaiser is a great place to work.

Thanks. It's looking like I may travel or even do pediatric home health just to get there. Kaiser Sunnyside is my dream spot hospital right now. We're looking more Milwaukie/Happy Valley/West Linn area. Not big fans of strip mall cities, which is my experience with Beaverton/Hillsboro. Sherwood looks great but not the best for commuting. My 11 year old has her heart set on a high school for the arts like the one in Milwaukie, just wish the middle school options were better in that area.

Hi, OHSU I believe is the only hospital in Portland that requires a BSN to be hired. My family and I will be going on the road doing travel RNs jobs for 9-12 months starting this November. We own a nice home in Milwaukie and are looking for other nurses to rent it while we are gone. Email me if you might be interested and we could see if it would be a good fit. Renting is not easy around here these days. kqemail is my email. I use gmail. (don't know if people scan these posts for email addresses) best of luck with the move!

75k is definitely doable here. You'd have to talk to someone in the NICU of each hospital to see how long it would take to get a day job. I don't know how saturated the lactation consulting world is, but I do know that Melissa COle of Luna Lactation is the best around. :)