nursing in wyoming compared to california...

U.S.A. Wyoming


Hi Everyone- I am a nurse in Fresno, CA, and my husband and I are entertaining the idea of moving to Wyoming in a few years (I'm starting my research now). I am a new nurse, but LOVING it, and working at a wonderful hospital. We hate CA, mainly due to all the regulations and politics and immigration issues, and as it just gets worse and worse, would like to move to a more conservative state. Anyways, my main concern is a huge paycut...I hear that nurses in other states dont make near as much as CA nurses. I realize that the pay can all be relative to cost of living in the state, so am wondering how it all works out in Wyoming. Here, I make a little over $30/hr for the first 8 hrs of the shift, then for the last 4, get overtime at about $45/hr. To give an idea of cost of living in my area, gas right now is fluctuating around $4/gallon (and hasnt been under $3.25/gallon in years, sales tax is about 9%, average rent for a decent house (2-3 bedrooms) is probably $1000-1300/month, also, since its CA, pretty much everything you can think of has some kind of tax or regulation or premit needed. Also, was wondering if you have pt/nurse ratio over there (med/surg floor) and work 12 hr shifts. Here we have a 5-1 ratio, occasionally 6-1 on med/surg floor. I would really appreciate any advice, thanks!

wyogypsy, RN

197 Posts

Wyoming does not regulate patient/staff ratios; and most hospitals work 12 hour shifts and it is straight time for the entire 12 hours. Our overtime is anything over 40 hours per week (unless salaried, which you wouldn't be as a staff nurse).

We do not have a state income tax so that does help.

Due to the strong oil/gas industry here there is a shortage of rentals in many places such as Casper and Douglas, and rent is quite high here. You can't afford to live in Jackson Hole. If I was you, I would start looking at online newspapers to get an idea of the rent in other towns.

Have you visited the state? Part of it is flat and sagebrush and not very pretty; other areas are gorgeous. It is also quite cold during the winter, and winter can last a looooonnnnnngggggg time lol. But I live here, and keep coming back here each time I move away!

I do not know what the rent is like in Cheyenne, and it is only 100 miles to Denver where there is a lot to do (sports, concerts, shopping, great restaurants, nightlife, etc.). It depends on what size town you want to live in.

One thing I suggest you check out before signing a contract is the health insurance. Many of us have been employed by corporations with home offices back east, and their insurance is geared towards that area. I have had insurance where I didn't even have a preferred provider available in the state - and having had surgery, was left paying the majority of the cost. Unfortunately the company did not offer an alternative insurance.

Not trying to scare you off - Wyoming is a wonderful place, just want you to know some of the things you should watch out for! Best of luck to you.

Thanks for the info! Your comment about the ugly sagebrush made me husband LOVES that look lol, while I think it is hideous! I have been to wyoming, but briefly, in the summer, to Jackson and yellowtone. My husband has been several times on hunting trips and loves it. We would actually be interesting in buying a large amount of land for a ranch, not renting in town (I guess that was misleading, I just used cost of rent here as an example of living price). That is interesting about the insurance...the hospital I work at is based in Michigan (is a part of an organization called Trinity Health, but I havent run into any problems so far with the insurance company, also based in Michigan. May I ask what the average pay per hour is over there? And just curious, on average, how many patients do you usually have on a med/surg floor?

hope3456, ASN, RN

1,263 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

Not sure where you are located Gypsie nYou complain about regulations but once you get a taste of wyoming nursing you will be thankful for California safe staffing mandates. Wyoming government cares nothing about safe st affing and wyo Nurses have no job protection as we are a right to work state. I've seen it really bad. Pay varies where you are but In general $25 - $30. I have a couple coworkers from Ca and from what they describe it is very different. They talk about everything they miss about CA.

Unless you are bringing a large down payment with you buying a ranch is not going to be possible on nursing wages. Housing is in short supply all over the state to rent and in some towns to buy. Having grown up in rural wyo I can tell you it is not as romantic as you think. A decent rental home will run $1000 or more.

Honestly I just hope u make an educated decision about making the moved,


hope3456, ASN, RN

1,263 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

I'm sorry I meant to edit before posting last night just want to say WyoGypsie- what you describe sounds like what I was dealing with - not sure if we are in the same locale.


55 Posts


Yes and even if you find a place, the landlords are so used to having the upper hand that many are rude... Grrrrrrr!


2 Posts

Don't be too discouraged by the above comments. I've worked as a nurse in many different states and WY isn't any better or worse than any other state. You wont be payed as well as in California BUT, the cost of living isn't as high as CA. I really like it out here and I think you won't have any problem finding a new home as the housing market is pretty healthy! Good luck!

hope3456, ASN, RN

1,263 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

Can you recommend towns and employers Bayless?


136 Posts

I don't agree about the housing. I feel like housing is higher here for what you get than in California. At least in Cheyenne anyway. We moved from Cali less than a year ago.


13 Posts

I agree. I paid 1300 a month for a brand new 3 bedroom condo in central coast of cali, here, you can pay like 850 for a one bedroom torn up apt.

Guttercat, ASN, RN

1,353 Posts

If you can afford a "ranch" in Wyoming (excluding the red desert), you'll have no issues with working conditions in here. It means you don't really have to work.


1 Post

So I am curious because I’m from Bakersfield, CA and we’re looking at going to Wyoming, particularly Laramie. Did you end up moving there? 

+ Add a Comment

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X