Ok so this will be pretty extensive! I worked in the ICU straight out of school and residency for the ICU. After 2 years moved to SF for family and work. I am going back next month! Can't wait. I am making $59/hr in SF, and yes....can't wait to get back to Austin. The healthcare is pretty damn state of the art, and pay ratio to cost of living is pretty good. Other areas of TX are better, but you can't beat the progressive and hip vibe of Austin.
The hospital is on a boarderline rough area. East Austin can be rough, and there is a homeless shelter right off red river and 7th st. If you want to live hip check out South Congress and South Lamar just south of the River. The town lake, btw, is the best place to hang out in the summer if you are into fitness, and it's pretty safe. Oh yea, Austin is serious into fitness. Only in SF did I see as many skinny and fit people. SF becuase of the pedestrian lifestyle and hills. If you want to live high and mighty, check out downtown. Several highrises that lease. I lived in 1 for a year, and it was full of rich students for UT. Like a frat-house at times, but you can't beat the views! West is for the rich and north and south are families. You can get a 3 bed house for around 1k. Austin is crazy dog and family friendly as well.
Now, working for Brack.....it's really what you make of it. I worked at the Sister hospital off 38th for over 2 years in ED and ortho/neuro as a tech. It was great. Helped with nursing school. As an RN in the ICU....unbeatable! Actually Brack is unbeatable. You get everything! Level 1 trauma for 11 counties so no matter what dept you get it all. Benefits are pretty damn good, and pay is good. City makes up the rest. Only thing is it gets HOT for about 3 months out of the year. 100+ for at least 30-60 days with humidity. Rest of the time it's beautiful, friendly, MUSIC MUSIC, and chill. For a big city it is relaxed.