What can you tell me about Modesto, CA area?


I have a scheduled telephone interview with a hospital in Modesto, CA, but I live in the midwest. I was contacted by a recruiter and was told that with my length of years as a nurse, amount of experience in my specialty, plus certifications, I would likely be offered at least $40/hr base with $5/hr shift diff. Also a $5K sign on bonus and up to $5k paid relocation.

According to the recruiter, the area is low cost of living; however, that's not what I'm finding on the internet. I've read that Modesto is rated one of the top 25 most polluted US cities, is home to thousands of gang members, and has scored in the top ten worst places to live due to high cost of living, high unemployment, long commutes, and high crime rates.

So, is there anyone who can please tell me what the real deal is with Modesto?



95 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac.

I was born and raised in Sacramento (not that far north of Modesto) and for the most part your assessment is correct.

Specializes in Primary Care; Child Advocacy; Child Abuse; ED. Has 25 years experience.

I am from Missouri my husband is from fresno not far from there. Cost of living may be lower than other parts of California. If you have a young family I would not recommend living there. As a matter of if you do decide to move there I would advise you to go look first. It is different from the mid west. I am sure you could live in the outskirts and be happy but I would not buy a home there until you lived there for a year at least. Good luck with your decision!!!

Specializes in L&D, PACU.

Compared to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, or LA/Orange county, Modesto has a "low" cost of living. Compared the rest of the united states...not so much. It is in the central valley, and the central valley, especially the lower portion is a pollution trap. The air quality is amongst the worst in the nation from south of sacramento to Bakersfield. There are some nice areas to Modesto. You would be within easy driving distance to things like Sequioa National Park, and just an hour (or two?) to the coast. It would be an easy day trip to go to San Francisco, hang out, and then go home.

It is not a pretty area. It is dry, and hot, and dusty. When the wind blows you have the dangers of coccidioidis mycosis (valley fevery), a pernicious fungus that can be inhaled and disseminate system wide. More dangerous to people moving to the area than to people where born and raised in the valley.

Hope that helps!


73 Posts

I live near Modesto, and sent you a private message.


632 Posts

Specializes in Emergency Medicine. Has 17 years experience.

Modesto is arid, dirty and mostly farms and migrants. It is filled with the gangs you're so very worried about. But!!! most of the crimes perpetrated are on each other. Not mid-westerners :D. It's okay if you're traveling alone. Not a place I would bring a family.

On the other hand you're juxtaposed right there against the southern range of the Sierras.

Yosemite is a hop, skin, and a jump away and is magnificent!

San Jose and San Fran are a little farther to your west and you will never run out of things to do over in the Bay Area.

Lake Tahoe... Sacramento, Redding, Mt. Shasta. Modesto isn't the worst place you could be. It's not Detroit after all...

How long is your commitment? 1-year 2-years? Make sure you identify the parameters of your bonus (in writing) in case you want to relocate again when it is over.

You definitely want to rent. Don't get into any mortgage out there when you don't know if you're wanting to be permanently placed there. Plenty of places to rent. You can also commute from the surrounding communities pretty easily as well.

Pay is competitive enough if you throw in your bonus. Bay area wages are a little higher. You never know unless you try. If you're looking for changes in latitude and since they're covering your costs I say DO IT! You have nothing to lose.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.

Other Californians tend to view Modesto and the other Central Valley cities as the butt-holes of California. The area is not the most glamorous or cosmopolitan, but the people there tend to be friendlier than in the major metropolitan areas. The city grapples with sweltering heat in the summer that soars above 100 degrees. Modesto has a very low cost of living according to California standards, but people from the Midwest might think of the city as pricey. On the bright side, San Francisco is an 80-mile drive from Modesto if you need something to do or become bored.

Modesto has been slaughtered by the housing meltdown and is ranked 3rd in the nation for the highest number of foreclosures according to this article. People were using Modesto, Stockton, Tracy, and other Central Valley cities as cheap satellite commuter towns when they could not afford to buy real estate in the very costly San Francisco Bay area. Homeowners were commuting 80 miles each way from their homes in Modesto to their jobs in the SF Bay area, but started walking away from their houses in droves when gas prices skyrocketed greater than $4.00 per gallon back in 2008.

The area pays competitively because hospitals need a way to attract experienced nurses to an otherwise undesirable region, and money talks. I find it strange and rather suspicious that local hospitals are recruiting a nurse from out of state when there are hoards of unemployed RNs in the region.

I am originally from a different part of California, and if I was offered a nursing job in Modesto, I would accept it in a heartbeat because I want to return to my home state even if I end up in a less desirable location.

If you aren't scared of a little commute, I recommend Turlock, CA. It's like a small midwest town in the valley of California. They have a University there that's really nice. I stayed there for awhile and all the people I met out at restaurants and stuff were very nice (including some city officials!). There is shady areas to every city - that goes without saying. But it's away from Modesto maybe like 20ish miles? And the housing there looks nice. It's a very nice smaller town and you can't beat the fruit stands! :) If you don't mind a little commute, I'd check out Turlock. But it's completely up to you! Just throwing out my ideas if you're kind of turned off to Modesto.


902 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

I'm a native Californian and I've only driven through Modesto on my way to the Sierras. It's not a place that I'd ever say, "Hey, let's go take a day trip to Modesto!" If you look on Google maps, you'll see that it's right in the middle of farming country in Calif's Central Valley, so it's really hot and humid in the summer. The real estate prices are not high due to the housing crisis. I'm sure that there are gang problems in certain areas but where I live, we've got them, too; most cities do, unless you're living in the Hamptons.

I have lived in Modesto for almost 10 years now and I love it here. The best zip code is 95356 and some areas in 95350 are very nice too. I live in Salida (95368) wich is basically an extesion of of N. Modesto and my neighborhood is beautiful, the neighbors are great, and I hear the schools are excellent. I would have no problem raising a family here. I hear that there is a lot of gang activitey but I have never seen it. There are some very bad parts of Modesto but they are easy to avoid. Thanks to the housing crisis, housing is very cheap and you can live quite well here making $40.00 an hour. Yes, summers are hot, but spring and fall are lovely. Winter gets a little cold, but nothing compared to the midwest. If you give Modesto a chance, you could really grow to love it.


1,850 Posts

Thanks to all for your replies; I didn't expect to get so many so fast, but they really help.

Commuter, what you said about recruiting from other states is what made me suspicious too, for the same reasons you stated.

Stickyrunner, I don't mind a bit of a commute, but how much are you talking? I drive 45 minutes to one hospital where I work now, but traffic is never an issue unless I'm heading north on a holiday weekend. How long would it be and what would the traffic be like if I were to make the drive that you suggest?

The distance from center of city to center of the other is about 15 miles. You would go straight north on 99 highway. Traffic varies, but it's 2-3 lanes each way (it changes from 3-2 at some points). So not too far. The traffic was never bad when I was driving from Merced to Turlock when I was out there (that was about 30 miles). So it shouldn't be too much. Unless something drastic happens on the hwy, I think your commute would be rather reasonable. :) Hopefully that helps!