While some nurses are toughing it out in the evolving job environment caused by COVID-19, others would be agreeable to a longer commute for a new job or even be willing to relocate to another state for work.

Our 2020 Nurse.com Nurse Salary Research Report found 68% of respondents were willing to commute up to 29 miles for a job. This reflects an increase (from 26 miles) from our 2018 report. In addition to a willingness to commute, understanding who is willing to relocate, why and where to, can be insightful information when engaging in nurse recruiting efforts.

According to our 2020 salary survey, Florida was the top choice for nurses at all licensure levels: RNs, APRNs, and LPNs/LVNs.

North Carolina was the second choice as a relocation destination for RNs (8%) and also for APRNs (11%). Texas was RNs’ third choice for relocation at 7% of respondents, while APRNs favored Tennessee (10%).

Texas came in second for LPNs and LVNs (9%), while Arizona came in third at 8%.

Why Relocate to Florida?

According to a recent study conducted by the International Sales Group and reported by the Daily Mail, nearly 1,000 people a day began moving to Florida since the world was hit with COVID-19.

Home sales in Florida have nearly doubled since the pandemic. Many of these moves have been made by people from the Northeast, looking to escape not only their high-tax states, but also their crowded cities.

Even prior to the pandemic, Florida was the top choice to move to for residents of 22 states and accounted for 1 in 8 of the total moves in 2019, according to a migration study conducted by Hire a Helper.

The warm climate, year-round sunshine, and no state income tax could be a draw for many.

A Deeper Look at North Carolina

So, what makes some states more attractive to nurses than others?

“For nurses specifically, there is a strong employment market in North Carolina,” said Mary Ann Fuchs, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Vice President of Patient Care and System Chief Nurse Executive at Duke University Health System and Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, N.C. “There are also several clinical research, pharma and managed care insurance organizations that hire registered nurses to fill highly compensated roles. Additionally, both public and private universities employee nurse educators.”

Fuchs said another factor that makes North Carolina appealing is the nationally recognized healthcare systems that exist across the state, 23 of which are Magnet designated facilities.

“North Carolina is an attractive state for nurses because it provides the ability to work at top tier healthcare systems while enjoying a high quality of life,” said Allison Lyerly, Director of Talent Acquisition at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The job market is good even for family members of nurses who don’t work in healthcare, according to Lyerly. “The business climate here is thriving with opportunities in finance, research, technology, innovation, and education,” she said.

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See more data on commutes, relocation, and more in the 2020 Nurse.com Nurse Salary Research Report.

Lower Cost of Living and Other Perks

In addition to the strong job market for nurses and workers in other professions, North Carolina has several other key elements that make it an attractive place to relocate for singles and families.

“The metro areas of Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte especially offer solid employment opportunities along with a reasonable cost of living, which make the state a great choice for families,” said Fuchs.

Another important consideration for families is a good educational system. Fuchs described the public school systems in North Carolina as generally high performing.

“There are also choices of magnet schools, along with an array of private schools for parents to consider,” said Fuchs. “Our state also has a strong public and private university system.”

The natural splendor of North Carolina is also a big draw. “The climate is also appealing as we have milder winters and moderate temperatures year-round, yet we have four distinctive seasons,” she said.

To support efforts to relocate, WFBH offers relocation assistance to nurses moving more than 75 miles, said Lyerly. “We also have an Education Assistance Program that allows nurses to pursue degrees related to their employment.”

Another benefit sold to RNs is the ability to work at an academic medical center where colleagues are passionate about teaching and learning, said Lyerly. “Our nurses see cases that they may not see at other places given we’re a teaching institution,” she said. “Exciting research happens every day at Duke and our nurses are actively engaged in cutting edge patient care improvement, training the next generation, and clinical trials.”

The Lone Star State’s Appeal

Texas is a destination of choice for nurses looking to relocate for many reasons, one of which is a very competitive cost of living, said Carlos Fernandez, manager of talent acquisition at Houston Methodist in Houston.

Houston is the second most affordable place to live out of the nation’s 20 largest metro areas. Also, there is no state income tax in Texas,” said Fernandez.

Other incentives for moving to Texas – affordable housing, a thriving economy and excellent universities.

In looking at Houston specifically, the housing costs are 51.2% below the average and 11.5% below the average for all U.S. metros, according to The Greater Houston Partnership.

Houston Methodist places a strong emphasis on annual local and industry market research and analysis, to ensure they offer compensation that is competitive with current trends, said Fernandez.

Marketing your state and organization

Houston Methodist provides various resources to help candidates outline their overall opportunities within the organization, including an interactive total rewards portal. This enables candidates to calculate their overall earnings and benefits, said Fernandez.

The Talent Acquisition team at WFBH utilizes a collection of online articles, links and documents to market their organization and the benefits of living in the area, said Lyerly. “We’ll send applicable items to candidates who have expressed interest, interviewed or received an offer from us.”

Due to the nursing shortage, competing for nurses with other organizations is ongoing and challenging. Lyerly said, “Social media ads and virtual career fairs have been very beneficial to our recruitment strategy. It allows us to connect with nurses throughout the country.”

Nothing beats word of mouth, said Fuchs. “We want nurses to come to Duke, thrive here, and tell their friends,” she said. “We are intentional about how we cultivate an environment that supports the nurse from onboarding through retirement.”

Get more valuable data in our 2020 Nurse Salary Research Report.

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