As a travel nurse, constant relocation is part of your job. With every assignment, you have to move to a different city and make new living arrangements from scratch. This can be a bit of a challenge if you plan on saving the most out of your paycheck. So here are some of the cheapest cities to live in where travel nurses can save a big chunk of their salaries.
Cheapest cities to live in: Before we start
While rent is a significant factor in determining how much you’d save living in a city, there are other factors that can impact your savings. These include food, utilities, commute, recreational activities, and other elementary facilities like healthcare and education.
This list will focus only on big cities, to give you an understanding of regional prices throughout the country.
We will also feature a cost-of-living index. This will be a number out of 100; where 100 is the national average cost of living. This index includes rent, food, utilities, health, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenditures. The lower the city scores out of 100, the cheaper it is to live there.
So let’s have a look at the cheapest US cities for travel nurses to live in. These may not necessarily be the highest paying places, but the living costs there will ensure maximum savings, while still providing you with a good living experience.
Buffalo, New York
Despite being in a state that has a much higher median rent than the national average, Buffalo stands out for its low cost of living. Compared to other cities in the state, Buffalo offers super low rent, cheap transportation options, and lower than average taxes.
Buffalo’s weather can get a little chilly in the winter. This can take a toll on your electricity bill. However, Buffalo more than makes up for the extra money you spend on utility bills in other areas, earning it a comfortable score of 79 on the cost of living index.
Buffalo’s economy is primarily supported by its health sector, meaning the city has many opportunities for skilled nurses in both staff and temporary positions. So if you don’t mind frequent rains or snowfalls, and can withstand the extra cold, Buffalo can be an economical city for the duration of your travel nursing assignment.
Kansas City, Missouri
Located on the border of Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City is known as a hub for federal organizations. The rent here is fairly lower than the national average – you can get a studio apartment for as low as $650 a month. Combine that with inexpensive healthcare and moderately-priced groceries, and Kansas City becomes an ideal big city for big savings.
Like other cities with the weather on the colder side, the utility rate is slightly higher than the national average. This drives the cost of living index of Kansas City to 86 – still not a deal-breaker.
Dayton’s low property prices and close proximity to other key cities make it a hit with renters. You can get a 4-bedroom apartment for rent at a paltry $1190 per month, making it ideal for travel nurses with families. If you travel solo, you just need to shell out about $500 to rent a studio apartment.
The rental cost of the largest apartments in Dayton is significantly lower than the national average of $1,600. The low rent supplements the health and food prices into giving Dayton an overall cost of living score of 71.
Dayton has well-developed healthcare facilities. The 29 hospitals in Dayton offer first-rate healthcare services, meaning there is always room for skilled nurses to assist their in-house staff.
Despite being home to Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world, Omaha’s cost of living is very pocket-friendly. Rapid developments in the housing sector in Omaha have given rise to better and more affordable living facilities. Low utility rates, transport fares, and grocery prices add to the low rent to grant it an overall cost of living score of 89.
The average rent in Omaha sits at a comfortable $1,050 per month. That’s a $450 monthly saving on the average national rent. The lower city-wide crime and accident rates make it a peaceful and safe place to keep and raise a family.
Healthcare in all of Nebraska is costlier than the American average, Omaha is no exception. However, the saving you make on the reduced rent of the city allows you to keep your spending low even with the extra expenditure on your doctor visits.
If you like dining out and hate cold winters, Birmingham is the ideal place for you. Interesting sights and delicious eateries make Birmingham a place you’d love to live in. Low transportation fares are made possible due to gas prices in the city being lower than the market average.
The median rent of apartments in Birmingham start from about $700 for studios to $1,292 for a 4-bedroom flat. This low difference between the single room vs the more capacious houses makes Birmingham more attractive for travel nurses with families.
The slightly high utility prices barely have any effect on the overall cost of living score, which sits at a cozy 74. Making Birmingham a great place for travel nurses looking for a hot and happening place to live while making big savings.
For the outdoorsy type among you, the horse capital of the world is the place to be. Lexington is the second-largest city in the state of Kentucky and is considered its cultural hub. Substantial employment in the healthcare sector means there is always an opportunity for traveling nurses to test their metal.
The city’s average rent of $898 is well below the national average, and the low cost of utilities, rations, healthcare, and transportation give Lexington the overall cost of living score of 89.
Memphis has seen its fair share of destruction and resurgence. Thankfully, the city is on the rise and welcoming development in its various sectors. Being the heart of southern music, you can be sure the city offers plenty for the lovers of entertainment.
All those aside, the best part about living in Memphis is the nominal property prices. This makes the city the no. 1 attraction for renters as well as home-buyers. Rent goes from as low as $683 to as high as $1,426 depending on the size of the apartment. Add to that the low utility, health, transportation, fuel and grocery prices, and the overall cost of the living score goes down to 76.
If that isn’t enough, Memphis imposes zero income tax on its citizens. This further saving is the reason why Memphis is adored by bargain hunters from all over the country.
Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines is a big city, yet is clear of the commotion associated with big cities. The air is clean, and the people are friendly. And the rent doesn’t break the bank either.
The average apartment rents for about $1000. With the smaller options going for as low as $586 and larger, more family-oriented options steering well clear of the national average at $1350. Add to that the low crime and accident rate and the city become all the more lucrative.
The transportation in Des Moines is very cheap, saving you precious dollars on your daily commute. But cheap doesn’t mean slow. The average commute time in Des Moines is just 19 minutes. Economical prices of grocery, health, and utilities give Des Moines an attractive 81 on the cost of living index.
Ohio’s capital and the economic heart of the state is best suited for the energetic, the motivated, the hard-working, but most of all, the bargain-loving.
Travel nurses looking for a cheap rental abode in Columbus would be pleased to know that they can rent an apartment for as low as $651. Even the larger apartments of 4 bedrooms don’t stray too far beyond $1,440. In a well-developed city that size, these rent prices are peanuts! Even with the utility charges being on the higher end, the overall cost of living score of Columbus is a comfy 85.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
A genuinely diversified big city, Fort Wayne is home to a number of different industries providing a wealth of employment opportunities to its citizen. Among other areas, Fort Wayne has focused on developing its healthcare sector, which means qualified nurses are always in demand.
The dirt-cheap housing and healthcare are the primary reasons for Fort Wayne being among the cheapest cities to live in. And the grocery, utility, and transportation prices are similarly light on your pocket.
You can rent an apartment for a single self for just $530 in the city. And for those of you planning on bringing your families, a 2-to-4-bedroom apartment costs from $800-$1120. This is even lower in the metro area. For bargain hunters looking for maximum overall savings, Fort Wayne is the place to be.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Coastal cities are usually expensive places to live in. The rent is astronomical, and the property values keep on rising. However, if you wish to have a temporary residence in a coastal city, look no further than Corpus Christi.
Despite being more expensive than other contenders on our list, Corpus Christi is as low as you can get for a big coastal city. The overall cost of living score of the city is 83. You can rent out a studio or single-bedroom apartment for less than $900. Even cribs with 2 and 3 bedrooms cost less than the national average. However, if you plan on bringing a big family with you on your assignment and need a 4-bedroom accommodation, you’re looking at an over $1,700 monthly expenditure just on house rent.
The low transportation and grocery prices are certainly a plus. If nothing else, the view of the beach alone is enough to justify the slightly higher living costs.
Wichita is the largest city of Kansas and is a hub for aircraft manufacturing industries. Nevertheless, the healthcare sector in Wichita employs thousands, with the need for extra hands during seasonal shortages.
Wichita is an inexpensive place to live; healthcare and utilities cost aside. Travel nurses looking for a rental abode can get a cozy crib for a sweet $550 to $650 per month. With the overall cost of living score of just 82, Wichita is a bargain for anyone planning on settling here, whether temporarily or permanently.
Cheapest cities to live in – Final words
There are plenty of cities, small and big, that you may not find in our list of the cheapest cities to live in. At the time of writing, these cities best struck the balance between affordability and prosperity.
Prices rise and fall; taxes, rents, and fares change; however, career opportunities for travel nurses are at an all-time high. The country is in need of active, motivated, qualified, and skilled individuals in different fields of the healthcare sector, and every city would like to get their hands on as much help as they can get to power through this pandemic.