How to Choose a City for Your Next Travel Nursing Assignment

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Can I Choose My City as a Travel Nurse?

Travel nurses and travel nursing hopefuls have a lot to think about. While you preoccupy yourself with how you’ll be paid, what work you’ll be doing, and whether or not you can leave your home or family for that long, there will be one large and pressing question in your mind: “Where on Earth am I headed?” Open-ended travel can feel a little bit abstract so we have broken down the best ways to make sure your next travel nursing assignment is EXACTLY where you want to be.

Can I Choose My Location as a Travel Nurse?

Yes! Almost all travel nursing agencies will allow you to choose. The best way to do this is to have a few key locations in mind before you meet with a travel nursing assignment agent. Some agencies will partner you with an advocate who will consider your top locations and find a placement for you. If you’re going through travel nursing job boards to apply for opportunities yourself, narrow these down to a few that would suit your preferences. Below, we’ll lay out a few of the questions you should ask yourself in order to narrow down your ideal locations.

6 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Travel Nursing Assignment

What type of weather is ideal for you?

If you’re someone who has a hard time with heat or experiences headaches, hypertension, or other discomfort during hot weather, it may be best for you to avoid the southern states or areas that get red-hot in the summer. Likewise, if you’re not into a rainy environment or the anticipation of more grey weather makes you feel depressed, don’t opt for the Pacific Northwest or the gloomy north in the throes of winter. Consider that you may be living in this new location for weeks, even months, and that your comfort should be a priority.

How important is the location’s proximity to your home?

Does it matter to you that you can drive a few hours on your off day to see your children or that you’re just a 2-hour flight away from your ailing parent? OR, do you have the ability to take your assignment as near or far as the wind takes you? This is your choice. If you have a radius in mind, let your agent know that OR look for posted jobs that don’t take you too far from home.

What’s your usual pace of life – do you like busy metro areas or smaller towns?

There is a pressing need for nurses everywhere. You do not need to choose New York City, LA, or a similarly hectic city if that’s not your cup of tea. There are plenty of small and mid-size town placements, even rural placements, for travel nurses who are willing to fill a gap. Likewise, if you prefer the fast-paced lifestyle and want to be placed in a city, make sure you note that when searching for opportunities. Are you willing to work in a wild, rugged, or natural environment? If so, you could be even more in-demand and might find yourself among the trees, mountains, or wildlife somewhere more remote.

What will you do when you’re NOT working?

Travel nurses work similar shifts to regular nurses, oftentimes. You might work three 12-hour days per week, or four ten-hour days with a long weekend, etc. There WILL be time off – so how do you want to spend your time? Will you be in your apartment Skyping with the kids all weekend, or are they there visiting you? Do you have the desire to go out and explore the nightlife, the culture, the concerts, the food, etc,? Will you be happiest exploring nature on your days off, dog in tow? Whatever your hobbies and pastimes will be, consider a location that can support your flow. Research cities ahead of time to determine which ones have the best food trucks, rooftop bars, nature hikes, or yoga classes and make a list! If you need your city to be kid-friendly, dog-friendly, or just plain friendly it may also be a good idea to talk to other travel nurses or people you know who have visited a given city to get a first-hand account of the feel.

How are you most comfortable to travel to-and-from work?

Are you willing to take a ferry to your placement each day and back to your apartment or residence at night? Are you willing to walk several blocks? Are you comfortable navigating bus routes, subway lines, or other forms of metro travel? Do you want to bring a bike and take it down a country lane every day? Whatever your preferences are, and whatever you’re NOT willing to deal with, should be noted. Feel free to ask questions of your travel nursing agent or advocate before you take any assignment to know that the experience will be a fit for you.

Bucket List or Been-there-done-that?

Are you someone who would prefer to take assignments in places you’re familiar with? Perhaps you’ve been to Orlando a few times with your family, you grew up in Houston, and you went to college in Philadelphia? Those would be great first-choices for you because you know the stomping grounds, the weather, and the vibe. If you’re someone who would rather try something new every time you travel, keep tabs on where you’ve been and where you really want to go. This can be a great way to scout out a new potential city to move to, or to travel for vacation with family and friends.

No matter where you decide to go as a travel nurse, take note. This will help you know yourself better and understand what you do and do not like about the different parts of the country. The beautiful thing about travel nursing is that there is a location, a setting, and an assignment out there for anyone brave enough to take a chance. You never know, you may fall in love with a place you never dreamed you’d enjoy.