An exciting part of travel nursing is traveling around the country and experiencing life in all the major cities, but with COVID-19 numbers declining and travel nurse needs in hospitals decreasing, finding your next travel assignment might be more difficult. One solution might be to look for an assignment in a small or midsize town. It is easy to overlook a city you have never heard of, but there are benefits to accepting a travel assignment in a small or midsize town. Here are six listed below.
1. Open Positions
The need for travel nurses in big cities has declined with the declining COVID-19 numbers, which results in fewer jobs and lower wages. But Small or midsize towns still have a need for nurses. Even before COVID, many small towns struggled to keep patient ratios down due to the lack of well-educated nurses in their local areas. Next time you have a conversation with your recruiter, investigate smaller, less familiar towns.
2. Lower Cost of Living
The cost of living in a small town is less than in a big city. You may think, “Well, my company will pay for my housing.” That may be true, but it is not just housing that costs less. Groceries can be cheaper. Shorter commutes to work mean saving money on gas. If you choose to find your own housing, you may find a better deal in a small town than in a big city.
3. No Traffic
Living in a smaller town can be beneficial for your work commute. From my own personal experience of moving from Denver, CO, to Springfield, IL, I noticed my 30–40-minute commute went down to 15-20 minutes with no traffic issues. This was not just helpful for my work commute, but it was quicker and easier to grocery shop, find my way around, go to the gym, get coffee, and more.
4. Small Town Charms
The most amazing part about traveling to a small town is all the small-town charm you will find. Chain restaurants and stores are great for predictability, but nothing beats the unique finds of a mom-and-pop restaurant or family-owned store. Homemade cookies, jams, jellies, honey, and even wine from a local country store can be a life-changing experience. The idea of “shop local, buy local” has more meaning when you can purchase homemade goods from the people who make them. You might even find yourself making friends and connections you will keep for life at the corner diner or local coffee shop.
5. More Big Cities to Visit
When looking at small-town locations, you might find that many are located within just a few hours’ drive of a big city or two. . If you have a goal to see as many cities as possible, this is a terrific way to knock a few off your list with one assignment. For example, from my current location of Springfield, IL, there are three major cities, all within a 3–4-hour drive or train ride. Chicago is about 3 and a half hours away. Indianapolis is about 3 hours away. St. Louis is less than 2 hours away. All are great for a weekend getaway without the hassles of living in a big city.
6. More Nature to Get Lost In
If outdoor recreation is a passion of yours, small towns are a wonderful place to find nature. The whole reason small towns exist is because they are surrounded by unoccupied land. Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are not the only national parks worth seeing. Every state has their own national parks to visit. Anywhere you find mountains, rivers, lakes, or even beaches, you can find a small-town hospital in need of nurses nearby. Melbourne, FL is a midsize city in central Florida. It is about 3 hours north of Miami, 2 hours east of Orlando, and sits right next to intercoastal waterways. It is about a 15-minute drive away from the Atlantic coast beaches. Whether you are in the Midwest, South, East Coast, or West Coast, there are small towns surrounded by nature.
The draw of a big city can be exciting, but traveling to a smaller mid-size city or small town also has its benefits. Next time your nurse recruiter mentions a city you have never heard of, do not discount it right away. Instead, do some research, see where it is located, and ask yourself these questions. Is it close to a big city you have wanted to visit? What is the cost of living? What small town charms might it hold? Nursing is stressful. Moving is stressful. Maybe for your next assignment, a smaller, easier place to live is just the thing you need.
Have you taken an assignment in a small town and loved it? Comment your experiences below!
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