When temperatures drop, do your thoughts turn to the beach, the slopes, or somewhere in between? Now that the colder months are here, many Travel Nurses and Allied Healthcare Professionals are thinking about their next destination—and the possibilities are wide open.
Demand for Travel Nurses continues to reach all-time highs, with some estimates that as many as 100,000 positions were available this fall. How can you narrow the list to find a location that will work well for you?
If you’re looking for your first travel nursing assignment, the options can be overwhelming. While there are often very personal reasons behind our choices—such as working with friends, being close to family, chasing childhood dreams—here are a few things to consider:
- What are your short and long-term priorities and how can your location help you reach those goals?
- What kind of environment do you prefer to work in?
- Are you comfortable spending money on your assignment or is saving on expenses a priority?
- How do you plan to spend your time when you’re not working?
Once you know the type of experience you want to have, it’s easier to narrow your options—and find the one that’s right for the coming season. Here’s a look at five great cities to consider for a winter travel assignment.
San Diego, CA
Highlights: Warm weather, surfing, relaxed vibe
Average winter temperature (Dec-Mar): 58 degrees
Home to 17 miles of California coastline, San Diego is the place to go if you want city life with a more relaxed vibe. During the winter season, it’s the warm San Diego weather that draws people in—but it’s the friendly people, incredible food, and beautiful outdoors that will really make your time here memorable.
San Diego is a place where life is best lived outside, whether you want to hike, bike, take in a concert, or simply dine al fresco with friends—and it gives you easy access to some of the most popular surfing spots in the state! This means you’ll have a lot of great options for your downtime. And while the cost of living may be higher than other areas to live in, it’s one of the top cities in the U.S. when it comes to quality of life.
Highlights: Sunny days, budget-friendly, outdoor activities
Average winter temperature (Dec-Mar): 58.5 degrees
Located on the edge of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix enjoys a mild winter with plenty of bright days—it’s the second sunniest city in the U.S., and even in December still averages 244 hours of sunshine. One notable benefit of being here during the winter: None of the dust storms (aka haboobs) that mark Arizona summers!
During your downtime, you can take advantage of the fine winter months to explore the Phoenix mountain range, located right in the city, or take a tour of the city’s many golf courses. You can also venture into nearby national parks, visit cities like Sedona and Tuscon, or head a few hours north to the iconic Grand Canyon.
Phoenix has also found a good balance between quality of life and affordability. The city is divided into 15 urban villages, each with its own character and style; if Phoenix is the right location for you, be sure to ask around to find the right village for you.
Salt Lake City, UT
Highlights: Skiing and outdoor activities, affordable cost of living
Average winter temperature (Dec-Mar): 22.25 degrees
If you love being outside in the snow and brisk winter weather, Salt Lake City can be an ideal home base. Not only is it close to some of the best ski resorts in the world—including Deer Valley, the number one ski resort in the U.S.—Utah is also home to beautiful mountains and stunning national parks, including Zion, Arches, Bryce, and Canyonlands.
If watching your budget is a top priority, this city is also a solid choice: You’ll have more purchasing power in Salt Lake City than many other cities, including the others on this list. But that affordability doesn’t require a big trade-off: Salt Lake City is a beautiful city that has great restaurants, fun nightlife, plenty of action for sports fans—especially basketball—and Travel + Leisure named it one of the friendliest cities in the country.
Highlights: History, mild winter weather, diversity
Average winter temperature (Dec-Mar): 47 degrees
Many people know Atlanta for its history—from Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement to the Civil War that left just 400 buildings standing, and even as home to Coca-Cola, one of the biggest brands in the world. But it’s also a vibrant and modern city that’s growing quickly:
- It’s young: Millennials make up 25 percent of the city’s population
- It’s diverse: Atlanta is particularly known for its strong Black and LGBTQ+ communities
- It has a solid economic base: Atlanta has the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, just behind New York and Houston
What does this mean for Travel Nurses and allied professionals like you? Great restaurants, unique small businesses, a rich culture that’s constantly evolving, and a friendly welcome with genuine southern hospitality.
Atlanta is more for the history buff than the outdoor enthusiast, but the BeltLine—a network of multiuse trails that circumnavigates the city—has quickly become integrated into the community with green spaces, art installations, and lots of different events.
Highlights: Warm weather, beaches, nightlife
Average winter temperature (Dec-Mar): 70.25 degrees
On the opposite side of the country is Miami, a city where you’ll have too much to do to spend much time catching up on sleep! And winter is the perfect time to visit: Warm weather and gorgeous beaches without the stress of hurricane season. The cost of living in Miami isn’t cheap, but if you’re drawn to the beach, it’s significantly less expensive here than in southern California.
Miami is a melting pot of cultures, with more than 40 percent of the population born internationally—many in Latin America. That vibrancy permeates everything in the city, from its music to its food, to its art scene. A good place to start is in Wynwood, a neighborhood that’s considered Miami’s art and cultural hub—home to 70 art galleries and an evolving collection of street art.
Travel nursing gives you the chance to experience many different shades of winter—avoid it altogether, embrace it fully, or land somewhere that gives you access to a bit of both. Ready to look for the right opportunity to carry you through the cold winter months?