Top 20 Cities for Nurse Practitioner Salaries
The average nurse practitioner's (NP's) salary varies from state to state and city to city. There is a wide range of salaries for nurse practitioners, from the lowest-paying city, Punta Gorda, Florida, where NPs make an average annual salary of $86,800 to the highest-paying city of San Jose, California, where the average annual salary is $197,870.
The range covers more than $100,000 and is impacted by many factors, including certification, experience, and location. In this guide, we list the highest-paying cities for nurse practitioners.
The data was gathered from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since the top-paying cities are mostly found in California, we've listed the top 10 cities in California and the top 10 cities in the rest of the U.S.
Check out the highest-paying cities for NPs around the U.S.
Highest-Paying Cities for Nurse Practitioners
In the top 20 highest-paying cities for nurse practitioners, there is only one city located outside of California. One of the biggest location factors that can impact the pay scale for nurse practitioners is the cost of living index.
This index taken from Numbeo gives you an idea of housing affordability, healthcare costs, and the overall standard of living in the city. The average cost of living is normalized to "100." Factors that are considered include child care, healthcare, housing, transportation, groceries, utilities, and discretionary spending.
When the cost of living index for a city is 125, it means that it is 25% more expensive to live in that city than it is to live in the average U.S. city. This is an important factor to consider when comparing high-paying cities for nurse practitioners.
Even if the average annual salary looks good on paper, the cost of living index may be significantly higher than the average. This means you'll also be spending more of your salary each month with less available for discretionary items. This list of nursing salaries by city can help as you consider areas where you may want to move.
If you're looking for highest-paying cities for registered nurses, we have a list for that too.
1. San Jose — Sunnyvale — Santa Clara, CA
The cost of living index in San Jose is 173.5, or it is 73.5% more expensive to live in San Jose than in Augusta, Maine where the index is 100. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is roughly $3,000. The quality of life, shortage of housing, California weather, and access to the mountains and ocean contribute to the high cost of living.
As the capital of Silicon Valley, it's an attractive home environment for tech companies and entrepreneurs. San Jose has a limited land supply and booming job marketing that also impact salary potential and costs.
2. Napa, CA
The cost of living index in Napa is 149.6, or 49.6% higher than the average city. Local utilities and transportation are lower, but housing costs, healthcare, groceries, and health insurance are higher. An inexpensive rental in Napa is $2,300 for a one-bedroom apartment and 44% of the community rents an apartment or home.
Beautiful weather, good schools, and quiet neighborhoods round out the reasons living in Napa is more expensive than in other cities.
3. Vallejo — Fairfield, CA
The cost of living in Vallejo — Fairfield drops drastically from 173.5 in San Jose to 125.2. This means it is 25% more expensive than the average city and 48.3% cheaper than San Jose. The average nursing salary is also roughly $17,000 less.
Located north of Berkeley and San Francisco on the shores of San Pablo Bay, Vallejo and Fairfield are 18 miles apart and a getaway for people escaping the high cost of housing in San Francisco. Commuters can take a one-hour ferry ride across San Pablo Bay to San Francisco.
4. San Francisco — Oakland — Hayward, CA
The cost of living in San Francisco ranks as the highest of all cities, at 178.6. However, the potential NP salary is $20,000 less than the second-most expensive city to live in — San Jose, CA. U.S. News & World Report ranks it as the 10th best place to live and the second best place to live in California.
San Francisco is known as a trendsetter and the heart of the bohemian lifestyle. The influx of tech workers has created a housing crunch for buyers and renters. The price of a one-bedroom apartment ranges from $1,900-$5,000 per month.
5. Yuba City, CA
Located inland and north of Sacramento, the cost of living index in Yuba City is 108.7. While it is the fifth-highest paying city for nurse practitioners in California, the cost of living index is affordable. This is likely related to the location inland, and the 42-mile trip to the nearest city of Sacramento.
The city has a population of roughly 70,000 and is the county seat of Sutter County. Most nurse practitioners here practice primary care in adults, geriatrics, or pediatrics.
6. San Luis Obispo — Paso Robles — Arroyo Grande, CA
San Luis Obispo has a cost of living index of 136.1. There are 46 miles that separate these three cities that are located along the coast north of Los Angeles and south of San Francisco. Residents have easy access to the ocean and the mountains.
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages $2,000-$2,500 per month. The area has a population of roughly 282,000 and three general hospitals and a psychiatric care facility.
7. Sacramento — Roseville-Arden — Arcade, CA
The Sacramento area has a cost of living index of 120.3 and a population of roughly 525,000. The average annual wage of all workers in the Sacramento — Roseville-Arden — Arcade area is 13% above the national average, according to the BLS. Employment is also more concentrated in finance, construction, and healthcare.
Sacramento experienced the seventh-highest cost of living increase in the U.S. in the last year, rising 21%. The largest increases were in housing and food, driven in part by supply chain and worker shortages.
8. Santa Rosa, CA
The cost of living index in Santa Rosa is 141.7, with a population of roughly 177,000. Located in Sonoma County, which is known for its wineries, the city is 55 miles north of San Francisco and 22 miles inland.
According to Area Vibes, the largest driver of the cost of living increase in Santa Rosa is housing, which is 101, or 101% higher than the average U.S. city.
9. Santa Cruz — Watsonville, CA
The cost of living index for Santa Cruz is 163.9, which may be a reflection of the beautiful location on the shores of Monterey Bay, just south of San Jose. Real estate is the driving force behind the cost of living in Santa Cruz, with the average apartment rent topping $3,000.
The lower cost of living in San Luis Obispo and Sacramento, combined with a slightly higher average salary, means Santa Cruz may not be the best economical choice for nurse practitioners.
10. Fresno, CA
The cost of living index in Fresno is 105.1, which is very close to the cost of living in an average city in the U.S. The city has a population of 542,000 and is located 153 miles from the coast. This may have a significant impact on the lower cost of living but does not lower the potential NP salary significantly.
Highest-Paying Cities for NPs Outside of California
While California is a beautiful state, it is also one of the most expensive. If you are looking for other high-paying cities for nurse practitioners, consider these 10 areas where your salary may have more buying power.
Bordering Minnesota and Wisconsin, on the western tip of Lake Superior, the cost of living index in Duluth is 93.2. The city has a population of about 86,000 and the median apartment rental is $1,640. The average price of housing rose by over $400 from 2021 to 2022.
However, the comparison between an NP's salary potential and the cost of living means you have more buying power in Duluth, Minnesota, as compared to other cities on this list.
2. New York — Newark — Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
The cost of living index for this area is 128, which means it's 28% more expensive than the average U.S. city. However, the area also boasts several hospitals with Magnet status that are high performing or nationally ranked.
Housing is a large driver of the cost of living as the average rent of a one bedroom across all five boroughs in New York is around $4,000, according to Apartmentguide figures. In Jersey City, it is $3,500 and the cost is considerably less in Newark at $1,350.
3. Trenton, NJ
The cost of living in Trenton is 104.3, which means nurse practitioners have more buying power while on average only making roughly $1,000 less. Trenton is located along the Pennsylvania border and the Delaware River. The median rent price is $1,075 and may be one of the few places where rent dropped in the past year.
4. Atlantic City — Hammonton, NJ
The Atlantic City area has a cost of living index of 102 and just a $400 drop in the average annual salary for nurse practitioners. The balance between a lower cost of living and a competitive salary means nurse practitioners have more buying power in the area.
Atlantic City is located on the New Jersey shore, close to an international airport, and the center of tourism for New Jersey.
5. Medford, OR
The picturesque city of Medford is in southern Oregon near the California border. The city has a cost of living index of 107.5 and a population of just over 86,000 people. Housing is more expensive, while utilities, healthcare, and transportation are all well below the average across the U.S. Medford is wine and cheese country, where blue cheese is made and wineries abound.
6. Seattle — Tacoma — Bellevue, WA
Although the NP salary is slightly less, the cost of living is significantly greater at 124.6. This means it is 24.6% higher than average to live in Seattle, which means you don't have as much buying power with the same salary as you would in Medford, Oregon, or Atlantic City, New Jersey. The median monthly rent is $2,000, after a 25% increase from 2021 to 2022.
7. Ocean City, NJ
The cost of living in Ocean City is 109.5 with a population of just 11,000 people. The location on the shore makes it an ideal vacation destination, which means that nurse practitioners may well spend their spring, summer, and fall treating tourists.
The tourism trade and limited land mass have meant that housing costs are high.
8. Mankato — North Mankato, MN
Mankato and North Mankato, Minnesota, are roughly 80 miles south of Minneapolis with a cost of living index of 95.3. By comparison, the cost of living in Minneapolis is 105.4, and an average annual salary for nurse practitioners of $125,940. In other words, NPs make less in Minneapolis where it costs more to live than in Mankato and North Mankato.
The city has a population of 44,000 with a thriving outdoor recreational lifestyle and a small town feel. Despite the small population, the town boasts an award-winning Mayo Clinic hospital and health system.
9. Carson City, NV
Carson City, Nevada, is on the shore of Lake Tahoe, along the border of California and just south of Reno. With a population of 59,000, the city's cost of living index is nearly average at 103. The temperatures don't usually drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit or are higher than 90 degrees year-round. Good weather, Lake Tahoe, and proximity to Reno and historic Virginia City contribute to the thriving tourist trade. Despite these living advantages, buying power in Carson City is near the average across the U.S.
10. Salem, OR
Salem is 46 short miles from the thriving city of Portland, Oregon. The cost of living index in Salem is 105.8 as compared to 116.5 in Portland. Additionally, the average annual salary in Portland is lower at $127,990. The city has a population of about 178,000 and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,095. Location, cost of living, and salary make Salem one of the high-paying cities for nurse practitioners that offer greater buying power for your money.
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