Highest Paying States for Nurses (Adjusted for Cost of Living)

By popular demand, we’ve adjusted our rankings for RN salaries to factor in the cost of living. To calculate the highest paying states and adjust for this, we took the average annual cost of living for a single adult in the United States ($31,5121), multiplied it by the Cost of Living Index2, and then subtracted that amount from the average nurse’s salary for that state. States were then re-ranked by salaries adjusted for cost of living.

We’ve also included the effective tax rate3 in each state so you have a clearer picture of how far your salary will go.

As expected, many of the highest paying states also had high costs for food, housing, and transportation. Conversely, many of the lowest salaries were found in states with much lower costs for those same basic necessities.

While many of the rankings remained the same, there were also a few surprises.  See our list below for how your state ranked.


Average RN Salary: $59,540

Average Hourly: $26.14

Number of RNs in South Dakota:  12,950

Cost of Living Index: 99.7

Effective Tax Rate: 11.11%

Average RN Salary: $60,590

Average Hourly: $26.59

Number of RNs in Iowa:  32,980

Cost of Living Index: 91.4

Effective Tax Rate: 13.08%

Average RN Salary: $60,230

Average Hourly: $26.68

Number of RNs in Alabama:  49,190

Cost of Living Index: 89.6

Effective Tax Rate: 9.10%

Average RN Salary: $59,750

Average Hourly: $26.86

Number of RNs in Mississippi:  29,550

Cost of Living Index: 84.7

Effective Tax Rate: 11.99%

47. Maine

Average RN Salary: $69,760

Average Hourly: $29.76

Number of RNs in Maine: 14,490

Cost of Living Index: 115.2

Effective Tax Rate: 11.79%

Average RN Salary: $70,240

Average Hourly: $31.36

Number of RNs in Vermont: 6,270

Cost of Living Index: 116.7

Effective Tax Rate: 11.44%

Average RN Salary: $61,330

Average Hourly: $27.26

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Number of RNs in Arkansas:  25,210

Cost of Living Index: 88.2

Effective Tax Rate: 11.28%

Average RN Salary: $63,750

Average Hourly: $28.33

Number of RNs in Kentucky:  43,840

Cost of Living Index: 94.2

Effective Tax Rate: 12.46%

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Average RN Salary: $63,220

Average Hourly: $27.98

Number of RNs in West Virginia:  19,830

Cost of Living Index: 92.4

Effective Tax Rate: 9.70%

Average RN Salary: $62,570

Average Hourly: $27.69

Number of RNs in Tennessee:  63,330

Cost of Living Index: 90

Effective Tax Rate: 8.73%

Average RN Salary: $64,840

Average Hourly: $29.32

Number of RNs in South Carolina: 46,860

Cost of Living Index: 95.5

Effective Tax Rate: 9.02%

Average RN Salary: $69,340

Average Hourly: $29.98

Number of RNs in Montana: 10,310

Cost of Living Index: 108.2

Effective Tax Rate: 7.08%

Average RN Salary: $66,290

Average Hourly: $28.77

Number of RNs in North Dakota: 9,750

Cost of Living Index: 96.5

Effective Tax Rate: 9.99%

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Average RN Salary: $64,160

Average Hourly: $28.28

Number of RNs in Missouri: 68,840

Cost of Living Index: 88.3

Effective Tax Rate: 11.18%

Average RN Salary: $66,440

Average Hourly: $28.65

Number of RNs in North Carolina: 99,960

Cost of Living Index: 95.5

Effective Tax Rate: 10.62%

Average RN Salary: $67,610

Average Hourly: $30.15

Number of RNs in Florida: 181,670

Cost of Living Index: 99.2

Effective Tax Rate: 8.31%

Average RN Salary: $65,850

Average Hourly: $29.24

Number of RNs in Louisiana: 40,870

Cost of Living Index: 93.5

Effective Tax Rate: 10.56%

Average RN Salary: $66,640

Average Hourly: $28.45

Number of RNs in Nebraska:  23,800

Cost of Living Index: 92.8

Effective Tax Rate: 13.32%

Average RN Salary: $67,970

Average Hourly: $29.23

Number of RNs in Utah: 21,650

Cost of Living Index: 96.9

Effective Tax Rate: 8.37%

Average RN Salary: $64,800

Average Hourly: $28.49

Number of RNs in Oklahoma: 31,350

Cost of Living Index: 86.7

Effective Tax Rate: 11.40%

31. Maryland

Average RN Salary: $77,910

Average Hourly: $35.31

Number of RNs in Maryland: 53,150

Cost of Living Index: 128

Effective Tax Rate: 11.44%

Average RN Salary: $66,560

Average Hourly: $28.27

Number of RNs in Indiana: 67,510

Cost of Living Index: 89.5

Effective Tax Rate: 11.75%

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Average RN Salary: $87,840

Average Hourly: $38.65

Number of RNs in New York: 178,320

Cost of Living Index: 155.9

Effective Tax Rate: 13.92%

Average RN Salary: $71,410

Average Hourly: $32.05

Number of RNs in Pennsylvania: 148,040

Cost of Living Index: 103.2

Effective Tax Rate: 13.90%

Average RN Salary: $68,690

Average Hourly: $29.54

Number of RNs in Wyoming: 5,120

Cost of Living Index: 94.5

Effective Tax Rate: 8.05%

Average RN Salary: $68,220

Average Hourly: $29.95

Number of RNs in Ohio: 125,470

Cost of Living Index: 92.1

Effective Tax Rate: 13.14%

Average RN Salary: $69,480

Average Hourly: $29.90

Number of RNs in Idaho: 14,110

Cost of Living Index: 94.3

Effective Tax Rate: 8.50%

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Average RN Salary: $73,880

Average Hourly: $32.07

Number of RNs in New Hampshire: 14,320

Cost of Living Index: 108

Effective Tax Rate: 10.02%

Average RN Salary: $71,870

Average Hourly: $31.00

Number of RNs in Virginia: 66,040

Cost of Living Index: 101.4

Effective Tax Rate: 10.73%

Average RN Salary: $74,100

Average Hourly: $33.32

Number of RNs in Delaware: 11,730

Cost of Living Index: 107.7

Effective Tax Rate: 6.19%

Average RN Salary: $69,590

Average Hourly: $30.93

Number of RNs in Georgia: 75,430

Cost of Living Index: 90

Effective Tax Rate: 10.46%

Average RN Salary: $104,060

Average Hourly: $43.76

Number of RNs in Hawaii: 11,330

Cost of Living Index: 197.6

Effective Tax Rate: 10.62%

Average RN Salary: $72,610

Average Hourly: $31.94

Number of RNs in Wisconsin: 61,930

Cost of Living Index: 95.7

Effective Tax Rate: 13.29%

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Average RN Salary: $62,450

Average Hourly: $27.50

Number of RNs in Kansas:  30,370

Cost of Living Index: 86.5

Effective Tax Rate: 13.40%

Average RN Salary: $76,230

Average Hourly: $33.05

Number of RNs in Colorado: 52,510

Cost of Living Index: 103.2

Effective Tax Rate: 8.58%

Average RN Salary: $94,820

Average Hourly: $38.47

Number of RNs in DC: 10,890

Cost of Living Index: 160.7

Effective Tax Rate: 8.96%

Average RN Salary: $83,440

Average Hourly: $35.33

Number of RNs in Connecticut: 34,740

Cost of Living Index: 124.2

Effective Tax Rate: 14.64%

Average RN Salary: $73,200

Average Hourly: $32.43

Number of RNs in Michigan: 96,900

Cost of Living Index: 90.1

Effective Tax Rate: 12.29%

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13. Rhode Island

Average RN Salary: $82,310

Average Hourly: $35.73

Number of RNs in Rhode Island: 12,630

Cost of Living Index: 118.6

Effective Tax Rate: 12.89%

Average RN Salary: $73,510

Average Hourly: $33.03

Number of RNs in Illinois: 129,530

Cost of Living Index: 89.7

Effective Tax Rate: 14.96%

Average RN Salary: $74,540

Average Hourly: $33.02

Number of RNs in Texas: 218,090

Cost of Living Index: 91.7

Effective Tax Rate: 12.71%

Average RN Salary: $84,280

Average Hourly: $38.36

Number of RNs in New Jersey: 80,140

Cost of Living Index: 122.4

Effective Tax Rate: 12.62%

Average RN Salary: $73,300

Average Hourly: $32.49

Number of RNs in New Mexico: 17,350

Cost of Living Index: 87.2

Effective Tax Rate: 10.46%

Average RN Salary: $78,330

Average Hourly: $34.94

Number of RNs in Arizona: 54,590

Cost of Living Index: 100.1

Effective Tax Rate: 9.59%

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Average RN Salary: $80,130

Average Hourly: $35.80

Number of RNs in Minnesota: 71,000

Cost of Living Index: 101.2

Effective Tax Rate: 11.27%

Average RN Salary: $90,500

Average Hourly: $40.01

Number of RNs in Alaska: 6,210

Cost of Living Index: 128.4

Effective Tax Rate: 5.73%

Average RN Salary: $92,960

Average Hourly: $42.32

Number of RNs in Oregon: 36,660

Cost of Living Index: 134.3

Effective Tax Rate: 9.05%

Average RN Salary: $86,170

Average Hourly: $37.71

Number of RNs in Washington: 58,000

Cost of Living Index: 112.2

Effective Tax Rate: 12.06%

Average RN Salary: $93,160

Average Hourly: $40.58

Number of RNs in Massachusetts: 81,020

Cost of Living Index: 129.7

Effective Tax Rate: 10.87%

Average RN Salary: $88,380

Average Hourly: $40.36

Number of RNs in Nevada: 22,490

Cost of Living Index: 108.8

Effective Tax Rate: 8.04%


Average RN Salary: $113,240

Average Hourly: $48.30

Number of RNs in California: 302,770

Cost of Living Index: 142.7

Effective Tax Rate: 8.94%

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Next Up:  15 Highest Paying Nursing Careers

1. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered Nurses. May 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics.
2. The Council for Community and Economic Research. Cost of Living Index. Cost of Living Data Series, 2016 Annual Average.
3. 2017’s Tax Rates by State. March 2017.



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