Travel Guides

Virginia: Healthcare Employment Location Guide

From mountains to shores, Virginia is a breathtaking state with unbeatable southern hospitality, named the 7th best state to live in nationwide by U.S. News & World Report in 2021. As one of the original 13 colonies, Old Dominion has a long and storied history. Tributes to the past can be found throughout the state, including Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and historic homes that were the birthplaces of eight former Presidents. Virginia also teems with natural beauty, including 1,000s of miles of coastline, four major rivers flowing into the Chesapeake Bay, 217 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains and 555 miles of the Appalachians. Whether you’re a history buff or nature enthusiast, nurses and allied health professionals find lots to love about working in healthcare in Virginia.

Top Hospitals in Virginia

Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia

Virginia boasts several top hospitals and health systems throughout the state, offering numerous employment opportunities for nurses, advanced practice professionals and allied health workers. We post unbiased employer reviews to help you learn more about healthcare facilities across the state. Some of the top employers you’ll find in Virginia include the following:

  • University of Virginia Medical Center: Located in Charlottesville, this 612-bed general medical and surgical facility is a teaching hospital with a med-surg ICU, cardiac ICU and 24-hour on-site 70-bed emergency department that’s a Level 1 Trauma Center. Ranked the No. 2 hospital in Virginia in 2022-2023, the University of Virginia Medical Center nationally ranked in six children’s specialties and rated high performing in six adult specialties and 14 procedures and conditions. UVA Medical Center has been Magnet-recognized for its excellence in nursing services since 2015. It won a Pinnacle of Excellence Award for its cancer center in 2021 and landed on Becker’s 100 great hospitals in America list in 2020.
  • Inova Fairfax Hospital: Located in Falls Church, Inova Fairfax Hospital is a 923-bed medical center serving northern Virginia and the D.C. metro area. It ranked as the No. 1 hospital in Virginia and Washington, D.C., in 2022-2023, nationally ranked in one adult specialty and one children’s specialty and rated high performing in five adult specialties and 17 procedures and conditions. Inova Fairfax Hospital is a general medical and surgical facility, an independent academic medical center and a regional medical school campus with a 24-hour Level 1 Trauma Center. It earned Magnet recognition in 2020, and Leapfrog awarded the hospital “Straight A’s” for patient safety from 2018 to 2022, naming it a Top Teaching Hospital in 2022.
  • VCU Medical Center: Located in Richmond, the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center ranked as the No. 3 hospital in Virginia and the No. 1 hospital in Richmond in 2022-2023. It nationally ranked in one adult specialty and three pediatric specialties and rated high performing in five adult specialties and 10 procedures and conditions. VCA Medical Center is a general medical and surgical teaching facility with a med-surg ICU, cardiac ICU and 24-hour Level I Trauma Center. It’s one of only two NCI-designated cancer centers in Virginia and has been designated as a Magnet Hospital four consecutive times since 2006. VCA Medical Center received Get With The Guidelines–Stroke GOLD PLUS and Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll Elite Plus designations in 2022, earned Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification from the Joint Commission in 2021 and was dubbed the Most Socially Responsible Hospital in Virginia by the Lown Institute in 2021.

Average Nurse and Allied Health Pay Rates in Virginia

Vivian had more than 7,000 postings for various nursing or allied health jobs in Virginia in the last week of 2022. Positions included staff and travel roles at top hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the state. The following table demonstrates the average and max pay for RNs and allied health workers during this period.

Discipline Average Pay Rate Max Pay Rate
Staff Registered Nurse $49/hour $69/hour
Travel Registered Nurse $2,450/week $6,403/week
Staff Allied Health Professional $40/hour $44/hour
Travel Allied Health Professional $2,457/week $3,900/week

Top recruited nursing specialties included med-surg, home health, ICU, OR, ED, clinical, telemetry, intermediate care, float, stepdown, PCU and nurse case management. In-demand allied health professionals included pharmacy technicians, medical assistants, phlebotomists, respiratory therapists and CVOR, cath lab, IR, X-ray, MRI, surgical and CT techs.

Cost of Living in Virginia

Virginia’s cost of living index was slightly higher than the national average at 102.1 in 2022, but some items cost a bit less than average, such as groceries, utilities and transportation. Unfortunately, housing costs are higher than the national average by about 13%, which includes buying and renting. However, taxes are comparatively low. Virginia’s property tax rates are 0.75%, well below the national average of .99%. Its income tax is marginally lower than the national average, and Virginia’s average sales taxes are the 11th lowest in the nation. While groceries incur sales taxes, it’s at a reduced rate of 1.5% for state and 1% for local. However, the state repealed state sales taxes on groceries, which will cease in 2023, leaving just the 1% local tax.

Top Locations to Live in Virginia

Virginia has five distinct geographic regions, from a low-lying bay area to a mountainous region with vibrant, diverse and beautiful cities that experience all four seasons. Cities in the south are more rural, where laid-back southern hospitality and a slower pace of life are the norm. Up north is basically an extension of Washington, D.C., so life in these affluent cities tends to be faster-paced with higher housing prices, but the spectacular natural surroundings still can’t be beaten.


Richmond, Virginia

Virginia’s capital is one of the oldest major cities in the nation and known for being one of the most historical. Richmond is a smaller city with lots to offer, making it ideal for healthcare workers seeking to escape urban life without missing out on big-city opportunities. Richmond nurses and allied health professionals discover a flourishing historical and cultural community enhanced by a treasure trove of historic landmarks, first-class museums like the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, and its own symphony, professional theater, opera and ballet venues. Trendy boutiques, a thriving restaurant scene, more than 30 craft breweries and one of the nation’s largest river park systems helped put Richmond on U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-2023 Best Places to Live in the U.S. list.

Richmond’s 107 neighborhoods are beautiful and unique, with striking architecture like much of the city. Healthcare workers will find a wide array of housing styles and types and more bang for the buck than many other cities up north. Richmond’s overall cost of living is about 4% lower than the national average and 8% lower than the state average, with housing costs about 3% lower than the nationwide average and 16% less than the statewide average.


Alexandria, Virginia

Boasting small-town charm and big-city amenities, Alexandria sits on the Potomac River, just south of Washington, D.C., making it a popular commuter area. While real estate and rental costs are higher, crime rates are relatively low. Violent crime is about half the rate as the national average. Nurses in Alexandria and allied health professionals in Alexandria enjoy top shopping venues, an assortment of parks and walking trails and a super dog-friendly environment with 18 dog parks and numerous Fido-inspired events. Alexandria is also a foodie oasis with an array of delicious independent restaurants covering nearly every taste and cuisine.

Old Town Alexandria is a nationally designated historic district with over 100 independently owned boutiques and interesting sightseeing like the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Health-conscious nurses find the freshest produce at the Old Town Farmers’ Market, named the oldest continuously run farmers’ market in the nation. Alexandria has 83 neighborhoods with distinctive personalities. Unfortunately, real estate prices are among the most expensive in Virginia and nationwide, partially due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. 


Charlottesville, Virginia

Healthcare workers may find their happy place in Charlottesville, which was named America’s happiest city in a study by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research and ranked third in National Geographic’s list of top 25 happiest cities in America. Set in the rolling hills of a historic landscape, Charlottesville offers an appealing array of arts and entertainment, independent restaurants, trendy shops and just enough bustle to keep things interesting. It’s been ranked on Livability’s 100 Best Places to Live since 2017.

Charlottesville nurses and allied health workers benefit from a lower-than-average commute time and enjoy free trolley rides, an impressive collection of historic buildings and nearby Shenandoah National Park with breathtaking views and amazing hikes. Two of the largest employers are the University of Virginia Medical Center and Martha Jefferson Hospital, with 8.64% of Charlottesville residents working in healthcare. Charlottesville has 27 neighborhoods, and though its real estate is some of the most expensive in Virginia, it’s still more affordable than in the northern parts of the state.

Falls Church

Falls Church, Virginia

Located just a few miles from Washington, D.C., Falls Church is another popular choice for those wanting to be near the nation’s capital and the renowned art galleries and museums found there. Falls Church is an affluent area with a small population that gives it a wonderful small-town feel without the big-city bustle while still being close to a wide array of amenities. Despite its proximity to crime-riddled Washington, crime rates in Falls Church are relatively low, and nearly every neighborhood offers a wealth of shops, restaurants and nightspots that reflect the city’s dynamic cultural diversity, including the State Theatre. 

Nurses and allied health professionals living in Falls Church may enjoy the more peaceful, less-congested setting, which is home to Inova Fairfax Hospital, the largest hospital in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Falls Church has 31 unique neighborhoods with a wide range of housing types, including single-family homes, townhouses, condos and apartments, with historic Colonial, modern new-construction homes and spacious craftsmen homes. Unfortunately, home prices are among the most expensive in the state and nation because being near Washington drives up real estate prices.

Popular Virginia Attractions

Virginia is filled with attractions that make great day trips or weekend excursions. Areas in northeastern Virginia are just a few miles from Washington, D.C., making a visit to the nation’s capital a convenient excursion. The state boasts plenty of other things to do and see, including these popular attractions.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park stretches 105 miles from Front Royal to Waynesboro. Some of the Park’s main attractions include over 500 miles of hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, fields of wildflowers blooming in the spring and summer, stunning autumn colors for leaf peepers, 190 species of birds, abundant wildlife, and tranquil wooded hollows. With over 200,000 protected acres, there’s so much to explore. Entrance fees are $30 per vehicle or $15 per person walking in, or purchase an annual pass for $55. Camping is available at five designated campgrounds or in the backcountry. Nurses with limited time can tackle one of several beautiful day hikes.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

Spread across 600 acres overlooking Washington D.C., Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington honors those who’ve served our nation. Three of the most visited sites are President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite and eternal flame, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the famous Iwo Jima Memorial. ANC is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with $15 general admission for adults.

Presidential Homes

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Virginia is commonly referred to as the “birthplace of a nation” or the “Mother of Presidents” because eight former Presidents were born in the state, more than any other. Homes tied to these Presidents are still standing and most are open for tours, an ideal attraction for history buffs. Nurses can tour:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville 
  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon 
  • James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange 
  • William Harrison’s Berkeley Plantation in Charles City
  • James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland in Charlottesville 
  • John Tyler’s Sherwood Forest Plantation in Charles City 
  • Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum in Staunton
  • Zachary Taylor’s Montebello in Orange County is only a historical marker as he was born there but never actually lived there, and the privately-owned home doesn’t offer public tours

Virginia Foodie Scene

Oysters - Top Food in Virginia

Virginia’s extensive history also translates into a food scene that embraces the state’s historical roots with heritage meats and heirloom vegetables and grains. Restaurants also serve savory cheeses, cured country ham (the state’s official food) and Virginia’s signature oysters. The state’s southern-style cuisine also includes BBQ, trout, blue crabs, Brunswick stew, peanuts and apples. To satisfy all types of foodies, chefs intertwine Virginia’s signature flavors with international cuisines for unique fusions like Pakistani-Appalachian fare. From down-home cooking to authentic Mexican and Italian cuisine, there’s definitely something for every gourmand in Virginia.

Like its food, Virginia’s craft beverages also have a long history, dating back to America’s first settlers. Foodies looking for the perfect pairing have plenty of choices, with more than 560 breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries around the state.

Getting Around Old Dominion

The Virginia Transit Association supports public transportation systems throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation also provides public transportation services throughout the Commonwealth. Public transportation options are available in most cities, and for those commuting to Washington, D.C., its Metrorail serves 91 stations in D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

For those requiring air travel, Virginia has 66 public-use airports, with nine offering commercial service and 57 for general aviation. Major airports include Richmond International Airport in Richmond, Washington Dulles International Airport in Dulles and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington.

Nurses and allied health professionals looking for permanent or travel positions in Virginia can count on Vivian Health to help them find the perfect job. Our platform connects healthcare professionals with top employers in Virginia or any state by focusing on salary transparency, a speedier hiring process and matching the ideal candidate with the ideal job to make finding their dream job quicker and easier than ever.

Moira K. McGhee

Moira K. McGhee is Vivian’s Senior Editor & All-Around Wordsmith. As part of the Vivian Health team, she strives to help support the empowerment of nurses and other healthcare professionals in their pursuits to find top-notch travel, staff, local contract and per diem positions faster and easier than ever.

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