Travel Guides

Oklahoma: Location Guide

The wind comes sweeping down the Plains, but nurses in Oklahoma enjoy a diverse array of geographic features. Forests cover approximately 24% of the state and water covers about 1,224 square miles, with more man-made lakes than any other state. It also has parts of the Ozark, Arbuckle, Wichita, and Ouachita mountains within its borders. Besides amazing topography and tons of outdoor adventures, Oklahoma also offers numerous attractions, unique events, delicious southern cooking, a relatively mild climate, and one of the lowest costs of living in the country.

Top Locations to Live in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City: OKC is the state’s capital and offers tons of interesting things to do and major league attractions, including a thriving arts and entertainment scene, the world-renowned National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, and OKC Thunder sporting events at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. 

It’s also home to the prestigious SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Oklahoma City. OKC boasts a spirited blend of culture and commerce with a deep western heritage, prolific nightlife, and a revitalized downtown area with the stunning Bricktown Entertainment District.

Despite being the largest city in Oklahoma, OKC offers remarkably affordable prices and incredibly short commute times compared to other metro areas. It was listed in Kiplinger’s 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In with a cost of living 14.2% below the national average in 2020. Oklahoma City nurses also benefit from housing costs about 20% below the national average, which includes home prices and apartment rents. Some notable neighborhoods include: 

Shawnee: Located just east of OKC, Shawnee serves as a regional hub for the primarily rural surrounding area. It’s rich in history and diversity, with everything nurses need for fun after-work outings. Shawnee is home to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center and Eagle Aviary, Oklahoma Baptist University, and the Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art, which houses Oklahoma’s only ancient Egyptian mummies and over 8,000 artifacts covering 1000s of years of human history.  It also boasts 36 parks including the Shawnee Twin Lakes with its array of water recreations. SSM Health St Anthony’s Medical Center-Shawnee is a great place for nurses in Shawnee to work, while taking advantage of home prices that are about 24% less than the statewide average.

Tulsa: T-Town, the state’s second-largest city, is a modern metro area known for its art deco architecture, distinct culture, and welcoming hospitality. It offers a fabulous array of cultural amenities from the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, which houses four theaters and the acclaimed Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Ballet, and Tulsa Opera. Tulsa nurses can visit world-class cultural attractions including the Philbrook Museum of Art and Gilcrease Museum or catch a concert at the famous Cain’s Ballroom. Outdoorsy healthcare professionals love Mohawk Park, the city’s largest park and one of the largest municipal parks in the nation, and Tulsa River Parks, which includes the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area.

Tulsa made Kiplinger’s 25 Cheapest U.S. Cities to Live In with a cost of living 15.6% below the national average. It’s also on the 2020-2021 list of 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. Housing costs are an amazing 39% below the national average. 

Edmond: Located just north Oklahoma City, Edmond offers a great overall quality of life and a cost of living much lower than the national average. It has low violent and property crime rates and boasts numerous tasty restaurants, one-of-a-kind boutiques, antique shops, and an ice-skating arena. Edmond also has 23 city parks, including the beautiful Acadia Lake, and the Blues and Jazz Club, featuring live music, soul food, and a relaxing atmosphere. Nurses in Edmond find numerous single and multi-family housing options with more than 250 neighborhoods and 35 apartment complexes with varying price points.

Top Hospitals in Oklahoma 

SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital-Oklahoma City: The SSM Health system is the #4 ranked employer in the state of Oklahoma. St. Anthony in midtown OKC was rated high performing in four adult procedures and conditions, including heart failure, hip and knee replacement, and COPD. It serves the healthcare needs of Central Oklahoma with a wide range of services with specialties in cardiology, surgery, oncology, and behavioral health. The SSM Health system also operates St. Anthony Hospital-Shawnee, a general medical and surgical teaching facility with a med-surg ICU and onsite 24/7 emergency department.

Integris Baptist Medical Center: Integris Baptist Medical Center is the flagship location of the Integris Health Network, which opened in 1959, and is a Magnet hospital for excellence in nursing services. It’s a general medical and surgical facility and teaching hospital, and holds high performance ratings in five adult procedures and conditions.

St. Francis Hospital-Tulsa: St. Francis is the anchor of the Saint Francis Health System. It’s a general medical and surgical facility, teaching hospital, and tertiary center with 1,112 beds, bariatric services, an onsite emergency department, a cardiac ICU, and a med-surg ICU.

HillCrest Medical Center- Tulsa: This 620 bed flagship hospital boasts a multitude of services and is Oklahoma’s largest dedicated heart hospital. They offer competitive pay and pride themselves on offering opportunities for growth to their employees. They are dedicated to continuing quality improvement and the implement of the latest technology in healthcare. 

Average Pay and Cost of Living in Oklahoma

Oklahoma ranked 4th in the nation for affordability, coming in 2nd for a low cost of living and 7th for affordable housing. Oklahoma remained the second least expensive place to live in 2020 with an overall cost of living more than 13% below the national average. The costs for utilities, groceries, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods and services were slightly lower than national averages, but housing costs were nearly 30% lower. Oklahoma also ranked 7th in the nation for the lowest average monthly mortgage payments per LendingTree analysts.

Oklahoma Job Market

Oklahoma healthcare jobs are abundant and have tons of options for nurses and allied health workers. The job market is hot year round and nurses can find decent pay rates, balanced with a low cost of living. Nurses in all specialties will find jobs that are paying close to, if not more than, surrounding states and will keep more of their paycheck due to lower housing costs. 

December 2021 saw 100s of nursing and allied health jobs in travel and permanent positions posted on Vivian around the State of Oklahoma. In-demand nursing roles included med-surg, telemetry, ICU, ED, PCU, behavioral health,  surgical step-down, and OR. Top recruited allied health professionals included respiratory therapists, medical lab techs, speech language pathologists, and CT techs. The top paid staff nurses in Oklahoma are seeing rates close to $50 per hour. 

Popular Oklahoma Attractions

Oklahoma offers an amazing array of things to do and many of them at low-cost or even free. It’s home to the largest drivable stretch of Route 66 in the nation, which provides a nostalgic cruise filled with historical places and quirky roadside stops. Oklahoma has 32 state parks, 10 of which are free. You can purchase an inexpensive annual pass for entry into the remaining 22, including Robber’s Cave State Park, a former hideout of Jesse James and Belle Starr. Here are some of the top Oklahoma attractions:

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: Founded in 1955, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City is a premier institution of Western history, art, and culture with an internationally renowned collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. It charges $12.50 for guests over 12 and $5.75 for children ages six to 12.

Animal Adventures: Apart from being home to “the Tiger King”, Oklahoma has top-rated zoos, an indoor aquarium with the world’s largest collection of bull sharks, and other unique attractions for animal lovers to experience close encounters with creatures from around the world, including:

  • Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden opened in 1902 and features 120 acres of innovative exhibits with over 1,800 animals in environments simulating their natural habitats. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with ticket prices at $9 for children ages three to 11 and adults ages 65 or older, and $12 for guests between ages 12 and 64.
  • The Tulsa Zoo opened in 1928 and boasts 84 acres of exhibits featuring over 3,000 animals spanning more than 400 species, including several rare and endangered animals. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with $8 tickets for visitors aged three to 11, $12 for individuals aged 12 to 64, $10 for seniors age 65 or older, and free for Tulsa Zoo Friends Members.
  • The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks has eight exhibit galleries offering a glimpse into the amazing underwater world and the creatures that call it home. Hours are Monday and Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $17.95 for individuals aged 13 to 61 and $13.95 for children aged three to 12 and adults aged 62 and older.

Alabaster Caverns in Freedom is one of the largest natural gypsum caves in the world. Daily tours are offered on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and visitors can try wild caving, also known as spelunking, in four caves maintained for this purpose from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Park is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with free admission, but tours and wild caving require a fee.

No matter what type of nursing or allied health position you’re looking for in Oklahoma, Vivian can help with 100s of jobs available in fun-filled towns across the state. Vivian can help match you to the perfect job and set you up with potential employers right away.



Rachel Norton BSN, RN

I have been a critical care nurse since 2007. I grew up in the northeast but enjoy every corner of the country. My passions are people and travel. Travel nursing allows me to meet amazing people and satisfy my wanderlust. I love inspiring other nurses to travel and expand their practice.

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