Best Mountain Towns to Live and Work as a Healthcare Professional
December 19, 2019
Healthcare professionals have many options for places to live and practice. As long as a location is reasonably well populated and has at least one decent-sized facility, they should consider living there. Here, we’ll focus on the best mountain towns.
Mountain towns and cities make great places to live. The climate is generally temperate, and the views never disappoint. We’ll look especially at smaller communities, some of which can draw a lot of tourists.
Having a permanent population along with predictable numbers of visitors can bring a lot of business to local healthcare facilities. So, there’s not likely to be any shortage of work in the places we’ve chosen.
Selecting the Best Places to Live in the Mountains
Our selection process has been a subjective one. We’ve started with places that just look nice and have good reviews–if we haven’t been there ourselves.
We’ve read about the recreational and cultural amenities, including if one or more small-to-medium colleges are located there.
We’ve looked into attributes like the cost of living and average home value that would be of interest to most people.
And we’ve considered things of particular interest to those in healthcare professions, such as:
- Number and types of healthcare facilities in the area,
- Any medical schools in the area that might flood the market with their grads,
- Staffing needs, especially in medical specialties.
Our Selection of the Best Mountain Towns to Live and Work
Our selection was based on blog articles and other sources listing “top mountain towns” and similar categories (including top retirement locations). We chose towns and cities that were selected most frequently and had populations high enough to sustain local hospitals.
We’ve listed them alphabetically:
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is a small city located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Its population as of 2019 is 92,452.
The cost of living in Asheville is 106 (with the U.S. average being 100). The median home price is $286,900.
Asheville is a hub of activity for the visual arts, crafts, and the performing arts. There is a good-sized area of downtown dedicated to the arts. The University of North Carolina at Asheville has a strong focus on the liberal arts and sciences.
The largest healthcare provider in Asheville (and the surrounding region) is Mission Health, which includes Mission Hospital (a Level 2 trauma center, expected to become Level 1), Mission Children’s Hospital, and Asheville Specialty Hospital.
While it is not possible to obtain an M.D. entirely from UNC Asheville, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine has a program there (also one in Charlotte) to serve third- and fourth-year medical students.
There is a need in Asheville and surrounding communities for doctors who practice rural medicine.
According to the assistant dean for the UNC School of Medicine-Asheville campus their program is helping to meet a need for M.D.s willing to put down roots in the region.
As of 2019, the population of Bend is 97,590, nearly four times what it was in 1990. Due to the influx of new residents, the cost of living in Bend has gone up dramatically.
The cost of living in Bend is now 123.5 (the U.S. average is 100). The median home value is $447,200.
This small city lies just east of the Cascades Mountains and is about 170 miles southeast of the Portland-Salem area. With “300 days of sunshine per year” and a wealth of natural beauty, Bend is ideal for those who enjoy outdoor recreation.
In winter, there are snow sports in the Cascades and mountain biking in summer. And, in other seasons, there’s boating and other water sports on the Deschutes River, which runs through Bend.
People love the clean air and fresh drinking water in Bend. They also love the independently owned shops and restaurants downtown, as well as the arts and culture.
St. Charles Health System, whose main hospital is located in Bend, is the largest medical care provider in Central Oregon. It, along with numerous area practices, appears to have several openings for various positions.
Given the growing population of Bend, it seems likely that the staffing needs of existing healthcare facilities will only grow along with it.
Oregon’s only medical school is the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland. it has an affiliated school of osteopathic medicine.
As the home to Montana State University, Montana’s largest university, Bozeman has a great intellectual life. Bozeman also has a great arts scene for a town its size.
Bozeman is a couple of hours north of Yellowstone National Park and has abundant outdoor recreation activities available in its immediate surroundings as well.
The main hospital and healthcare facility in Bozeman is Bozeman Health/Deaconess Hospital, which has an array of different services and specialties, including a cancer center. There are numerous open positions for physicians, RNs, and other healthcare professionals.
Concord, New Hampshire
With the White Mountains to the north, Maine and New Hampshire beaches to the east, and Manchester (New Hampshire’s largest city) and greater Boston to the south, Concord has a lot to see and do.
Concord also happens to be the New Hampshire state capital. This lovely small city had a population of 42,683 as of 2018. Its cost of living is 95.8 (the U.S. average is 100) and its median home price is $232,000.
Concord is within an easy drive of numerous colleges and universities. However, the nearest medical schools are at the University of Vermont and throughout eastern Massachusetts.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities in Concord and nearby Manchester include Concord Hospital, New Hampshire Hospital (a psychiatric hospital) and a branch of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital (headquartered in Lebanon).
There also is Manchester’s Elliot Hospital/Health System, Southern New Hampshire’s largest healthcare provider and home to a regional trauma center.
It’s our opinion that the Concord-Manchester, NH area would be ideal for two-career couples wanting to live together.
Fayetteville is situated in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. It has a 2019 population of 86,751. The cost of living is 92.9 (U.S. average is 100) and the median home price is $220,500.
Fayetteville ranked fourth in the nation for best places to live, according to US News & World Report. Its residents surely enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
The city also has a couple of highly-rated performing arts venues and is home to the University of Arkansas, with its 27,000 students. It encompasses several colleges and schools and the Faulkner Performing Arts Center.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is located in Little Rock. However, Fayetteville has several hospitals and other healthcare facilities including Washington Regional Hospital and Medical Center, a Level II trauma center.
They are seeking applications from physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
Lake Placid/Saranac Lake, New York
The 2019 population of the combined villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake is roughly 10-12,000 if you include nearby communities. This is the permanent population, which doesn’t include the many tourists who come to the area.
The cost of living for Lake Placid is 110.3 and the median home price is $329,500. the cost of living for Saranac Lake is 83.1 and its median home price is $149,200. As you can see there some differences between the two places, which are only 17 miles apart.
The two communities sit in the heart of New York’s beautiful Adirondack Mountains, about 2½-3 hours from Albany, NY to the south and Montréal to the north. The area is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts but also boasts many year-round outdoor activities.
Adirondack Health, the regional hospital and healthcare center, is headquartered in Saranac Lake. For a small regional system, there are numerous open positions for healthcare professionals, including some specialty physicians.
Park City, Utah
Park City and Park City Mountain are a resort community that lies to the east of Salt Lake City (40 miles) and the Oquirrh Mountains. Park City is very well known for its skiing and annual independent film festival. Plus, it has a very hip culture!
Park City has a permanent population of 8,504, as well as a lot of visitors. The cost of living there is 175.0, which is 75% above the national average. The median home price is $793,800.
Note that housing costs are the biggest factor in the high cost of living. We also have learned that Utah has much lower taxes than some other states.
Park City Hospital is a beautiful structure that is a perfect fit for the surrounding scenery. It’s a full-service hospital that’s part of Intermountain Healthcare, which is based in Salt Lake City.
There are physician and other jobs are available–though it’s hard to tell how many of them there are.
Park City is a popular but expensive location, so one can imagine there being a lot of turnover.
Sedona is famous (and rightfully so) for the amazing red rock formations that surround it and the San Francisco Mountains a bit to the north. It’s also known for having a mild climate year-round, though summers can be hot.
Sedona has a wide variety of arts and cultural activities and events. And there are several highly-rated dining establishments.
The population of Sedona is 10,335 as of 2019. The cost of living there is $134.3 (the U.S. average is 100) and its median home price is $504,600. The town itself is pricey, but nearby Cottonwood is at or near the national average for both numbers.
The local Verde Valley Medical Center is part of the Northern Arizona Health Network (headquartered in Flagstaff). The Northern Arizona Health Network is recruiting physicians and many other healthcare professionals.
Telluride is a beautiful location, though also a very isolated one. The nearest city is Grand Junction 2½ hours to the north. Fortunately, there are regular flights between Telluride and the Denver airport, where they connect to many other cities.
Telluride has a population of 2,484 and is home to a very popular ski resort. Its streets are lined with eclectic buildings that date back to the town’s mining days. And some of the world’s best chefs call Telluride and its restaurants home.
With luxuries such as these, it’s no wonder that Telluride’s cost of living it 189.7 (the U.S. average is 100). And its median home price is $902,900. Wow!
It seems odd, though, that the Telluride Regional Medical Center would be struggling inside a 10,000-foot converted residential building built in the 1960s. We hope that when a new facility comes along, there will be some room for additional staffing!
The Telluride Regional Medical Center plays an important role for its small and remote location. For one thing, it’s a Level 5 trauma center, taking care of surrounding areas along with the town’s many visitors (and their accidents).
Truckee (Lake Tahoe), California
The population of Truckee is 16,561 in 2019. The cost of living there is 154.9 (U.S. average is 100). The median home price is $619,800.
Like many other small mountain towns, Truckee has a vibrant arts scene that competes with year-round outdoor recreation to keep people entertained.
The Tahoe Forest Health System seems to be the dominant provider in the Lake Tahoe region of California. Nevada providers include Carson-Tahoe Health, Saint Mary’s Health Network, and Renown Regional Medical Center.
Nearby Reno is home to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (a partner of Renown RMC), and is less than an hour from Truckee. The University of California Davis School of Medicine is two hours away.
Living for the Work or Working for the Life?
Really, you should do both. That’s why we’ve shared this list of what we think would be the best mountain towns to live in for healthcare professionals.
But, have you made your selection from the town we’ve discussed here? Perhaps you’ve decided some of them would make better vacation spots than places to buy a home? The coolest mountain towns aren’t necessarily the best ones to live and work in.
Besides, you could have some student debt. And depending on the position you accept and where it’s located, you might need to select a location with an average cost of living and affordable housing.
There are some very affordable communities discussed here, though, such as Concord, NH and Fayetteville, AR. And remember, any high-priced resort areas are very likely to have less costly places very close by–like Saranac Lake, NY and Cottonwood, AZ.
If you’re looking for a position in one of the many healthcare professions, please get in touch with us. We’d be happy to help you find some possible matches for your talents.