You need to change the order of how you are doing things. Unless you want to spend possibly hours for your daily commute, the first thing you need to do is find a job. Then once you have a job you can start looking for areas to live near your job. I am not sure how much studying and planning you did on your budget to come up with the $1500-$2000/month budget for your apartment. As the general "guideline" many people suggest that no more than about 30% of your income goes toward housing, and in determining if you qualify for an apartment the landlord will use a number very close to this. This puts you at about 60K-80K annual salary, and as a starting nurse depending on your actual degree and work location, this may be at the upper end or over what you will actually be making. But if you can afford the $1500-$2000/month you will be able to find an apartment, but it may not meet all of your requirements. Areas that have nice restaurants and shopping within walking distance tend to be in more "trendy" areas, and trendy = expensive, and would be at the higher end of your budget. So you may have to re-think what your most important factors are..of course after you get a job.