When my wife accepted her first travel nursing contract, housing wasn’t even on our minds. Little did we know, that finding good housing is one of the most challenging aspects of being a healthcare traveler! Which places offer 3 months’ rent? Are they furnished, or do I rent stuff? How do I know who to trust? Fortunately, these anxieties and questions are very common, so we put together this resource to be your ultimate guide for housing as a travel nurse.
Where do travel nurses find housing?
This was my wife’s first travel contract and we felt somewhat left in the dark on how to find suitable housing for her while she was gone on contract, so we chatted with travel nurses, coworkers, Reddit communities, and even our neighbors to find the best information on housing for travel nurses that we wanted to share with you. From online housing agencies to extended-stay hotels, you’ve got options.
These were the first places my wife checked when diving into the housing game and a great start for travelers. We learned that especially popular among travel nurses is FurnishedFinder because it is specific to travel nurses. These sites are great because the homes come furnished, meaning you won’t have to worry about bringing your bed from home across the country with you. The downside of sites like this is that they can be more expensive due to the fees that accumulate as a third-party provider.
Airbnb and VRBO are great options because they are more reliable and trustworthy, but they rarely offer multi-month rentals, so you end up paying the daily rate for 90 days. That usually means it’s much more expensive compared to FurnishedFinder, which is specifically for traveling healthcare workers like you. However, anyone can post on FurnishedFinder, and sometimes they require down payments, even if you haven’t seen the location. Always be wary of handing over money without ensuring it’s a real place, instead do this:
- Facetime with the person
- Use Google Maps ‘Street View’ to find the location and ensure it matches the photo
- Find a friend in the area who is willing to tour it for you
- Read online reviews
Extended Stay Hotels for Travel Nurses
Although we didn’t go this route, a go-to for travelers is the always evergreen extended stay at your local Marriott (or maybe you’re a Holiday Inn-type). Staying at a hotel can be a safe, cheaper alternative to renting, plus it has perks. Continental breakfast, anyone? Extended stay offers consistency, cleaning, quality, parking, and the occasional pool/hot tub or even a gym. Plus, if your contract gets canceled or you decide it’s not for you, you’ll almost always get refunded for the days you aren’t staying.
Traveler tip: Sign up for the loyalty program and call the manager for the best deal.
Apartments, Landlords & Facebook Groups for Travel Nurses
Some travel nurses have confessed to finding apartment listings online that have been posted for a while and reaching out to the renters to see if they would consider a short-term rental since the place has been vacant for so long. Be sure to look at the location in person before signing any leases, there may be a reason the listing hasn’t been snatched up sooner.
My wife even tried calling apartment complexes to see if they have any furnished units they would consider renting out for a short-term lease. This ultimately was how we found our first place! The landlord had a furnished apartment she wanted to rent but hadn’t posted anything online yet. It was a great example of turning over all rocks before making a decision.
Another easy way to find housing and get a sense of what the community is like is to check out local Facebook groups. You might even find yourself a roommate or two with this option.
Before Signing your Travel Nurse Contract
Housing is a major piece of travel nursing, so you need to make sure it’s not only a good fit for you but that it’s even available. Before applying for a contract, dive into Google and make sure there are housing options available, whether it’s local landlords listing apartments or hotels near the hospitals. We had heard horror stories about other travelers accepting contract offers only to later realize most of their paycheck had to go to housing or worse, they had to commute a ridiculous amount to the hospital because housing wasn’t available.
Once you’ve applied, ask during the interview process what areas of the city to avoid and where are the safest places to live. That way you can begin the housing search before signing the contract and making the jump.
Other Sites to Consider for Travel Nurses
The Biggest Piece of Advice for Travel Nurses
Stay at a hotel during your assignment for the first couple of weeks to scope out the area.
This was the best piece of advice my wife received when she signed her first contract. Once you’ve started your contract, ask around the hospital if other travelers have experience with housing in the area, they might just have an open room! Or maybe their assignment is ending soon and you can take over their housing option.
Not only is this a great way to find housing, but a great way to potentially make some new traveler friends and meet your coworkers! Plus, worst-case scenario, if within those first couple weeks, you need to cancel your contract, you won’t lose out on money you had put toward rent, Airbnb, VRBO, etc. A hotel is more likely to refund you than other locations.
How Much Should I Spend on Housing as a Travel Nurse?
After a few test runs, we found that a good rule of thumb is to not spend more than a quarter of your paycheck on housing.
What became really helpful was the Stability Calculator. It allowed us to see what my wife’s monthly take-home could look like based on different assignments she could apply for. If you’re like most travel nurses, you’re trying to maximize your take-home pay, so you’re looking for the least expensive place, so long as it’s safe. What we learned is pretty subjective to your contract and ultimately, the amount you spend on housing has a lot of factors. These are the questions we found ourselves asking: What city is the assignment in? What kind of housing do we want? Will there be any roommates? The list goes on.
A big piece to consider is finding an agency that will provide a housing stipend. We learned that although most agencies do, some don’t. So it became important for my wife and me that she went with an agency that offered some level of housing options.
Traveler tip: Find cheaper housing and pocket the leftover stipend amount! With two little boys at home, the extra money became helpful.
How to Rent as a Travel Nurse?
We spent a lot of time looking into rentals and, if like us, you decide to go the rental route, there are a few things to keep in mind before signing that lease like speaking with the landlord, seeing the site in person, and furnishing the home.
- Make sure you’ve spoken with the landlord and discussed your situation. Life happens, so we asked ourselves (and the landlord): What happens if the contract gets canceled? Can we get out of the lease? Is month-to-month offered? A 3-month lease with the possibility to extend? Going through the scenarios provided us with a sense of relief in case things turned south.
- Scope out the site before signing anything! Online pictures and even videos can be deceiving. We visited two locations that were not nearly as nice as they looked online.
- If you’re renting a home or apartment, it’s probably empty. This was the hardest part about renting for my wife because it meant we would have to move furniture into the place (or at the very least, a mattress). That’s why a lot of travel nurses opt for fully furnished rentals versus empty studios and lonely rooms.
- Consider the paycheck. Would the stipend fully cover the rent? Would any stipend be left over for us at the end of the month?
What About Furnished Housing for Travel Nurses?
Furnished housing is one of the easier and highly suggested options for travel nurses due to its feasibility and variety of options, and it made the most sense for us. This includes sites like Airbnb or VRBO where you can rent out short-term locations, extended-stay hotels, or short-term rentals from Facebook groups or other online listings.
Using furnished housing during her contract allowed my wife to have the comfort and set-up of a home without the hassle of bringing all her furniture across the country. Downsides of furnished housing include added fees from third-party sites like VRBO or Airbnb, and the fact that it wasn’t her own comfy bed she was sleeping in each night. Regardless of that, it’s an easy option and made travel nursing a breeze when we didn’t have to worry about renting out a U-Haul to drag our queen-sized mattress on assignment.
Traveler tip: Many hospital management or administration have a list of furnished housing, so it’s always good to ask them when starting your assignment since most of the time it’s other healthcare professionals who work in the hospital who rent out to travelers.
How Long Do Travel Nurses Stay in One Place?
Travel nurse contracts usually last 3 months or 13 weeks, but many travelers opt to extend their assignments if they like the hospital or the coworkers. That’s why having flexible housing is super important. Whether it’s an extension or cancellation, having dependable housing can make or break the travel nursing experience.
One Last Thing
Deciding to make the jump to travel nursing is a big step, so it’s important to have resources you can count on. Check out our blog and resource guide for other travel nurse-related questions and inquiries. Follow us on social media to join our travel nursing community!