Travel Nurse Housing: Everything You Need To Know
As a travel nurse, finding lodging may be intimidating and even overwhelming. But it certainly does not have to be like that. We’ll go over all you need to know about travel nurse housing and how to select the best place to stay in this article.
How To Find Housing As a Travel Nurse? Agency Vs. Stipend
For all travel nurses, housing is one of the most important components of their compensation package. When a travel nurse decides to apply for a job, they want to know about the housing options and how it will work out for them. Housing is a deal-breaker, so that’s why travel nurses need to know precisely what they’re getting themselves into. You’ll want to feel settled and at ease in your new accommodations, whether you’re a first-time traveler or a seasoned veteran.
Travel Nurse Housing Options
There are two choices for travel nurse housing:
- Housing provided by an agency. Housing is arranged for you by your work agency.
- Payment of a stipend, in which you are paid a stipend and are responsible for your own lodging.
Depending on the task, any of these options would be feasible. Some nurses only stay in housing provided by their agencies because it’s convenient and, of course, one less thing to worry about. Another example are travel nurses who accept the stipend and either find their own lodging or even travel in an RV. Neither housing provided by an agency or payment of stipend are superior to the other. It is entirely up to you to determine what will work best.
Allowing your agency to find you housing is the most typical choice for travel nurses. Most organizations have an internal housing department that locates a short-term rental—which often has long leases that rotate travelers in and out. The service can also provide you with housewares such as sheets and dishes, as well as rent your furniture package and pay your utilities (typically, for an extra fee). Some agencies have also been known to pay for cable and internet, though this is not frequent.
Benefits of Agency-Placed Housing
One of the most significant advantages of agency housing is that most agencies have agreements in place with extended stay hotels, which are ideal for longer-term stays and will manage all of the logistics for you. Some nurses are concerned about being placed in a position where they have no say.
Look for simplicity, as there’s nothing better than not being too concerned about housing, more if you are new to traveling. By choosing simplicity, you won’t have to deal with security deposits, utilities, or anything else.
Availability is essential as it can be difficult to find housing on your own in smaller cities with limited housing options.
Housing possibilities provided by the agency may be better than what you can afford with the housing stipend. You can even get a furnished, short-term lease in a safe area that includes utilities for the holidays.
Better Treatment From Landlords
Landlords and property managers are more attentive and helpful when they try to placate a large corporate hiring agency with the chance of a long-term contract than an individual needing only a three-month lease.
No Money Up-Front
You won’t have to pay for the lease, deposits, or anything else out of pocket.
If your assignment is canceled before your lease expires, you avoid a potentially costly situation.
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Housing Stipend Pay
If you choose stipend compensation, you’re responsible for locating, booking, and paying for all of your own housing and related expenses. The exact price varies depending on where you’re going and the terms of your contract. You’ll be charged a monthly rate (about 30-31 days), but it’ll be deducted from your paycheck weekly.
The most challenging aspect of receiving stipend money is finding lodgings within the allocated budget. There will be times where you have to roll the travel allowance and/or any bonuses into the housing to make the stipend option work for you. Even while the stipend may appear to be substantial, finding a suitable, low-cost three-month rental is difficult — many places demand a premium for short-term leases (sometimes double or triple the normal rent). That’s simply for rent. In many cases, you’ll still have to pay for utilities and furniture. Even so, housing stipend pay has way more benefits, which are the next:
Benefits of Stipend Pay For Housing
You Choose Where You Live
You have complete discretion over where and how you live – for example, if you want to live on the beach in California, you can look for a beach house. If you require a washing machine and dryer, you can find housing that provides these.
You Have Control Of How You Live
You get extra move-in/move-out time. When you live in agency-placed accommodation, you usually only have a few days to settle in before your contract begins. The same happens when it comes to moving out. You build your moving timeline when you find your own housing and control how you live.
You Can Keep Part of Your Stipend
Some travel nurses look for low-cost lodging and save their stipend money. Bringing your own furniture or purchasing what you require used might also help you save money. Travel nursing in pairs can help you earn the most money: one of you can take agency-provided accommodation and share the stipend, or you can both take the stipend and look for a place together.
You Get Extra Time To Get Settled
When renting through an agency, you’re usually given two days to move in before your start date and two days after your contract ends. That is typically sufficient, but it is recommended to have a few days before the start date to get a feel of the new city, locate the hospital, do grocery shopping, and so on. And, at the end of each assignment, you’re usually on your way to the next one or home. It’s convenient to be able to choose your own move-in and move-out dates.
Other Housing Options
As a traveling nurse, you have a plethora of lodging alternatives. When deciding how to obtain housing as a travel nurse, here are a few of the more typical choices to consider.
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Travel Nurse Housing Sites
There are websites dedicated just to finding lodging for travel nurses, as they understand exactly what travel nurses need:
- Fully equipped
- Hospitals are close by.
- Options for short-term lease
Some traveling nurse housing websites even include a stipend calculator, allowing you to quickly compare living costs in any city you’re considering.
Simply choose a city and state, and the calculator will give you a breakdown of typical rental pricing for all available housing alternatives in that area. You’ll be able to see comparisons of the differences between a complete apartment vs. a private room, and you’ll be able to quickly see which accommodations have extra bonuses like being pet-friendly or incorporating utilities in the monthly rental price.
You might not have considered an extended-stay hotel for travel nurse lodging, but they can be a terrific option.
And, because they’re hotels, you’ll often have access to perks like free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, fully furnished kitchens or kitchenettes, bed and kitchen linens, a pool and hot tub, workout facilities, and even fun, scheduled events for guests.
Check with your nursing recruiter to see if they have a list of hotels in the region that give traveling nurses discounts.
Friends And Relatives
Finally, living with friends or family during your travel nursing assignment is always an option. Do you want to spend some quality time with your favorite niece or nephew? Why not stay with your best college buddy who recently relocated to the city you’ve always wanted to visit? Spending your assignment at a family member’s or friend’s house may be the best option for you.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Travel Nurse Housing
Are You An Experienced Travel Nurse?
Experienced travel nurses prefer self-placement because it allows them to maximize their earning potential. Let’s imagine your rental agency will pay you $3200 per month to find a place to live. If you can get one for $1200, you can save the remaining $2,000.
What Is Your Main Reason For Taking this Assignment?
Are you looking for a way to get a better income? Is it more vital to go on a new adventure? If you want to make as much money as possible, finding your own lodging and taking advantage of the non-taxable stipend may be the best option. You need to have your mind cleared regarding why you are taking on the job.
Will You Be Able To Live There For The Duration Of Your Assignment?
The typical duration of an assignment is 12-13 weeks, or three months. This makes it difficult to find rental properties, as even most short-term contracts begin at six months. Monthly furnished rentals are now available through Furnished Finder for traveling professionals who want the convenience and stability of a real home without the credit checks and applications that come with it.
Is The Place Close Enough To Work?
Any housing-related questions should be answered by your recruiter. Most travel nurse companies strive to maintain accommodation as close to the hospital as possible—usually within a 30-minute commute—but each location will have its own set of alternatives.
Is There Parking Available?
When it comes to parking, each area will have its own set of rules. Off-site parking can add time to a daily journey, so it’s crucial to know what the situation is ahead of time. Some hospitals charge fees for parking in staff lots, while others provide shuttle service to and from lots farther distant from the facility.
What Can You Actually Afford On Your Own?
Most travel nurses declare a home base (which allows them to receive the additional stipends because they are only considered to be “traveling” if their destinations are a certain distance from their homes) and usually have financial obligations related to that home base, family members, or personal finances such as loans, medical expenses, transportation, and so on.
What Furniture And Appliances Are Included?
Furnished apartments should include all essential items, such as tables, seats, lights, and mattresses. Except in places where it is difficult to bring a car, travelers must carry their own cooking supplies, devices, and linens.
Is The Neighborhood Safe?
Your housing may be located close to the medical facilities, but is it safe? Do basic research regarding the neighborhood where you’re going to live before accepting any travel nursing job.
Housing Stipends: What You Should Know
Rather than allowing the firm to choose for them, the majority of travel nurses prefer to take their housing money and find housing on their own. This is owing to the fact that any surplus money goes into the pocket of a travel nurse if you can keep under the amount allowed. There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to travel nurse housing stipends.
What Is A Housing Stipend?
A housing stipend is a certain amount of money built into your contract to cover the cost of accommodation while you’re on assignment. This can include funds for accommodation, transportation, and food. The stipend is provided weekly through your paycheck and is based on a monthly rate. If you choose a monthly stipend, you will be responsible for your own accommodation and utilities.
Where Does The Stipend Money Come From?
When individuals hear that the housing stipend is connected to the government in some way, they often assume that the government provides it. Sometimes, you’ll see this on social media, but this isn’t the case.
Instead, the housing stipend, like the rest of the travel nursing pay package, is deducted from the bill rate, which is the hourly amount at which the hospital agrees to pay the travel nursing agency for an hour of work.
Your Housing Stipend and Taxes
A few travel nurses will sell their homes, store their belongings, and travel without a “home” where they can pay rent or a mortgage. In this case, any funds raised for housing will be taxed at the standard rate.
You can collect any money granted for accommodation without paying taxes if you have a tax home established wherever you are from. This can make a big difference in your take-home money, especially if you can locate affordable lodging wherever you go.
What Is A Tax Home?
Simply defined, your tax home is where you earn the majority of your nursing income. For many travel nurses, their tax home is their permanent address, which is the address on their driver’s license.
Housing Stipend Vs. Per Diem
You may be asking why the GSA refers to it as “Per Diem,” but we refer to it as a “stipend.” The Latin term “per diem” means “per day.” The GSA gives lodging charges as daily figures. For example, the current Per Diem lodging rate in Sacramento, CA is $145 per day.
A “stipend,” on the other hand, is a “set recurring sum received as a wage or allowance.” Because most agencies pay their lodging reimbursements in lump sums, this term is better suited to the travel healthcare sector. They usually pay them on a weekly or bimonthly basis. Furthermore, most agencies quote their housing reimbursements as a monthly amount.
Also, adopting the term stipend avoids the ambiguity caused by the healthcare industry’s usage of the term “per diem” to refer to daily or on-call staffing.
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Look Into The Entire Pay Package, Not Just The Stipend
If they spend their whole stipend on accommodation and only take home $25 after taxes and insurance, the majority of travel nurses would be unable to cover their complete expenses at home and while on assignment. As a result, while assessing whether or not a pay package will fit your budget, you must consider the entire package.
Housing Stipends Vary Between Recruiters
Most recruiters will structure their pay packages to maximize pay while staying under particular taxable ranges. This means that while the housing stipend may appear to be generous, you may be earning a lesser hourly wage (imagine $25 per hour).
How Much Do Travel Nurses Get For a Housing Stipend?
For travel nurse lodging, there is no defined stipend amount. While housing stipends vary per agency, each must adhere to the Government Services Administration’s guidelines (GSA).
Furthermore, the amount granted for travel nurse lodging is determined by the following factors:
- The assignment’s location.
- Season of the year.
How Much Do Travel Nurses Pay For Housing On Average?
The pay for housing for a travel nurse is determined by the next three factors:
Due to the higher cost of living in some areas of the country, assignments in those areas pay higher stipends. Living expenses in larger cities, such as New York City or Los Angeles, are likely to be more than in a tiny town in Missouri or Iowa, for example. As a result, the GSA stipend maximum will very certainly be higher in such places.
Time Of The Year
Let’s say you’ve always wanted to work in Florida during the winter. Because of the increased winter population in the state, the GSA may increase the stipend limit for the winter months to account for rising living costs and a lack of affordable homes at that time of year.
Type Of Housing
Naturally, a travel nurse who chooses to live in a two-bedroom apartment will pay significantly more per month for accommodation than a nurse who decides to live in an Airbnb studio.
Tips For Travel Nurses Looking For Housing
Whether you’re an experienced travel nurse or are prepping for your first assignment, finding the correct accommodation choice is one of the most difficult and demanding tasks. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Next are a few tips to help you in your packing for housing journey:
How You Should Pack For Travel Nurse Housing
If you pick company-provided housing, you will need to carry extra because they are unable to supply everything. One of the reasons it is best to choose through Furnished Finder than with corporate housing is that their units are turnkey. Sometimes firms supply fully furnished units, but more often than not, they are just unfurnished units put together at the last minute. Extra packing will always be better than missing valuable items.
Always Pack The Basics For Any Travel Nursing Assignment:
1. Important Documents
You will avoid having to pay to have these documents transported by a loved one or replaced by the issuing agency if you make an effort to gather and securely store them.
2. First-Aid Kit And Prescription Meds
Given that you’ll be working in a medical office or hospital, bringing a first aid bag might be a bit excessive. However, having five crucial “nurse items” on hand when you’re not at work is critical.
Always make sure you have enough supplies to last you through the first few days. A few essential toiletries are among the many items you’ll need when traveling. Keep in mind that liquids like shampoo, lotions, and mouthwash can spill if not properly packed.
Of course, you’ll need to bring scrubs—make sure they fit your prospective employer’s criteria. Tip: Call beforehand to see if your new workplace keeps its indoor environment temperature low or high. Knowing this can assist you in properly packing.
It’s no secret that in this day and age, we can’t survive without our devices. Bring your phone, tablet, and laptop, as well as any other peripherals you might need, such as a Bluetooth headset or speakers.
6. Household Items
The amount and type of household items you’ll need to bring is determined by the level of furnishing offered by your landlord.
7. Personal Items
Even if you’re a seasoned travel nurse, it’s helpful to have a few items that remind you of your loved ones with you.
8. Pet Supplies
Bring medications and a file (on paper or on your phone) with your pet’s health certificates and medical history, as well as the contact information for the veterinarian who last treated them.
Finding Travel Nurse Housing On Your Own
If you opt to find a place on your own, you will get a travel nurse housing stipend. While it may appear daunting at first, you have several resources at your disposal to make the process go more smoothly. You might want to do the following before signing any documents:
If It Looks Too Good To Be True, It Is
On Craigslist, you can find real home alternatives, but they come at a price. You can’t believe everything you see on Craigslist. Someone will post a too-good-to-be-true Craigslist housing offer, and you need to ask yourself whether it’s real or not. Thankfully, if you are part of a travel nurse community, you can ask them about it and get great advice. Always dig more about a place before saying yes to any offer.
Research Your Potential Landlord Online
Remember these three rules when dealing with potential landlords through email:
- Use your instincts; they’re generally correct.
- Verify that the visuals correspond to the price.
- It’s almost certainly a con if the photographs are stunning, yet the rent is ridiculously low.
- Never send money to anyone. Scammers are online bullies who prey on stranded tourists.
Vacation Rentals Yield Good Results
Websites that specialize in vacation rentals are a fantastic place to start. HomeAway, VRBO, and Airbnb are three of the most popular. These sites offer some excellent housing possibilities and, for the most part, keep scammers at bay. Simply enter a location or state, and you’ll be able to see a large number of vacation rentals. You’ll need to filter out the houses that don’t make sense for you, just like any other site.
Extended Hotel Stays Are An Option
Travel nurses frequently use extended stay hotels as a bridge between standard accommodation and as a housing alternative in and of itself. Some travelers like hotel services such as breakfast, housekeeping, and fitness facilities, and most hotels accept animals weighing up to 60 pounds. In addition, the majority of these hotels include kitchens, which can help you save money on food when traveling and give you a sense of home while you’re away on business. In addition, compared to an apartment, hotels offer more flexibility on the back end in the event that your job is unexpectedly canceled.
Travel Nurse Housing FAQ
- Queen-size bed, one-night stand, one dresser, and a lamp in the bedroom
- Dining area: Four chairs at a small kitchen table
- Couch, chair, end table, coffee table, lamp, and TV stand in the living room Dishes, linens, a television, mattress, and a vacuum cleaner are all considered extras that will increase the cost. A washer/dryer and even a microwave are not often included in the usual package. Some of these items are negotiable.