When you’re ready to hit the road, finding short-term furnished housing can be a true test of your patience and problem-solving skills. Since many travel nursing jobs are posted just 6-8 weeks before the assignment’s start date, you’re often left with only a short amount of time to secure housing.
If you are eligible for tax-free stipends as a travel nurse, you can choose between agency-provided housing and finding your own accommodations. If you do not have a permanent tax home and are not eligible for the stipends, your only option will be to find your own housing. To help you out, we’ve gathered a variety of tips and advice to help you make an informed decision during your housing search.
Researching Travel Nurse Housing
Let’s face it – price is always a factor, especially when you’re traveling for work, and housing costs will vary based on your location so do your research. Rural areas tend to have a lower cost of living compared to large, popular cities. The southern US tends to be less expensive than the northern region, especially parts of the northeast. Costs can also add up if you have pets, require off-street parking or prefer the finest amenities for your stay. Consider these factors before you accept a travel contract.
There are many ways to search for housing using the internet. To save yourself the heartache of finding an apartment that doesn’t fit your needs, apply filters for non-negotiables during your initial search. For example, if you are planning on renting a room, decide if you are okay sharing a space with another traveler or if you would prefer to room alone. Use the housing website’s tools to filter by location, cost, bedrooms/bathrooms and any other features that are important in your decision.
Travel Nurse Housing Considerations
As you begin your search, take note of these factors and try to narrow down your list of criteria. Be prepared to discuss this list with your landlord, or with the recruiter if you are taking agency-provided housing.
|Category||Items to Consider|
|Location||Area of town, public transportation, free or paid parking, garage access, distance from the hospital, proximity to necessities like grocery and gas|
|Utilities||Included/not included, costs of cable, WiFi, gas/electric, water, trash, sewer|
|Amenities||Linens, kitchenware, cleaning supplies, toiletries, towels, outdoor space, gym/pool, etc.|
|Appliances||Microwave, washer/dryer (shared or in-unit), dishwasher, TV, air conditioning|
|Roommates||Quantity, gender, age, shifts worked, house rules, common areas, shared bathrooms, short-term/long-term|
|Cost & Fees||Security and initial deposits, pet fees, refundable vs. non-refundable fees|
Don’t assume you won’t have a roommate if your agency is finding you a place to stay. Be clear with your recruiter if this is acceptable for you or not. If the landlord is going to be your roommate, inquire about any specific rules for the apartment or if any areas or items in the apartment are off-limits to you. Verify it won’t be an issue if you want to have friends visit or if you plan on having your significant other stay with you at times.
Top 5 Ways to Find Fully-Furnished Travel Nurse Housing
Short-term housing is one of the many important things you’ll learn about when you first get started with travel nursing because location and cost of living are top concerns. Many nurses who’ve been traveling for a while will tell you that housing can make or break an assignment. Finding furnished travel nurse housing can be challenging, and a lack of housing options can ruin a great assignment in a great location. Luckily, several resources are out there to make finding travel nurse housing a little easier. Here are five helpful tips:
1. Take Agency Housing
If you have a permanent tax home and you’re duplicating living expenses while traveling on nursing assignments, you should qualify for tax-free stipends to cover housing expenses. Taking the stipend could mean more money in your pocket, but you’re completely responsible for finding your own travel nurse housing. The alternative is to take the agency-placed housing. While this means giving up the tax-free stipend, it also eliminates the scramble to find lodging each time you take a new assignment.
Agencies who find housing for their travel nurses look for places within a reasonable distance of the work location. They might send you two or three housing options, but ultimately, they’re going to secure the least expensive option available that’s safe and in acceptable condition. Although this housing might not be something you’d normally choose, opting for agency-placed housing can significantly cut down on the stress of locating a place to live, especially when you’re new to travel nursing.
You should note that some agencies no longer handle housing, so if you want someone else to take the reins, it’s best to confirm whether agency housing exists before you sign up. Those that don’t provide housing usually have very generous housing stipends and may offer assistance in locating a temporary residence if requested, but travel nurses are fully responsible for securing their own lodgings.
2. Check Out Niche Sites
Many travel nurses turn to niche services that specialize in finding short-term housing for travelers. Furnished Finder is probably one of the most popular options for finding a place to stay and it’s free to use. Since 2014, the site has grown into the largest resource specifically for travel nurses and medical staffing companies with more than 150,000 property listings in popular areas all around the country.
All properties listed on Furnished Finder rent by the month and come furnished, both big pluses for travel nurses. Also, all the hosts must pass a background check before their listings go live because traveler safety is highly important to the company.
To secure short-term nurse housing, start by submitting a housing request for available properties in your assignment area. For example, Furnished Finder lets you submit one request so all area property owners are alerted and can respond to you. If you find a place you’re interested in, you can chat with the owner directly through the app. Then, secure the property directly with the owner once you determine it meets your needs.
3. Consider Vacation Rentals
Vacation rentals have grown exponentially over the years and they’re everywhere. With so many properties available, a travel nurse is bound to find one near each assignment. Airbnb is hands down the most common vacation rental site and Vrbo is another option gaining in popularity. Both have millions of listings and specialize in vacation rentals, but some of their hosts offer specials for monthly rentals.
A major perk of vacation rentals is that they’re already furnished and many come with extras like linens, dishes, a washer and dryer and common housewares. You’ll find a wider array of property types if you’re looking for something with more of a homey feel. The drawback to this travel nurse housing option is it’s typically pricier and involves extra fees, including booking, cleaning and/or guest service fees that can run between 6% – 14.2%.
4. Look at Extended Stay Hotels
Many hotels, especially large nationwide chains, offer discounted rates for extended stays, including monthly rates. Some offer further discounts to travel workers, especially those in the healthcare field, so always ask about possible discounts. If you can’t get a discount on your own, ask your recruiter if they can help you qualify for one. Hotels that offer corporate housing, such as Extended Stay America and Travelodge, cater to traveling professionals by offering both weekly and monthly rates. Several potential perks of extended stay hotels include on-site laundry, free cable TV and WiFi, cleaning services and free breakfast. Check out our roundup of Top Discounts and Savings for Healthcare Professionals to find possible hotel discounts and other offers.
Tip: Some states will waive taxes if you are staying 30 nights or more and declare that in advance, so consult your tax advisor.
5. Join Travel Housing Facebook Groups
This popular social media giant can also help travel nurses find temporary housing, but a few drawbacks make it an iffy option. There are location-specific private Facebook groups that have pages devoted to travel nurse housing, that are generally easy to join after submitting a request. Be cautious when sharing your location, travel plans and personal details. Landlords and property managers who post on these pages generally aren’t verified or vetted, potentially putting you at risk of getting scammed.
Perks include the ability to chat with other travelers in the group who can provide personal feedback about specific areas, including where to find safe neighborhoods and affordable housing. Property owners who list on these pages are open to the average length-of-stay of a travel nurse or they wouldn’t be posting there. Travel nurses can browse listings or post a housing request and wait for property owners to respond. However, listings are limited to what users post, making it more difficult to find a property that works for you.
Resources for Finding Your Own Travel Nurse Housing
Many websites offer great resources for finding lodging for the duration of your travel nurse assignment. Be sure to check out the list of our top 5 websites for travel nurse housing to help you research your options. When browsing, pay close attention to the listing details, as some are not entire apartments but only rooms. And, check with the owner about other rooms in the apartment/house if you are not renting the whole place. Additionally, if it says two bathrooms verify that equals two showers, not just an extra toilet, especially if more than two people are going to be living in the home.
Airbnb is a well-known choice when considering short-term furnished housing for travel nursing. I have had several friends use it during their travel nurse assignments without any problems. Whether you are looking at rooms or entire homes on Airbnb, don’t calculate the monthly prices based on what you see estimated as the nightly cost in the initial listing. Many listings provide small to moderate discounts for longer-term rentals. Make sure to read reviews to see what others thought of the accommodations. You also need to inquire about other rooms at the property and if you’ll have a constant stream of different people as neighbors.
I know people shy away from Craigslist, but I know some travel nursing colleagues that have had success with it. If you see something that seems far too good to be true (for example, a beautiful three-bedroom apartment in the upper east side of New York City for $1200) it is most likely a scam. Be cautious and trust your gut. Compare pricing and amenities with other apartments in the area to determine what is reasonable. Never, ever give your credit card or personal identifying information to “hold” an apartment. If you are meeting the landlord in person, choose a public meeting place before driving to the property. For verification that the apartment actually exists, ask for multiple pictures and try asking if the property is listed on any other websites.
Alternative Travel Housing Options
One new trend in the world of travel nursing is RV or van life living. There are so many factors that will determine if this is an option for you. If you travel with others or have pets, if you’re comfortable driving long distances, how long you’ll be working each year and ultimately, how much room you need will help you decide if you want to pursue this lifestyle. Social media is a great place to make connections and network for travel nursing van life ideas, watch videos and get tips on living in an RV.
The van life option can certainly save some money if done right and also offers the ultimate freedom and flexibility. However, with this nomadic lifestyle, you place yourself at the mercy of rising gas prices. You’ll also have to be prepared for maintenance costs, how you will handle a flat tire or breakdown, and doing without the conveniences of having a full-size bed and hot shower. Safety and security can also be a concern, so you should do your research on best practices. Lastly, you need to ensure you can book campsites or have a place to park in each new location you visit.
Related: 16 Safety Tips for Traveling Alone
Tips for Sharing Housing with Another Travel Nurse
Splitting housing costs with another traveling nurse can be beneficial for both of your bank accounts. If neither of you is eligible for the tax-free stipends, you must find your own housing and split the costs. In most cities a two-bedroom apartment isn’t double the cost of a single bedroom, so you will still save money. However, there are a few options if you are both eligible for the tax-free stipend pay.
If one travel nurse takes the agency-provided housing, you can then split the other nurse’s housing stipend (minus the cost of the extra bedroom). Keep in mind that the paycheck of the travel nurse taking the agency-provided housing will be much lower than the nurse who is receiving the stipend. You will have to do some math to ensure you are both getting equal amounts of pay each week. This can get tricky if you are making different amounts due to specialty or contract differences. If you find your own housing and you both take the tax-free housing stipend, you will just divide all housing-related costs as you traditionally would with a roommate.
Compare housing costs in the area and determine what you are willing to pay per month. If you think that you can realistically find housing that is lower in cost than the stipend being offered, the better choice would be for both of you to take the housing stipend. If you anticipate difficulty finding reasonable housing, have a lot of anxiety about finding accommodations and can work out a deal together that benefits you both, then it’s easier to have one travel nurse take agency-provided housing and the other to receive a stipend.
Regardless of how you obtain housing, discuss pay and how you will split costs with your travel nurse roommate ahead of time to avoid any awkward situations.
Beware of Travel Nurse Housing Scams
Unfortunately, you must constantly be on the lookout for scams. Like everything else, unsavory characters lurk in the travel nurse housing arena, too. Remember the old saying, if it seems too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. The top giveaway is cost. Properties that are $100s below comparable options are almost always bogus. Also, look for spam-like errors in messaging like incorrect capitalization, spelling and grammar mistakes.
Since you’re usually securing your housing online, many common tricks to avoid scams aren’t always an option, such as viewing the property and meeting the owner or property manager first. Consider these tips to help you avoid being scammed in your hunt for the perfect travel nurse housing.
- Request a telephone call and/or video walkthrough
- Get a free owner verification report on Furnished Finder, even if the listing is off-site
- Do a Google reverse image search to see if the same photos are used for multiple home listings
- Search the address in Google maps to see if it’s legit, then use Street View to see the property and surrounding area
- Research the landlord online, especially on social media
- Ask for references from former tenants
Lastly, don’t be fooled by sob stories or pressured by overtly pushy sales tactics and never wire money because wire transfers are usually irreversible and nonrefundable. If you can’t find an option you’re comfortable with booking, consider getting a hotel for the first few weeks of your assignment while you scout the area in person.
In the end, don’t let uncertainty over securing housing deter you from travel nursing if it’s something you really want to try. Armed with the right tips and tricks, you’ll be a pro at finding great furnished travel nurse housing in no time. Remember that your travel nurse agency or recruiter is also a great source of information on housing. They can usually direct you to local area housing managers and connect you with other travelers in the area so you can ask questions or inquire about sharing rentals.
Let Vivian Health help you get started on your travel journey with our nationwide inventory of travel nurse jobs and plenty of support along the way.