Travel Nursing

Travel Nurse Housing: Tips and Tricks

Finding short-term furnished housing can be a true test of your ability to problem solve and be patient. Since travel nursing jobs are usually posted 6-8 weeks before the start date, you often only have a short amount of time to secure housing. 

If you are eligible for the tax-free stipends you can choose between agency-provided housing and finding you own accommodations.

If you do not have a permanent tax home and are not eligible for the stipends, your only option will be finding your own housing. Ask your recruiter for some housing resources if you are encountering difficulty finding a place on your own.

Cost of Housing

Housing costs will vary based on your travel nurse location. 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 parts, especially parts of the northeast. Costs can add up if you have pets, require off street parking, or prefer the finest amenities.

Researching Travel Nurse Housing

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. If you are planning on renting a room, decide if you are okay living with someone of the opposite sex or if you would prefer to share only with someone of the same gender.

Finding Travel Nursing Housing

These are some of the things you need to question with your recruiter (if you are taking agency-provided housing) or landlord.

Category Items to Consider
Location Public transportation, free or paid parking, garage access, distance from hospital, proximity to necessities like grocery and gas
Utilities If not included, costs of cable, WiFi, hot water, type of heat and average bill, central air, water, trash, sewer 
Amenities Linens, kitchenware, cleaning supplies, toiletries, towels, outdoor space etc.
Appliances Microwaves, washer/dryer (paid or in unit?), dishwasher, TV, air conditioner if applicable
Roommates Quantity, gender, age, shifts worked, house rules, common areas, shared bathrooms,  short term/long term (ensure the other rooms aren’t an Airbnb like situation where you’ll have a constant stream of different people)
Fees Security and initial deposits, pet associated costs, 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 your or not.

If the landlord is going to be your flatmate, 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.

Travel Nurse Accommodations – Resources for Finding Your Own Housing

Websites such as furnishedfinder.com and travelnursehousing.com are great options for finding lodgings for the duration your travel nurse assignment. Pay close attention to the listings you are browsing 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 2 people are going to be living in the home.

Airbnb is another great 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.

I know everyone is afraid of Craig’s List… 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 3 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 to 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, make it a public place before driving to the property if it is out of town. 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 Nurse Housing Options

Some travel nurses opt for an extended stay hotel room. They will rent a room only during the days they are working as a travel nurse (usually similar to a studio apartment). This works best if you are a travel nurse that plans on grouping your working days and traveling back and forth from Home. This can also be a great interim option while you are searching for housing if you have to start your job before securing more stable accommodations.

A 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 pets, and what you are willing to accept as living conditions will help you decide if you want to investigate this option. It can certainly save some money if done right!

Social media is a great place to make connections and network for travel nursing housing, or to get tips on living in an RV. Facebook has a few housing focused groups that are dedicated to people that want to rent their homes strictly to travel nurses. Just search, ‘travel nurse housing’ on Facebook and request to join the group. 

Don’t forget that the travel nurse agency or recruiter is a great source of info on housing. They can usually direct you to local area housing building managers or can hook you up with other travelers in the area that you can probe for information, or even share housing with!

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.

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. 

Happy Housing Hunting!

-RNRN

rachel-nurseflygmail-com
Rachel Norton BSN, RN

I have been a critical care nurse since 2007. I grew up in the northeast but enjoy every corner of the country. My passions are people and travel. Travel nursing allows me to meet amazing people and satisfy my wanderlust. I love inspiring other nurses to travel and expand their practice.

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