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How Do Travel Nurses Find Housing?
As a travel nurse, you have two options when it comes to housing. You can either accept the agency's offer of accommodation or take a stipend and find your own housing.
There are pros and cons to both of these options and as the latter option is clearly more time-consuming and demanding than the other, that's where we'll focus most of our efforts in the following guide.
Travel Nurse Housing Options
Travel nurses have two options when it comes to housing. Both should be considered, but one may be more beneficial than the other based on your situation and assignment.
The majority of travel nursing agencies have a housing department with multiple ongoing leases. They are long-term leases built for short-term use, and they will just rent them to travel nurses as needed.
Agency housing tends to be furnished and will include basic utilities, as well as additional services (washing/laundry) for a fee. You will be sent wherever is most convenient for them, but some agencies will give you a choice of housing if you ask them.
Benefits of Accepting Agency Housing
- Convenience : Most travel nursing assignments are booked days before they begin, so agency housing is the least stressful option. It means you don't need to worry about finding your own housing, dealing with deposits, and contacting utility companies. You can just move straight in, relax for a few days, and then start your assignment.
- Affordability : Agency housing options are usually cheaper than what you can find with a stipend. They are built on long-term leases, after all, and they include the furniture and utilities that you'll need for your stay. It's not always the cheapest option, but you may need to do a lot of legwork to find something cheaper.
- Availability : Finding a last-minute lease can be a challenge, especially in smaller towns and cities.
- Easier : With a housing stipend, you may be asked to pay a sizeable deposit upfront. You'll also have to contend with a landlord who knows that you won't be there a few months down the line (assuming you rent an apartment or home). With agency housing, there are no such issues. Landlords are keen to please large staffing agencies and there are no deposits.
- No Cancelation Issues: Travel nursing jobs are not set in stone. Contracts can be canceled, assignments can end, and if you've paid a deposit and agreed to a contract, things can get expensive.
If you choose the housing stipend option, you'll get a fixed sum of money to cover your accommodation costs and will be expected to find your own housing.
The stipend will be added to your paycheck and based on your location and contract, with higher rates paid for more expensive cities.
Benefits of Accepting a Stipend Pay
- You Have More Time: When you take a stipend, you can choose when to move in and when to move out. It means that you have a few more days to get settled in and don't need to leave on their terms. If you're the sort of person who prefers to get a feel for the city before you commit to any work, this could be the best option.
- You Choose Where to Live: Agencies don't give you a lot of options, and the ones that you do have will be very basic.
- You Choose How to Live: What furniture do you need? What amenities can't you live without? Would you prefer to have a washer-dryer or are you happy to use a laundromat? With a housing stipend, you make the decisions.
- You Could Have More Money: If you're able to find cheap housing and save money, you can pocket the rest of the stipend. You get to keep everything that they give you, and if you're getting a $1,500 stipend and only spending $1,200, that's $300 extra in your bank every month.
How To Find your Own Housing for a Travel Nurse Assignment
Although finding your own housing can be a lengthy process, it also offers a number of benefits, as discussed above.
To find the right accommodation, you'll need to think about:
As a travel nurse, you don't always have a lot of time to find the perfect rental. When you move house, you'll probably give yourself weeks or even months to search and plan. When you go on vacation, you might spend several days searching for the perfect hotel. But with travel nursing, it tends to be more of a rushed decision, and that can lead to some costly mistakes.
Create a checklist that includes the following, along with anything else that comes to mind:
- Proximity to Work : How far is your workplace? Is it just around the corner or will you need to drive? If you're driving, what's the traffic like?
- Proximity to Essentials : Is there a grocery store within walking distance? Where is the pharmacy, gym, and bars?
- Neighborhood Safety : What's the neighborhood like? You're only going to be living there for a few months, but you still want somewhere you can feel safe.
- Appliances : Does the accommodation include a washer/dryer, dishwasher, microwave, toaster, and other essentials, or will you need to buy/rent some?
- Wi-Fi: A good Wi-Fi connection is essential if you want to stay connected to your loved ones and spend your downtime streaming movies and music.
- Parking : What's the parking like? Will you have your own spot and is it secure, or will you be forced to park on the street?
- Pets : If you're taking any pets with you, check that the accommodation allows them and consider whether it will be a safe environment for them. For dogs, you should also check where the local parks are.
The Length of Your Travel Nursing Assignment
Travel nurse housing is more complicated than traditional rentals as you can't afford to sign long-term leases. You will only be staying for an average of 3 months, and that means you're often stuck between a rock and a hard place.
On the one hand, most apartment complexes are out of the question as they often require a minimum of six months' stay. On the other, 3 months is a long time to stay in a hotel or motel.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options that fit neatly within this Goldilocks zone.
Considerations for Travel Nurse Housing
Landlords may conduct a hard credit check before agreeing to rent a property. A hard credit check will appear on your credit report and reduce your credit score. The reduction is minimal, but if you're applying for several different properties and signing a number of leases a year, it will add up.
Always check with the landlord to confirm whether a hard credit check will be conducted or not. Ask them if there is anything you can do to avoid such a check. For example, you may be able to avoid a hard credit check by providing them with more information.
Inspections can be a challenge, as well. Landlords will post pictures that show their property in the perfect light and they may get a little creative with the truth. "Nearby parking" could be anything from a proper parking space to a nearby street, while terms like "spacious" and "great views" are subjective.
It's not always possible to inspect the property, but you can use Google Maps Streetview to drop yourself in the neighborhood and see what the exterior of the property is like. AreaVibes is also a helpful service as it highlights the best places to live, looking at factors such as crime rates, amenities, and cost of living.
Where to Stay on a Travel Nursing Assignment
Travel nurse housing covers a number of different options:
- Extended Stay Hotels
- Hotels and Motels
- Apartments and Houses
- Shared Rooms
- Vacation Rentals
The one that's right for you will depend on everything from the location to the length of the assignment and the size of your stipend.
We'll cover all of these options in more detail below.
Extended Stay Hotels for Travel Nurses
Extended stay hotels are some of the best options for travel nurses. They are usually defined by the inclusion of a kitchenette, although it's not uncommon to see rooms without kitchenettes advertised as "extended stays".
To avoid being stung, inquire as to whether the room includes a kitchenette and if it has a full-size refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, microwave, and everything else that you will need.
Don't simply assume that it will include everything, even if that's what the advertisement implies.
Some of the benefits of extended stays include:
- Easy breakfast options
- A range of amenities (some available for an extra fee)
- They are usually pet-friendly
- No hard credit checks
- No long-term lease
- No security deposit
Think of extended stays as a cross between hotels and apartments. They are built for stays of more than a few days/weeks, but they also include many of the things you would expect to find in hotels, including breakfast, house cleaning, laundry services, gyms, swimming pools, etc.,
An extended stay hotel is not just designed for stays of many weeks or months. In fact, an extended stay is anything that lasts for 5 days or more, and as a travel nurse working on a 3+ month contract, that puts you in a very unique position.
To save money on your booking, consider contacting the hotel in advance and asking about discounts. Let them know how long you intend to stay and inquire about discounts. If you're traveling during a slow season and they're struggling for bookings, they'll do everything they can to convince you to sign. After all, you'll be keeping one of their rooms occupied for nearly a quarter of the year, and that's a huge boon for a hotel.
Where to Find an Extended Stay Hotel
Extended Stay America is one of the biggest providers of extended stay accommodation in the United States. Most of their rooms include an oven and come with a free breakfast.
Just enter your intended destination and check-in/check-out times, and the Extended Stay America website will show you what's available.
Some of the other operators offering extended stays include:
- Candlewood Suites: Part of the vast IHG hospitality brand, Candlewood Suites offers pet-friendly extended stays that include free laundry services, a full kitchen, a communal gym, and a range of other amenities.
- InTown Suites: Operates 196 locations in 22 states, including dozens of options in Atlanta and Houston.
- WoodSpring Suites: Very similar to Extended Stay America, with a range of suites available. You can book through the WoodSpring Suites website or call 844 974 6835.
- Budget Suites America: Operates locations in Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. The website doesn't have online booking and isn't protected by an SSL, but you can contact them using the website's contact form and take things from there.
Traditional Hotels and Motels for Travel Nurses
Although standard hotels are an option for travel nurses, they can be expensive and limiting, so they are better suited to short-term stays.
Use sites like Booking.com to find a hotel or motel near to your place of work. Remember that the hotel needs to cover booking fees, so they usually charge more through this site than they do directly. If you call them, you may find that they have cheaper rooms or rates available.
Apartment and Home Rentals for Travel Nurses
An apartment or home rental is probably the riskiest housing option for traveling nurses. They do offer short-term leases, but their definition of "short-term" will probably be a lot longer than yours and you may be tied to a 6-month lease.
You also stand to lose a lot more if your contract is canceled and your housing stipends are taken away.
It can be worth considering traditional housing options, but only if you:
- Don't agree to a lease that is longer than your assignment.
- Look for month-by-month leases or a 3-month lease.
- Check the contract and understand exactly what you're agreeing to.
- Look for furnished housing or cheap unfurnished housing. Don't blow your budget on an unfurnished property.
- Give yourself more time to conduct a housing search, as there are more complications to consider.
- Inquire about pets, if you have them, and think about travel and local amenities.
Airbnb for Travel Nurses
Vacation rental websites like Airbnb have been a godsend for travel nurses. They offer fully furnished properties complete with all the utilities and comforts of home.
You'll pay less than you would pay for a hotel room, but more than you'll pay for a short-term rental. You'll also get many of the benefits of hotels, including amenities, a choice of locations, and the lack of security deposits and long-term leases.
Airbnb is the biggest site in this category, but there are many other vacation rental sites out there, including VRBO. Alternatively, you can use an aggregator site like Home To Go, which has one of the largest selections of vacation rental properties in the USA.
If you need to cancel your Airbnb booking at any time during your stay, you'll be asked to pay for up to 30 days after the cancelation date or to the end of your initial check-out date, whichever is shorter.
The fact that you're working with a third-party service and not always dealing with a property manager also helps. It means that if you ever have an issue with the property or the property owners, Airbnb will step in and act as a mediator. Of course, it's a big company and so it might not be as helpful as you'd like, but it's a good option to have.
Corporate Housing for Travel Nurses
Corporate housing is something that has been suggested as an option for travel nurses. These furnished apartments include an array of services and amenities and are designed for business travelers. However, they can be very costly, and so they're not the best housing option for traveling nurses.
If you have a generous travel nursing assignment and don't mind spending a sizeable chunk of your budget on housing, or you just want to run some comparisons, check out Corporatehousing.com.
Other Travel Nurse Housing Options
Furnished Finder is another good option for travel nurse housing. It specializes in stays of at least 30 days and lists only furnished properties.
Furnished Finder is a third-party service, so it works with property owners and doesn't rent the properties itself. Just find a home in your preferred location and then contact the host.
There are currently more than 25,000 listings on Furnished Finder, putting it in a similar category as extended stay hotels.
Other options for travel nurse housing include rooms-for-let, which you can find on sites like Facebook and Craigslist. In such cases, you will be renting a room in someone's home. There are a number of these out there and as you're dealing with individual homeowners and not companies, and you're only taking a single room, it's usually a very cheap option.
The problem is that you'll be in someone else's house and if you're a very private person, that can be a little daunting. These options are also wide open to scams, as Facebook and Craigslist don't have any systems in place to prevent rental scammers.
Watch Out For Travel Nurse Housing Scams
Scams are rampant in the rental market. Scammers know that many renters are agreeing to contracts sight unseen and are often desperate to finalize everything quickly. There's also a lot of money at stake and if they're dealing with sites like Facebook, Craigslist, and even third-party rental sites, there aren't a great deal of procedures in place to stop them.
Traveling nurses are particularly at risk, so to make sure you're not stung by a scammer when trying to find housing for your next assignment, remember the following:
Be Wary of Property Managers with Terrible English
Always be wary of property owners who struggle with basic grammar. You don't expect them to have a perfect command of the English language, but if they struggle with the basics, it could be a sign that they're operating outside of the US. Many property scams originate in countries where English isn't the first language, and there are usually some very obvious signs if you pay attention.
Look Out for Poor Communication
Do you have a telephone number for the property manager? Do they actually answer their phone? Many scammers will avoid giving out their numbers. Not only is it harder for them to scam over the phone (they have to think quickly and can't research their answers), but if they're operating in a foreign country, they may worry that their accent will give them away.
By the same token, if they seem to ignore your messages throughout the day and only respond in the early hours of the morning, there's a good chance they're not in the US.
Avoid Wire Transfers
If anyone asks you to use wire transfers or services like Western Union and Bitcoin, stop communicating with them and start looking elsewhere. These payments can be used for genuine transactions, but they're also favored by scammers. They are untraceable, can't be reversed, and allow the scammer to collect the cash and run.
If It's Too Good to Be True...
If a house is priced significantly below the market, it's a sign that something's not quite right. There could be a valid reason for a property owner to offer a reduced price, but if you can't find that reason, don't let your greed get the better of you and stay clear.
FAQs About Travel Nurse Housing
For more information about travel nurse housing, take a look at the following FAQs.
Do Travel Nurses Stay in Hotels?
Travel nurses often book rooms in extended stay hotels. They are like hotels, but they cater to people who need to stay for several weeks or months at a time. They can also rent short-term accommodation or use vacation rental websites like Airbnb.
Can I Live At Home and Still Be a Travel Nurse?
By their nature, travel nurses move around a lot and go from facility to facility. However, that doesn't mean you need to move to a new state or country and it's possible to find work in your own state. As a result, you can be a travel nurse without moving home.
Is Airbnb Good for Travel Nurses?
Airbnb is one of the better options for travel nurses. It sits midway between a hotel and a short-term apartment rental and could offer the best of both worlds. It will depend on your location and chosen accommodation, though.
Do Travel Nurses Pay For Housing?
Travel nurses have two options when it comes to housing. They can either accept what the agency gives them, in which case they won't need to pay anything, or they can choose their own house.
Where the latter is concerned, travel nurses will be given a stipend to spend on housing.
How Can Travel Nurses Save on Housing?
You can save on housing by joining loyalty programs, looking for coupons, and negotiating discounts when possible.
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