Travel nurse housing is one of the hardest things to understand when it comes to travel nursing. There are always lots of questions like, whether I should set it up myself or leave it to the company that I work with. Or can I just use my parent’s address as my permanent residency? Below are two stories that are all too common from a couple travel nurses.
RN #1: “I was so excited for my brand new travel nursing assignment. My recruiter told me that they had paid for all of my housing and all I had to do was show up and move in the day before my assignment started. I get there late the night before because I had been driving all day, and was mortified. I arrive at a rundown apartment complex in a less than desirable part of town. I don’t have a ton of options to choose from at this point so I pick up my key and head into the apartment that my travel nursing company has provided for me. I get inside and there are no amenities to speak of and very little in the way of furniture. Long story short, it took me almost a month to get my housing “fixed” and even once I did I had to pay extra to fix it. Needless to say, I wish I would have found my own housing”
RN #2: “I’ve been travel nursing for about 2 years now. I have a really good understanding of how the industry works. I decide to change my permanent tax residency to one of my friend’s houses in my hometown because it will save me a ton of money. Now, instead of paying for my expensive apartment, I can just use my friend’s house address. Not only will this save me a ton of money, but I can still pick up any mail that I might need. I felt great about the decision until I received a notice from the IRS that I was being audited. Why did they audit me?”
Here are a few facts about housing that will help alleviate some of the stress of housing:
Housing Is Never Free
Regardless of what any travel agency tells you, they will never pay for housing. There are a million different ways that this is accomplished, but you can guarantee that someone is paying for housing somewhere. This can be the agency, the nurse, the hospital, etc, but someone is footing that bill, guaranteed.
Comfort Is In The Details
Many RN’s that are traveling for the first time like to have their travel agency set up housing for them. If you fall into this category make sure you are looking into the small details. By this, I mean finding out exactly what is provided. No one wants to show up to a new assignment and be responsible for furnishing the entire place when they are only going to be there for 13 weeks or so. Most travel nursing agencies will provide you with exactly what is furnished by any place you might be staying.
Do Thy Research
Anytime you are going to stay in a new place I would always recommend doing some research. Never take anyone’s word for where YOU will be staying for an extended period of time. Check on not only the housing itself but the area you will be staying. This can help give you a much better idea of what to expect.
Maximize Thy Resources
Many travel nurses use Air BNB to help them get an idea of what is available and what things might cost. Also, look into apartments in the area and reach out to their owners. You would be shocked at the amount of landlords that would be jumping at the chance to fill vacant units for 3 months at a time with great tenants. Things like Travelers Haven can be a valuable resource as well.
Always Be Cautious Of Money Upfront
This can be one of the easiest ways that people scam travel rn’s out of money. Things like Craig’s List that ask for a large deposit before you see anything should always be dealt with cautiously. There have been many travel rn’s scammed by Craigslist, Facebook, etc. However, most of these can be debunked by doing your own due diligence. Talk with someone on the phone and ask a few very pointed questions before you commit to sending anyone any money. Also, whatever travel agency you are working with can typically tell you if they have heard of certain housing or not.
Know Thy Area
Obviously, the housing availability in the middle of nowhere North Dakota will be significantly different than downtown San Francisco. If you are going to a hospital with very limited housing options know that beforehand. There’s nothing worse than the week before your assignment begins, driving around North Dakota looking for housing. Also, knowing this information beforehand can really help you prepare for what’s to come. Sometimes the best option might be an extended stay. The best part about travel nursing is everything is temporary; a couple months and you’re out of there!
Assisted Housing VS. Housing Stipends
Depending on what travel nursing company you are working with this terminology could be slightly different, but at the end of the day, it’s the same thing regardless of what company you are working for. Assisted Housing simply means that your housing is provided by the company. A housing stipend (or allowance) would mean that your company gives you a set amount per week for housing. Understanding both of these terms is critical!!! Typically, if you are in a location that is very expensive (Boston for example) it might be advantageous for you to have your travel agency help you set up housing. Whereas, if you are going to a much cheaper area, you will almost always be better off finding the housing yourself.
No Question Is A Bad Question
Normally, I would say this goes without saying, but so many times travel nurses go unheard. There is no worse feeling than not asking a question that you really want to know the answer to, only to have the same questioned unanswered the day before your assignment and stressing out about it. If you are travel nursing you should have a good relationship with your recruiter. If you can’t ask your recruiter a question then you should probably reevaluate why you are working with a company in the first place. Remember, a good recruiter is worth roughly $3 hr. (or about $100 per week, seriously). Every question should be addressed long before you start a new assignment.
These Are Expensive…
It’s important to know where housing is very expensive. This can vary a lot based on the time of year and the location but here are a couple of general rules to live by. San Jose, San Francisco, Boston, and New York City are typically the most expensive markets to live in on any given assignment. Deals can be found, but housing almost assuredly WILL be expensive in these markets. Be aware of seasonal issues. If you want to work in a town that is mainly a ski resort (Jackson, WY for example), be prepared to pay more during this time of year. Boulder, CO, Aspen, CO, Park City, UT, Jackson, WY, and many other ski towns will be significantly more expensive during peak ski seasons.
You’re The Boss
Housing might be the most confusing aspect of the travel nursing industry. When in doubt always ask someone for clarification. The best part about travel nursing is you’re the boss!!! You decide where you go, where you stay, and how long you will be staying there. If you feel uneasy about an answer that you receive from a recruiter, challenge yourself to find the actual answer. One of the best things about travel nursing is that you’re always in control!!!
No matter what anybody tells you housing can be a very tricky situation to navigate. Always remember that doing a little bit of research on all the different aspects of housing is definitely in your best interest. There are plenty of travel agencies that will help you a lot and plenty that will help you as little as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions upfront. You can usually tell if a recruiter is knowledgeable about housing options in a certain area or not.