Travel nursing is a great way to explore new places, gain invaluable experience, and make a great living. It’s an opportunity to work with different hospitals and healthcare facilities across the country and develop new skills while earning an incredible salary.
But finding the right housing can be a challenge, especially if you’re a new travel nurse. Here’s everything you need to know about how to find the perfect housing situation for your next assignment.
How Travel Nursing and Housing Work
Travel nursing is when you work as a registered nurse in a hospital or healthcare facility for a short period of time. Travel nurses typically work 3-month contracts but can also work longer or shorter assignments.
Assignment length depends on the initial contract, but many facilities will offer travel nurses extensions, allowing them to work for up to a year. However, once you’ve been in a state for a year, you typically need to move to a new state for your next assignment. Otherwise, the federal government will determine that this state is now your “home” and will tax you accordingly.
The only exception to this is if you do “local” travel nursing, where you work at a facility at least 50 miles from your home. You still might struggle to find facilities that will keep you for over a year, but you can continue to travel throughout your home state for over a year.
Travel nursing is an attractive career choice for many nurses. It provides the opportunity to explore different cities and states, develop new skills, and earn more money than a traditional nursing job — a lot more. It’s not uncommon to see weekly salaries in excess of $3,000.
One of the big benefits of being a travel nurse is that, if you choose to find your own housing, you get a tax-free (in most cases) reimbursement as part of your pay. This amount is set as part of your contract, so if you find somewhere to live that costs less than the reimbursement, you get to keep what’s leftover.
Types of Housing and Things to Consider
Because you’re normally only in a city for about 3 months at a time and rarely in the same state for more than a year, you have to find what’s called “temporary” housing (as opposed to living in an apartment, which would be considered “permanent” housing by the housing industry even if you only stay for a year).
Housing may be provided by the hospital or healthcare facility that you’re working for, but it’s also possible to find your own housing. Depending on your needs and budget, there are a variety of options available to you.
When it comes to housing, what matters most is what makes you comfortable. You might be traveling with family members. You might be traveling with pets. You might be traveling alone. You might only be working as a travel nurse for a year or two, or you might see this as your new full-time career.
All of these different situations will have different needs. Someone with pets is going to have fewer options. Something traveling with their spouse is going to need more space. Someone traveling for only a year or two might be okay with less-than-stellar housing. Someone looking for convenience might prefer a hotel, while someone else might want to live in a single room in someone’s home to save money.
It’s important that you consider your needs carefully, especially if you’re hoping to extend your assignment. In many cases, you won’t be able to see your housing situation until you get there, so you need to spend more than a little time figuring out exactly what you’re looking for.
Here are some of the different types of housing options for travel nurses.
Short-term rentals are a popular option for travel nurses. Short-term rentals are usually rented by the week or month and can be a great option if you’re looking for a more flexible housing solution.
Short-term rentals are typically more expensive than apartment rentals, and you often have to book them months in advance. They can range from single-room units in someone’s home to full apartments, depending on your needs.
However, keep in mind that short-term rentals may not come with all the amenities of an apartment rental, such as a kitchen or living room. Still, they’re usually furnished, which means you don’t have to lug furniture all over the country.
Hotels are another popular option for travel nurses. Hotels provide a comfortable and convenient place to stay. Many will have a free or low-cost breakfast option, and most have snacks available in the lobby.
However, they are usually the most expensive option, even with discounts. To find a hotel that compares in price to an apartment, you’re going to have to go with the cheapest option, which means a reduction in quality.
Also, hotels can be noisy and lack the privacy and comfort of an apartment. There’s usually not much you can do about the fact that some hotels become party central on the weekends.
One of the least popular types of travel nurse housing is apartment rentals, mostly because apartments rarely offer anything less than a year lease (sometimes a little longer, depending on the state).
It’s nice having your own space of course, but because most contracts are 3 months, if you decide to rent an apartment for a year, you’re basically gambling that you’ll get to extend at that facility (or find another one that’s very close).
Also, the only way to get out of a lease if you aren’t able to extend is to break it. Breaking a lease is very expensive (typically many thousands of dollars), so renting an apartment is not something to do unless you feel confident that you’ll be able to extend for a year.
Some travel nursing agencies or facilities will have company housing available. These are typically furnished apartments that are only available for staff.
Not all agencies or facilities offer this, but when it’s available, it can be a great option for a number of reasons, including the fact that you’re living with other travel nurses who understand what it’s like to live this way of life.
The big drawback is that, if you choose company housing, you won’t get a housing stipend.
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