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You have many things to consider when choosing a travel nurse assignment, including the location and details of your contract. One of the most important factors in your decision should be your housing, because it can have a massive impact on your personal and financial well-being.
Thankfully, today’s mobile world provides plenty of options for travel nurse housing, including short-term rentals and long-term RV stays. This article should give you the information you need to figure out potential housing before accepting a travel nurse assignment.
How Do Travel Nurses Find Housing?
Travel nurses have two paths to finding housing. You can either secure your own housing or work with a travel nurse agency that will set things up for you.
There are pros and cons to both options, so it’s important that you understand your contract and how it could impact your housing. For example, an unexpected cancellation of your contract could leave you in a financial bind if there’s no way out of your housing commitment. Going through an agency means you have a safeguard against those situations.
If you choose to secure your own housing, you should receive a housing stipend. Make sure you understand what that amount entails because it could impact your salary. Also ask what the stipend covers to ensure you don’t sign onto something you can’t afford.
Working with an agency can save you some time and headache. However, you might not have as much input in the process or selections.
How Much Do Companies and Nurses Have to Spend on Travel Nurse Housing?
There is no hard and fast rule that guarantees a certain amount of housing money for travel nurses. It depends on several factors, including the local cost of living. For example, a travel nurse in San Francisco will pay more for housing than one in Minneapolis.
That said, everyone must operate within the parameters set forth by the Government Services Administration (GSA). The temporary duty travel allowances cover everything from per diem expenses to emergency travel.
What Companies Spend
The American Hospital Association (AHA) reported a substantial rise in temporary and travel nursing costs, primarily due to agencies raising the prices. Further, the AHA cited figures from hospitals in New Jersey. The hospitals spent around $670 million on contract workers in 2021, more than three times what they spent the year before. While this doesn’t specifically address housing costs, it provides a baseline to estimate the overall costs to be in the millions.
What Travel Nurses Pay
Your contract will detail how much you receive for a housing stipend. To get an idea of what you can expect, check out the GSA per diem calculator to figure out what it should be for your location. Factor that number across the length of the contract and arrive at the target number.
For example, the maximum per diem in Seattle, Washington for July, August, and September of 2022 was $232. If you worked 80 days in the city, that’s $18,560. Hopefully, your housing stipend came near that range, because short-term apartment rates ranged from $1,695 up to more than $4,000 per month.
Choosing your own housing means that you can pocket any excess that you don’t spend on housing. However, if you want more than the base amenities, you can expect to pay extra. Additional bedrooms and luxury appliances typically come out of your pocket.
What About Taxes?
The tax situation for travel nurses can be complicated, especially with the housing stipend. You have to satisfy several requirements to keep your housing stipend tax-free.
One of the key requirements is that you maintain a permanent residence that’s not in the location of your assignment. Another critical element is that the travel nurse assignment doesn’t last longer than twelve months, or it’s no longer a temporary housing situation.
It might be worth contacting a financial advisor or tax professional to help you work through the finer details.
Travel Nurse Housing Options
Working with your travel nurse agency can take a lot off your plate, including dealing with the property owning and finding a safe place at a reasonable rate. If you opt out of the agency housing path, you need to know where to find lodging.
It’s possible to find places through facebook groups or commercial sites, like apartments.com, but they may not be the best choices. You might want to stick with reputable sites that specialize in unique housing options, like the ones below.
Extended Stay Hotels
Hotels make a reasonable choice because they tend to have all the amenities you could want, including housekeeping. Plus, you don’t have to worry about paying for utilities or signing a lease.
Several hotel chains even offer discounted rates for healthcare workers to lighten the load. It’s also easier to find hotels near hospitals and medical centers, meaning you don’t have to travel far for work. Nurses are also elibilgle for discounts from travel aggregators such as HotWire and Priceline.
Depending on where your assignment location and duration, you might be better off with sites that specialize in short-term housing for traveling professionals. These sites may involve a private owner leasing out space or agencies that own several properties for short-term housing.
Airbnb is a well-known booking site that pairs homeowners with people seeking short-term stays. Everything is fully furnished and some places have several amenities. It can feel like a home away from home and make the location feel more comfortable.
The only downside is that it caters to vacations more than professional travel. While it would be nice to stay in a fun, vacation-centric beach house, that’s not practical for work. However, Airbnb offers a range of lodgings from private rooms and lofts to full houses.
Furnished Finder is a popular option for traveling professionals who want control over their lodgings but lack the time to do in-depth research. Unlike Airbnb, this site focuses on people traveling for work instead of pleasure, meaning access to different types of homes.
This website doesn’t charge for its services, which include background checks on tenants. It also doesn’t handle any of the lease agreements or payments, that’s between you and the property owner.
Sonder is another site specializing in short-term rentals. Stay for a night or a month in some of the hottest neighborhoods in the world. However, Sonder only has locations in major cities, meaning you’re out of luck if your location is in Spokane, Washington or Indianapolis, Indiana.
Flipkey travel nurse housing is another option, though the site leans toward vacation rentals. Like many of the other rental sites, you have a wide selection of property types with the ability to search by location and price. Flipkey makes it easy to narrow your search to a specific area and only shows properties available for your date range.
VRBO, formerly known as HomeAway, focuses on finding vacation rentals for families, but the Expedia Group member serves anybody seeking a short term rental. Some locations provide deals for stays of thirty days or more, meaning you could land a steal on a house that falls well under your per diem.
Some owners deliberately list their properties as Vrbo travel nurse housing and mention catering to healthcare professionals in their ads, like this one in Memphis, TN. Other listings note that they only rent to professionals traveling for work.
Corporate rentals, or corporate housing, refers to fully-furnished, high-end properties intended for business professionals who need accommodations for at least a month. You might find some of these locations on the above sites or through a commercial site, like apartments.com. Additionally, there are corporate housing sites that cater to the demographic, like CorporateHousingByOwner.com.
The idea of an RV probably conjures ideas of setting up camp in the middle of a forest, but that’s not always the case. Many rental sites, like Airbnb, include RVs set up on properties around various cities and suburbs. It can be quieter and offer more privacy in some cases.
Here are a few more questions that can help you learn more about travel nurse housing.
How much do travel nurses get for housing?
It depends on the job location. Travel nurses should expect to receive enough to cover lodging costs in the area but not more than the maximum per diem set forth by the GSA.
How do travel nurses find housing?
Travel nurses can go through an agency that finds the site and handles all of the furnishings, interactions with the landlord, and even the utilities. Nurses can also opt to find their own housing and use the housing stipend to cover the costs.
Where do you live if you're a travel nurse?
Travel nurses can live in almost any temporary or short-term housing. Some choose to stay at a hotel with plenty of amenities, while others opt for a home away from home in a private rental. It depends on what's available near the jobsite and what works with the nurse’s housing stipend.
Choosing the Right Travel Nurse Housing
Finding temporary lodging doesn’t have to be a headache, and you can find something that fits your tastes. At the end of the day, it’s a temporary space to sleep, eat, and bathe while you do your job. Then, you can return home or move onto another location. Just make sure your space works with your housing stipend so that you don’t end up paying out of pocket.