This article provided by Soliant Healthcare.
As a traveling nurse, housing is often one of the most important components of the pay package. For many, the housing options are often a dealbreaker. Given that the average travel nurse assignment is 13 weeks, finding housing as a travel nurse has unique challenges. While many travel nurse agencies, like Soliant, offer included contract housing, many nurses opt for housing stipends to have more control over where they stay.
While there are pros and cons of both housing opportunities, as a travel nurse you must find what works best for you. These tips will help you better understand your housing options and find housing you are happy with.
Travel nurse housing includes two main options:
- Agency-Placed Housing – With agency-placed housing, your staffing agency arranges your housing in the area of your contract. In many areas, agencies have long-term contracts with properties to facilitate regular short-term occupancy.
- Stipend Housing – With stipend housing, you receive a set stipend amount and are then responsible for finding your own housing arrangements.
As a travel nurse, chances are you will experience both options at some point. Which one you chose depends on different conditions, such as the location of the contract, availability of housing options, and your personal preferences. Both housing options have their own benefits as well as disadvantages. Here we will go over these differences to help you better understand which option might be best for you.
Agency-Placed Housing and the Advantages/Disadvantages
Agency-placed housing is often the most common option chosen and often recommended for new traveling nurses. Travel nursing agencies often lease properties in locations to be able to offer short-term leases to their nurses. These properties include furniture, as well as linens and dishes. Utilities, such as electric or gas, are included, with some agencies even covering cable and internet.
Some key benefits of agency-placed housing include:
- Convenience – Your agency takes care of everything. You don’t have to worry about looking for properties that will accept short-term leases, you do not have to come up with security deposits, and you do not have to worry whether or not utilities are connected before you settle in.
- Availability and Pricing– Finding short-term housing is not always easy, especially in smaller communities. In many cases, you may need to spend more than a stipend amount to find a suitable short-term rental. Agencies already have locations in place and can bypass these concerns.
- No Up-front Costs – With agency-placed housing, you will not need to come up with deposits for housing or utilities.
- Security – If for any reason, your contract is canceled, you do not have to worry about possible expenses when terminating a lease early.
While these benefits may make you wonder why anyone would choose something else, agency-placed housing does have some disadvantages. While some agencies may offer you more than one housing option, they are usually comparable and do not leave many options. While you can make requests, it is not always available. For example, if you are a wife and mother that travels with your spouse and small child, you may want housing that includes a second bedroom. This is not always available. Maybe you bring your canine companion when your travel and the agency doesn’t offer any pet-friendly locations. For these reasons, stipend housing is another available option and one many seasoned travel nurses ultimately choose.
Stipend Pay and Housing Options
A housing stipend is a sum of money worked into your contract designed to cover the cost of housing during your assignment. This can include money for housing, travel, and meals. The amount of the stipend is based on a monthly rate but is paid weekly through your paycheck. Choosing a monthly stipend means you are responsible for acquiring your own housing as well as utilities.
This opens you up to a variety of different housing options that can include:
- Traditional housing – this can include traditional homes and apartments. Keep in mind, traditional rentals may charge higher rates for short-term leases. In many cases, these properties do not come furnished, so you will have to consider furniture rental.
- Vacation Rentals – Vacation rental properties typically come furnished and available for short-term leases. However, finding one with a three-month vacancy can be challenging.
- Temporary Housing – This option can include properties such as Airbnb.
- Extended-Stay Hotels – Extended stay hotels, such as Extended Stay America, offer the convenience of a hotel but are designed for longer stays.
- RV or Mobile Housing – Many travel nurses opt to travel with their own homes. RV’s allow you to bring your home with you and simply find an RV park facility
Advantages/Disadvantages of Choosing a Housing Stipend
When you choose a stipend, you must take the lead when it comes to housing. You are responsible for finding a suitable location, paying deposits and connecting utilities. The main challenge of this housing option is finding housing that fits within the allotted budget. Some resources that can help with finding housing include:
- House-hunting sites, such as apartments.com
- Vacation and temporary housing sites, such as Furnished Finder, VRBO and Airbnb
- Extended Stay Hotels, such as Extended Stay America
- Hire a local realtor to help you look for available housing
Some key benefits of housing stipends can include:
- You control where and how you live – If you want to live on the beach while in California, for example, you can look for a beach home. If a washer and dryer are a must-have, you can find housing that offers it.
- You can make additional money – The housing stipend is a set amount and, if you can find housing for under this amount, you can pocket the rest.
- Extra move-in/move-out time – With agency-placed housing, you often get only a couple of days to get in and get settled before your contract starts. The same goes for moving out. When you find your own housing, you create your moving timeline.
- If you travel with a pet, you will have the option of finding a location that allows pets.
Disadvantages of Choosing the Housing Stipend
Being in control of your housing may seem like a great option, it is not for everyone. It also has some disadvantages you must consider. These can include:
- Up-Front Costs – You are responsible for covering deposits for both housing and any utilities. Also, you may need to arrive early to have utilities connected.
- Renting Furniture – Many places will not come furnished, meaning you will need to bring your own, rent, or purchase second hand.
- Paying Penalties – Should your contract be canceled for any reason you are responsible for any fees associated with the cancelation of your lease or rental agreement.
Housing is often the most stressful part of being a travel nurse. Understanding your housing options, as well as voicing your needs and concerns with your travel nurse agency, is essential before you accept a contract.
We hope that you found these tips on how to find housing helpful. Do you have any tips to help travel nurses find housing that wasn’t mentioned in this article? Comment them below.