This article was provided by Health Providers Choice
How does the cost of living affect travel nurses?
How you spend your money depends on where you live. A dozen eggs in Denver might be more expensive than the same dozen eggs in Dover. For travel nurses, the cost of living changes is an important factor to consider when taking on new assignments in different parts of the country.
What is the “cost of living”?
It refers to the amount of money it takes to maintain a standard of living and cover basic needs, including food, housing, health care, and taxes in a particular location. Supply and demand of products, the minimum or average wage, and tax laws in different states affect these costs.
The cost of living will change further based on where you live within a particular state. A more crowded, popular city such as Los Angeles will likely cost more to live in than a rural town in northern California.
The amount of money you make will be directly tied to your cost of living. While a salary might be considered great in a place where it is low, it might not be enough to make ends meet in another location.
You can easily see how the cost of living affects travel nurses’ decisions regarding financially beneficial locations.
The relationship between the cost of living and your stipend
One of the main components of the cost of living in the rent in a given area. As a travel nurse, you will be given options for housing that can help alleviate the different costs of living you may encounter.
If you meet the stipend requirements, your pay package will include a tax-free housing stipend intended to cover housing costs while you are working. Your stipend will be based on the General Services Admission (GSA) per diem rates — the maximum travel expense reimbursement allowance for federal employees — for that area. Places with a higher cost of living generally have higher per diem rates.
Since the stipend rates are based on the GSA rates, which are based on location, your stipend will help cover the cost of living for that area. Alternatively, travel nurses can opt for provided housing from the agency, selected and paid for by the traveler.
Be prepared — It might take you by surprise.
The cost of living in your temporary location may shock you positively or negatively. The cost of groceries, restaurants, entertainment, gas, and even basic items such as toothpaste can vary greatly. To prepare yourself before a new assignment, use an online calculator that can provide the cost of living estimates between your current and new location. Knowing in advance how the cost of living affects travel nurses can help you make an informed decision. To return to our earlier example regarding eggs in Dover, Delaware, and Denver, Colorado. The average cost of a dozen eggs in Denver is 12 cents higher. But the cost of eggs isn’t as big of a difference as rent. The average rent in Denver is over $400 more expensive per month!
Shocking? You’re in for an even bigger surprise if you’re heading to the Big Apple from a smaller town. The average monthly rent in the Manhattan area costs $3,984.33, compared to just $696.33 in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. You can expect to pay at least $1 or $2 more for most grocery items in New York, as well.
Staying prepared is an essential part of being a travel nurse. Fortunately, with the right staffing agency behind you, you’ll be able to navigate the changes more easily.