When finding short term housing it is a nice goal to want to “have it all”. Perfect location, beautiful apartment, affordable pricing, and laid back lease terms. However, as travel nurses looking for housing to accommodate us for a few months at a time, it can be difficult to hit every single checkmark on our list.
As my husband and I got more experienced in finding our own travel nurse housing, we started to realize that one easy way to cut back on living expenses is to sign a short term lease for the unit we were interested in. Although a lot of our landlords on Furnished Finder do not require you to sign a lease, by offering to do so you may be able to negotiate a lower rent or move to the top of the list if they have multiple applicants. By giving some guarantee to the landlords, they can often reduce their prices slightly because they don’t have to worry about the “what ifs” of an empty apartment. While signing a lease does come with some risks, the benefits of a longer agreement rather than a month-to-month rental may be worth it.
Know the Risks
Before signing a short term lease, check to see what the cost of breaking said lease would be. If the short term rental saves you $100 a month over three months, but it costs you $2,000 if you move out early due to contract cancellation, it probably isn’t worth the risk. However, if it saves you $500 a month, it might be worth considering.
Check Move Out Requirements
Some apartments require a 60-day notice if you will be leaving at the end of your lease. For travel nurses, this means at week four of your contract you will need to know whether you plan to extend or not or risk being charged money for late notice. If you know for sure you will not be extending, this might be okay but if you want to wait and see you may not be able to give your full notice. Usually, your best bet will be to try and find a place that allows a 30-day notice.
Ask About Going Month to Month
At a lot of apartment complexes, you can switch to month-to-month after your initial lease expires. This is great because you can finish your initial contract and lease and not feel obligated to stay another full three months if you can make your housing situation work for a shorter extension. Plus, with month-to-month, there is usually a shorter move-out notice requirement.
Have Some Money Saved
It is always a good idea to have an emergency fund as a travel nurse, but this is especially important if you opt to sign a short term lease for housing. In the event that your contract gets canceled unexpectedly, you will have to be prepared to pay any penalties that come with ending a lease early unless you can find a different job in the same area.
Plan for a Little Overlap
The chances that your lease start and end dates line up perfectly with your contract dates aren’t super likely. You may have to plan for a few days at the beginning or end where you stay in a hotel to make the timing work out. If this happens at the end of your lease you may even be able to crash on a coworker’s couch for your last couple of shifts to help save money.
The financial benefits of signing a lease can often be the deciding factor for if it is the right move for you. Not only does signing a short term lease save you money, but it can also give you peace of mind knowing that you are secure in your living space for the duration of your contract. As long as you have an emergency fund in case of cancellation, you should be able to sign a lease for your travel nurse contract with minimal worries.