Travel nursing can be a great way to see the country, enjoy new experiences and expand your professional resume. For the landlord, renting to travel nurses comes with a long list of benefits that help reduce risk and keep their units filled. Combined with The Gypsy Nurse, this comprehensive housing guide is brought to you by Furnished Finder – the leading source for travel nurse housing. This housing article covers the most important topics facing traveling nurses and the landlords who host them.
Should I Take Company Housing or the Stipend?
Jobs and housing are attached at the hip and they both have to make sense to ensure your next assignment is a successful one. Of course, housing stipends aren’t what they used to be, but taking the stipend and finding your own place is by far the most popular choice among travelers. While both housing options come with certain benefits, using your stipend to secure a short-term rental can help you enjoy a better travel nurse experience overall.
In the past, company housing played an important role in providing housing in small towns where there were limited home rental options. Fortunately, finding short-term rentals that come fully furnished with utilities already included is easier than ever. The gig economy has helped to turn homeowners into hosts, which makes it possible to find housing that fits all your needs in almost any city across America. In fact, Furnished Finder has over 25,000 furnished property listings that cater specifically to traveling healthcare professionals like you!
The Reality of Company Housing
While company housing may seem like the more convenient route to take, it is important to keep in mind that you may end up being assigned a hotel room or an apartment that’s most affordable for the company, but not always what you would choose yourself. When you find your own housing, you can filter searches according to the features and amenities that matter the most to you like budget, pets, laundry, and proximity to your assignment. You can even search for property-types such as a room, studio, basement, back-house, apartment or house to make sure you get what you’re looking for. Ultimately, you have the advantage to choose where and how you live when you take the stipend over choosing company housing (if company housing is available at all).
Housing for Less Than Your Stipend
The goal is to secure housing for less than what your stipend pays, but we know that’s not always the case…especially in those expensive cities. If keeping your budget down is a necessity for your next assignment, you may want to consider looking for a shared space in those impacted areas. If you don’t mind a house-share situation, this is probably the best way to stay under budget. You can also search for a travel buddy on The Gypsy Nurse Facebook group to share expenses with if your contracts align. Just be sure to have a plan in case one of your assignments gets cancelled mid-term.
There’s another camp of travelers who prefer not to share housing at all. They are the ones searching for a private unit or whole house. When you are occupying the whole unit, you should expect to pay more for the comfort and privacy of your own place. Knowing this, it is more important to eliminate extra costs like booking fees and high deposits.
Landlords Typically Set Their Own Rent
You may find some wiggle-room in the rent price if you speak to the hosts directly before booking, but since you’re renting monthly instead of nightly, security deposits are an important, an often-overlooked aspect of travel nurse housing. According to Furnished Finder, hosts that price their deposits moderately (they recommend ⅓ of rent) are the most successful landlords on the platform. With as much choice as there is today, chances are that you’ll be able to find a property owner who is offering a place with a reasonable deposit.
Using your stipend and spending a little time finding the right housing situation for you doesn’t have to be a long and laborious process. Instead of leaving it to chance with company housing, you can find a cozy room, apartment, condo or entire house that comes with all the comforts you’d expect. Being able to come home to a warm and welcoming environment after a long shift can make all the difference when it comes to handling job stress and enjoying your travel nurse experience.
Furnished Housing Vs. Corporate Housing
Corporate housing is another option that travel nurses can use for short-term stays, but as you may already know, these properties typically start out as unfurnished 12-month rentals, so they will fetch a premium for the short term lease, and will require furniture rental and utilities. While corporate housing does cater to clients who will be staying for a few weeks or months at a time, you will find that corporate housing is more expensive.
Renting furniture is OK in a pinch, but it is rarely the least expensive or quickest option. If you go the furniture-rental route, they typically won’t rent you furniture for less than a 3-month minimum, and if your contract cancels mid-term, you will still be on the hook for the entire contract. Other people may figure out a way to furnish a rental on the cheap (garage sales/Nextdoor) but most of the time, it is simply not worth it… Besides, setting up your own utilities for a 3-month stay is exhausting and borderline unrealistic (are you going to wait for the utility guy to show up between 8am-2pm)?
With monthly furnished housing, you can arrive as you are, and have a home that is move-in ready! The temperature is cozy, the bed is made, the kitchen is stocked and best of all the Wifi is already connected! Now you have everything you need to immediately feel at home when you arrive.
Traveling with a Pet
Traveling with a pet can ease the anxiety that
can come with moving to a new place and starting a new job. Pets also make the
perfect traveling companion and mean that you will always have a friend ready
for adventure in your new town. Although it may narrow your housing options a
little bit depending on the area, there are still many pet-friendly landlords
that make it easy to bring your pet on assignment. Here are a few tips to keep
in mind if you are considering traveling with your pet.
Use Pet Friendly Filters When You Search
You can filter your searches by clicking on the box that reads “Pets Welcome.”
It is Important to Contact the Landlord
Take the time to give the landlord a call and learn more about the property and whether it will be a good fit for your pet. If it is a shared space, they may want you to keep your pet in your area of the home. A quick phone call can clarify any restrictions and avoid misunderstandings.
Bringing a Pet Can Come with Fees
With most properties, bringing a pet will require a nonrefundable pet-deposit and/or an increase in monthly rent. If you find the perfect property, but you think the fee is too high, reach out to the landlord and see if they are willing to negotiate. Apartment complexes are less willing to negotiate.
There May be Breed, Weight, and Other Restrictions
This is especially true with apartments. You may also run into difficulties if you have more than two pets.
Get a Reference From Your Previous Landlord
If a previous landlord is willing to vouch for you and your pet, a potential landlord may feel a lot more comfortable about opening their property to your pet.
A few photos can give the landlord a better idea of the type and size of your pet and help with clear communication. If they are reluctant about welcoming your pet, a quick visual may tip the scales in your favor. Also ensure your profile is up to date with your pet information as well.
Traveling with your pet can enrich your entire experience and help you ward off any homesickness. Just be sure to search for pet-friendly properties and make sure it is a good fit for everyone involved. You may also want to use services like Rover.com and Wag.com to schedule a dog walker during your long shifts. With the right planning, your pet can be a part of all your adventures.
Securing a Lease
With our housing partner Furnished Finder, you book your housing directly with the property owner which works well because there are no markups to rent or booking fees. Of course, every host does things a little differently, but you should expect to complete a credit check and to sign a lease before you move in. Month to month leases are the most attractive to a travel nurse because it gives you the flexibility to put in your 30-day notice at any time if you have to. On the reverse end of that scenario, it’s great when you want to extend your contract for another 13 weeks because you should get first right of refusal to keep the property.
Pay Close Attention to Details
Pay close attention to details like rent, deposit (is it refundable or not), move-in date, pet policy, parking, laundry, cleaning fees, and the time you’re required to give the landlord to vacate (ideally 30 days, sometimes 60 days with apartment complexes). Regarding the notice to vacate, a good habit to get into is to set a calendar item on your phone as a reminder of when to give your landlord notice.
You may not know if you’re staying or moving at that exact moment, but since the lease requires a notice be provided at a specific time relative to your lease term, make sure it is done. After you provide your notice, follow it up with a conversation with the landlord as most of the time they’ll work with you on the timing…they just need to know your plan as soon as you do! Within that time (30 days is common) you can change your mind and decide to stay if the hospital renews your contract.
Compare the Lease to the Listing
Compare the lease you get with the initial listing to make sure that it is accurate. Once you sign the lease, that is your agreement with the landlord. Leases protect both parties, so if something isn’t quite right or if you need clarity on a certain section, don’t be afraid to ask for further explanation before you sign.
Once you sign the lease, that is your agreement with the landlord. Leases protect both parties, so if something isn’t quite right or if you need clarity on a certain section, don’t be afraid to ask for further explanation before you sign.
Keep good notes and copies for your records. You should also hold onto any text messages and emails between you and the host in case disputes arise in the future.
As you look for your next place to stay, it is important to be aware that online housing scams are real and you are the only one who can protect yourself from them. Although scams may be more prevalent on platforms like Craigslist, Zillow, or Roomster, they can happen anywhere, so you should always be on the lookout for red flags that could signal trouble. Here are a few tips that you can employ to avoid online housing scams.
Tips to Spot Scammers
While we work hard to protect users from scammers, there are additional steps you can take to ensure that you are connecting with reputable landlords who have your best interest in mind.
Beware of Listings that Seem too Good to be True
If you come across a beautiful, spacious home in a high-cost city that rents for well below the majority of properties in the same market, you may have come across a scam.
Don’t Wire Money
There are secure ways to make payments that are both traceable and refundable. Wiring funds means that the same protections won’t be in place. A legitimate landlord will be interested in creating a clear paper trail for both parties involved.
Be on the Lookout for Constant Misspellings and European Spelling of Words
While the occasional typo is understandable, if you are having trouble reading their emails or it is clear they are communicating with you from another country, be sure to report the listing and continue your search.
Stay away from landlords who can’t meet in person or provide a face-time-walk-through.
A scammer will be full of excuses for why they can’t meet you at the property. For most landlords, renting their property is a business they take seriously. That means they will be more than happy to meet with you and do their own due diligence to make sure they are renting to the right candidates.
Trust your Gut
If something seems off, don’t feel bad about being suspicious or asking for proof of ownership. Keep in mind there’s always a story with a scammer so don’t buy it. Just ghost them. There are plenty of other listings that are worth your time and attention.
Scammers like Desperation
It creates an environment of anxiety and fear which they thrive on. Don’t fall into the thought process of “I don’t want to lose this property so I’d better hurry up and send this guy a deposit.” That is what they want. That is how they make their money. Consider staying in a hotel for a week when you first get into town.
Sometimes they’ll even use modern payment systems like Zelle or Venmo so make sure that the person you’re speaking to is really the property owner.
It’s up to you to protect yourself, but Furnished Finder can help. They will provide travelers with a free “Owner Verification Report” no matter what platform they used to find housing.
Extending a Contract
There may be instances where the hospital offers to extend your contract. If you are happy with your work situation and feel like you are gaining great professional experience while also making a positive impact, this could be a great opportunity to continue your work and get to know the city even better. This is also the perfect time to reexamine your housing situation. If you are content with your accommodations, you can contact the landlord and ask about staying on longer. However, if you would like to move closer to work or try out a different neighborhood, you can easily make the move. (Don’t forget to provide the proper notice to vacate to your landlord).
Opportunity to Explore
Extending your contract also gives you the opportunity to explore more of the city and surrounding areas. If 13 weeks didn’t seem like enough and there are still parks, attractions, restaurants and other locations you haven’t been able to visit, staying a few more months could be a great option.
8 Things Travel Nurses Want Their Landlord to Know:
If you are a landlord interested in renting to travel nurses and wondering what you can do to cater to their needs, here is a good place to start. While individuals may be looking for specific amenities, in general, travel nurses have the same set of priorities. By understanding your audience, you can attract more travel nurse tenants.
Your tenants will probably be traveling to a new city all by themselves and may not know your area very well. They want to feel secure by choosing a safe place in a safe neighborhood. You can attract travel nurses by adding a security system, installing a fence and gate and taking other precautions to secure the home. If you’re offering a room, you’ll want to specify if the room has a key lock and if other travelers will be living there. Be sure to prominently advertise these features in your listing because they can be big selling points. In addition, it you are close to a police or fire station, this may be worth mentioning.
2. Affordable Housing
While some housing stipends may cover the cost of housing, please be aware that a lot of them may not because they rarely account for high cost cities. The main point in bringing this up is to clear up the false impression that travel nurses have big fat stipends – they don’t. Travel nurses are budget travelers. If you want to rent to traveling healthcare professionals, your rent needs to be fair and your deposit needs to be affordable. The amount you choose for a deposit can help or hurt you, because if it’s too high, they’ll simply find a more affordable place to stay. Furnished Finder recommends that hosts set deposits to be about 1/3 of rent. It is up to the landlords to set their own rent and deposit.
If you’re a property owner who would like to start hosting travel nurses in your property and want to get an idea of the demand in your area, or you want to figure out how to price your property, search the map to get an idea of rents in your area.
Travel nurses want to get the most for their money and find a property that checks most of their boxes. Be sure to offer competitive pricing and make it clear what they are getting for their rent. They may be willing to spend towards the upper limit of their budget if you can make the case for your property over others in your area.
3. Utilities Included
Travel nurses want a home away from home and all the conveniences that come with that. Offering high-speed WiFi is an absolute must as well as already having all the utilities up and running. They are always moving about the country and have more choice than ever, so your property should be totally move-in ready. Once they come home after a long shift at the hospital, they want to relax, make something to eat, stream their favorite Netflix show, and get some peaceful sleep.
A lot of travel nurses enjoy the comfort and companionship that comes with traveling with their pet and many landlords choose to accommodate them. If you allow pets, your property listing will be more distinct, and you may get more inquiries from potential tenants! It’s not uncommon to charge a non-refundable pet cleaning fee to help offset your costs.
5. Location, Location, Location.
Travel nurses don’t want to waste too much time commuting to and from work or running errands, like visiting the grocery store. If you are located close to hospitals, shopping, coffee shops, restaurants and other conveniences, your property will be a stand out. Proximity to public transportation can be another plus. Not every travel nurse wants to deal with bringing a car on assignment. If there is a bus stop a couple blocks from your property, make sure to include this in your listing.
6. Parking and Laundry
Having a designated parking spot can be a huge selling point, especially in big cities. You don’t want your tenants to have to spend time circling the block trying to find a spot that isn’t too far from the rental…especially at night. On-site laundry can also be a deal maker. After a long day at the hospital, travel nurses aren’t going to want to spend their free time hauling clothes to and from the laundromat.
7. Positive Reviews
Having a strong track record and plenty of positive reviews from past tenants will put you at the top of the list. Just one bad review can leave you with a property that is empty for months at a time. Don’t hesitate to politely ask tenants for reviews and work to build up a strong online reputation.
8. Go the Extra Mile
If you can provide all these things to travel nurses, you will be well on your way to becoming a popular landlord. However, there are some additional steps you can take to really win over your tenants and provide a superior housing experience. Some steps include:
Provide plenty of storage space.
No one wants to feel like they are living out of their suitcase, especially for 13 weeks at a time. A spacious dresser and a personal closet can go a long way.
Include Towels, Linens, Cleaning Supplies and Other Essentials
Most travel nurses arrive with the items that there were able to fit in their car. You can help them save space and simplify their lives by providing some of the basics you know they will need during their stay. If you’re used to hosting nightly travelers, you certainly don’t have to provide everything you might for vacationers, but you will want to make sure traveling nurses have everything they need for the first few days or so until they can get to the store for some essentials.
Provide a Comfortable Bed
Travel nurses spend long shifts on their feet and often have to work night shifts. Don’t stick them with an old, lumpy mattress. A comfortable bed will allow them to enjoy rejuvenating rest so they can be at their best.
Create a Peaceful Environment
This is especially important if you live on the property and will be sharing space with your tenant. Don’t run the vacuum while they are trying to sleep after a night shift. You may even want to provide a sound machine that can block out city noise and create a consistent and relaxing background noise. Likewise, blackout curtains are helpful for those day-sleepers.
Whether you are a travel nurse embarking on your first assignment or you are a seasoned traveler looking for new ways to improve each experience, follow the tips in this resource to help ensure your assignment is successful and enjoyable. You can also take advantage of a long list of other informational resources that are available on Furnished Finder and The Gypsy Nurse.