Advantage Medical Professionals provided this article.
Travel nurses can hold widely varying opinions about most aspects of travel nursing, and they usually jump at the chance to share those opinions or offer advice. Whether it’s about the interview process or the best brand of scrubs, almost any topic is seen as an opportunity for friendly debate amongst new and seasoned travelers alike. However, it seems virtually all travel nurses agree on one thing – finding short-term housing during their travel assignment can be one of the most stressful parts of the process. There are usually several factors to consider that can vary wildly depending on your own unique sets of circumstances, like finances, timing, and the rental housing market in the area you plan to work (just to name a few). Securing the perfect place isn’t an exact science, but the nuggets of wisdom provided below will help you assess your unique situation and find the best possible “home away from home” during each travel assignment.
1. Consider booking an extended-stay hotel or short-term VRBO rental for the first week or two of your assignment.
This will help you get a lay of the land and better familiarize yourself with the area first, rather than putting a considerable deposit down on an apartment sight unseen. It will also give you a chance to get settled into the routine at your assigned facility and make 100% sure the assignment is a good fit for you without the three-month rental contract you just signed looming over your head.
2. Divide & Conquer.
Finding a colleague or roommate to travel with will allow both of you to save some serious cash since you’ll be splitting rent and other housing expenses. If you don’t personally know of anyone, try reaching out to travel nursing groups on social media or asking your recruiter if they can connect you with other nurses who are starting their next travel assignment around the same time and place as yours.
3. If you have travel companions, pick a place that fits everyone’s needs.
Whether you’re planning to travel with a roommate, spouse, pet, or child, make sure you focus your housing search to only include places that welcome and have the proper accommodations for your travel companion(s). There are a number of websites that allow you to filter for pet-friendly stays, such as BringFido or Homeaway.
4. Be brutally honest with yourself when booking your long-term housing for your travel assignment.
Ask yourself what makes the most sense given the commute to the facility, your shift schedule, amenities offered, and your normal living habits. For example, staying in an apartment in the middle of the city because it’s close to the hospital might be great – however, street noise or ongoing construction projects during the day may prevent your much-needed sleep if you’re working nights if you tend to be a light sleeper. You may not always find the “perfect” place that checks all your boxes with every assignment, but weighing these pros and cons carefully will go a long way in securing a place you’re comfortable and happy to put your feet up at the end of a long shift.
5. Educate yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of agency-provided housing.
Some travel nursing agencies and healthcare facilities provide their own housing or have partnerships/referral programs with housing rental companies. This may sound like an easy, convenient solution to securing a place to stay during your travel assignment, but there are several important factors you should consider before taking an agency up on their housing offer.
Disadvantages of agency or facility-provided housing:
In most cases, the agency gets a commission from the housing company for every rental they book or refer – to maintain profit margins. The housing company usually charges an increased rate to the referred tenants to offset this extra cost. Simply put, it usually ends up in higher rental costs for nurses like you.
The housing conditions, layout, and/or location may not be acceptable for your needs or comfort level.
Advantages of agency or facility-provided housing:
- Saved time because you don’t have to spend hours finding housing on your own
- No credit checks since the lease will not be in your name
6. Consider alternative housing options.
Staying in an RV or cabin is an economical option that has become an increasingly popular choice for career travelers. Websites like Campspace are a great resource for finding RV parks, cabins, and campsites with varying levels of amenities for campers or glampers alike to live comfortably. If you don’t have access to an RV, no worries! Sharing platforms like RVShare allows you to find and rent RVs or campers directly from locals in the area you’re traveling to for your nursing assignment. Another way to save money on housing costs AND help a fellow traveler is by looking to websites like Trusted Housesitters, which connects travelers with locals in a given area who are looking for house sitters or pet sitters.
7. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s an unfortunate truth but a very real one –there are scammers in almost every industry who figure out how to scam hardworking, intelligent people out of their hard-earned money. Some of these grifts are obvious, but some scammers still manage to find increasingly clever ways to mimic legitimate business practices so closely that it’s nearly impossible to detect before it’s too late.
Some red flags to look out for:
- The price doesn’t match up with the images or amenities listed. If the property is noticeably underpriced compared to other properties in the area and/or the images or amenities included in the rental listing seem abundant for the price, it’s possible the property is uninhabitable or doesn’t exist at all.
- The landlord/leasing agent pressures you to send money. Avoid sending money or providing banking information until you can tour the residence in person. Even reputable rental properties ask for a credit card to put on file ahead of your check-in date, so make sure they’re able to point you to documentation that outlines their payment terms, fee schedule, etc., before doing so. Also, use a credit card that includes fraud/travel purchase protection if at all possible.
- Trust your gut feeling. Like most situations, you’re better off listening to your gut or intuition when something just doesn’t feel right, even if you can’t quite put your finger on the reason why. Don’t be afraid to say no, and keep looking for a place that feels right.
8. A picture can be worth a thousand dollars.
Do a thorough walkthrough of the entire residence the very first day you move in. Also, make sure you capture time-stamped photos of any existing damage to the residence along the way, even if the damage is minimal. Doing this will go a long way in protecting yourself from being unjustly charged for the damages later.
Our job board is a great place to search for your next travel nurse assignment. We have you covered with our housing page if housing is an issue. You can search for what you are looking for.