Whether you’re an experienced travel nurse, or you’re planning your first travel experience, after you take that job, there’s one decision which can make or break your assignment; furnished travel nurse housing!
You can easily get overwhelmed online and dump a ton of time calling on fruitless ads which leave you totally frustrated…and no closer to finding a suitable property to stay in. This type of stress, sometimes called “housing fatigue”, increases every day until you secure proper furnished travel nurse housing for your upcoming job.
In the past, your travel nurse recruiter may have handled your housing, but many travel nurses are now electing to take the housing stipend so they can have more control over where they stay. If you’ve ever been stuck in subpar housing for 13 weeks, you know this! Also, since you can pocket the remaining tax free stipend dollars, most travel RN’s are realizing the importance of taking a larger role in choosing their housing.
Is it really that hard to find your own furnished travel nurse housing? Not necessarily, it can just take a lot of time. Keep in mind that you’re looking for short-term housing which can feel a lot like looking for that “needleinahaystack”! On top of that, you need it furnished, with utilities included, in a safe and convenient area, that’s pet friendly and within a reasonable budget compared to your stipend. Now, the pool of available housing options in your area has suddenly shrunk to next to nothing. Be prepared to keep digging…but where do you start?
Here are 5 tips to help you find furnished travel nurse housing
1.) Beware of Craigslist.com and “too good to be true” offers – they usually are!
Do you just jump on Craigslist and start making calls? You can certainly find real housing options on Craigslist, but it comes at a cost. Frankly you really can’t trust everything you read on Craigslist. In fact, if you’re a member of the Gypsy Nurse Travel Nurse Housing Group, you see it somewhat frequently; someone will post their toogoodtobetrue housing offer they found on Craigslist asking if it’s real. Thankfully, other members will step in and tell them to steer clear because it’s a scam. (If you’re not already a member of the popular Gypsy Nurse Travel Nurse Facebook Group and Housing Group, we encourage you to join. They’re a great way to learn from your fellow travelers across the country).
2.) Be cautious in checking out potential landlords online
When fielding emails from potential landlords online, remember these three rules:
- Use your intuition it’s usually right.
- Make sure the images match the price If the images are incredible, but the rent is grossly underpriced, it’s most likely a scam.
- Never send money Scammers are cyberbullies preying on desperate travelers. (You can get some other tips on how to recognize a Craigslist scam Here and as well as tips from The Gypsy Nurse Here).
3.) Vacation Rental Websites
Vacation rental websites are a good resource to consider. Some of the most popular are HomeAway, VRBO, and Airbnb. You can find some great housing options on these sites, and for the most part, they keep the scammers away. You simply punch in a city or a state, and you’ll be able to view tons of vacation rentals. Just like any site, you’ll need to filter out the properties that don’t make sense for you…like that 6 bedroom mansion that sleeps 18 people.
Most likely, you’re looking for a reasonably priced studio or 1 bedroom near the hospital where you’ll be working. Once you narrow your search results down a bit, you’ll need to dive into the availability of each property. This is usually where the proverbial asterisk or caveat in your search rears its ugly head; since most of the vacation rentals can be booked online in advance, finding a place that can host you for your entire 13-week stay can be challenging…but not impossible. When contacting property owners on these sites, operate with the 10% rule in mind; only 10% of the property owners you contact will actually respond. Knowing this, to make VRBO/HomeAway/Airbnb work for you, try to send out a lot of availability requests.
4.) Stipend-based travel nurse housing services with a “concierge approach”
Overall, most housing services are very generic as they appeal more towards the booming vacation rental market, or the expensive corporate housing industry. Just recently however, housing services specifically designed with the stipend travel nurse in mind have surfaced.
One of the most utilized travel nurse housing company is Furnished Finders. The emergence of housing companies like this is good for the industry overall because they cater to the unique needs of travel nurses. IN addition, since property owners list their properties on Furnished Finders to advertise to travel nurses, they’re creating more housing options that will rent to travel nurses 13 weeks at a time.
Credit preservation is also a very important topic if you’re a traveler. You need good credit to get approved for a new apartment every 13 weeks, however, the more applications you submit, the more your credit score is affected. This is another reason services like Furnished Finders are gaining popularity because the lease is not in your name. Of course you need to qualify and pass a background check (your credit score is not affected by the application because it’s considered a ‘soft inquiry’). Using a service like this can help preserve your good credit over time.
5.) Extended Stay Hotels
Extended stay type of hotels are also heavily utilized by travel nurses either as a bridge between traditional housing, or as the housing solution itself. Some travelers like the amenities hotels provide like breakfast, housekeeping, and fitness centers; and most hotels will take animals up to 60 lbs. Also, the majority of these hotels have kitchens as well which can save money on food when you travel and provides an extra touch of home while you’re away for work. In addition, hotels provide you the flexibility on the backend compared to an apartment should your assignment be cancelled unexpectedly.
Travel nurses can receive large prenegotiated rates for extended stay type of hotels. TGN recommends HotelEngine for short stays in between contracts. Hotels are an important part of the housing equation for the travel healthcare industry, so make sure you’re getting the best rates possible!
You have a lot of choices to make after you accept your assignment; many of which can determine your travel experience over the next 13 weeks. Use all the resources available to you and be smart about how you spend your time and money when it comes to housing.