After a 12-hour shift, when your feet ache, your stomach rumbles, and you’re already dreaming of your PJs, all you want is home. As a travel nurse, you have two primary options for securing a beautiful end-of-day oasis. Which will give you the ideal home?
Most travel nursing agencies will offer to set you up with housing that they secure and pay for. The agency will arrange for a short-term lease and pay for basic utilities, such as gas, water, and trash.
The housing type varies by availability, location, and agency. They range from residential hotels or single room occupancies (SROs) to one- and two-bedroom apartments. This housing comes fully furnished, and some agencies even provide other essentials, such as linens, housewares, and small appliances.
There are many benefits to agency-provided housing.
You may get better digs.
Many agencies secure long-term leases on prime housing and rent it out to travel nurses for short stints. This is often a lot nicer than the housing you may find on your own, especially for just a 3-month lease.
You can skip the lengthy housing search.
If you’re in a highly desirable town or a city undergoing a population boom, affordable housing in good areas can be difficult to come by. Agency-provided housing can save you weeks on a fruitless housing search.
You avoid the hassle of handling things on your own.
If you’re like most travel nurses, you have had it up to here with bureaucracy. No more calls to an unresponsive landlord or surly maintenance department. Your agency will handle everything, so all you have to do is sign on the dotted line and move into your new home.
You save on security deposits and first and last month’s rent.
Though you’ll be refunded most of the costs associated with renting when you move out, this isn’t the case if something unexpected happens. If your contract is canceled or you have to leave early, you can end up losing a lot of money. In agency-provided housing, you generally avoid this loss.
Tax-free temporary housing stipend
The other popular option is the agency-provided tax-free housing stipend. This is a monthly amount included in your overall travel nursing salary package. It is usually paid out to you on a weekly basis to offset your rental costs.
Like the value of agency-provided housing, the value of the housing stipend will vary, depending on the agency, the location of your gig, and the current housing market.
There are many benefits to choosing cash over housing.
You determine where you live.
With a housing stipend, you aren’t confined to the options that the agency provides. The sky (and your budget) is the limit: you can live in a yurt by the beach, an RV, or a nice AirBnB. The choice is yours.
You get to prioritize what’s most important to you.
With agency-provided housing, what you get is what you get — you don’t have a ton of choices. If certain amenities are high priority for you, you can tailor your search to just what you need. If you want to take your beloved pug Wilson along for the adventure, you can find a dog-friendly place. Traveling with your family in tow? Put your stipend toward a 2-bedroom apartment in a complex with a pool.
You may get a higher stipend than your housing costs.
Your rent may be less than the stipend or you may have another inexpensive housing option available to you, like sharing accommodations with a fellow traveler. If so, this will put a little extra cash in your pocket.
So, there you have it, the 411 on your travel nursing housing options.
Looking for more on making a living as a travel nurse? Check out our blog on everything you need to know about travel nursing compensation.