When looking at a travel nursing salary offer, it may be tempting to jump at the first high base rate that comes your way. Before you do, it’s important to take into account what costs are involved in traveling and how many of those costs are offset, supplemented, or taken care of by your staffing agency.
Here are five costs to consider when evaluating a travel nurse salary offer.
Two types of housing costs come into play when you’re traveling.
Permanent tax home
A permanent tax home is, essentially, the geographic location where you earn the majority of your income and incur duplicate expenses when you work as a travel nurse.
If you don’t have a permanent tax home, you won’t be eligible for many of the benefits in your salary package, such as the housing stipend and tax-free bonuses. Inherently, this home base will drive duplicate costs, such as paying your mortgage or rent while also paying for the housing on assignment.
Often, your agency will cover the cost of temporary housing. But not always. Whether you accept agency-provided housing, take a stipend, or choose an alternative housing option, factor in net temporary housing cost to better understand your take home pay.
The traveling part of travel nursing can cost you a pretty penny. Think of everything associated with traveling when trying to estimate the size of this expenditure:
- Gas cost
- Wear and tear on your car
- Rental costs, if renting
- Hotels or other lodging, if driving more than one day
Other means of transportation
- Baggage fees
- Bus or train fare
- Ground transportation, shuttle, or taxi fare from the airport
- Shipping costs
- Food and beverage while traveling
- Miscellany tolls and fees
Be sure to get detailed information about what travel-related expenses your agency covers.
Many travel nurses get licensed in multiple states. As you likely know, the fees associated with licensure are significant. Initial fees generally run between $175 and $250, with equivalent renewal fees, which are required every two or three years. Your travel nurse agency may or may not cover your licensure fees.
Depending on your medical needs, finances, and other factors, you may opt to maintain your own medical insurance instead of relying on your agency’s benefits. Whether securing insurance with the ACA, joining your partner’s health plan, or accessing private coverage, take insurance costs into account when calculating the total value of your travel nursing contract.
Sick days and vacation days
Most travel nursing contracts don’t include provisions for paid sick days or vacation days. While you have the freedom to take unlimited time off between your gigs, you generally won’t be paid for any absences that occur during your contract. If you tend to get sick often or plan on traveling during an upcoming assignment, consider how that may impact your income.
Be sure to talk to your staffing agency to determine how many of these costs they help you with.