The Ins and Outs of Travel Nurse Housing
By Megan Murdock Krischke, contributor
When launching a travel nursing career, there are a lot of exciting things to consider and many choices that need to be made. Along with deciding on the city you want to visit and the type of facility where you will work, there is also the question of travel nurse housing.
What kind of housing is available in your chosen location, and how will you find the right home away from home?
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First, you’ll need to decide if you want the travel nursing agency to arrange your housing or if you would prefer to take the housing stipend and arrange it yourself.
“First-time travelers often choose agency housing because it is one less thing they have to think about as they transition into travel nursing,” remarked Natalie Conyers, senior recruiter with Onward Healthcare. “When the agency arranges your housing, you don’t have to worry about paying rent, utilities or furniture rentals, let alone finding a place that will offer a three-month lease.”
There are other benefits of agency housing, as well. “We run a safety check with the local police department on all of our rentals so that we know we are placing our travelers in safe areas,” said Joelle Chandler, senior recruiter with American Mobile Healthcare.
Agency-provided housing is typically a furnished one-bedroom apartment, although in more rural areas it is sometimes a house or vacation rental. Travelers will often need to provide their own linens and kitchen tools, except in locations where bringing a car isn’t advised, such as San Francisco, New York City, Hawaii and Alaska.
The best way to know exactly what furnishing and household items are included with agency housing is to ask your recruiter. He or she should be able to provide you with a checklist, allowing you to know what you will need to bring with you or purchase on arrival.
“If a traveler has family or friends in the area who can advise them on good places to rent, help them make a connection, or even rent them a room, taking the housing stipend may be a better way to go,” said Chandler.
The agency housing department is willing to find housing that meets an individual’s specific requirements, however if those requirements cause the cost to exceed certain parameters, the traveler will be responsible for paying the overage, Conyers explained. For example, if an apartment complex charges pet rent or a pet deposit, the traveler is responsible for covering those costs.
“It is a common misconception among prospective travelers that there will be lots of money left over if you take the housing stipend and arrange your own housing, but you can spend almost all of it when you add in utilities and furniture rentals,” noted Chandler. “However, if you are willing to live with a roommate or can rent a room from a friend or family member, you will likely find cost savings.”
The housing stipend is based on the local rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment.
Nurses seeking out their own housing often utilize websites such as Craigslist, Hotpads.com, Roomster.com and Zumper.com.
“I talked to a traveler on a Friday and by Monday she had done 20 Skype phone calls with people from Craigslist and found a roommate,” commented Conyers. “With video streaming technology, it is much easier to see what you are getting yourself into.”
“A young gal I work with took an assignment in the Twin Cities and decided to arrange her own housing. When she told me she was renting a basement apartment from a guy she’d found on Craigslist, I was a little worried,” Chandler reflected. “But she said they had talked on Skype and he seemed like a great guy, plus he was cute. Well, it worked out great because now they are engaged!”
For travelers who want to block their workdays together and commute from their permanent home, taking the housing stipend and renting a hotel room three nights a week can be another great option.
“There are communities of travelers who will work together arranging roommates and carpooling. One of my travelers in San Jose found a physician at the hospital where she was on assignment who had a rental she made available to travelers,” said Conyers.
“Agency housing often has great amenities such as workout rooms and pools and we aim to keep them within 15 miles of the hospital. But you don’t normally find out your exact address until shortly before your move,” she noted.
“In my experience, travelers give really positive feedback about the housing the agency provides. I think the traveler housing I’ve seen here in San Diego is even nicer than where I live!” remarked Chandler.
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