Housing is the number one expense for travel nurses – but more than that, it’s often the number one source of anxiety before an assignment. However, with some cleverness and tenacity, you can save money in this area, and net more take-home pay. Here’s how to be a housing savvy travel nurse:
Decide whether or not to keep the housing stipend
First thing’s first, you need to decide whether or not to opt-in to the housing stipend provided by your staffing agency. Housing stipends make up a weekly piece of your paycheck, and the amount depends on what the bill rate supports, as well as what the General Services Administration (GSA) allows in the area of your assignment.
Cirrus Medical Staffing’s travel packages are designed to meet nurses’ needs, and most include an hourly pay rate, per diem and housing stipend, which make up take-home pay. However, if a traveler does not want to find housing on their own, their staffing agency will remove the housing stipend from their paycheck and handle the details for them.
Many travelers are able to find better rates for travel nurse housing on their own while keeping the housing stipend, thus netting more take-home pay.
Staffing agencies don’t make money by retaining your housing stipend to find housing for you. But this route does ensure clean and established living conditions without the worry. To some, this is worth a little less take-home pay. It’s up to you and what you’re comfortable with.
Succeeding on your own
If you do decide to keep the housing stipend and find housing on your own, here are a few ways we’ve seen travelers succeed:
Sublet a room
Finding your own housing gives you the flexibility to live where you want, even if that means paying more than your housing stipend so that you can experience the lifestyle of your new location (living on the water at the beach, anyone?). It also gives you the flexibility to find economic housing, putting more paycheck in your pocket. Airbnb is where the majority of travelers go to find housing. There, you can find anything from a 10 bedroom chalet, to one room with an air mattress – it all depends on what you’re willing to pay. Craigslist, Google and searches for extended stay hotels can also yield possible housing results.
Room with fellow travelers
Some nurses who are placed at a large facility will wait until orientation to find housing, as it likely has multiple travelers starting at the same time. Sometimes they are able to find very economic housing by rooming with fellow travel nurses, splitting the costs. This can be risky, though, as arrangements like this are never guaranteed.
Research housing markets before you interview
Take it from us: don’t wait until you’ve interviewed and received a job offer from a facility to research the housing prices in the area. Even if it’s one of the top paying jobs in the country, you might decide the cost of living outweighs the hourly rate. You can determine this before committing to a contract, thus making better use of yours and your recruiter’s time to find you a suitable position. The area’s cost of living should be a regular part of your due diligence when deciding on a facility, and the sooner, the better!
Whether your next travel assignment is in a rural area or a big city, you CAN find housing. This might be through your staffing agency or by your own exploration, but do not be discouraged if you think there isn’t enough time before the assignment begins to sort this out (and we are here to help you every step of the way). Now, who’s ready to travel?