Travel nursing is a rewarding career path that comes with some pretty great benefits. One of the most exciting aspects of being a traveler is the ability to travel around the country while working in a career you love. To make traveling as convenient as possible, staffing agencies offer excellent housing benefits for their travelers. If you’re considering becoming a traveling nurse, here’s all you need to know about housing.
Common Housing Benefits for Travel Nurses
Many staffing agencies provide some housing benefits for their traveling nurses who are moving to a new city on a temporary basis. Those benefits will vary from one agency to the next. Be sure to do some research about what type of benefit you can expect to receive. Housing can either be offered completely covered, partially covered, or a nurse could be offered a stipend to cover the costs.
A common benefit provided by staffing agencies is some form of free housing up to a certain price per month. When an agency provides this type of benefit, they’ll usually take care of all of the details for their nurses, including setting up the lease and paying for utilities. Types of housing can vary by company and even by assignment based on availability, price, and flexibility. Some frequently used forms of housing include:
- Apartments (furnished and unfurnished)
- Extended Stays
- Executive Suites
Another type of housing benefit many staffing agencies offer is a housing stipend that’s used to cover the cost of rent plus a few other expenses. These stipends vary in amount by location, assignment, and agency, but they offer increased flexibility for traveling nurses. In many cases, a nurse will try to find housing that costs less than their stipend so they can pocket the remaining amount.
Choice of Either Free Housing or Stipend
There are also many staffing agencies that offer a choice between paid housing and a monthly stipend. Many nurses enjoy having the option to choose what best fits their lifestyle as they travel to new cities, and they can even switch it up between assignments.
Travel Nurse Housing Stipends: What to Know
If your staffing agency offers a housing stipend, it helps to know exactly what that entails. A housing stipend is a sum of money intended to cover the cost of housing while you’re working on a travel assignment. One of the key characteristics of a housing stipend is that it arrives completely tax-free, making it a valuable benefit for traveling nurses.
The only requirement to qualify for a housing stipend is that the traveler must be traveling away from home or staying at a location other than their permanent residence. Every healthcare recruiting company provides different pay packages, and the stipends will also vary by geographic location.
How Stipend Amounts Are Decided
Housing stipends are based on per diem rates that are set by the General Services Administration (GSA), which oversees the business of the US Federal Government. The GSA publishes these rates for counties across the United States. Keep in mind those numbers reflect the maximum per diem rate offered in those locations, not necessarily the amount you should expect to receive.
Which Option Is Better for Me?
If you’re fortunate enough to work for a staffing agency that offers a choice between free housing and a stipend, like LRS Healthcare, you have an important decision on your hands. Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences.
Benefits of Choosing Free Housing
- Housing is completely taken care of by your employer for a stress-free moving experience.
- Your staffing agency will usually put you up in a fully furnished place.
- Any difference between the maximum rent allowance and the housing you choose will be reimbursed to you through your paychecks.
Benefits of Choosing the Stipend
- The stipend arrives as additional payment that’s completely tax-free.
- This option offers the most flexibility when it comes to income. Nurses can find housing for less than their stipend and are free to use the rest on other expenses.
- There’s more freedom to choose your own housing.
Finding Your Own Housing as a Travel Nurse
If you decide to accept the stipend and want to look for housing on your own, there’s a wide range of options for where to look. This is definitely a more hands-on approach, so it may be a little too much work for someone who needs to move across the country quickly. However, if you’re determined to pick out your own living arrangements, here are some great places to look.
Where to Live
There are tons of housing options to choose from across the country, but not all of them work well on a temporary basis. Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to buy a new house to live in for 15 weeks. As we mentioned before, common types of housing for traveling nurses include furnished apartments, hotels, extended stays, and executive suites. Some more unique options we’ve seen nurses use for housing include renting a spare room in a house or apartment, using short-term rental websites or living in an RV.
There are a lot of online resources available for finding a place to rent nowadays. These resources make it much easier for any nurse who decides to look for housing on their own. Here’s a short list of popular online listings that are great for finding short-term rentals all across the country.
Known as a fun alternative to hotels, Airbnb also has a huge selection of sublets for stays that are longer than just a few nights. These listings are perfect for traveling nurses who need to stay for a long period of time while not committing to a long-term lease. Airbnb sublets are fully furnished and include WiFi and everything else you need. Plus, Airbnb is a secure platform, so you don’t have to worry about weird payments or landlords.
Sublet.com is another online resource that can be used to find sublets all across the country. This website offers extreme flexibility with listings that include furnished and unfurnished places, private rentals, and rooms for rent. With all of that flexibility, it’s a great option for traveling nurses who are on shorter timeframe.
A popular home listing website, Zillow also offers the ability to search for rentals all around the country. A traveling nurse can easily find a great condo, house, or apartment for rent on Zillow. It may be a little more intensive to find a lease structure that fits your needs, but Zillow can be a great resource for traveling nurses that are searching on their own.
Craigslist is popular around the country and can be a great tool for finding local listings. It’s free and easy to use, so there are usually a ton of listings in every city. Finding a suitable rental on Craigslist is possible, but it’s not always easy since you’ll have to deal directly with the landlord or management company. Just be careful when going this route, don’t fall for any scams.
The LRS Healthcare Difference
With LRS Healthcare, you don’t have to go through this arduous process on your own. We offer all of our travel nurses the option to choose between paid housing or a tax-free stipend on each of their assignments. Plus, even if you decide to go with the stipend, our housing coordinators will help you every step of the way.
The housing coordinators at LRS Healthcare help guide our nurses through different sites, provide discount codes for hotels, find fun stops along the way, and help negotiate rates. It’s like having a full-fledged travel agent and real estate agent rolled into one. Why do it all on your own if you don’t have to?