February 26, 2020

16 of the Best Travel Nurse Housing Tips

Don’t Miss Out on Securing the Right Monthly Furnished Rental.

One piece of advice you will hear from veteran travel nurses over and over again is this:

The industry moves fast. Travel nursing jobs often open and close within a few days, and interviews followed by job offers can happen within a week.

Hospitals are hiring travel healthcare workers because they are desperate and need staff quickly--whether that is because of high turnover or an influx of patients depends on the facility but regardless they don’t usually have the option to wait weeks for a traveler to step in.

Travel Nurse Housing Tips

As a result, travel nurse housing options also move quickly. Most travelers rely on some portion of their stipends as income, so naturally they aren’t looking to spend their full stipend on rent. This means the affordable and appealing short term rentals will only be available for the small window between when one traveler leaves and the landlord is looking for a new tenant. In any case, every traveler appreciates a good balance between saving some money and also loving where they live while on assignment.

The more you work in the travel healthcare industry, the better you will get at moving at the pace it sets. Here are some great tips for scoring a short term rental that fits your budget and comes with all the amenities you are looking for.

1. Keep a list handy with all the best housing resources.

  • Every traveler should have a list of their top 2-3 resources for finding housing. Using Google or Craigslist can be daunting and sometimes scary, so it is recommended to know which sites cater directly to travel nurses.

  • Sites like Furnished Finder or housing groups on Facebook are a great resource for nurses looking for rentals that fit their requirements. Many of the landlords using these sites not only cater directly to travelers, but they will have a list of references that include other travel nurses who have lived in their property previously.

2. Browse housing listings when your recruiter first presents a pay package.

first presents a pay package

Before you can know if an assignment is a good fit, you have to be sure you can afford to live on the pay package offered. Unfortunately rates are set by the hospital and do not necessarily reflect the cost of living in the area so checking ahead of time is crucial to make sure you won’t be digging into savings to pay your rent.

  • You may want to try the travel nurse stipend calculator. This is a really helpful tool that allows travelers to get all the info they need for a city when they are still in the job-decision phase. It’s a free report that tells you all sorts of useful information regarding furnished housing prices, the breakdown between rooms vs. private units, most placed specialties, most popular staffing companies in that area, and much more.

  • As soon as your recruiter gives you an assignment option with a pay package break down, use the Stipend Calculator to and do a quick search to see what type of inventory is available in that area. If you find a few promising options, be sure to bookmark these or write them down so you can find them again if you do take the travel assignment.

3. If you find a really good spot--reach out to the landlord early.

  • The early bird definitely gets the worm--or the best housing opportunity. A lot of short term landlords are familiar with how travel nurse contracts work and understand that you will need a week or so to find out if you are for sure moving to a location.

  • If there is a housing situation that looks really great but you haven’t signed your contract yet, reach out to that landlord and let them know you are looking at a job in that area. Sometimes if you are the first to contact them they will even reach out to confirm if you are still interested before booking someone else.

  • One of the benefits of Furnished Finder is that you are able to connect with the landlord directly before booking which affords you the back and forth conversation that a travel nurse needs when deciding on housing options.

4. Have all of your references ready.

  • While travel nurses definitely take a risk booking sight unseen, landlords are also taking a risk by renting to a stranger from out of state. By alleviating some of the uncertainty that comes with this, you may be able to move to the front of the line for a housing opportunity.

  • Keep a record of a few landlords who can vouch for you as a tenant to present to potential landlords in the future. This is especially helpful if you are traveling with pets and needing to make your new landlord feel comfortable with your companion’s behavior. Having all of this ready ahead of time will make it easier to negotiate if necessary in regards to pet policies!

5. Look for people offering short term sublets.

  • A landlord furnishing a home for a renter is going to have a much different approach than someone renting out their personal home. Spaces used specifically for rentals will probably have more basic furnishings, kitchen appliances, etc. than personal homes will.

  • However if someone is out of town for business or a work assignment and simply needs a renter to offset the cost of their rent the place will probably be better stocked. Simply put: people are more willing to spend money on quality furnishings or appliances if they know they will be coming back to use them eventually.

6. Reach out to anyone you might know in the area.

  • Newbie travel nurses might find this intimidating, but reaching out via social media can be a great tool for finding a good housing deal. If you know of anyone living in an area you are traveling to don’t be afraid to send a quick message or text explaining your situation and asking for advice.

  • Even if they don’t know of something specifically, they may be willing to ask around or provide advice on neighborhoods to choose or avoid. You may be surprised how willing an old acquaintance can be to help you find housing. For example, I was able to score a sublet from a graduate student for less than $500 a month at one assignment simply by talking to an old coworker who lived in the area!

7. Ask the manager during your interview if they know of short term housing options.

manager during your interview

During your interview it might not hurt to ask if the manager has suggestions for housing in the area. Some units even have nurses that regularly rent to travel nurses and the manager may be able to connect you. In some (albeit more rare) cases, hospitals may actually own short term rentals that they lease to other temporary workers.

  • If you are uncomfortable being that forward before securing the job, see if you can get the manager’s email and reach out once you are offered the position. Most units tend to welcome questions before your assignment starts and a quick email might solve all your housing problems.

8. See if your company provides housing help.

  • Most travel nurses these days prefer to find their own housing, but a lot of companies still employ housing specialists who can help with this process. Ask your recruiter if the company has any suggestions or tools for travelers including corporate discount codes.

  • Your recruiter may also know of travelers leaving the area in the time you will be arriving. A lot of time this direct handoff from one traveler to the next is the easiest way to make sure you are living in a safe, quality location.

9. Know your preferences ahead of time.

  • Every traveler has a different list of must haves for their housing situation. Some prefer to live alone, others are willing to have a couple roommates. A lot of travelers who pack minimally absolutely have to rent a fully furnished place while travelers with larger vehicles may be able to bring some basic necessities along. This is something you will learn via trial and error and a few panicky moments of not being sure if you will truly fit everything in your car.

  • Once you know what you are able to pack and how you prefer to live it makes finding housing much easier. If you simply want to pack a suitcase and move in, that eliminates any short term options that do not come fully stocked and furnished. Similarly, if you know you can’t do a roommate situation, that further narrows your list when looking at housing options. Having a more narrow scope can actually be helpful because it eliminates certain options immediately so you can jump on the housing opportunities that are a better fit.

10. Have some money saved for fees and deposits.

money saved

While it is not recommended to put down a huge amount of money without first seeing a location, most landlords will need some sort of deposit to hold a space for travelers. If possible, try to go through a leasing company or housing database to place these deposits so you have protection for your money. At the very least use a service like PayPal where all the transactions are tracked in case something falls through.

  • Between these deposits and pet fees (if you have them), you could end up spending a couple thousand dollars on housing before you actually start work. This is just part of the challenges that come with travel nursing, so have some money saved to account for these costs. The time spent waiting for your next check to pay a deposit could be the difference between securing and losing your dream housing.

11. Consider the cost of living before accepting an assignment.

  • Travel nurses get really excited to work in destinations like Hawaii, New York City or San Diego. But the reality is the cost of living in these areas makes it much harder to find quality short term housing while also getting ahead financially.

  • If you choose to travel to a more expensive location your quality of housing may have to be compromised a bit if you don’t want to spend your entire stipend on your short term rental. Conversely, you could also treat these types of assignments as a “destination assignment” and choose to live in a nicer place and break even instead of saving a ton of money. Knowing all of this ahead of time saves you time recovering from sticker shock while shopping for housing.

  • You only have a limited amount of time to remain in “research mode” so my advice is to make it count. This might be the perfect time to use the Stipend Calculator for each city you’re considering. Educate yourself on the cost of living and housing inventory, and anything else you can get your hands on, during this stage of the decision-making process.

12. Hold off on adding a furry friend to your family.

  • While it is totally possible to adopt a pet while working as a travel nurse, it does add a layer of complexity to finding housing options. Not only does the cost of a rental go up if there is a pet joining you, but your options become more limited.

  • In addition, landlords may be more hesitant to purchase nicer quality furnishings or linens if they know there will be pets living in the unit. This is understandable since you never know how a stranger’s pet will behave, and is an important aspect to consider if you prefer more premium housing but also want to add a new member to your travel crew. If premium housing is a must for you, having a pet might not be the best fit while traveling.

13. Keep in touch with old travel friends.

  • Finding housing can be like finding a job--it is helpful to have connections. I almost always friend fellow travel nurses on Facebook or try to get a phone number before we part ways because expanding my connections with other travelers has proven useful both in finding jobs and housing.

  • Just like reaching out to acquaintances living in the area, reaching out to fellow travelers can help with finding housing options you wouldn’t expect. Even if they haven’t been to a particular location recently they may know a friend who has or have old connections in the area. A lot of the nicer short term housing options stay full simply through word of mouth--meaning you have to know the current traveler living there to connect with the landlord and move in after. Keeping your network of travel nurse friends widespread can help you score some really nice housing options as you move through your career.

14. Look for roommates to share a more expensive luxury option.

  • Many housing engines have some great two or three bedroom short term rentals that have a harder time staying filled because of cost. Landlords are listing these places at a fair rate based on the size, but travelers simply can’t afford the larger housing options solo. If you find a really nice housing option that is out of budget, try reaching out on housing groups to see if anyone is willing to share the cost with you.

  • Living with other travelers can be nice because you have automatic friends in your new location, and you may be able to connect with more people faster. Plus, most healthcare workers have rotating schedules and travel frequently on days off, so you could very well end up with more home-alone time than expected.

15. Learn how to negotiate with extended stay hotels.

  • Another option to feel a little more spoiled on assignments is to live in an extended stay hotel. These are hotel chains that offer rooms structured more like apartments with amenities like full kitchens and laundry facilities.

  • While the nightly cost of these hotels may seem pricey at first, there is always room for negotiation. Do not hesitate to call the hotel directly and ask to speak to a manager to negotiate a monthly rate. In addition, taxes may be refunded after the initial 30 days of your stay, further dropping the cost of these accommodations.

16. Bottom line: don’t hesitate if you find a great housing option.

  • Housing can be one of the most stressful parts of working as a travel nurse, but overthinking it can lead to multiple options slipping through your fingers. Landlords want their spaces to stay filled as much as possible so they usually won’t wait long before moving on to the next candidate.

  • If you find a short term rental that hits most of your requirements and is within budget, it is highly recommended to take it ASAP. The really great deals simply don’t stay open for long and you don’t want to end up with hesitation regret.

Working as a travel nurse comes with a slew of new challenges you may not have realized when you first took the leap. But just like anything else, the more you work through these challenges the less daunting they will be.

Your own experience coupled with dozens of resources now available to nurses and other healthcare workers will make finding housing become easier with each new assignment. The best thing you can do is reach out if you need help, have a variety of tools you can use to find housing, and have a clear picture of your budget and living preferences ahead of time. Every living situation might not feel like a vacation home, but it should feel comfortable and safe for your thirteen week stay.

Furnished Finder is the largest online housing marketplace for travel nurses who take temporary positions across the US. With 150,000+ monthly furnished rental properties to choose from, they continue to expand their inventory and make housing easier and more affordable for traveling healthcare professionals nationwide.

Author Alex McCoy

Alex McCoy, Travel Nurse Blogger - Fit Travel Life

Hi! My name is Alex. I am a 20-something dreamer married to my high school sweetheart. We are currently adventuring across the United States as a pediatric travel nurse and traveling physical therapist. I have a passion for food, fitness, and travel. I love off the cuff cooking and spending lots of time with friends and family. Our lives are ever changing, and I am constantly learning new ways to stay one step ahead of those changes!