So, we have been getting this question a lot lately, “How can my furnished property be more travel nurse friendly, and what exactly are they looking for?” I’ll attempt to go point by point and explain what travel nurses are looking for when they’re considering housing. There will always be outliers to these points, but, generally-speaking, this will cover the largest percentage of traveling nurses. Furnished Finder receives over one thousand housing requests each month telling us where travel nurses are traveling to, when they’re going, at which facility they’ll be working, and a ton of other specific information. We also analyze their renting behavior to find out which type of properties are most attractive to our travel nurses. Although we list thousands of “rooms” on our site, for the sake of keeping this simple, I will only discuss “whole” property types. (Look for a subsequent blog post covering the benefits of utilizing rooms and other shared property types.)
1.) Safety Safety Safety
To what degree your property is considered safe depends a lot on the nurses themselves including their background and travel experience. We see many well-traveled nurses that have no problems staying in B-/C + areas to stay under budget. I mean, everybody wants to be safe, and no traveler is going to compromise their well-being for their budget, but if you’re a nurse; it’s about weeding through all housing types to find what you can live with, and what you cannot live without. After all, nurses do not have a $500/day per diems, so the expensive corporate housing option in the A+ area is pretty much out the door.
If you’re considering buying a property with the intention of furnishing and renting it to travel nurses, put yourself in the shoes of a traveler. For them, it’s about making sense of a property...like a math problem. If it’s in an area that has potential, but hasn’t yet hit its stride, it needs to have other tangible features that can tip the scales in your favor. For example, it’s 2 blocks away from an awesome neighborhood, but your street is just kinda so-so. The fact that it has a garage and is gated helps make the math work. On my personal properties, I ask myself, “Would I let my Mom or Sister live there?” If you’re not sure, don’t buy it. With the ease of Google Earth, these nurses will quickly drag the little yellow guy to street-view your property and look for riff raff. If Google Earth shows a shady dude leaning against his car with a paper-bag beverage on his hood (you get the picture), it’s not going to fare well for renting that property to our nurses. Having dollar stores, check cashing, and pawn shops around your potential area doesn’t help either.
2.) Budget Budget Budget
Travel nurses are NOT corporate travelers. They struggle to make the allotted stipend work for them. In fact, most of the time, the stipend is just too lean to cover all housing costs...especially in high-priced cities. There’s always demand for travel nurses in large cities; however, some look to rural or less desirable geographies for their next 13-week assignment to stretch their dollar a little further. It can be lucrative for a travel nurse to stay under their housing budget because anything left over is totally tax-free!
Many Furnished Finder travel nurses allow the job to dictate the housing. It makes sense; a traveler just signed with their recruiter for a 13-week assignment in Bakersfield, CA (which is actually in the top-ten travel nurse destinations in the US, believe it or not) and now they turn all their efforts to finding a short-term apartment or furnished rental. This all-in strategy makes sense, but there’s also a ‘housing-first’ strategy used by seasoned travel nurses that you may run into as a furnished landlord. Instead of letting the job dictate the housing, some stipend nurses will conduct their own market research to understand the housing inventory available in a particular geography before committing to the job. In fact, if their initial search is fruitless or the area is deemed too expensive, many travel nurses will simply turn the job down and find another one. That’s how important it is for travel nurses to find affordable short-term housing.
Why are we mentioning this? Because if you’re going to be a Travel Nurse Landlord, sometimes you may need to think like a coach, and educate the traveler about your area. Put yourself in their shoes; a travel nurse can live in 4 different cities per year, so when they call, you can expect that they are not very familiar with your area...and since there’s nobody who knows your area like you do, you’re the best person to steer our traveler in the right direction. This is especially true for budget. They may say they want to stay within a $1200-$1600 budget, but you can expect that they may not entirely understand the market rents in your area. Don’t look at the budget as a deal-breaker, but as a starting-point. Put your coach’s hat on and give them a run-down about your city and what they can expect to pay. Of course, they’ll do more research on their own, but after they realize what you said was true, they’ll come back and rent from you because you took the extra 2 minutes on the phone to establish some rapport and to help an out-of-town traveler understand your area.
Like I said, nobody knows your market like you do, but if you’re a property owner who wants to rent to travel nurses, your rent cannot be at the top of the market. There is a difference between the budgets of healthcare workers and Google execs. Successful travel nurse landlords have a property that is clean, safe, within 20-30 minutes of at least one hospital, and is affordable.
3.) Type of unit
Travel nurses don’t have to travel. They can get a permanent job in their home town where they can be close to their family. They travel for the experience. Many travel nurses call themselves gypsy nurses because they’re on a journey to create unique experiences along the path they choose. Part of the gypsy lifestyle is not necessarily knowing where you’re going next and many would argue there’s a certain freedom that comes with that. Freedom from stuff, from mowing the lawn, freedom from growing roots and getting stagnant. Gypsy nurses travel for the experience, and your property can be part of that experience.
Maybe it’s the mother-in-law quarters in your backyard that you’ve been thinking about renovating? Perhaps it’s a quaint cottage that’s fully furnished and ready for our travel nurses now? Likewise, maybe you’ve got a 3 or 4-bedroom house that you rent a room or two out to travelers? These properties are all unique in their own right and will be an essential part of the gypsy travel nurse experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s a back house in Palo Alto, a room in a beautiful Seattle Four-Square, or a nicely appointed condo in Austin, your unit could be making money for you by renting to our travel nurses.
Most of you get it, but let me briefly mention a few things for the new travel nurse landlord, or the property owner who isn’t yet renting to travel nurses. Travel nurses don’t want to hassle with setting up or closing out utilities at all. If they have to rent an unfurnished apartment and go the furniture rental route they will, but most travel nurses want everything included already. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the most important things to a travel nurse: cable and wifi! Yes, they want to watch their favorite Netflix series between shifts, so if you don’t have wifi, you’re probably missing the boat. Also, in addition to cable, spring for the extra $5 bucks and get a DVR. These extras make a big difference to the Furnished Finder travel nurse.
While many travelers are looking for a typical 1 bedroom or studio, there’s also a large percentage of travelers who search for rooms as well. If they don’t have a travel buddy to split the cost of a 2-bedroom unit, many travel nurses will search for room rentals on our site.
This is a very personal decision and only one that you can make. If you accept pets, it can be a way to differentiate your property from others and open yourself up to a larger population of travelers. If your property is a C+/B- unit, you may need to do something drastic to compete. Accepting pets may be just the thing you need to keep your property competitive.
35% of the housing requests Furnished Finder receives include pets. It’s common to charge a little extra to accept pets, and every professional traveler who travels with pets expects 1) an extra deposit or non-refundable pet fee and 2) pet rent. Don’t go overboard here….remember, you’re accepting pets to be extra competitive in your market. $25 or $50 extra a month in rent (pet rent) and $250 or $300 pet fee (deposit) is acceptable. If the fees are too much, they’ll have the opposite effect of what you’re trying to accomplish.
5.) Laundry, Parking, & Public Transit
All travel nurses prefer an in-unit washer and dryer. Wouldn’t you? With that said, having a central community laundry room is not a deal breaker if the unit is otherwise desirable, but no one wants to sit at a laundromat. Do they still have those? A designated parking spot especially in the bigger cities is key. Not having guaranteed parking and no transit close by could spell disaster for attracting nurses. Units in San Francisco immediately come to mind as it being important to have assigned parking. Sometimes a space is extra depending on the city, but most travel nurses come with a vehicle. If you happen to be in a transit friendly city, they may leave the vehicle at home and look for a place near a subway, light rail, or similar mode of transport.
What’s nearby that’s going to make the traveler’s life easy and provide them the lifestyle they’re used to? Is there a grocery store close by? How close is the nearest Starbucks? What is the drive time to the nearest hospitals? Often these travel nurses are on-call and need to be within 30 minutes of the facility, which means you can have the greatest unit in the world, but if you are not located within a reasonable radius of their facility, your property isn’t going to be in the running. We track all the facilities in our housing requests, so we know where the travel nurses are traveling to, and where they want to stay. This allows us to recommend properties to our travelers that have the highest likelihood of renting based on historical and predictive algorithms.
Travel nurses will always Google your property for reviews if they can get their hands on them. It gives them a traveler's perspective which can be very useful in deciding where to stay. Travelers can review privately-owned properties on Furnished Finder that rent to travel nurses. A bad set of reviews can sink your ship before it has even leaves the dock. Remember… you’re always competing. Put yourself in the best position possible and utilize reviews to your advantage.
I hope this helps answer a lot of the questions about travel nurses and what they are looking for. Over the years, we have accumulated a lot of data about budgets, preferences, and popular nurse facilities and are happy to share what we can. If there is a question about travel nurses as it relates to housing that you would like to get answered, feel free to reach out! Also, if you would like us to consult on a particular area before you buy a unit to see if it is a good fit for the nurses, we can do that as well! You can also read the recent article about the Top 50 Cities for Travel Nurses to get an idea of where travel nurses travel to.