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How to Find Housing as a Travel Nurse

Finding housing when moving to a new city can be a stressful process; you need to research where you’d like to live and find an option within your budget that has ongoing availability. It can become particularly challenging when you’re looking exclusively for temporary, short-term housing. 

Travel nurses have contracts that typically last 13 weeks, though some contracts may last as long as 26 weeks. You’re not going to be signing a year-long lease, so knowing what to look for can make your housing search much easier. 

Know Your Housing Options 

Before you start trying to find a home or an apartment, it’s important to know what your options are. Let’s take a look at the five most popular housing options for a travel nurse. 

Company-Provided Housing 

Some travel nursing agencies give nurses the option to live in “company-provided housing.” These are often motels, hotels, or extended stay hotels — but you may not get to choose which one you stay at. 

If the agency doesn’t offer company-provided housing (or if you want to look at other options), you can opt to receive the housing stipend instead.   

Extended Stay Hotels 

Extended stay hotels are meant for more long-term stays than your standard hotel is (where you might only stay for a few nights or a week). They may resemble apartments with full kitchens and a living space. In many cases, though, you don’t need to have a formal lease. They’re also less likely to require upfront deposits like traditional leases do. These hotels are designed to be affordable long-term and also come fully furnished, so they’re an easy solution all around. 

It’s common for company-provided housing to include extended stay hotels as an option. 

Vacation Rentals  

Sites like Airbnb and Vrbo allow for short-term rentals of apartments, condos, and houses. You can choose to rent out a single room or an entire unit. These sites are typically focused more on shorter-term stays, but you can reach out to different hosts and see if it’s possible to book a stay that will last the duration of your contract. These properties come fully furnished, but they can get costly once all the additional fees are added on. 

Short-term Leases or Subleasing 

Some landlords may be willing to let a travel nurse rent a unit for a short period of time. You may also have luck subleasing an apartment or home from someone who is trying to recoup money spent on rent for an apartment they’re not staying in.  In many cases, these units will not be furnished. 

Looking for a Roommate 

Whether you have a friend in the city or find someone online, dropping in as a temporary roommate can be a win-win for everyone. You get a room in an already-established (and likely furnished!) home, and they get some help with their rent or mortgage. 

Assess These Options in Comparison to Your Housing Stipend 

As we mentioned above, you can receive a housing stipend as a travel nurse. This is built-in to most contracts. 

If you don’t use the company-provided housing (or if your agency doesn’t offer it), and your contract is more than 50 miles from your home, you’ll receive a stipend. These stipends will vary from agency to agency and hospital to hospital. Areas with higher costs of living will naturally have higher stipends, but they are often at least $2000 a month (and can be much higher!). When deciding where you want to live, look at your options and compare them to the stipend. It might be easiest to go for the company-provided housing, but you may find a housing option that’s closer to where you’d prefer to live and for a lower cost. If your chosen housing cost is lower than the stipend, good for you — that’s extra money in your pocket that you get to walk away with. 

Consider Where You’re Willing to Live  

When finding housing for your travel nursing contract, one of the most important things you’ll need to decide is the general area where you want to live. 

Most nurses take the following into account:

  • Distance from the hospital: This is a major factor for most travel nurses, especially if they’re going to be pulling 12-hour shifts in their new roles. A short (or at least a tolerable) commute is essential.
  • Proximity to other amenities: Need quick access to a grocery store? Want to have a drive-through Starbucks near your apartment or to know there’s an in-building gym? Nurses have different priorities when it comes to what they need around them. 
  • Personal preferences: Nurses who have dogs may want to find rentals with small backyards. And some may prefer to be right in the center of town, while others will want to be closer to the suburbs where there is a little more quiet. 
  • Safety: Nothing is more important than safety. Make sure that you’re living in a safe part of town and in a secure apartment or home, where you’ll be comfortable all hours of the day and night. 

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Finding Housing as a Travel Nurse

As you’re looking for housing for your travel nursing contract, there are a few crucial things to keep in mind. These include the following:

  1. Some housing options come with extra costs or financial burdens. Short-term rentals may require sizable upfront deposits, for example. It’s also common for vacation rentals to list a low fee but to have a slew of added costs attached to the final number, including cleaning and rental fees. Take this into account when making a decision. 
  2. Flexible options may be best. Some housing options allow you to cancel your reservations relatively last minute, and receive either all or some of your money back. This is exceptionally valuable, as travel nursing contracts can be canceled with little warning. You don’t want to be on the hook for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 
  3. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. There are plenty of scammers on Craigslist who have gorgeous apartments filled with quartz counters and hardwood floors listed at almost comically low prices. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is; there’s some sort of catch involved. Take a look at red flags that can indicate a housing scam here

Final Thoughts 

Finding housing for the duration of your travel nursing adventure can be overwhelming, but it’s something you can knock out quickly upon signing a contract. Remember that you can always ask for help or advice from the travel nursing agency. 

You may also be able to find online groups for the healthcare facility you’ll be working at and ask for advice there. Getting suggestions from nurses who actually live in the area can be invaluable, and you may even find a roommate or two. 

And if you want to make extra cash nursing (or earn higher per-hour rates!), but you don’t want to go through the hassle of relocating and finding housing, pro re nata (PRN) work might be a good option. 

PRN nursing work lets you pick up individual shifts at local healthcare organizations, dropping in to help with staff shortages. This is easy with Nursa's healthcare staffing app, which allows you to snag shifts quickly and easily. 
Are you considering PRN nursing, or getting ready to start a travel nursing contract? Looking for other ways to make more money in your nursing career? Get involved with our community today!


Blog published on:
July 22, 2022

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