Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
I’m a new Traveler and am curious about finding my own housing. How do I find my own Travel Nurse housing?
Also, do you recommend certain Travel Nursing companies?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
My best advice: Remain curious, at least for your first assignment.
While many Travelers do opt to take a stipend and find their own housing, it is something about which I caution nurses on their first assignment.
You will have a ton of things thrown at you on your first assignment and it is an adjustment period. You do not want to be trying to complete hospital orientation and working a full time schedule when your landlord suddenly states there was an issue and they cannot honor your lease, or you find out it is not the safe area you thought it was, or there is a plumbing problem and the landlord cannot even be reached, or a thousand other things that usually never happen, BUT CAN.
In 20 years I have always had the company find my housing and things usually go off without a hitch. But for the time my landlord decided he could make more money renting to vacationers than someone staying months at a time, or when I arrived to a trashed apartment, or the time I arrived just hours before a half dozen police officers (weapons drawn) had someone face down on the ground literally 50 yards from my front window, I was glad that it was someone else’s problem to find me a new place.
Again, many Travelers do find their own housing and couldn’t be happier. While I prefer to never test the water and end up in a situation where I have to deal with housing issues on my own, if you do wade into those waters, there are a few things of which to be cautious.
First, be careful signing leases that require large down payments or will hold you to the full terms of the lease. While contract cancellations are not what I would call common, they do occur (I’ve had two in 20 yrs). Should this ever happen while you are on one of the aforementioned type leases, depending on when the cancellation occurs (say a few weeks into your assignment), you could be responsible for thousands of dollars under your lease agreement.
While many rentals will have you sign some sort of document, I have heard from a Travel Nurse that simply posts what she is seeking on Craigslist (that she is a Travel Nurse, has excellent references, is seeking a place to stay for at least three months, and does not wish to pay a large deposit or commit to long period of time). She claims to have never had an issue in finding the housing she needs.
While there are some sites (like airbnb) that specialize in short term housing throughout the states, many Travelers do just use Craigslist. You can also find just about anything on CL from a five-bedroom house to rent, to just a single room. Some Travelers do live on the cheap and then pocket the rest of the housing stipend for extra cash. However, many are unaware of the tax implications of doing so. Even if you do have a “tax home” (which often makes your housing non-taxable), any extra money not used for housing, should likely be reported (be rarely is).
So, while finding your own housing is something that many Travelers choose, do an assignment or two, talk with other Travelers that have done so, and THEN revisit the topic. You are not going to be throwing tens of thousands of dollars out the window by waiting, will be better informed and more ready to take on extra responsibility when starting an assignment, and may just find that if you are with a company that finds you great housing, it’s a luxury that you come to appreciate 🙂
With regard to travel companies, I do offer nurses help in getting set up with some great people in the industry, but only recommend specific recruiters with whom I have worked. This is because I firmly believe that the recruiter is such an important part of the equation, that the company is really secondary in most instances.
I refer nurses to recruiters in five companies ranging from small to large (actually, the largest in the Travel Nursing business) and allow nurses to decide which one they prefer. Some nurses like the personal experience of a smaller company and some just want exposure to the largest number of assignments. Others want something in between, which would be at least two of the companies I use. But once on file with a company, you can use any of them on an assignment by assignment basis as your needs may change.
If you’d like some help, what works best for both my recruiters and I is to have you send me your best contact info (full name, best email, and best phone number where they might reach you) to email@example.com.
I’ll pass along your info and after I do this, I’ll email you the name of the person who will be contacting you, the company for which they work, and a little bio on the company. These people are the ONLY people who will receive any of your information and you will not have 20 different companies flooding you with calls (something that can happen when people use sites that submit your application to multiple outlets).
I ALWAYS advise Travelers to be on file with at least a handful of companies (after a decade and a half, I am still on file with six or seven). So many of the nurses join all the companies I refer them to, but usually find a favorite and do most of their traveling with that company. I am no different, but when I want to get to a location and my preferred company does not have any assignments in the area, I can always call two or three others and find what I want.
It’s also important for new Travelers to be on file with multiple companies because some hospitals will even specify, “no first-time Travelers.” So obviously, the more companies you are on file with, the more assignment opportunities you will have (not all companies have the same assignment selection).
Don’t be afraid to have several companies looking for you at once, but be courteous to your recruiters and let them know if you do take an assignment with anyone else (so they do not continue to spend their time seeking an assignment for you).
While most Travelers start with the companies that I use, if in your travels, you ever hear of another company that interests you, always check them out on the travel nursing forums and see what other Travelers may have to say about them.
Another way to gauge a travel company can be by the amount of time they have been in business (not all “young” companies are bad, just as not all companies that have been in the business awhile will be good). Longevity just says that they have been doing this awhile and should have most of their ducks in a row (and it also means you should be able to find out more about them on the forums).
Also look and see if they have a Better Business Bureau rating. Not all companies are accredited by the BBB (most might not be) but even if a company is not accredited by the BBB, they may have a rating and you can see if anyone has ever filed a complaint against them.
Finally, I recommend simply typing the company name into a search browser with the word “complaint” or “review”. This sometimes yields some pretty interesting results.
If you have other questions, I’m easiest to reach at firstname.lastname@example.org. But, I am still a working traveler who corresponds with a lot of nurses on a daily basis, so please understand if it takes me a little time to respond.
I hope this helps.