Ask a Travel Nurse: Should first-time Travel Nurses let the company handle housing or arrange their own?
Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
Hi David, I am taking my first Travel Nursing assignment and looking at housing. Should first-time Travel Nurses let the company handle housing or arrange their own?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
In 20 years of Travel Nursing, I have always let the travel company book my housing. While you might already know my recommendation, I’ll outline both sides for you.
First, if you take the housing stipend, most Travelers will tell you that you’ll generally make more money. However, this is based on a few assumptions. The first, is that you have a “tax home” and will be participating in the company’s tax advantage program. This would likely mean that your stipend will not be taxed (further increasing your take-home).
The second assumption is that you will do what most Travel Nurses do, accept a stipend amount higher than what you actually pay for your housing and then pocket the rest. But you MUST know the tax implications of ALL situations and realize that you may be dodging some tax money due the IRS from the excess stipend (money that rarely gets reported by Travel Nurses as taxable income).
As for housing agencies, the travel companies may deal with a number of entities. Some deal directly with apartment complexes as they provide their Travelers with one-bedroom apartments. Other entities with which they might deal directly are hotel chains, for the travel companies that typically house their nurses in extended-stay hotels. The third, and less common entities used, would be companies specializing in temporary housing or private individuals. When arranging your housing, you may also deal with any of these entities to secure your own housing. However, I know many a Travel Nurse that simply uses Craigslist to find their housing options.
So, should you go it alone, you may indeed make more money overall on your travel assignment. However, you must also consider a few downsides.
When you allow the travel company to arrange your housing, they find the location, secure the lease, pay all deposits and rents, either have a utility allowance or pay all those, pay for furniture rental, and are responsible for finding you a new place should any issues arise. If you are arranging your housing, then you (and you alone) will be responsible for all the aforementioned.
What happens if the place you leased does not represent what you expected from the online description or photos? What happens if you find the neighborhood to be unsafe? What happens if you want to extend your assignment and need the place longer? Or, what happens if your contract is canceled and you need to move out before your lease is up?
If you are with a quality travel company, they should take care of all these issues.
An additional reason for recommending that new Travelers take the company provided housing, is that should any of the aforementioned occur, you will be tasked with continuing to work your mandated shifts while you sort out where to live. I feel it is just too much for a new Travel Nurse to take on right out of the gate.
Do nurses arrange their own housing on their first assignment? Yes, but those instances I know of, did not have any of the problems or issues I mentioned. I feel it’s a risk, and possibly a costly one should you have a canceled contract and be held to any rental agreements.
If you are with a company that will arrange a one-bedroom apartment for you, have them do that, at least for the first assignment. Get the hang of travel and then start adding things to your plate.
Hope this helps.