Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
If you would rather find your own housing than have the agency arrange it for you, what should you expect for compensation for housing?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
Unfortunately, neither I, nor anyone else, can answer this question for you. The reason being is because your housing subsidy can vary greatly depending on your assignment location. Additionally, there are other variables that can come into play that may afford you the opportunity to negotiate a higher stipend.
If you are going to arrange your own housing, your first step would probably be in investigating the going rates for rental units in the area. Then, see what number the travel company gives you for a stipend. Let’s say you were going to take an assignment in San Diego. Your research shows that most one-bedroom apartments in that location are renting at $1500 a month. Now you have a starting point for negotiations in your travel contract.
If your travel company tells you that they will give you a $1200 a month a stipend, then you obviously know you have some work to do in getting them up. Sometimes, it’s as easy as you just telling your recruiter that you cannot find anything under $1500 a month and would need that for a stipend. If they cannot accommodate that rate, then you have the option of declining the assignment or you can tell them that you would prefer that they arrange housing for you.
If your travel company does a lot of business in the area, it is possible that they have a deal with an apartment complex that will secure them the same apartments you may be looking at (for $1500 a month) for the $1200 a month they quoted you.
Now let’s say your travel company quotes you a monthly stipend of $1600. You might be inclined to think that is perfect because you will now make $100 a month over what you spend on housing. However, you do need to remember that most companies provide you furnished housing. So if you are just looking at ads for a standard one-bedroom apartment for $1500 a month, you need to remember that you will also need to rent furniture.
Another scenario might be that you are still quoted a stipend of $1600 a month, but you find a furnished housing accommodation for $1450 a month. You still have to remember that you may have to pay a substantial deposit to secure that housing (whereas with letting your travel company arrange your housing, they do that).
Honestly, there are so many variables that might come into play that you really just have to take a look at what you are offered versus what you would need in order to live in that location.
If you want to find your own housing, then feel free to do so. However, I always advise new travelers to let the travel company find their housing for them. It’s just too much to take on for a first travel assignment. After you have two or three assignments under your belt and know what goes into getting yourself settled in an assignment location, then you can start looking at ways to secure your own accommodations.