Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
I am about to become a first-time Traveler. What should I look for in terms of accommodations and how do I get the best housing on my first Travel Nursing assignment?
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
In speaking with travel companies, if you are concerned about your accommodations, one of the first questions I would ask my recruiter would be about the allocation the company places toward housing. A travel company is compensated a certain dollar amount for your services over your contract. Some companies will pay a higher wage (or allocate more money to that aspect of your contract) and some will be better at spreading out the allocation to give you a decent wage, decent benefits, AND nice housing. NO one company out there will have the highest wage, the nicest housing, and the best health benefits (if there were such a company that would be the only company, as everyone would travel with them).
Sometimes it may take some trial and error to figure out how well your company will do in housing you. The first indicator of a company that may be “sub-par” in this aspect will be a company that does not have a department dedicated to housing; however, many of these companies don’t even offer to house you, they simply quote you a stipend and you are responsible for finding your own housing.
This is something I discourage on a first assignment. Now you will have many a seasoned traveler tell you all the riches that await you when you arrange your own housing, but I also guarantee that once any of them run into a housing “issue” while on assignment, they will likely reassess their position.
A travel company that is arranging your housing should find you a safe, one-bedroom apartment, pay the costs to secure that apartment, and hold that lease should you decide to extend your contract. I’m not saying this cannot all be done by a travel nurse, but it does often involve some risk as your assignment could be extended, or canceled, and if your leaseholder will not let you out of a contract, or had already leased to someone else (because they didn’t know you were staying past your current lease), it could pose some pretty stressful issues in the middle of your assignment.
Again, if it is something you want to do, feel free…just NOT on your first assignment.
I expect to be housed in a one-bedroom apartment, in a safe complex that includes amenities like a pool/hot tub, clubhouse with workout facilities, and an array of other amenities which could include tennis courts, bike/jogging trails, basketball courts, racquetball courts, and I even stayed at a complex in FL that had hoses and two spots available for the residents to wash their cars.
In asking your recruiter, or a housing coordinator, about the housing that a company typically offers, if you ever hear the words, “extended stay”, you may want to consider another company. Extended stay hotels or suites are basically a room that has a kitchen. While you will have things like dishes, cookware, and linens provided, it never really comes close to the feeling of having a nice one bedroom apartment (and it is likely a cheap allocation for the travel company).
For me, when I am on the road for three to twelve months at a time, housing is the most important aspect of my contract. After I know where I am headed, my first call is to the housing department to see where they normally house travelers for that location. Sometimes, you may even be able to choose one complex over another, but availability plays a large part. However, once you know which complex they may use, you can then look up that complex online and check out the amenities and even the surrounding neighborhood. If there are issues with housing, you will want to bring them up with your recruiter before your company secures something (when things will be easier to correct or adjust).
Also always let your housing coordinator know if you have any special needs. Pets are a common one, but I always preferred to be in a top floor apartment rather than have someone living above me. This also would allow me to keep windows open at night without much of a safety worry. So any special requests or needs should be made known as soon as possible.
Those are pretty much the basics when it comes to getting quality housing, and again, it may take some questioning and digging to find out exactly how much your travel company allocates toward finding you a great place.
As always, if you need any help finding some great companies that allocate more toward housing, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this helps.