Ask a Travel Nurse Question:
I am looking into my first travel nursing contract and wondered what your experiences have been with various agencies and being placed at housing provided by them vs. choosing on your own.
Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:
In over a decade and a half, I have never taken a housing subsidy (other than when I took a local travel assignment and was staying in my own condo).
I do know many travelers that like to find their own housing; however, I feel it is just one more thing to add to a very long list of priorities when you begin an assignment. Plus, there is always a risk involved in signing a lease due to the possibility of your contract being canceled (not what I’d call a frequent occurrence, but it does happen). Then you might not only have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles back home and find other work, but you might also have a month or more left on a lease (for which you’d probably still have to pay).
Now there are differences in accommodations and travel companies are certainly not equal in where they allocate funds. I believe that my “home away from home” should be pretty nice as far as amenities. I often stay in one bedroom apartments within complexes that boast several pools and hottubs, work-out rooms, tennis courts, bike or running paths, and other nice attractions. You can make a fair hourly wage and stay in some pretty nice places if you choose companies that allocate more to housing.
If you wish to seek your own housing, please feel free to do so. But, NOT on your first assignment. Get the hang of things first and then if you wish to take on more responsibilities when beginning an assignment, go for it. You can often net a little extra by making your own arrangements and you have your choice of locations, not just the complexes the travel companies use in the area. For me, I just feel the added stress is not worth it.
Stay away from companies that house you in extended stay hotels (unless you like that sort of thing) and discuss this up front with your recruiter and let them know that it’s a one bedroom or nothing at all. If your recruiter says that they cannot find a one bedroom when your assignment starts, but promises you’ll only be housed in a hotel for a short time, be weary. One traveler wrote to me saying her recruiter promised her she’d only be at an extended stay hotel for a week while they secured her a one bedroom. She then called the extended stay hotel and asked politely if her travel company had secured her lease for a full three months. When the hotel happily confirmed that the travel company had indeed signed a three month commitment, she called her recruiter back, dumped the assignment, and went hunting for a new travel company.
Sometimes housing snafus do occur. The good companies deal with it and hopefully it is not too much of an inconvenience. I was with a company that housed me in a horrible complex where they literally had police, with guns drawn, securing a criminal just hours after I arrived on my first day. No kidding; it looked like a scene from “Cops”.
I called my company’s on call rep and told her what happened and she told me that she would see that things were straightened out first thing Monday (not much she could do on a Saturday night). However, she also told me that if I did not feel safe to go to a hotel in a safe location and the company would take care of it. The true measure of a company is how they handle things when issues do arise.
As always, if you would like some assistance in choosing travel companies, I do offer to put nurses in contact with the recruiters I use at the companies I trust with my travel. Most of the companies I use will house you in some pretty nice accommodations, but even with companies I trust, I always check the apartment complexes out online before leaving for my assignment destination.
I hope this helps and if you would like some assistance in selecting a few companies that I feel allocate more toward quality housing, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope this info helps.