By April 7, 2010 6 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I set up my own travel nurse housing?


tavel nurse setting up her own housingLast week we discussed what the travel companies provide in the way of housing. However, there are some instances in which you will want to secure your own housing.

There can be several reasons why you would want to secure your own assignment housing. The first, and one of the more common, is that you have a friend or relative in the area with whom you will stay. If you know this is the case ahead of time, let your recruiter know up front that you would be interested in taking a housing stipend instead of the company provided housing.

A housing stipend should be something you negotiate with your travel company before you even think of signing a contract. The amount of your stipend can vary drastically from company to company. I recall one assignment where two different travel companies had the same assignment at the same hospital. When I was quoted stipend rates from my recruiters at each company, one quoted me a housing allowance of $800 a month, the other came back with $1300 a month. With the hourly pay rates and other benefits being similar, I was compelled to choose the company with the higher housing allowance.

If you will be securing your own housing, you might consider calling several travel nursing companies and see what their housing allowance is for the city or locality in which you want to work. For housing, the hospital where you accept an assignment doesn’t matter as much as the location. If you say that you want to take an assignment in a specific city, they should know what the going rate of housing is in that particular city and what the company will allow as a stipend. Obviously, the stipend you would receive for working in Columbus, Ohio, is going to be different from an assignment stipend in San Diego, California.

Another reason you might want to secure your own housing is because you want something a little nicer than the travel nursing company is willing to provide for free. I have never really had too many complaints about my assignment housing; however, on a few contracts, if I had wanted to spend a few hundred dollars more a month, I might have been able to secure beachfront accommodations as opposed to the apartment complex my travel company provided that was a few blocks from the water.

If you want to go it alone, just remember that you will also need to budget for your furniture rental if the place you find is unfurnished. You can use the same companies your travel company uses when they rent units in apartment complexes for travelers. A few of the popular companies are Aaron Rents and Cort Furniture. You will also need to budget and arrange for all your utilities such as electric, gas, water, and trash.

Another reason you might want to consider finding your own housing is to earn extra take-home each month. If your travel company gives you a housing stipend of $1300, and you find a furnished one-bedroom condo for $900, even after utilities, you should come home with an extra few hundred dollars each month. Just remember, if you are participating in your travel company’s tax-advantage program, any extra income may need to be taxed (as always, see your tax advisor for your specific situation).

When looking for assignment housing, there are several ways to go. If you are simply seeking an apartment, any site such as or would be logical choices, but if you are seeking something furnished, you might need a few other tools in your arsenal. The most common site for such lodging would be Craigslist. Not only can you find furnished apartments, homes, or condos, but if you are really looking to save some money, you might just rent a room from someone.

A few other sites to check out when searching for furnished living are International Housing Assistance and Housing Travel And finally, if you are looking more for vacation type rentals, you can try which features homes and condos in popular areas.

Finding your own assignment housing is not for everyone (I still prefer to let my travel company go to all the hassle). But, if you are looking to save money or upgrade your travel accommodations, it can well be worth the extra time and effort.

About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

6 Comments on "Ask a Travel Nurse: How do I set up my own travel nurse housing?"

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  1. Lisa D


    I am considering travel nursing but I have 3 children and married. Any suggestions on what others in my position have done in order to have their cake and eat it to? Meaning, I would like to be able to have my family with me, or see each other on the weekends. What have others done in regards to their kids and school? Home school? Any feedback would be appreciated. My husband works but his salary is declining a little bit each year as he is self-employed and I am brainstorming what other options are available. I also have a MSN and my specialty area is the cardiovascular operating room with a with 20 plus years of experience and a subspecialty of endo vascular of 4 years.

  2. David says:

    Hey Lisa. I am not sure that travel nursing would be my recommendation for someone in your position.

    I just wrote to another nurse that was looking to make some well needed money in travel and responded to her about how travel nursing was not exactly the “cash-cow” that it once was. In fact, many nurses report making less than they did after leaving their positions as a staff nurse.

    I believe that nowadays, you really have to be in it for the travel, and not the money. Can you make a good living being a travel nurse? Sure. Some nurses can make over $100K a year. However, those are assignment where you are talking about working 48 or 60 hr weeks and not necessarily in a “choice” location (not that the hospital location would not be safe, but rather, the hospital probably isn’t going to be in San Diego, Boca Raton, or the Hawaiian Islands…locations many travelers seek).

    You can certainly travel with a family, but that does take things to a whole ‘nother level when planning a career on the road. As you mentioned, you need to think about the children’s schooling and home schooling would almost be a necessity since you would not want to have the uncertainty of how long you were going to be in one place.

    You would also either have the added expense of paying for extra bedrooms in company provided housing or taking the housing stipend and finding your own housing (which is something I usually caution new travelers’s just too much to take on and there always is the uncertainty of a canceled contract).

    You could travel and reside in an RV, but again, there would be upfront costs and you would need a strong dedication to the undertaking of travel nursing to invest so heavily.

    I have known travel nurses who have left families behind and do work out something to where they can return home at regular intervals (like working 6 in a row and then having 8 off). But where does the fun in travel ever come into that equation?

    Finally, there is your specialty. Travel nurses usually want a broad field of experinec such as calling yourself “a critical care nurse”. A recruiter could place a “critical care nurse” at just about any hospital in the country. How many hospitals will you be limiting yourself to with such a specialized field?

    I don’t mean to discourage you if travel nursing is something for which you really feel a calling. However, I also don’t want to imply that it will be as easy as if you were single and going at it solo.

    If you do choose to try travel nursing, I would be glad to help get you hooked up with some great recruiters whose brains you could further pick on whether or not they thought travel was a viable option. You can write me directly at

    But before embarking on the path of travel nursing, you would need to know exactly how much money it would take to get started and what you would need to earn each month to pay the bills.

    While travel is not an impossibility, there are MANY factors that you must thoroughly explore to know just how big a step this would be in your situation.

    I do hope I’ve helped your thought process in this.


  3. Steven


    Hi David,
    I have a furnished apartment that I would like to offer as a rental to a travel nurse. I was contacted last year by a travel nurse and at the time my apartment had been rented. Before that I didn’t know travel nurses existed. That nurse mentioned a website where I could place my rental. I can’t find it now and was wondering if you could help me out?

  4. David says:

    Hey Steven. Honestly, I find that a majority of travel nurses out there just use Craigslist. There are a few specialized sites, but many nurses report that the properties are either already being rented or don’t end up working with their needed time. So, they go to the largest offering site which would be CL.


  5. zina


    David I have few situations..a water front beautiful home in new port richey fl and another one in NRALEIGH North carolina..This is an executive home with all the extra trimmings..please tell me the best site to advertise for a nursing home.I am a lady this very busy and also traveling in weekly I need a responsible trusting person

  6. David says:

    Zina, please see the post before yours. I’m sorry, but this is outside my expertise. Rather than go the route of Craigslist though, you might consider a professional rental management company in the area. This would be the best route if the properties are high end.


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