Once you’ve submitted your resume, references, filled out your application, talked to your recruiter, and they’ve contacted your references the next step you’ll hit is searching for a contract. Your recruiter will search their database of jobs based on your requirements. If you have a compact license, your options will be almost limitless. Once the two of you have narrowed down that search, they will give information on each assignment. This information will pay, assignment length, assignment location, facility name and housing information. Depending on the company you will receive what is called a stipend or company paid housing.
Stipend or company paid housing?!
Out of my two years of travel nursing I have opted in for company paid housing one time. The company I was with was formally known as 360 Healthcare. They had 30 day assignments that came with paid housing, rental cars, and a set amount of untaxed daily pay for the length of my assignment. My pay was still twice as much of what I would be making at home. Now this company no longer does that, but there are assignments where there will be company or facility paid housing.
One thing you need to think about before deciding is will you be paying rent back home while you’re away. If you are you may want to think about subleasing your place while you are away. This will allow you to keep a big chunk of change in your pocket. Paying expenses back home and on assignment can get pricey. A majority of the time, taking the stipend will lead to a bigger paycheck at the end of each week. Your stipend is a part of your pay that is untaxed and meant to use to find your housing. Sometimes it’s half of your hourly pay, and most recently for me it was a set amount for each day paid out weekly.
Another thing to keep in mind is the area you’re going to. If you are somewhere in the middle of nowhere, you may not want try and look for your own housing. Even in a large city, it can be quite tedious trying to find affordable housing in a good part of town. Research the area you’re going to, with most places it’s easy to find the safe parts of town online through discussion posts and blog posts.
With company paid housing, depending on the company, your check will be a little less than if you opted in for the stipend. On the other hand you know for a fact that your housing will be paid for however long you’ll be on assignment. If your pay is late (one of my many horror stories) or for some reason your hours for the week are short, you won’t have to worry about how your’re going to pay to live. Working a little over time will also increase your weekly pay if you opt in for company paid housing.
You decided on the stipend, now what?
The obvious thing to do is find the cheapest, nicest place to stay possible. There are some hidden gems out there in many of the states I’ve been to. If you follow my Instagram or know me personally, you known I travel with my entire family. For me space, affordability, and safety are on the top of my list.
Before you began your search, make sure you are signed up for rewards programs with a few of the major hotel chains. Even if you pick company housing this will come in handy, your points will rack up and next thing you know you have a few days of free hotel rooms for your next vacation. Sign up for rental car programs also or if you’re a flyer, make sure you sign up for your favorite airlines rewards program.
If you’re opting in for a hotel room, calling the hotel personally and speaking with the manager will be your first move. Many hotels will give travelers a discounted rate, or a weekly rate even if they don’t offer weekly pay.
Look for extended stays to start off with, Extended Stay America was very popular among many travel nurses I’ve came across. Their rooms come with a full size fridge, stove-top (sometimes an oven) a dishwasher and at your request dishes, pots and pans. The longer you stay, the more of a discount you’ll get. If you opt out for daily housekeeping, you’ll get a discount there too. Sign up for their email list and they send out some great discount codes! Now as with every hotel chain, there are a few bad apples in the bunch so make sure you read reviews. I’ve only ran into two sub-par ESAs, my biggest complain was the surrounding neighborhood and the unsavory characters that hung around.
If you’re looking for the five star extended stay experience then The Residence Inn, TownPlace Suites, or Homewood Suites is a must. Now I’ve only stayed at these locations on vacations for a few nights, but they go above and beyond when it comes to extended stays. They are on the pricey side but you may luck up and get a pay package large enough to afford a month at one of these places.
My favorite so far has been Studio 6, not to be confused with Motel 6. I think Studio 6 is the boujee sister of Motel 6. Be careful for looking for Studio 6’s, I’ve found that many Motel 6’s advertise online as Studio 6. The reason I loved Studio 6 so much is that they have these unknown upstairs “apartments.” They come with a bedroom upstairs, bedroom downstairs, a full kitchen, a bathroom upstairs and downstairs, and flat screen TVs up and downstairs. This was perfect for an entire family. The price was great also, and after a month I no longer paid taxes on the room and it got even cheaper. It was no residence inn, but there was more than enough room, we were safe, and it was no distance from work. There was no free WiFi, but after almost 3 months there we were thrown a WiFi “discount.” I also liked it because there were other travelers from different career fields, some with families also.
Short term rentals
If you’re going to be somewhere on assignment for more than 30 days, rentals may be the way to go. The thing about rentals are depending on the area, it may be hard to find something, and most of the time people are only renting out one room. If they are renting out an entire place it’ll be on the pricey side of things. Also with rentals come applications, deposits, and staying in someones home. One of the top places to find housing, other than Air BnB, is Furnished Finders. When short term renting from an individual never send them cash and always have a paper trail. Having a travel buddy if you’re a solo traveler is a good idea also. As mentioned above, there will almost always be a deposit, which means you’ll need money upfront. The same goes with a hotel but many short term rentals want a months rent up front, which is much more than a weeks cost in a hotel.
Corporate short term rentals
This option can go either way, the lowest quote I have received was $76/day and the highest $175/day. There is also application fees, background checks (sometimes credit checks) and deposits. If you travel with pets, there will also be pet fees most likely. The great thing about corporate housing is you get your own apartment, fully furnished, all utilities paid, and full use of any community amenities. Sometimes you can contact the apartments directly and get a short term rate also, sometimes cheaper.
Housing can seem difficult, but once you’ve made it through your first few assignments you’ll be a pro at saving, housing hunting, and more!