There are two primary options for travel nurses and therapists when it comes to housing: take your healthcare staffing agency’s housing arrangements, or receive a tax-free allowance and make your own housing arrangements. While the benefits of having an agency book your housing can be enticing – like the simplicity of not having to worry about it and no money up front – if you are willing and able to spend a little more time browsing for accommodations, you can really luck out. Take a little time to discover a few ways you can use your housing allowance to get more while saving more.
When to Use Agency-Provided Housing
New nursing and allied health travelers have a lot of adjustments to make when transitioning from a permanent position to a travel position. If you are heading out on your first travel assignment, it’s in your best interest to utilize the housing division of your healthcare staffing agency. Your agency will offer a few housing options like a 1-bedroom apartment with standard furnishings, or an extended stay hotel space, and help you get everything signed and ready for your arrival. Fight that overwhelming feeling that comes with packing up and adjusting to a new location and lifestyle, and instead take full advantage of your recruiter and the support staff at your agency.
When to Find Your Own Housing
While it’s nice knowing that your agency can take care of your housing needs, there’s a world of other housing options available to you that you may be missing out on. With the rise in short-term rental companies like Airbnb and VRBO and housing reimbursement funds available, you may want to explore your options. Here are a few reasons why we’ve seen an increase in travel nurses and travel therapists choosing their allowance over agency housing.
You’re in Control
Rather than seeing only a few housing options from your healthcare staffing company, you get dibs on any available property out there! You could find an optimal beach-front property during a slow season, or a room-rental in an urban location while the owner searches for a roommate. While it takes more time to search for these hidden gems, you are in full control of where you’re going and what accommodations are available when you arrive. Plus, if you’re having trouble, you can always fall back on your recruiter and housing coordinator for additional suggestions.
Extra Time to Settle In
You may be signing contracts for the best travel nursing jobs and still have housing available to you only a few days before work begins. By utilizing the tax-free housing allowance, you can secure your space for a week or more leading up to your next assignment. You’ll feel less stressed after taking extra time to explore your latest destination, and you’ll be more at ease when stepping into your role at your latest facility.
More Money in Your Pocket
Housing allowances from travel nursing jobs (and allied health jobs) are tax-free, meaning you will already be banking more than if the agency used these funds on your behalf.
- 1.) Live Inexpensively: If you’re planning on spending most of your time at work and out of the house exploring, you can easily find somewhere in a lower budget range to lay your head at night and bank the rest of the allowance for your adventures.
- 2.) Travel in Twos: Another alternative is to travel with another RN, LPN, PT, OT, or SLP. You can find a place to live together and both take the tax-free allowance and bank the leftover funds or have one person take agency housing and the other receive the reimbursement to split.
- 3.) Invest in Furniture: If you’re a seasoned travel nurse or therapist, it may be time to invest in your own furnishings. Finding a fully-furnished apartment, as opposed to accommodations without furnishings can significantly increase cost. If you’re looking to save, start gathering items that will travel well from secondhand shops and create your own fully-furnished surroundings, wherever your travel jobs take you!
Whether you choose to go with agency housing or bank a tax-free housing stipend, the choices are up to you! Many believe that agencies can offer discounts to travel nurses that they wouldn’t be able to get themselves, but with an influx of home share options like Airbnb, and housing search tools like HomeAway and Apartments.com, the market is actually well-suited to offer nurses and therapists great housing options at reasonable prices. The only real question is, where are you heading to next?