A healthcare traveler standing in the middle of her short-term apartment

A Traveler’s Guide to Housing

Dec 19, 2022

As a travel nurse, finding accommodations may be intimidating and overwhelming. But it certainly doesn’t have to be. Below, we’ll go over what you need to know about travel nurse housing and how to select the best place for you.

Housing options

First things first, you will have to decide whether you want to find housing through the agency or on your own through a stipend. Neither option is superior to the other, but it will depend on factors like if traditional housing is necessary (as some travelers like to move via RV) and how much research into the area you want to do.

Agency-placed housing

Some agencies have an internal housing department that can locate short-term rentals, often including leases that rotate travelers in and out.

Benefits of agency-placed housing include:

  • Not directly handling deposits, utilities, etc.
  • Cancellation safeguards

Finding housing via stipend

Some nurses are concerned about being placed in a position where they have no say, so taking the stipend may appeal more in these cases. A housing stipend is a certain amount of money built into your contract to cover the cost of accommodation while you’re on assignment. This can include funds for lodging, transportation, and food. The stipend is typically provided weekly through your paycheck and is based on a daily rate.

If you choose stipend compensation, you’re fully responsible for locating, booking, and paying for all your own housing and related expenses like utilities. The exact price varies depending on where you’re going and the terms of your contract.

The benefits of choosing the stipend option include:

  • More control over where you live
  • Potentially extra move-in/out time
  • Potentially lower pricing

Travel Nurse Housing Websites

There are dedicated websites for travel nurses looking for short-term accommodations, which greatly help travelers that want to find a place on their own. Some of these traveling nurse housing websites include a stipend calculator, allowing individuals to compare living costs in any city they’re considering quickly. These calculators can also help you quickly find additional amenities like pet-friendly housing or those that incorporate utilities into the monthly rent.

Some sites we recommend for those looking for somewhere to start are Corporatehousing.com, Travelnursehousing.com, and Furnishedfinder.com.

Extended-stay hotels & Long-term Airbnbs

As briefly mentioned above, hotels can be a wonderful option since they have added bonuses like free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, fully furnished kitchens or kitchenettes, bed, and kitchen linens, perhaps a pool and hot tub, workout facilities, and even fun, scheduled events for guests. Often, national extended-stay chains offer discounted rates for travelers. There are also tax advantages once you stay for longer than 30 days.

Similarly, Airbnbs can give you the privacy of your own space without necessarily having the maintenance costs accompanying the upkeep of other options.

What to know about tax homes

One of the most important steps you can take to protect your earnings as a travel nurse is understanding what a tax home is and where your tax home is located. Simply defined, a tax home is where travelers earn most of their nursing income. For many travel nurses, their tax home is their permanent address, which is the address on their driver’s license, but this is not always the case. The bottom line is that travelers must have a tax home.

What counts as a tax home?

According to the IRS, a tax home is as broad as “the entire city or general area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home.”

A few travel nurses will sell their homes, store their belongings, and travel without a brick-and-mortar residence where they pay rent or a mortgage. In these cases, any funds raised for housing will be taxed at the standard rate. You can collect any money granted for accommodation without paying taxes if you have a tax home established wherever you are from. This can make a big difference in your take-home money, especially if you can locate affordable lodging wherever you go.

GetMed is here for you

If you’re on the fence about which option is best for you, let your recruiter know— they will always be your most valuable resource or sounding board for everything related to your contract. As always, we recommend looking into the entire pay package to ensure it will fit your budget.

Contact one of our recruiters today to see how we can find your next abode on the road!