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House Hunters: Travel Nurse Edition

Traveling nurse

After a little (or a lot) of searching, you nailed the interview and secured a new assignment. Now it’s time to find a place to call home for your next adventure.

As travel nurses, we know the process of finding a new home can be overwhelming. Read on for our best tips and tricks for navigating the road ahead.

Know your must-haves

While travel nurses tend to be flexible individuals, we all have things we can’t live without. If this is your first assignment as a travel nurse, make a list of your must-haves. Do you need a pet-friendly building for your furry travel buddy? Do want a full kitchen to cook your own meals or a place to yourself? Nailing down your essentials will help narrow your search and estimate potential costs.

Set your budget

Outlining your expenses is a crucial part of managing your financial health. Although the cost of living varies by location, creating a budget can help ensure you have the funds to see the sights in your new town while continuing to invest in your future by contributing to a 401(k) plan or a savings account. Despite the pandemic, most states saw an increase in rent regardless of apartment size in 2020.

Each living situation comes with its own potential expenses, such as utilities, Wi-Fi or parking, so keep an eye out for the smaller details as you configure your costs. A cheaper place might be nice on the surface, but paying extra for gas to get to work can be a real budget-buster. Even if your new assignment pays well, establishing a budget is important for your short- and long-term financial goals. Plus, cutting costs on daily expenses help make that next dream vacation possible. Don’t forget to consider your stipend or to track your expenses to make tax season less stressful.

Use your resources

Finding housing can be daunting, especially when scoping out a city you’ve never visited. Luckily, there are many helpful tools to help you find a home for your next adventure.

Reaching out to your own network – including  friends, acquaintances and family members familiar with the area – is an easy way to start. Locals are able to provide valuable input on up-and-coming neighborhoods, typical commute times and fun places to explore during your contract.

The answer to your housing questions may also be in your pocket! Apps like Furnished Finder, Airbnb and VRBO are convenient and effective ways to get pricing, research housing availability and discover unique attractions.

While real estate apps are convenient and can be easy to use, make sure you contact the landlord or property owner to ensure the property is still available. And while you’re at it, do some quick research on the landlord and check their credentials. Look up their rating online, and don’t be afraid to ask for references. Finally, don’t forget to analyze the safety of an area, even if it seems charming during an in-person visit. Websites like ADT and SpotCrime provide a look at recent crime and are a great place to start.

No matter what you choose, start looking early and give yourself plenty of time to research. The pandemic has increased the demand for short-term rental properties, which may impact your search.

Know your options

Extended-stay hotels are popular among many traveling nurses and can be a cost-effective option. Some hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton offer special rates or discounts for qualifying nurses and health care workers. Larger medical facilities may partner with nearby hotels, so don’t be afraid to ask if a discount is available even if you don’t see an obvious advertisement.

Sharing a space is another way to cut expenses. Housemates can be a great way to make friends and stay social in a new environment without breaking the bank. If you’ve never met your potential roommate, schedule a call or video chat before finalizing plans to make sure you understand their living style. Working opposite shifts, having vastly different perspectives on how many friends to have over, or different definitions of the word “clean” can create a tense living situation, so take time to make sure it’s a good fit.

Map out the city

It’s true: The best housing options often come down to location, location, location! Maintaining a close proximity to your new assignment is obviously convenient, but the downsides may outweigh the short commute.

For example, a long commute home can seem like a deal-breaker, especially if you’re ready to go straight to bed after a night shift. However, a shorter drive may increase the cost of rent, parking and other necessities. Determine how far you’re willing to commute and if public transportation is an option.

As a nurse, you know the importance of a good night’s sleep. Make sure to keep an eye out for nearby trains, fire stations, busy emergency rooms and other sites that might interrupt your sleep. Nearby highways or construction sites may turn out to be more than a traffic inconvenience, especially if you’re working a night shift. 

Finally, explore your self-care necessities. A home near the hospital may be a long distance from the nearest grocery store or fitness center. Do some research to get a feel for your new city and what a typical day might look like, and look up the best local services, nearby restaurants and new places to explore.

Embrace the change

Securing housing can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a newly minted travel nurse. Give yourself plenty of time to research your options and prepare your finances before making any final decisions. You’ll be on your way to your next travel nursing adventure in no time!

Jeff Stoner

Jeff Stoner

Jeff Stoner, RN BSN CCRN, is the founder and CEO of Ethos Medical Staffing and is a former travel nurse. Jeff, along with his wife Lindsey (who is also a travel nurse), is dedicated to empowering medical professionals in their exploration and pursuit of adventure, opportunity and service. You can connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.

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