Travel Nurse Housing Pro Tips, Options, and Considerations
Where Does a Travel Nurse Live?
So, you’ve decided to be a travel nurse! Great news, but among the myriad of geographic locations you need to decide on, you may be wondering about your living situation. We’re here to help you sort out exactly what your options are, and dissect them a bit. So, let’s get started!
Collect the Tax-Free Housing Stipend
Yes, we said tax-free. Elite Specialty Staffing offers great benefits to our travel nurses, and one of those benefits includes a tax-free housing stipend. If you are the kind of person who likes a to learn about a place and can enjoy house hunting (or apartment) and neighborhood scoping choosing the tax-free housing stipend may be the right choice for you.
Choosing the tax-free stipend provides an independence from the agency to not only choose your digs, but gives you the freedom to set yourself up in a neighborhood or location that appeals most to you. It also means that all those pesky things like security deposits, utilities, cable, internet, water, gas, furniture and etc. are your responsibility to work out with your landlord.
For our housing stipend, we analyze the cost of living for the area your travel nurse contract and then figure a monthly stipend amount that is then figured into your weekly pay.
Helpful tip: If you choose to collect the stipend, see if you can find something you like with Airbnb.
Let Us Set You Up
Your other choice is to let our agency do all the work for you. We’ll organize the housing, and set everything up including utilities. All you have to do in this situation is show up and settle in for the duration of your contract. If you choose to have us coordinate your housing, we will take care of utilities, furniture and the housing itself. Depending on the housing arranged, we will sometimes ask our travel nurses to bring their own dishes.
Helpful tip: If you ask, and there is time, sometimes our agents can put together more than one option for you to choose from.
Stay in Your Own Home
Yes, that’s right. You can stay in your own home. This may surprise you, but some travel nurses do stay in their own homes. However, in order to collect the tax-free housing stipend that we offer our travel nurses, it requires that you accept a job contract at least 60 miles from your own home. As you can imagine, not very many nurses choose this one. That’s a long commute for anyone to make before and after a nursing shift. It is your choice, however.
Helpful tip: If this option appeals to you the most, you may want to look into per diem nursing jobs. Nursa™ is a great resource if you decide per diem nursing is more for you. Head over to their website to check them out.
Try not to make this choice without thinking things through. Ask yourself these questions and give yourself honest answers.
- Do you need the control of choosing where you live?
- Do you feel stressed and anxious about your new assignment?
- Would choosing agency-housing help relieve your stress?
- Do you have time to commit to house hunting?
- How does the thought of agency-provided housing make you feel?
- How does the thought of house hunting make you feel?
- Do you want to stay in your own home?
- Do you genuinely enjoy hunting for a new place to live?
You Can Always Do Differently Next Contract
Remember that you can choose differently for every time you get a new travel nursing contract. If you find out through experience that you don’t like either taking care of it all yourself, or doing agency provided housing, choose differently for your next travel nursing contract. This is not a set-in stone situation that locks you in to doing agency provided housing or house hunting forever. You can know yourself very well and still find out that experience is a good teacher.
Housing Stipend Tax Implications
The housing stipend we provide you can indeed be tax-free, but don’t look before you leap. In order to qualify for the “tax-free” part of the stipend, it requires that you have what is called a “tax-home“. Be careful here. This tax benefit is intended by the IRS to offset potential duplicate costs that people who travel for work may encounter. We suggest talking to a CPA about your individual situation to see what records you should keep to have on hand when tax season rolls around, and to be sure you actually meet the qualifiers for the tax-free part of the benefit.
Agency Provided Housing Perks
If you opt for agency provided housing, you’re in for a few perks. Landlords are going to be easier to deal with because they won’t be worrying about their security deposits, and will be hoping to have a long-term client relationship with a company instead of a revolving door of people.
We typically have everything set up for our travel nurses about two days prior to the start of their work contracts. So, if you schedule it right, you can take a week (or more!) off in between jobs and visit friends or family instead of worrying about finding housing and getting things arranged to have a place to sleep.
No worrying about security deposits. This one is a big benefit, if you ask me. Security deposits not only are a big chunk of change, but can be a big hassle. Depending on how many travel nursing contracts in a year that you work, that hassle every 13 weeks or so will get real old. Real fast.
Elite Specialty Staffing Benefits
We offer more benefits than just the housing stipend. Our comprehensive benefits package can be yours when you become a travel nurse with Elite! Call today at 208-378-1338 to learn more about being an Elite travel nurse.