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Should I Take the Housing Stipend or the Company Provided Housing?

 

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When you sign up for a travel assignment, you’re going to need a place to stay while on contract and there are two options.

Option 1 – You have the company take care of the housing for you.
Option 2 – You take the housing stipend instead and receive extra money as a part of your paycheck each week.  With this option you are responsible to make your own decision on where to live.

The decision between taking the housing stipend or the company provided housing is a major question a lot of travel nurses have and it really doesn’t have to be all that complicated.  Here is the break down and a list of pros and cons between the 2 options.

Option 1 (Company Housing)
Pros
  • Its convenient and less work for you the travel nurse.
  • You can be rest assured that the company will put you in a safe part of town (if it’s a good company).
  • All of your housewares and furniture is provided.
  • You don’t have to worry about bills.
  • If there is a problem, you have someone to talk to who can proactively come up with a solutions.
  • No down payments or deposits.
Cons
  • Its less money on your paycheck since you don’t get the housing stipend.
  • You don’t have control on what type of place you live in.
  • You don’t have control on where you live in a particular area or city.
  • You could owe money back to the company if an assignment ends early.
Option 2 (Housing Stipend)
Pros
  • You get more money each week on your paycheck and you get to keep the extra money (the reason why most nurses take the housing stipend.  You can refer to the GSA.gov for housing stipend daily rates based on location).
  • You get to choose your own place.
  • You get to choose the area of town you live in.
  • You get to bring pets or have friends/family visit or live with you without getting permission.
  • Some recruiters (like me) will help and give you suggestions on places to live and still let you take advantage of the stipend money.  At the end of the day, you just decide where to live.
Cons
  • You will need to put in extra research time looking for a place
  • You are responsible for setting up utilities
  • Sometimes you are responsible for housewares and furnishings (unless you rent a furnished place or stay at a hotel or extended stay hotel)

At the end of the day, it really comes down to how much control you would like in the situation.  When I was recruiting, about 90% of my travel nurses took the housing stipend and that’s what I would (and still do) always recommend. There are several reasons, but it basically comes down to two things. 1. You will make more money and 2. you have the control, not some housing person half way across the country.  This process will be a little more time consuming, but it should be fun and exciting for you!  Here are a couple more tips if you decide to take the stipend.

In order, I would recommend checking out these options.

1. Extended Stay Hotels – I highly recommend Extended Stay America. I have had hundreds of travel nurses stay at this brand across the country. Extended stay hotels are truly one of the best options due to its convenience. As a traveler it has every thing you need furniture, laundry, fully furnished, wifi, free breakfast, security, concierge, and workout facilities (about half have swimming and workout facilities), the list goes on. If you can get all of these things and its more affordable than other options, it makes perfect sense for a traveler on an assignment. See for yourself and check out some rates! Extended Stay America (We receive discounts each month on this brand so if you are interested, email us at info@TravelNursingClassroom.com and just say “Extended Stay America Discounts”.)
2. Private Rentals – Websites like Airbnb.com or VRBO.com have come a long ways and travelers can find some real gems here!  Like the extended stay hotels, with these options you don’t have to worry about setting anything up like cable, utilities or other bills.  They are also usually fully furnished so you dont have to worry about buying, renting or bringing any furniture.  There are a couple downsides here… The main two that come to mind are price and privacy.  Some of these private rentals can be great, but you are also paying a lot to stay there.  The other reason is privacy.  Although you should be able to easily find your own space, you are still renting from a private buyer so a lot of times you are sharing a house with the owner and staying in a guest bedroom of theirs.  There are all sorts of options here so I would just recommended having a look around these sites.  For all of these reasons listed above, I think its the second best option for travelers while on the road.
3. Apartment Rental – At first thought, you might think that this is the obvious and best option for a traveler, but thats certainly not always the case if you are taking the stipend.  First off, the cost here is going to be higher than the above to options.  There are going to be cleaning fees, application fees, other random fees and the monthly rent itself can even be higher.  Lets say you are okay with all of those fees, next you have to worry about filling that space with furnishings like couches, TVs and kitchenware.  Lastly, you are responsible for setting up and paying any 3rd party bills, like heat, water, cable, or anything else that the apartment doesn’t provide.  Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly find some gems if you are set on living in an apartment, but the chances are that this will be a lot more work, time and money than its worth.
There you have it, hopefully now you will be able to have some fun and find an awesome place to stay!
 

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