Travel Housing - "Home Away from Home"
You may think once you accept an offer by a facility to fill their need you are in the final stages of securing your travel assignment but hold on - there are still very important issues that need to be address. In addition to signing up for health benefits, getting the orientation details of the assignment, and completing any remaining documentation there is the critical aspect of your housing. This detail may sound simple, but as you'll come to realize, there are numerous aspects involved in securing just the right accommodations that can be the difference in making your 13-week assignment a heavenly experience rather than a living...well, you get the point.
There are numerous factors to consider when discussing housing. First of all, do you even want your travel company to make the arrangements for your housing or would you prefer to receive a "stipend." A stipend is merely regular payments, a housing allowance, you would receive instead of accepting housing provided by your travel company. The actual amount of the stipend is based on the actual allowances provided for by IRS guidelines which take into account the cost of living in location in which you will be working. For example, the cost of living in San Diego, CA is more expensive than say, Houston, TX and therefore, would allow for a greater dollar amount. A travel nurse may prefer to elect the stipend if, for example, they are driving their own RV to the assignment, maybe they are staying with family or a friend or possible they or someone they know have traveled to an area in the past and highly recommend a certain place to live. Sad to say, but unfortunately, there is another reason a nurse may choose to line up their own housing. They may have had a terrible experience on a previous assignment with an unscrupulous travel company who was more concerned with lowering their expenses by providing cheap housing than they were with the safety and happiness of the nurse and now the nurse if fearful to trust other companies and prefer to make their own arrangements. A final reason a nurse may choose a stipend would be the length of the assignment contract - less than 13 weeks. As a general rule, the shortest lease on most conventional housing options (apartments, single family homes, etc.) is 3 months.
If you do want to take the company housing, there may be several or few options depending on the location of your assignment. If you are working in a larger city, there are normally more choices to select from. If you are working in a rural or an extremely remote location, there may be very few options from which to choose. When most new travelers think of housing, they assume that it will be living in an apartment complex. While this is normally the case, there are other alternatives such as single family homes, mobile homes, extending stay facilities and even housing that is provided by the hospital itself.
Everyone has a different idea of what their "perfect housing experience" would look like.
Although there may be limiting options depending on your specific circumstances, to help ensure the most enjoyable experience possible, open up a dialogue with your company's housing coordinator. By doing this, they will get a sense of what your priorities and preferences are - what is truly important to you and what may just be nice amenities to have. Location is always a concern. Sure it is nice to be close to the facility for convenience sake, but if it is an undesirable area, maybe a little farther out would be a better decision. Other aspects go without saying such as if arrangements need to be made if you are traveling with family or if a furry companion will be accompanying you on your journey. Other considerations may not be so obvious such as potential noise issues. This may not be as big a deal if you are working days but many assignments are night positions which make it crucial to find housing in which you can actually sleep after that long 12-hr shift. It's going to be a little tougher to doze off, for example, if the complex sits along a busy interstate, the people in the apartment above you are moving about all day long or if your unit is located next to the pool. If you're working at a teaching hospital in a college town, are you going to be negatively impacted by the college party scene? Does the facility have the amenities (pool, fitness center, etc) you are hoping for or the convenience of an on-site business center to use the computer or send/receive packages or faxes? Are there laundry facilities on the property or possibly even in your unit? Most of these questions can be answered if adequate time and effort is put into researching potential locations prior to selecting the best option.
Once the location is selected, then the unit has to be appropriately furnished (unless the nurse prefers to make other arrangements).. We recommend working with a travel company that utilizes a reputable rental company to provide furniture for your unit. These companies have profession interior decorators & buyers on staff to ensure your furniture is complementary and of decent quality rather than just mis-matched pieces that have been thrown together. In addition to the furniture, be sure to make sure the company provides the necessary house wares - not all do. This is important if you prefer sleeping on a bed with sheets and blankets and don't like to eat with your fingers all the time. The unit should have all of the basic necessities to comfortably accommodate your stay. Finally, a good company should make the necessary arrangements so that your housing is ready when you arrive. The last thing you want to do after driving across the country is open the door to your new living quarters and see a bunch of stacked boxes and no linen on the bed. When you arrive, the unit should be in turn-key condition - dishes & glasses put away, utensils in the drawers, sheets on the bed - you get the point.
As you can see, there are many factors that need to be considered and addressed to make sure your travel assignment is as pleasurable as possible and the housing component can make a big difference in your overall satisfaction. Be sure to give it the necessary time it deserves to ensure that you have an enjoyable stay - after all, it may be temporary but it is for 3 months of your life - why not make them as gratifying as possible.