There is nothing worse than landing your dream travel nurse assignment and coming up short on your housing search. Even if you spent time researching beforehand, if you are going to a popular destination for travelers, moving during a busy season, or relocating to a small town where rental options are limited, you might find yourself struggling when it comes time to actually book a place to stay.
The travel nurse housing market moves along at the same pace as the travel nurse job industry–fast. Seasoned travelers know that affordable, nicely furnished places book quickly and are sure to book the good spots as soon as they can. This means even if you have a good conversation with a landlord about potentially booking a spot, you absolutely cannot depend on that space being yours until a deposit is sent or a lease is signed. Unfortunately, new travel nurses may make the mistake of assuming they have a spot on “hold” only to find out it has been booked by someone with money ready to hand over.
In other instances, travel nurses may find themselves without housing at the last minute due to landlord emergencies, contract start date changes, or a last-minute assignment. No matter what the situation, knowing how to find last-minute housing is a helpful tool to make your time as a travel nurse less stressful.
First things first–don’t panic.
You are not the first traveler who has found themselves without housing, and you will find a place to stay. Somehow it always works out, and even if the housing you find is not ideal, you can use the experience to learn and move forward with your travel nursing career.
Keep Looking for Travel Nurse Housing Until You Actually Hit the Road
While it feels nice to have your job and housing all set up and ready to go at the same time, every second counts in the travel nursing industry. Even if you only have a couple of days left before you begin traveling to your next destination you still have time to secure housing. Contracts may have changed or a landlord might list a new property, so keep double-checking housing maps and Facebook housing groups to see if anything new has popped up in the meantime.
Put Yourself Out There
Most travel nurses use a combination of sites to look for short term, furnished housing. Housing websites like Furnished Finder, AirBnB, or VRBO are popular choices. There are also several Facebook travel nurse housing groups.
These are great options for seeing what is open, but don’t be afraid to post your own housing requests on these pages. Simply post your assignment location, housing preferences, and price range. Don’t forget to mention if you travel with pets as well. That way, if a landlord has a last-minute opening or even an opening a week or two after you arrive, they can reach out and possibly connect you with housing options you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Another great tool is the Housing Request Tool on Furnished Finder. This is a great passive tool that lets landlords come to you with their available options. Simply put in your preferences and they will send out an email to all landlords with properties who fit your needs.
Get Creative With Your Timeline
I touched on this a bit earlier, but you don’t always have to have a place ready to move into the day you arrive. If you are feeling really stressed about your housing situation and don’t want to wait until you arrive to really get looking, try adjusting your dates when you search. Start by looking a week or two further and see if you have any luck finding an open space. With any luck, you will find a place that fits your needs and you can book that and know that you can just get a hotel for a bit while you wait.
If you are using a vacation rental website, look for properties that may not have a completely open calendar but also don’t have a ton of bookings for the duration of your assignment. Reach out to these landlords, explain your situation, and see if they would be willing to book you for the duration of your contract. Sometimes they will be enticed by the idea of guaranteed income and choose to cancel their previously booked dates to make it work for you.
Reach Out To Your Manager about Travel Nurse Housing
Some nurse managers or educators will reach out to incoming travelers prior to them actually arriving in town. This can be a great connection when it comes to finding short term housing. A lot of staff nurses have realized the need for short term housing for travel nurse coworkers and open their home to temporary staff living in the area.
The extra bonus to finding housing in this way is these rentals are often cheaper than other properties. If nurses in the hospital only have to rely on word of mouth for advertising instead of paying listing or advertising fees, they can further lower the cost of their rental while almost guaranteeing the space will stay occupied regularly. Also, when you arrive at the hospital don’t be afraid to ask around yourself or be on the lookout for staff bulletin boards where these types of spaces may be advertised.
Look for Travel Nurse Housing in Area-Specific Groups
In larger cities that have a constant flow of travel nurses such as Seattle, Denver, or Phoenix, there are often Facebook groups specifically for travelers living in that area. A lot of the time, travelers will post when they are moving out of a great spot and that rental will be snatched up by another travel nurse before it can even hit regular advertising boards.
Similarly, other travel nurses may have found a great apartment complex in the area that offers short term rentals and share their finds in these types of groups. Or, if you are open to the idea, you may be able to find roommates who will be in the area at the same time as you who you could split rent with in a larger place. Networking is an incredibly valuable tool in travel nursing, so these groups offer a plethora of resources outside of housing as well!
Reach Out to Your Recruiter
Even if you would prefer to take the housing stipend rather than company housing, your recruiter may have some resources they can provide for housing. Their company housing department may have connections in the area or know where to point you in terms of local rentals.
Sometimes you can see if you can opt for company housing even after you decided to pass on it. More than likely this was dictated in your contract and it will be difficult for your recruiter to adjust a document that has already been signed, but if you are particularly desperate it might be worth asking.
Worst Case Scenario: Book a hotel short term
Some hotel chains have actually begun to realize the profitability that travel nurse housing provides and are realizing that competitive pricing can help them be more appealing to travelers needing last-minute housing. If you aren’t sold on a hotel stay for your assignment but don’t have any other options, consider booking for a week or two when you first arrive.
Then, you can take the time to actually look around town in person, talk to landlords and explain your situation, or you may even decide to extend your stay at the hotel. Many travelers find the conveniences like on-site fitness centers, pools, and regular housekeeping are enough perks to convince them to stay the full thirteen weeks in a hotel room.
Feeling like you have nowhere to call home can be a bit stressful at times. Just like a lot of things in life, you often see the highlight reels of travel nurse careers and don’t really get an inside view of the negatives that can also come with this lifestyle. The good thing is that most of the time the positives of any assignment outweigh the negatives. Even if you don’t land your dream apartment for each assignment, knowing that you get to relocate at the end of thirteen weeks can help you make it through even the toughest contracts.
Alex McCoy, BSN, RN Alex is a pediatric travel nurse and the content manager of Furnished Finder. After traveling for four years with her husband, a physical therapist they recently welcomed a daughter, Jade, into their crazy travel family. Read more articles from Alex on Furnished Finder or Travel Nurse Housing, or read about her previous travels here. Have an idea you would love to share with fellow travel nurses or landlords? Be sure to email her at [email protected]