Accountable Healthcare - How to Maximize Your Housing Stipend as a Travel Nurse
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August 2, 2021

How to Maximize Your Housing Stipend as a Travel Nurse

Travel Nursing requires a hands-on and versatile approach to your nursing practice, but even more so, your entire life. To maximize earning potential, you can use your non-taxable stipends to help you make more take-home cash. Chief among these is the housing stipend, meant to help find lodging when traveling and working at a facility away from home.

And, there are several ways to save cash and maximize your housing stipend as a Travel Nurse or Allied Healthcare Professional.

What is a housing stipend?

So what is a housing stipend, and how does it work? Travel Nurses typically have two options when it comes to housing. They can either accept agency-provided housing, if available or a housing stipend and find accommodation independently.

When looking at the housing stipend, there are a few different ways to get paid.

  • Monthly rate
    • If you’re offered a monthly rate, your housing stipend is allotted each week based on the length of your assignment. The only concern with monthly rates is when you’re paying rent for longer than an assignment lasts. For example, if you have a two-week job, you will only be paid for those two weeks, which may not cover the entire month’s worth of rent.
  • Stipends paid out in bi-weekly paychecks
    • It’s essential to have enough money out of pocket to start living through a stipend. Because your stipend is typically paid out bi-weekly, you may be expected to cover the initial deposit and first month of rent before receiving your first paycheck.
  • Tax-free housing allocation
    • One of the most significant ways you can save big on your housing stipend is that it will be entirely tax-free if you have a valid tax home and are far away enough from that tax home when traveling.
  • Amounts vary
    • Stipend amounts vary, and it’s essential to look at the fine print on many of these contracts. Some agencies will pay very high stipends but offer lower hourly rates for your work, and prices will vary, of course, depending on where you’re living and the local housing markets in those regions.

On top of these crucial points, you should look out for perks like included utilities or fully furnished accommodations when assessing a contract.

Tips to maximize your Travel Nursing stipend

There are many different ways to maximize your Travel Nursing housing stipend. Below are several tips to help bolster your earnings and make your nursing housing stipend go the distance.

  • Short-term housing, utilities included and furnished
    • It’s important to remember that some assignments may be as short as a few weeks and as long as three months or more. With this in mind, life will be that much easier if you find fully furnished housing that includes utilities in the rent and doesn’t have exorbitant premiums on short-term leasing.
  • Rentals/sublets
    • If your nursing assignment is for more than six months, you will likely find traditional rentals through apartments, condos, townhomes, and so on. If you have a shorter contract, however, things like Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO, among others, have made it easier to find short-term housing.
  • Extended hotel stays
    • Extended hotel stays can be a good option if space isn’t a priority for you. Depending on the area you’re in, finding fully-furnished housing that includes utilities might be challenging. An extended hotel stay could make things a lot easier. Be sure to keep an eye out for hotels that offer special deals for extended stays.
  • RVs
    • While these might not be for everyone, RVs are a very convenient and cheap solution that can be a lot of fun! RV parks and campsites are a lot cheaper than monthly rent, and the convenience of being able to pack and move on at a moment’s notice is a massive appeal to the RV route.
  • Roommates
    • Finding a roommate as you go from place to place is a great way to mitigate many of the challenges that come with travel nursing. Aside from your bedroom, the apartment will already be fully furnished, and utilities will be included in your rent. Living with a roommate is also typically much cheaper than living alone, so you will save costs on that end as well.
  • Friends/family
    • Reach out to your friends and family members across the country. Living with a friend or family member for a short period is a great way to reunite with loved ones and save costs at the same time.
  • House sitting
    • House sitting almost sounds too good to be true. To live and watch over someone’s house and possibly their pets and plants, you may not have to pay a single dime and may even earn a little cash for your efforts. TrustedHousesitters, HouseSittersAmerica, MindMyHouse are just a few options for house sitting apps you could utilize.

Whichever option you choose, know that there are a plethora of ways to maximize your stipend and save on housing costs. While it might require a little bit of research and effort, you could make significant earnings on your housing stipend over time and create your travel nursing experiences as cost-effective as they are liberating.