If you’re a traveling nurse on assignment, temporary housing can pose a dilemma, particularly as you pick up and go from place to place. Typically, you have one of two options: either accept the agency’s provided housing or take a tax-free stipend and find your own fully furnished apartment to live in.
While it may seem easier to just settle for the provided living arrangement, by opting for the housing stipend, you have the freedom to choose your own place. Additionally, if rent ends up being less than the stipend, you can pocket the extra cash!
Stipend sizes vary according to both the agency providing it as well as the area you’ll be living in. Therefore, it’s crucial that you treat each nursing assignment on a case-by-case basis to see whether the stipend would benefit you.
Below, we’ll review what a travel nurse housing stipend could help you cover. Plus, we’ll dish out some additional relocation tips to help make your move seamless!
What is a Nurse Housing Stipend?
A housing stipend is a designated sum of money that’s meant to help nurses pay for temporary housing while they’re traveling for work. As mentioned, these figures vary according to location. Often, they’re weighted to a specific area’s average cost of living at a given time of year.
Who decides this?
This is handled by the General Services Administration (GSA), which is in charge of managing and overseeing the business of the U.S. government. Although this branch has dozens of responsibilities, one of their tasks is determining and setting per diem rates for federal employees. Per Diem, is Latin for “per day.” In this case, it means, “The allowance for lodging (excluding taxes), meals, and incidental expenses within the lower 48 continental United States.”
But what if I’m not a federal employee?
Although the GSA’s per diem rate was created for federal employees, the IRS applies them to private-sector employees as well. This is how they eventually got tied to the world of travel healthcare.
Per Diem is Not a Stipend
Because these phrases can sometimes be used interchangeably, it’s easy to get confused about what a travel nurse stipend entails.
While they share similarities in rates, as the name suggests, a per diem rate is the daily money received for food, lodging, and other expenses. For instance, the GSA will list lodging rates as daily figures, and those figures will change depending on the month. Here’s what that daily figure would typically would look like for different months in New York:
- New York City
- October – $298
- November – $298
- December – $298
- January – $163
- February – $163
- March – $262
- April – $262
- May – $262
- June – $262
- July – $228
- August – $228
- September – $298
The vast majority of travel nursing agencies offer a stipend for each travel assignment. This is a lump sum that is usually paid out on a weekly or biweekly basis. In most cases, this figure will be less than the GSA’s per diem monthly total. For example, in NYC the monthly lodging per diem would be $8,940 in lodging, a figure that far exceeds the average cost of a single bedroom apartment.
Don’t Expect to Receive the GSA’s Maximum
Again, this figure is heavily dependent on the travel nurse agency you work with. That said, most will offer a stipend that’s beneath a month’s worth of per diem. This is because GSA rates are tied to short-term stays, which typically require you to get a hotel or motel for accommodations. A month’s worth of hotels will be far more costly than the average month’s rent.
Most employees who receive a per diem will be staying at a spot for less than thirty days, whereas a travel nursing assignment usually lasts between 8 and 13 weeks.
Why Do Some Areas Pay More?
If you’re wondering what the average housing stipend for travel nurses is, the answer is—it depends. Although cost of living has increased across the country, your dollar will go a lot further in Nebraska than it will in San Francisco. For example, the average cost of furnished apartments in Boston can range anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500, while the average cost of a furnished apartment in Houston is as low as $1,200.
Should you choose to live in a highly competitive highly-priced area, your GSA stipend limit will be higher. Or if you move to a new place at a certain time of the year, that too will have an impact; summer may pay out more while winter pays out less. That said, most agencies will offer a stipend that ranges from $2,000 to $3,000 per month.
What Should Travel Nurses Look For in Their Housing?
Are you leaning towards taking the housing stipend and finding your own place to live? Then there are some questions you should ask and factors you should consider when finding a place:
- Will you be bringing a vehicle? – Do you plan on bringing your car with you? Depending on the city you’re in, the commute can make a big difference. For example, in Los Angeles you need to have a vehicle since public transit isn’t as established, whereas many East Coast cities have reliable transit systems that make it easy to get anywhere in the city.
- Proximity to work – Even with your own vehicle, a 10-mile drive from Santa Monica to Downtown LA could take more than an hour. In a city along the Acela corridor, you could live much further away and still take the trains and subways to get to work.
- Walkability – Even if you do bring a vehicle, it’s ideal if you’re within walking distance of your work, grocery store, restaurants, gym, and other vital places. Being able to go around on foot makes it much easier to become acquainted with your new city.
- Appliances and furniture – Will you be cooking? Plan on bringing a TV? If you want your new location to feel like home, you may still have to pay to rent appliances and furniture—that is unless you plan on bringing it with you.
- Short-term leases – It should go without saying that locking yourself into a half-year or a year-long lease should be a non-starter. Naturally, this can make it harder to find a spot that meets your budget and housing needs, since most housing relies on longer-term contracts.
Traditionally, finding the perfect spot, particularly one that offered short-term stays made it so that many nurses decided to simply opt for the easier path—agency-placed housing. However, Landing has made it easier than ever for travel nurses to take a stipend and find a new housing arrangement on short notice.
Landing: The Stipend Solution
Landing was built for travelers like yourself who are always on the go.
Each Landing is home at first sight, except it comes without the hassles of a long-term rental or actual house. Nurses that become Landing members get the benefit of:
A Nationwide Apartment Network
Landing has a network of fully furnished apartments across the country located in some of the best cities for nurses. Simply go from a Landing in one city to a different Landing in another city. Or move to a different location within the city you’re staying in. Landing currently has prime locations in the 19 major cities and counting! Find furnished apartments in Dallas or furnished apartments in Los Angeles.
Wherever you’re based for travel nursing, you can find a landing with us. And our apartment network makes moving from one assignment to the next easier than ever.
You heard that right. Landing specializes in offering short-term, month-to-month leasing opportunities. There are no long-term leases, no deposits, no dreary paperwork. The apartment application process is fast and hassle-free. Your new home is just a few clicks away.
Move-in Ready Apartments
Every place you land in comes stocked with high-end furnishings and premium essentials, so you can feel like you’re at home no matter where you go. This saves you money that you would otherwise have to spend on renting appliances and furniture or lugging around your own things. They’re all beautifully designed and come with the following amenities:
- Plush bedding and linens
- Blazing fast WiFi
- Essential towels and toiletries
- Kitchen appliances, cutlery, and tableware
- Bespoke furniture
- Smart TV
All you have to bring is yourself and a suitcase. We handle the rest.
When you become a Landing member, you get instant access to round-the-clock concierge service. If your landing is missing an essential, or if something has broken, or you simply want it to be cleaned, visit the app and make a request. You get the pampering of a hotel without paying hotel prices.
At Landing, our mission is to help revolutionize the world of short-term rentals. In terms of relocation housing, we eliminate the various concerns that prevent many travel nurses from finding a place to stay that isn’t agency provided housing.
Landing’s sprawling network of furnished apartments helps you instantly turn each new city into your home away from home. Flexible leases, concierge services, and beautifully designed move-in ready homes, what’s not to love?
When you become a Landing member, taking the travel nurse housing stipend is a no-brainer!
GSA. FY 2020 Per Diem Rates. https://www.gsa.gov/travel/plan-book/per-diem-rates/per-diem-rates-lookup/