Housing For Travel Therapists
As a travel therapist, you will work short term contracts, often 13 weeks, potentially nation wide. Choosing the best travel agency and recruiter is vital to your success, but often overlooked is how to find travel therapy housing.
Travel housing is an extremely important concept for traveling therapists and healthcare workers. There can be many nuances including how to use your tax free stipends for housing, how to find short term leases, and how to find comfortable and safe housing.
Why Finding The Perfect Housing Situation Matters For Travel Therapists:
1. Save More Money
Finding the right housing situation isn’t just about where to sleep. The right type of housing can greatly affect the how much a traveler earns at the end of each contract. The potential savings could be thousands of dollars per travel contract depending on how you choose your housing.
2. Feel Safe
Finding the right housing is also about safety. When you are traveling to new locations, without friends or family, it is important to find safe housing. You want to be able to sleep at night knowing that you will wake up still in your bed the next morning! You also want to be able to leave the house during the day and know your belongings will still be there when you get back!
3. Have More Fun
Travelers can get lonely. Many times, you will be traveling alone and in cities you have never been to before. After several travel therapy contracts, this lifestyle can become lonely. As a result, finding a house-mate that can double as a tour guide or a night-out partner is a perfect way to really have fun during your travel assignment.
4. Feel Comfortable and Be Able To Relax
I am a very sensitive sleeper. I wish I could sleep anywhere, but alas, I need graveyard silence. I also need an apartment that has good shower pressure and a heater. This may sound silly, but trust me-when you are doing that travel assignment in Wisconsin and its 10 degrees outside, that boiling hot shower and apartment is going to be a godsend. Let’s just say, it’s important to be able to sleep and relax after a long days work.
Travel Housing Options:
Travelers luckily have flexibility when it comes to finding their housing for each travel assignment.
Travelers have two (2) housing options:
1. Agency placed housing: You can use the prearranged housing offered by the company (If applicable. Not all companies or assignments will have housing arrangements.)
2. Independently placed housing: Travelers can find their own housing and get a tax free stipend to help cover this expense.
Lets go over housing if you were to have your travel company obtain for you first!
1. Agency Placed Housing:
If you choose travel agency placed housing, you are agreeing to the housing options offered by your current travel company. Not all companies offer housing options and not all assignments will have housing options. In addition, you can agree upon agency housing once you have discussed this with your recruiter and once you have received the exact specifics on the offered housing.
For each assignment, how you choose your housing really varies. Sometimes it may be better to choose your own housing and sometimes there may be other assignments where agency housing is best. Each contract, you should weights the benefits and advantages to reach the best conclusion for you.
There are pros and cons to this housing option which will be discussed below.
Benefits of Agency Placed Housing:
1. Easy to Set Up and Cancel:
Agency housing options are easy to cancel and set up. You can save tens of hours of research time and time calling landlords or apartment complexes. You will often be offered 1-3 housing options which can make the stress of decision making easier. Often as company housing, there are better clauses in regards to cancellation in case your assignment is delayed, shortened, or canceled all together.
Many company issued housing options come furnished, although you could see if the agency has non furnished housing if you would like to save some money. Housing options can vary from apartments, homes, and extended stay hotels. Furnished housing can save you money in shipping expenses. It can also save you time and stress, since you will not need to buy these items nor pack them to each assignment location.
Although company based housing options are commonly thought to be more expensive than if you find apartments yourself, it may not always be the case. If you are trying to find short term leases independently, many rental companies charge an additional $500-$1000 in rent due to this shortened lease.
4. Usually Close to the Facility and Safe:
Most company housing will be reasonably close to the assignment location. In addition, many companies will choose safe locations for the housing as they want their employees to be safe and comfortable with their assignment.
5. Flexible, Short Term Leases
Agency housing will have many short term options for their travelers. It can be difficult to find your own apartment that is agreeable to 13 weeks with out huge extra costs or penalties. Agency housing as a result, will be a much easier option as it comes with an understanding that the traveler will only be staying several months.
Disadvantages to Agency Housing:
Although there are many benefits to agency housing, there are also reasons why choosing your own housing would be a better option for you. Here are some reasons why travelers may choose to find their own apartments to stay while on contract:
1. More Expensive:
Agency housing could be more expensive than find your own apartment. I cannot guarantee the rates and it is important to do your own research each time you sign a travel contract but because agency housing offers short term leases with furnished options-this could be more expensive than finding your own housing. But remember, you are also getting other benefits with this type of housing.
2. Limited Choices:
Agency housing is often limited to 1-3 options. These may be homes, apartments, or extended stay hotels. You may have a strong desire to live in a certain part of the town or stay in a certain type of home or apartment. You may not be able to customize your housing to your liking with travel company housing.
Finding Your Own Housing:
Instead of having the agency find you housing, you can also look yourself. You can get housing from family members, friends, relatives, companies like Air BNB or Home Away, Craigslist and I’ve even see people posting on Facebook!
When you find your own housing, there are pros and cons just like with using an agency. It also to remember that each assignment is different and it may be more advantageous for you to use company housing with some locations and find your own housing at other locations. Also, not all companies and assignments will offer housing options.
Advantages to Finding Your Own Housing:
1. Control Where You Live
You can control where you live. For example, maybe you really want to live walking distance to the city, or to a nature path. Agency housing may not be in the most convenient location, so finding your own housing may be better. It really depends on the agency and the assignment location.
2. Control In What Environment You Live:
You can live how you want to. Maybe you really want to live in a cabin or a fancy high rise. You can do whatever you want! A new trend is using RV or tiny houses for travel therapy. Some agency units may not have certain appliances, certain amenities like a pool or gym, or say a king size bed. You can really customize how you want to live when you choose your own housing.
3. You Can Make More Money
You may be able to make more and save money if you find your own housing. You may be able to SAVE more money because you will be able to find cheaper housing options than the agency. Right away, you may be saving $500-$1000 or more a month by finding your housing. You can live wherever and in whatever to fulfill your travel assignment. You can live with your family, friends, relatives, have roommates, in a Air BnB, in an RV, or even in a “tiny house”!
Challenges of Finding Your Own Housing
Just as with choosing agency housing, find your own short term housing for travel assignments can come with its own challenges.
1. Unknown Location
The biggest challenge for travelers is finding housing in an area that you are not currently living in and that may even be in a different time zone. As a traveler, you may be working in locations you never visited. It can be very challenging to find apartments or places to rent for short term, when you are unfamiliar with the best parts of the city and which places less attractive.
2. Time Consuming and Stressful
Finding your own apartment to rent can be very time consuming. From searching the various short term rental and apartment listings to calling each manager-the whole search process could be a job in itself. If you are working full time, you may not have this luxury.
3. Short Term Housing Is Expensive
When I was looking for 3 month rentals in outer New York, they were on average $3000 a month! Yearlong leases in comparison were almost a $1000 less a month. In addition, there are often penalties for cancelling leases early.
4. Furnished Housing Is Even Harder To Find and More Expensive
I wish every apartment can with a television, microwave, dishes and bed sheets. But sadly, many apartments don’t! Packing is often one of the biggest hassles as a traveler. Carrying all of these extra items to each different assignment is a HUGE hassle. And it can add up quickly if you purchase new items each assignment instead. You will have to weigh what is best for you and what type of apartment you can find. But it may be better for you to try to find furnished housing. It is important to note that furnished housing is even harder to find, and is even more expensive than an unfurnished apartment.
5. Risk Of Contract Cancellation
Traveling contracts can get cancelled early in the contract, or even before the contract starts. If you do find your own apartment, they will often charge a premium (often double or triple the normal rent) for a short term lease. But in addition to this added expense, many leases carry hefty penalties to canceling early. Now, I haven’t ever had a contract cancel-but I do know others who have and this can add up over a year or years as a traveler.
1. Does the agency pay for my housing?
It depends. If you take agency provided housing, they will cover all of your housing. However, your pay rate may also be lower as a result depending on the cost of living in that assignment’s area.
If you take the housing stipend and find your own low cost housing, then yes 100% of your housing could be covered! It really depends on where you choose to live.
2. Will Companies pay for gas, electric, water, cable?
Internet and television are usually the responsibility of the traveler. But many agency provided housing options will pay for or include utilities (gas, water, heat). It is important to ask your recruiter this prior to committing to your assignment so you can properly plan.
3. Will Housing Be Furnished?
For most agency housing, they will be furnished with items such as a TV, bedding, and kitchen supplies. However, all agencies are different. It is important before signing a lease with your agency to ask if it is furnished, if there is a penalty for cancelling, if it includes heat, water, and electricity.
4. Will I have a roommate?
Usually NO. However, to find cheaper rent-you could ask for a roommate.
5. If I stay with family or friends, how much will my stipend be?
The stipend is not dependent upon with whom you stay. It depends on many factors predetermined by the city, contract, and how your pay is divided. It will always be a fixed price no matter what type of housing you choose.
6. Are pets allowed?
Maybe. Some housing options allow animals, although there may be a small fee. It also depends on the company. Ask your recruiter for the specifics when you are looking for housing.
7. What type of housing does the agency offer?
It can really vary based on assignment, location, and agency. You could stay in an apartment, hotel, or even a house. Ask your recruiter for specifics as you near the point of choosing where to live?