Travel nurses often receive a housing stipend and hourly base pay. These stipends are tax-free if the nurse maintains a permanent tax home.
This article will discuss maximizing the housing stipend to help you save money during your assignment. You’ll have more money to spend exploring your new city on your days off, advancing your career, or paying down debt.
Look for a Tax Home
Travel nurses often work assignments in states far away from their home base. To receive tax-free housing and meal stipends, travel nurses must maintain a “tax home.” But what is a tax home? The IRS defines it as where you spend more than half your time. It’s also where you earn most of your income. For example, if you live in Connecticut but work on Wall Street in New York, your tax home would be New York City.
While most travel nurses may not have a permanent tax home, they can still establish one by meeting specific criteria. For example, suppose a travel nurse owns and rents a permanent home while on an assignment. In that case, they can use that location as their tax home if they keep receipts and documentation proving they’re duplicating expenses.
A travel nurse can also establish a tax home by staying with family members or friends in the same geographic area as their assignment. They can use canceled checks, money order receipts, and rental receipts to prove they’re paying market rates for lodging in the same area as their assignment.
In addition to maintaining a tax home, there are many other things travel nurses can do to maximize their housing stipend. A travel nurse should always consult with a tax professional who understands the unique requirements of travel nurses.
Look for Off-Season Assignments
A housing stipend allowance is a valuable tool to help you get the most out of your travel nurse assignment. Unlike your hourly pay, it is not taxed. It also allows you to choose your housing options while on duty. You may opt to take agency housing, or you may decide to use the stipend to find your accommodation, and you can always change your choice with every new contract.
Your agency’s housing for travel nurses division will usually offer a few different housing options that can fit your budget and style preferences. They’ll also handle all the details of your rental, including any necessary paperwork and insurance. They can even help you with a temporary home before and during your assignment to ease the transition to the new city.
Choosing an off-season assignment can be more financially beneficial as well. Since hospitals need nurses when the job market is tight, they may be more likely to sweeten the pot by offering crisis rates and other bonuses. These deals allow you to save money on your stipend and rent a more affordable apartment.
When it comes to your travel nursing career, the choices are endless. Maximizing your housing stipend is one of the best ways to make travel assignments more enjoyable and lucrative. With the right strategy, you can make your next project your best.
Look for a Roommate
Regarding travel nurse housing, you have two main options: take your healthcare staffing agency’s housing arrangements or use the tax-free stipend and make your own. While many travel nurses prefer the simplicity and convenience of having their agency book their accommodations, it is possible to maximize your housing stipend if you are willing to spend a little time browsing for available temporary living options.
The best way to do this is to search for furnished rentals on websites such as Airbnb and Furnished Finder. Both sites allow you to enter your destination city and maximum rent budget and provide a list of furnished rentals that meet those criteria. These websites benefit travelers because they often include photos of the property and details of what is included in the rental (i.e., washer/dryer).
Another option is to look for a roommate on Airbnb or another website that matches travelers with potential roommates. This can be a great way to get more bang for your buck and share the cost of a more spacious rental in a popular travel nurse destination.
You can search for rental properties through mapping-based services like Hotpads and Padmapper. When searching, compare prices and other fees, such as cleaning, booking, and guest fees. Also, don’t forget to consider whether the property is pet-friendly. Most travel nurses are pet owners, so allowing pets can open up your pool of potential tenants to a greater variety of people.
Look for Affordable Housing
Housing is among the most important factors to consider during travel nursing assignments. The cost of living can vary drastically by location and season. For example, living in Miami in the summer can be cheaper than in Minneapolis. To avoid overspending, it is crucial to find affordable housing and budget accordingly.
Travel nurses have a few options when it comes to finding temporary housing. They can choose to take agency-based housing, where their staffing company arranges accommodations, or they can choose to use a housing stipend to rent a private apartment. Agency housing is often more convenient, as it removes the hassle of finding a rental and allows nurses to focus on settling into their new assignment.
Travel nurses can find affordable housing through various resources, including websites specializing in short-term lease rentals and general temporary housing sites. They can also seek out roommates or other travelers to split living expenses, which can significantly lower recurring costs and help them maximize their tax-free housing stipend. In addition to comparing rates, travel nurses should be aware of the cost of additional amenities and services, such as utilities, pet policies, booking and cleaning fees. Also, if the rental is located off-campus, they should be sure to factor in transportation costs.