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  • Thomas Piper

But Where Will I live?

How do you find housing for an assignment? That’s a frequent and very pertinent question. We all know about Airbnb, VBRO, Craig’s List, Furnished finders and extended stays. Some of these are pricy (or spendy, as we say in Washington state) options. Some can be cramped. Some can be inconvenient. Some can be downright scary. I’ve tried to be creative in my quest for accommodations. Some folks are lucky enough to have a house on wheels. That’s my goal someday. But these can be expensive, and not all of us are at a place that we can make such an investment. I leave it up to Patty to address this option. Back in my early days of traveling, the dark ages of the ‘90’s, if you will, it was a given that the agency would find you housing. And it was nice housing. One assignment found me in a beautiful furnished 1 bedroom apartment with den, in a gated complex with indoor and outdoor pools and a tanning salon. At another, I was housed in a beautiful complex in the rolling hills of a close to town subdivision, a furnished one bedroom, with all the amenities. Stipends weren’t the norm back then.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Things have changed. Agencies tend to limit themselves to extended stay type places. One very short assignment had me staying in a cheap “no-tell motel”. Fortunately I was only out there three days at a time. I would go home between stretches of work, and the assignment was only 6 weeks. That was my goodbye to agency supplied accommodations.

Now days, I only go the stipends route. I’m a distance traveler, so once I’m at an assignment I don’t go home for weekends. I want something comfortable and I want it to feel like home. Occasionally I have splurged and gone overboard on something I really shouldn’t have spent the money on, but I justify it by saying that I deserve it. I probably do. But it doesn’t have to be difficult. I don’t do room rentals or roommate situations with a stranger. I want a place with privacy and a full kitchen. And I don’t travel lightly. I travel with my paper crafting supplies and a full wardrobe.

Here are a few ways I have found housing:

I moved to the area, stayed in a hotel for two weeks and asked around. Turns out the hospital had a classified ad section on their intranet, and I scored me a lovely little furnished mother in law suite at the home of a staffer. The price was right and it was comfy, cozy and oh so very cute. Most hospitals have an employee intranet. Take advantage of it. The landlords want you as much as you want them. I called a couple of churches in a city I was going to, explaining that I was a travel nurse coming to the city for three months. I told them that I was a Christian (I am – I don’t suggest misrepresenting yourself about this). Did they know anyone who had furnished short term suites that they rent out? The secretary at one of the churches took me under her wing and made a project out of finding me a place to live, checking it out and sending me pictures. You don’t have to limit it to churches or other faith communities. If you are part of a civic or cultural organization that has branches in the community you are traveling to, give this a try.

I joined a couple of buy/sell/trade Facebook groups in a community I was going to. I posted my need and lo and behold, I had a choice of accommodations. If someone offers something questionable, usually others in the group will speak up and caution you. The website travelnursingcentral.com, in their hospital review section, has travelers comment on where they stayed while on assignment at the facility they were reviewing. I found a beautiful, furnished one bedroom with den for a wonderful price in a great location. It happened to be in a 60+ complex, but their requirement was that 80% of the residents be over 60, and had set aside several apartments for short term furnished rentals. Most were to travelers. The neighbors were quiet and friendly, and there was even a beauty salon and movie “theater” in the building. I’ve gone to apartment finding websites like apartment.com and rent.com. It’s not the cheapest option, but if you put in the filters of furnished and short term, you may luck in. I did.

I would welcome some creative ideas from fellow travelers. How have you gone outside the box to find a place where you would be safe and comfortable? What has worked for you and what absolutely hasn’t?   

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