You’ve just landed your dream travel nursing contract in a highly desirable location, but the thought of affording housing while on your assignment has you feeling stressed.
Travel nurses make great pay, but with such a high cost of living, is it possible to live somewhere safe, beautiful, and with the amenities you need?
Don’t stress. Many travel nursing agencies offer housing stipends for travel nurses to make the option of securing your own housing less stressful.
Learn why the average housing stipend for travel nurses varies greatly and how travel agencies work to decide the final dollar amount of each housing stipend for every assignment.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Travel Nursing Housing Stipend?
- What Is the Average Housing Stipend for Travel Nurses?
- Are Per Diem Rates and Housing Stipends the Same?
- What Are the Qualifications To Receive a Housing Stipend for Travel Nurses?
- Travel Nurse Housing Stipend Amount: Will You Receive the GSA’s Maximum?
- 3 Benefits To Accepting a Travel Nursing Housing Stipend vs. Agency-Provided Housing
- Trusted Nurse Staffing: Allowing Travel Nurses To Choose Their Housing by Offering Travel Nursing Housing Stipends
What Is a Travel Nursing Housing Stipend?
Work as a nurse can be rewarding, but as a travel nurse, many agencies help negotiate high salaries and offer amazing compensation benefits, like a housing stipend.
In many cases, travel nurses are offered two housing options after accepting a new travel nurse assignment:
- Agency-provided housing
- Tax-free stipend housing
What’s the difference between the two?
Agency-provided housing is housing that your travel nursing agency helps arrange for you for the duration of your travel nurse assignment.
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, your travel nurse recruiter will work to secure you a short-term lease — you don’t have to worry about paying housing fees. In most cases, the arrangements include utilities and may come furnished or with the option to rent furniture.
The second option — a travel nursing housing stipend — is a sum of money offered by your travel agency to cover the cost of housing while working your travel nurse assignment.
Should you choose this option, your recruiter at Trusted Nurse Staffing won’t leave you high and dry. Our team works with you to find safe, affordable, and secure housing for the duration of your assignment.
Check out our job listings on Pronto to learn what the average housing stipend for travel nurses are in the area you wish to work.
What Is the Average Housing Stipend for Travel Nurses?
Unfortunately, the range offered for travel nurse stipends is large and completely dependent on a handful of factors. Some travel nurses might find their housing stipend to be as low as $700 per month while others receive as much as $5,000 per month.
It all depends.
Why Is There No Set Average Housing Stipend for Travel Nurses?
Three of the biggest factors that play into the dollar amount of a travel nurse housing stipend are:
- The travel nurse agency you work with
- The location of your travel nurse assignment
- Time of year
Every travel agency arranges housing stipends differently, so who you choose to work with can play a big part in the amount you’ll receive to cover housing costs. Additionally, the cost of living varies from state to state, so the location of your assignment will come into play here, too.
However, determining your housing stipend is not as simple as choosing your travel agency, assignment location, and time of year. Different travel agencies might offer two different housing stipend amounts for the same location — it all depends on what each travel agency offers.
To make an accurate comparison, you’ll have to review the entire benefits package of each travel agency you’re interested in to determine which might work better for you.
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we take pride in offering industry-leading benefits that set us apart from other travel nursing agencies. Not only do we offer fair housing stipends, but competitive health and dental insurance plans, robust retirement plans, and more.
Your Travel Nurse Agency
Travel nursing housing stipends vary from agency to agency, so it’s important to understand how this works with the travel agency you choose to work with.
Some agencies might offer you a choice between receiving a housing stipend and securing your own housing or living in housing provided by the agency like Trusted Nurse Staffing does.
Others might offer different agreements, like:
- A high tax-free housing stipend but a lower taxable wage
- Agency housing with a higher taxable wage
Considering these options is important and depends on how much money you want to take home in your pocket at the end of your assignment. You could save money by paying lower taxes or by finding cheaper housing than the stipend offers and pocketing the remaining cash.
The Location of Your Assignment
The location of your travel nurse assignment is a big factor in determining the dollar amount of your housing stipend because the cost of living varies greatly from state to state.
A travel nurse taking an assignment in Los Angeles where the cost of living is 42.5% higher than it is in Boise, Idaho, will likely receive a larger housing stipend than a travel nurse in Boise.
Time of Year
Although location is an important factor, the time of year you’re on assignment in said location may also come into play when determining the dollar amount of your housing stipend.
For example, if you plan to work in Miami, Florida during the summer months, the housing stipend might be less than it is in the more desirable winter months.
Are Per Diem Rates and Housing Stipends the Same?
Although similar, per diem rates and housing stipends do differ.
Per diem is an allowance established by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. Federal agencies can use per diem rates to reimburse their employees for these expenses that are incurred while traveling within the continental United States.
While per diem rates are reimbursed to a specific dollar amount and cover an array of expenses, a housing stipend is given beforehand to specifically cover the cost of housing.
Per diem means “per day”, so the rates set by the GSA are given as daily figures. For example, you might find that the per diem for lodging in Miami, Florida in January 2024 is $169 for housing and $69 for meals and incidentals, except on the first and last day when it is $51.75.
Travel nursing agencies use the word “stipend” because it more clearly reflects the benefit they are providing — a set sum of money given as a housing allowance. Though travel agencies will present a housing stipend as a monthly figure, it is typically paid weekly or bi-weekly.
At Trusted Nurse Staffing, we also offer meal stipends and stipends for incidentals so you don’t have to worry about covering all of those costs with your housing stipend.
What Are the Qualifications To Receive a Housing Stipend for Travel Nurses?
A housing stipend for travel nurses is a set allowance, so the IRS has requirements that must be met by travel nurses to qualify for using the stipend.
As with many things related to the IRS, this process can be complicated to understand. The bones of it are that the state you are working in determines if you qualify for a tax-free stipend, not your tax home state.
How do you know what your “tax home” state is?
According to the IRS, your tax home is the state where your regular place of business or post of duty is, regardless of where you maintain a family home. You can have both, so distinguishing the difference between the two is important here.
To maintain a tax home, travel nurses usually must meet two of the three following criteria:
- A minimum of 25% of your income is earned in the tax home area.
- You maintain a permanent residence elsewhere.
- You do not abandon your tax home.
To maintain your tax home, you can:
- Keep a bank account open.
- Keep proof of payments that show you’re incurring expenses here.
- Maintain one address where you receive mail and forward it to your assignment address.
- File as a non-resident in the state of your assignment during tax season.
- Register to vote.
- Register your driver’s license and vehicle.
In addition to paying careful attention to maintaining your tax home, you must work away from it and keep your status as a temporary worker to qualify for tax-free stipends. A temporary worker is someone whose temporary assignment in one location is expected to last for one year or less, as most travel nursing assignments do.
Should your assignment extend more than one year, the IRS will consider it indefinite and you will no longer qualify for a tax-free stipend.
Although there is almost always an option to extend your assignment contract with Trusted Nurse Staffing, most travel nurse assignments have a hard start and end date, helping to prove your status as a temporary worker.
Travel Nurse Housing Stipend Amount: Will You Receive the GSA’s Maximum?
It’s unlikely that a travel nurse will receive the GSA’s maximum amount for their housing stipend, and for good reason.
- GSA rates are established at maximum rates.
- GSA rates are tied to shorter-term stays that don’t usually require long-term housing, like a travel nurse assignment typically does.
For example, the 2024 GSA per diem rate for housing in Miami ranges between $142 and $215. This means as a monthly rate, the housing per diem total would be between $4,260 and $6,450, far exceeding the average Miami monthly rent of $3,200.
To determine an appropriate travel nursing housing stipend, travel nurse agencies consider the GSA per diem rate and the local cost of living.
3 Benefits To Accepting a Travel Nursing Housing Stipend vs. Agency-Provided Housing
Accepting agency-based housing might seem like the easy route to take because the agency organizes everything for you. But don’t be quick to write off accepting the housing stipend.
Opting for the travel nursing housing stipend offers advantages in both flexibility and profitability.
#1: Travel Nursing Housing Stipends are Tax-Free
Travel nurse housing stipends are tax-free allowances, meaning you benefit financially without having to pay taxes on extra wages.
We all know that tax season is stressful and using the tax-free housing stipend is one easy way to reduce the headache of tax season with money directly in your pocket.
#2: Travel Nursing Housing Stipends Allow You to Choose Where You Live
Whether you accept a four-week assignment or a two-month assignment, your new location will be your home-away-from-home for some time — you want it to be somewhere you’re looking forward to coming home to at night and spending your days off.
Opting for the housing stipend over agency-provided housing offers flexibility in choosing where you want to live. You get to consider:
- And more
This is not to say that agency-based housing sticks you where it sticks you and it’s a done deal. The recruiters at Trusted Nurse Staffing work to find housing that is safe and secure and offers you what you need, but nothing beats finding a home that suits you best.
#3: Travel Nursing Housing Stipends Allows More Financial Control
Knowing where every dollar you earn is going is crucial for financial control, and by accepting the housing stipend, you can do just that.
With the travel nurse housing stipend, you’ll receive the total amount of your stipend no matter what your housing costs actually are. You’ll know exactly how much money you’ll receive for housing before you begin looking.
If you find something cheaper than your housing stipend, you get to pocket that extra money and spend it on things you might want or need. If you find housing that’s more than your stipend but you know you can cover it with other money, that’s great, too.
Trusted Nurse Staffing: Allowing Travel Nurses To Choose Their Housing by Offering Travel Nursing Housing Stipends
Relocating for work every few weeks can be stressful. Yes, there’s the excitement of new things to do, new people to meet, and new opportunities to explore, but there’s also the stress of securing housing and working out all of the moving pieces to complete a move.
A travel nursing housing stipend takes the headache away from wondering if you can afford housing in your new city.
Although the average housing stipend for travel nurses is broad, you can find comfort in knowing that Trusted Nurse Staffing works hard to offer the most up-to-date and fair housing stipends for our travel nurses.
Before you can know your travel nursing stipend amount, you must secure a contract in a desirable location. Go to Pronto to search for available travel nurse contracts in the city of your choice, then let your Trusted Nurse Staffing recruiter help you secure housing.
Contact us today to get started.