Travel Nurse Housing Options: Traveling and Living in an RV
Travel Nursing can be one of the best experiences within the field of nursing. I can personally attest to the joys of travel nursing as it allows the nurse to see different hospital system’s functions, travel to different places unknown, and overall make a better paycheck if that’s what you are in it for. However, finding and paying for housing can be difficult and timely.
As a travel nurse, you have two options for housing. Option 1 – The travel agency finds housing within a reasonable distance from the hospital and keeps your travel stipend to pay for this housing. Option 2 – The travel nurse keeps their housing stipend and finds their own housing. During my travel nursing career, I kept my travel nurse housing stipend and purchased an RV.
I know what you are thinking. Seriously Jennifer?! You lived full time in an RV. While this may seem crazy to some, I want you to hear me out on why this option can be the best option for you.
To begin, what is an RV? An RV is a recreational vehicle either a motor vehicle or trailer equipped with a living space and amenities that can be found in a residential home. This includes, but is not limited to: bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room/dining room area, bunkhouse for children, and/or garage depending on the type of RV you choose to own. In addition, some of these RVs can be driven as they can come motorized or towed by a truck or heavy duty SUV.
I do not want to discuss the different types of RVs in this post as this discussion can become lengthy. However, you can read regarding the pros and cons to each class of motorhomes here.
Living in an RV allows the travel nurse the freedom to travel and live anywhere they want (that is legal!). Do you want to travel to Chicago, Vermont, Florida, or Nebraska stress free? Then an RV is your best option! Personally, I have not traveled outside of Florida; however, I plan to soon and I have the best housing money can buy. With any housing option, there are pros and cons. Whether you choose to accept company housing or find your own its important to understand the differences between the two.
Pros and Cons to Living in an RV
Pros to Living in an RV while Travel Nursing
Pro #1: Your Home is Always with You
No matter where you may roam, there is no place like home! Unlike obtaining company approved housing, you never have to worry about packing your things once an assignment is done or shipping larger items back home. Once your assignment is completed, you merely drive your home to a new travel assignment with no need for unpacking. Or if you decide to travel between assignments you have the perfect home to bring with you.
Pro #2: Travel Easier with Family and Pets
You can always travel with your family and pets with company approved housing; however, most of the time you must pay a pet deposit depending on how many animals you have or additional deposits if you live in a home meant for just the travel nurse. Recruiters can always work with you, but why would you want to put yourself through that process. Many campgrounds allow for family and pets to stay with no additional charges (always refer to your campground for additional information).
Many campgrounds have hiking trails, pools and hot tubs, activity centers, tennis courts, and many more amenities. While you are working, your family can enjoy the life of all things nature and community. Not to mention, many campgrounds have gated access for pets to run off leash. Many times, there are some rules you need to follow; however, the benefits outweigh these rules.
Owning an RV also helps reduce anxiety for your pets and family. Moving from place to place can be difficult and hard on your children and pets alike. However, with owning a home that just travels with you, its alleviates the long term of effects of not having a constant home.
Pro #3: Cheaper Rent, Less Risk, and More Independence
Just imagine, if you will, you receive $400 a week housing stipend. If you choose to take company approved housing, you lose $1,600 a month to pay for housing. This money does not include electricity, water, and/or cable/internet. These are additional costs to you.
If you choose to keep your stipend and pay rent for a campground it is much cheaper. Personally, I have only used campgrounds in Florida. The highest we have paid for monthly lot rent was $650. That means you get to keep $950 in your pocket. This can pay for lot electricity, water, internet, and maintenance. Many campgrounds do not charge for water or cable if you rent monthly saving you more money in the long term.
As with any contract, you run the risk of the facility cancelling your contract early or before you start. If this happens, though rare, you are still liable for the housing contract with the travel agency. Which means you need to pay for those 13 weeks or else pay an early cancellation fee. If you choose not to pay it, you run the risk of hurting your credit. In contrast, you can leave the RV campground with little to no liability and find another assignment. You may lose a deposit along the way, but it’s better than losing 13 weeks of renting. Save your credit!
Pro #4: Easily Accessible for all Utilities
Like I said previously, many campgrounds offer full hookups. This meaning you get electricity, sewer, water, cable, and internet connection depending on what the campground offers. It’s like living in a residential home that happens to be mobile. In our experience, there really was not any difference between a residential home and RV except for the size. Honestly, once you live in an RV, you will feel like a hoarder when you compare what you need to live with versus what you own.
Pro #5: The Best Community
Depending on which RV campground you stay (do your research!), the RV community is hands down one of the best communities. My husband and I always felt safe where we stayed because we knew other residents where always watching out for us. If you happen to have something break or do not understand a function in your RV, another camper may know the answer and they are 9 times out of 10 willing to help you fix your problem. I cannot tell you how many times we would just sit down with other campers and chat the day away with stories and adventures. We have developed so many friendships and second families!
Cons to Living in an RV while Travel Nursing
Cons #1: Harder to Find an RV Park During Certain Seasons and Locations
Having traveled within Florida during the winter months of December to May, it can be very difficult to find an RV park where you can stay 13 weeks at a time. As you may or may not know, Florida is a prime destination for RV travelers during the winter months because Florida does not have snow and its warmer than staying in the northern states. Many snow birds travel to these areas to experience adventures and escape the cold. Always do your research prior to accepting a contract to decide if a certain location will be able to house you or not. Trust me, it’s still worth the effort even during these times to live in an RV while travel nursing.
Cons #2: Inclement Weather
As with any housing, you must be worried about weather conditions. While living in an RV, you are literally living in a tin can. This is great during the colder months, but can be hard during times of extreme heat, thunderstorms, or tornados. You really don’t have much cover when it comes to tornados; however, many RV parks do have areas where you can wait out the storms if they are severe. If the winds and weather become too much, you can always pack up your things and stay at a hotel for the evening to weather the storms. Always keep an eye on storms/weather and decide when it is time for you to seek shelter.
We were very lucky regarding inclement weather. The rainstorms we did receive were soothing because it was like having a white noise machine to help you fall asleep.
Cons #3: Things Break Down… That’s Life
Things break down regardless if you live in an RV or residential home. There really is no difference. We have found the few times we did have things break, we had awesome neighbors guiding us with assistance and the costs to fix the issues were lower than living in a residential home. Depending on the RV you obtain, the costs vary for maintenance. For example, if you purchase a motorized RV, the costs will be higher because it’s like owning a home and truck in one. Some things you can fix on your own and others you will need to have professionally repaired. This is the same with owning a residential home.