So, what is going on with the housing market? 100% of the travelers that participated in a recent Kamana poll said that the rise in home/rental prices has significantly impacted their ability to find housing while on assignment. People are getting priced out of the home purchase AND rental market, leaving travelers in a place where they are competing with many other industries to secure travel housing for nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Factors like rising mortgage rates, inflation, inventory challenges, and higher demand contribute to higher rental prices. Many home sellers are cashing in on their equity-rich homes and living in monthly rentals. Likewise, digital nomads and other remote workers are also scooping up mid-term rentals since the workplace mindset has changed so much since COVID.
Regardless of decreasing bill rates and all the other outside economic influences affecting the rental market, traveling healthcare workers still need to find monthly furnished housing and there are many other factors to consider. Once you get your assignment dialed in, you only have a short window to do all the research needed to make sure you hook up the right place. Here are some things to think about when you start the process.
When asked, “What is your #1 tip for overcoming housing obstacles” surveyed travelers answered, “Furnished Finder,” referring to the monthly housing marketplace for travelers. Furnished Finder has over 100,000 furnished properties on their platform which are specifically geared to the healthcare traveler. Another suggestion in the Kamana poll was to “message hosts on Airbnb and VRBO to convince them to rent monthly”, but the problem is that vacation rentals rarely have calendars open for months at a time as travel nurses require.
Booking fees are charged by many online marketplaces in order to earn more money. These fees can add hundreds to your monthly payment, and force hosts to increase their rent to cover these costs, and this self-perpetuating cycle makes housing for traveling nurses and other healthcare professionals more expensive.
Look for services that don’t charge booking fees or mark up rent, and you’ll know that you are renting a property at cost. You’re able to confirm that you’re getting a fair price by cross-referencing rental costs on several different online marketplaces to identify the best deal. While the market is witnessing an increase in rental prices overall, it may not be as bad as you think since you’re still eliminating mark-ups and booking fees.
You should also expect to pay a bit more when traveling with a pet in the form of a non-refundable pet deposit, extra cleaning fees, and sometimes a slightly higher rent. Seasonality can also affect the price as well. Think Phoenix housing prices in winter vs. fall. The demand for monthly furnished rentals in your area will ultimately move the needle, and right now, demand is at a high.
Scammers are out there, and they are relentless! Knowing where to start your search, spotting red flags, understanding how to conduct a property assessment, and knowing all the options available to you when seeking short term housing will help you stay safe & find the perfect spot.
While it is well known that there are many scammers on Zillow or Craigslist, there is another platform that is much worse for travel nurses right now…and we use it all the time! Facebook.
Hundreds of thousands of travelers join Facebook groups so they can connect with landlords and other travelers. Groups can be great for learning and connection, but they can be equally nasty and have become a breeding ground for scammers.
How Facebook Scammers Operate
A traveler posts something like, “I’m looking for a private unit for me and my dog near Houston, TX for 3 months starting July 15th.” Then, a prompt message appears on Facebook Messenger that sounds perfect…
The ruse has begun, and ends with either ghosting the scammer, or the victim buying into it, and sending them money to ‘secure the unit’. They’ll use every trick in the book, and they are not new at this, so expect them to be very convincing.
Short story, they use the information you post publicly against you, and if you take the bait, you could be out thousands.
Knowing that all platforms are not created equal, you should make sure that the one you choose verifies the landlords, like Furnished Finder, Airbnb, or Vrbo. While it is your expectation that the property owners have been vetted for traveler safety, not every platform takes the extra steps necessary because it is costly and time-consuming.
An important safety measure (that is free and easy to do at home) is to “walk” around the neighborhood that you’re interested in on Google Maps. In addition, there is also a free community crime map from Lexis Nexis you can use as another tool to survey the area. If available, request a video walk-through (often via FaceTime or WhatsApp) of the rental. This service will often uncover insights about the property beyond any photos posted online, and act as another safeguard against the malicious attempts of scammers.
To find the best furnished housing for travel nurses ****and other healthcare professionals, start early! You’ve heard stories of houses being sold for ridiculous prices over the asking price, and some of the craziness from home sales is trickling into the rental market as well. You should assume that you are entering into a competitive situation when you’re inquiring about a property to rent, so you need to give yourself as much time as possible since you may be edged out of a few places before you land that perfect place.
Many travelers use Furnished Finder’s popular Housing Request feature, but don’t wait for landlords to reach out to you. Go to the listings you’re interested in, and call/text/message them directly as well.
When you’ve found a location you’re interested in seeing in person and the appointment is scheduled, be sure to contact a friend or family member to let them know when and where you’re going. Better yet, invite them to come along!
Once you arrive, be aware of your surroundings and keep your phone in your hand to and from your car/apartment. If you like the property, introducing yourself to your potential neighbors can give you a better feel for the neighborhood by offering a local’s perspective and potentially even bringing past issues at the property to light.
Hotels are a necessary part of any traveler’s journey from time to time. Whether you need boots-on-the-ground to scout out furnished apartments, or maybe your orientation starts a couple of weeks before your place is ready; hotels always deliver flexible and predictable lodging. While most healthcare travelers use hotels for an average of about 14 nights, some travelers use hotels for their entire assignment.
Hopefully, you’ve grabbed a nugget or two that you can use for your next housing search. It is our goal to lay out the challenges and try to provide some solutions as well. Good luck and safe travels!
Special thanks to guest contributor, Brian Payne, Co-founder & CEO of Furnished Finder, for the contents of this article. Furnished Finder is a short-term housing solution for travel healthcare professionals who need affordable and dependable furnished accommodations.