February 26, 2015

Tips for Securing Your Own Housing

We sat down with Ashley Graham, TNAA’s Director of Housing, to find out some of the best things to do – and some things to watch out for – when you decide to find your own housing for an assignment. Ashley’s been setting our nurses up with top-notch accommodations since TNAA got its start, so she’s got the inside scoop on how to find good deals and how to avoid trouble.

Q. With so much assistance available, why do some nurses opt to set up their own housing?

A. Well, the simple answer is money. When you decide to take a housing subsidy, the amount of money you receive each month is determined by the average cost of living in the area in which you’ll be working. If you’re able to find something you like that’s cheaper than that average amount, you’ll be able to save what’s left over from your subsidy. Many times, private rentals are cheaper and offer more flexibility than company provided options.

Q. How do I search for an apartment in another city?

A. There are several go-to websites for finding short-term housing around the country. Most people are familiar with Craigslist. Though it has a mixed reputation, Craigslist can be a good option if you’re smart about it. My best advice is to book a hotel for the first two weeks of your assignment and use that time to view properties and meet property owners and managers in person. That way, you have a safety net in case a property is not what it seems online. Be sure to watch out for common red flags on Craigslist, including:

• A price that seems too good to be true

• The agreement requires a lot of money upfront

• The property manager will only communicate with you by email

• The property manager is in another country and wants money wired to them

Another good resource is Airbnb. This website offers vacation and short-term rentals around the world from private rooms to full apartments. Property owners who want to list on this site are thoroughly evaluated before being allowed to advertise their properties, and you can read reviews from others who have stayed with them. With photos, lengthy property descriptions and reviews from recent guests, Airbnb is generally considered a great place to find affordable housing and more reliable than Craigslist.

Q. I’ve never even been to this city. How do I know which properties are in good condition and in safe areas?

A. There’s a lot of research you can do online. If you’re looking at an apartment complex or extended-stay hotel, check websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp or ApartmentRatings to check reviews of local properties. Be conscious of the dates of the reviews you read and only consider those written in the last 6-12 months, as management changes often. When dealing with a property posted on a website like Craigslist, ask for a physical address and use Google Maps to check out the building and the surrounding area. Use websites like CrimeReports.com and NeighborhoodScout.com to learn more about the crime rates in the area.

Q. I feel pretty good about finding an apartment on my own, but what do I do about furniture and utilities?

A. If possible, look for an all-inclusive option or even an extended-stay hotel. This will save you a lot of time and headache when it’s time to move in. If you have to arrange your own furniture rental, ask for a list of reputable vendors from your agency’s housing specialists. At TNAA, we offer our nurses access to all of our housing department’s knowledge in an effort to help with just this kind of situation. We’re happy to share our resources to make our nurses’ experiences more successful.

Don’t be intimidated by trying to find your own housing in a new city. By using the resources and guidelines Ashley discussed, you’ll be able to find out whether there are any options in your next destination that fit your needs. Be smart, do your homework, and save some money!