By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
Editor’s note: Stocking Up is a three-part miniseries that covers the essential travel items and furnishing methods Alex McCoy uses to make it feel more like home at each new travel assignment without breaking the bank. Click here to read part one, or click here to read part two.
One of the best ways to save money on short term rentals is to do a little more leg work when it comes to furnishings, linens, or other household supplies.
While fully furnished places might sound appealing, opting to furnish a rental yourself may be a great way to save money while on a travel nurse assignment. There are several ways to approach furnishing a short term rental, from bare bones furnishings up to move-in ready packages.
This week I want to share some ways to save money while furnishing a rental yourself. These options won’t get you a decked-out crib, but hopefully, you will be able to weigh the pros, cons, and cost of each option and make the best decision for you.
How To Furnish A New Rental As A Travel Nurse
Option One: Bare bones furnishings.
Most travel healthcare workers are minimalists at heart. If all of your belongings fit into your vehicle, chances are most of your life is pretty “no frills”. As a result, I have seen many travelers opt for the most basic of furnishings to save money and time.
Many of these travelers will simply invest in a decent air mattress and use plastic tubs as tables in their home. They will sometimes buy inflatable couches or a cheap futon to act as a couch. Camp chairs also work well for watching TV or eating dinner if you want to avoid purchasing actual furniture.
While this may seem extreme to some people, to others this is simply a practical way to live to save money. If you are not entertaining guests and sleep well on an inflatable bed, there may be no reason to spend money on any more furniture than what can fit in your car.
Option Two: Purchase cheaply or find free furniture.
Some travelers prefer to purchase gently used furniture at the beginning of each assignment or even find offers for free furniture on Facebook or Craigslist.
One great way to source cheap furniture or other household items is to find a local traveler page for the city you are living in. By searching “City + Travel Nurses” on Facebook you can find a specific group for almost every major city in the United States. I have seen many furniture listings on such groups, and most travelers looking to sell will list their whole apartment as a lot for an incredibly low price.
The downside to this option is having to then get rid of the furniture at the end of each assignment. However, it can be easy to simply offload possessions in the way you acquired them: by listing them for very cheap or free on different networks. This also requires some leg work the last few weeks of an assignment when you have to coordinate pick up times and meet-ups. One way to skip this hassle would be to simply donate items, or you could re-list as a lot for people to pick up in one go.
Option Three: Rent cheap from a furniture store.
If you go online and browse some of the more popular rental furniture stores, you will notice that a full apartment worth of rental pieces will run several hundred dollars.
But what they don’t tell you is if you go in person to the store they will have a selection of gently used pieces that may not be as “pretty” as the online photos but will be just as functional. You don’t actually have to rent a full package—you can simply pick the basic necessities (think mattress, couch, coffee table, TV stand) and build your own perfect package.
Some of these stores will even have furniture that can be sold and delivered for cheaper than renting it, but once again you will have to decide if purchasing and then reselling is worth the money you may save up front.
Option Four: Scout out locally-owned furniture stores for deals.
Last time we rented furniture ourselves, we found an incredible deal from a local furniture shop. We initially planned on just renting the basics, but the cost of an entire apartment worth of furniture was less than $200 so we splurged a little to make our place feel more like home.
Because locally owned stores have less overhead they may be able to keep prices down. This is even more common in areas with large military bases where renting furniture is a much more common practice.
These types of places may be easier to find in person once you arrive at your destination. You can simply plan on using an air mattress for the first couple of nights while checking out the local area for potential rental shops.
Or, combine all of the above.
Some travelers will simply rent or purchase a couch while sleeping on an air mattress and using a plastic bin for a TV stand. Regardless of how you make it work, all that matters is that you are comfortable and happy with your living space.
By getting a little creative when deciding how to furnish your travel nurse apartment, you can skip the big prices and still end up with just what you need. Skip the major websites, look for local travelers offloading items, and itemize rather than renting full packages to save cash all around. Make note of what furniture you actually use on a regular basis rather than worrying about filling space, and it will be easy to see what the must-haves are for each assignment.
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