Extended Stay Hotels vs. Short Term Rentals: What is the Best Travel Nurse Housing Option?
By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
This week I just finished up five days in Las Vegas at the Travelers Conference soaking up all things travel healthcare. I was also lucky enough to sit on the housing panel answering questions from prospective travelers on the best ways to find housing.
Also on the housing panel were two representatives from well-known hotel chains. These hotel chains have begun to realize there is a strong market in the travel healthcare world for short term housing and are working hard to market towards this niche.
The panel was a nice mix because we got to see how these hotels are catering more towards travelers but also offer options for other ways to secure housing. I wanted to go a little more in depth in this area and offer some pros and cons for both short term rentals and hotel options that may help you decide what the best option is for you at each assignment.
Pros of Short Term Rentals
When I use the term “short term rental” in this article I will be referring to any sort of room rental, short term lease, or AirBNB type of housing option. Basically anywhere that is not part of a hotel chain.
One great thing about short term rentals is you may have the opportunity to simply rent a room or share rent with a roommate which can save you a lot of money. By using services like AirBNB or online forums you can often find fellow professionals looking to save on rent by splitting costs with a roommate which leads to a win-win situation.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may also be able to find larger properties if you need space for a family or a yard for pets. Depending on the area of the country your stipend may cover enough for a more private rental even with the short term fees.
Cons of Short Term Rentals
While short term rentals can help you save money or be more particular about your space, you also have to consider if they come fully furnished, if you have to pay utilities, and if there are deposits associated with these rentals.
Most of the time if you rent a room or through AirBNB your utilities and furnishings will be included in the package. Do keep in mind that this may come with limitations related to utility usage or internet and TV offerings. I have heard of landlords limiting changes to the thermostat, having visitor restrictions, or offering the lowest internet or TV services. These questions should definitely be addressed ahead of time so you can decide if you can live with these guidelines.
If you choose to seek out a short term lease through an apartment, you may not get everything included that you will need to live. Many travelers choose to utilize storage bins and air mattresses in lieu of furniture in these situations and bring basic kitchen necessities. Depending on the space in your car, you may be able to make this work or it may be worth it to pay a little more for a fully furnished and stocked rental.
Pros of Extended Stay Hotels
We actually lived in an extended stay hotel for most of our first assignment and it was a great experience. Some of our favorite features included housekeeping, hotel amenities, and no deposits upfront.
Most hotel chains offer some sort of housekeeping service that will vary based on length of stay. If you book for months at a time you can expect a room clean one or two times per week depending on the chain. The nice thing is this also includes restocking of paper goods and changing of sheets, etc.
Another huge benefit to an extended stay hotel is they are move-in ready. The kitchens should be stocked with the basics, all linens are provided, and all the utilities are taken care of. All you really have to bring is your clothes, which is great if you are flying to a destination or have limited car space.
The last big pro is most of these hotel chains are pet-friendly for up to two pets. Weight limits and fees will vary by brand, but it can be nice to know as long as you can find your preferred brand in your new city that there won’t be any unexpected fees or regulations that come up.
Cons of Extended Stay Hotels
While all of the amenities and conveniences that come with extended stay hotels are very appealing, there is one big drawback for many people: cost.
Like anything else in life, having all the perks comes with paying for all the perks. Most of these chains offer discounts if you book for 30 days or more, but they are typically more expensive than finding a short term lease yourself, and they are definitely more expensive than renting a room or living with a roommate.
Other than that, I would just encourage travelers considering a short term hotel to read reviews on that particular location ahead of time to get a feel for safety and cleanliness as that can vary between individual hotels.
The bottom line: will you pay a little more for convenience?
In the end, if you are debating between staying at an extended stay hotel versus finding a short term rental, it really boils down to cost vs. convenience. Some travelers are really looking to save money or pay down debt, which could make the cost of an extended stay seem like too much. However, if you are traveling to explore and simply enjoy the experience, an extended stay hotel can be a good way to alleviate a lot of the stress that comes with moving frequently.
Alex McCoy currently works as a pediatric travel nurse. She has a passion for health and fitness, which led her to start Fit Travel Life in 2016. She travels with her husband, their cat, Autumn and their dog, Summer. She enjoys hiking, lifting weights, and trying the best local coffee and wine.
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