By Alex McCoy, Contributing Writer, Owner of Fit Travel Life
As a new travel nurse, figuring out how to navigate housing can seem very daunting at first. Because you are moving frequently, you won’t want to worry about packing large items like furniture, TVs, or even kitchen items and linens if you can help it. The best kind of travel nurse housing is move-in ready with all of the essentials you could need–basically like a studio suite in a hotel room.
This of course causes the cost of a monthly rental as a travel nurse to be more than your average rent for an apartment. Some of your housing stipends will help offset these costs, but at the end of the day, most travelers would like to walk away with as much cash in their pocket as they can while still living comfortably.
As a result, a lot of travel nurses have turned to alternatives outside of short-term housing to create a home away from home. Instead of opting for furnished rentals, some travel nurses may choose to purchase a camper or camper van to live in at each assignment. There are pros and cons to each of these options, and in the next few weeks, we will go more in-depth about each unique option and why they may or may not work for you.
The most common mobile home option for travel nurses is a pull-behind camper of some sort. This may range from a small basic camper to a fifth wheel with two bedrooms. It really just depends on what you feel is doable for you and your family (especially if you travel with kids and/or pets), and what you want to pay for your home.
Pros of Travel Nursing with a Camper
1. You can bring your pets along freely.
Because you own your housing, you can bring any and all pets that you like. This can be especially beneficial if you have large dogs or a restricted breed. Unless there is a city-wide ban on a specific breed, you should be fine to travel any and everywhere with your furry friend in your camper.
2. Less packing of “stuff”
You will still have to pack up in a sense each time you move, but you won’t have to physically move your possessions in and out of a new home or up and downstairs each time you change assignments. Plus, you know exactly what you need to bring since it is all in your camper!
3. You can unhitch and drive your car around to explore
If you are debating between a camper van and a pull-behind camper you will definitely want to consider the fact that you can park a camper and use your towing vehicle as a daily driver. This means you don’t have to worry about driving around in an overly large vehicle when you want to get out and explore.
Cons of Travel Nursing with a Camper
1. Maintenance Costs
Campers have to be maintained just like every other type of vehicle. There are seals that need to be replaced regularly, you might get a leak or have a window that needs to be replaced. Plus, just like with owning a home, your camper will have appliances that may need replacing or repaired.
2. You will need a vehicle that can tow your camper
If you purchase a large camper to live in, you will likely need at minimum some sort of truck to tow it with. Some smaller SUVs “may” be able to tow a very basic camper, but generally travel nurses go with larger models so they can feel more comfortable. Don’t forget to include the cost and maintenance that goes with a larger vehicle when considering living in a camper.
3. Lack of places to park
One limiting factor of living out of a camper is finding a place to park it and stay for the duration of your contract. Generally, you will need to find somewhere that provides electrical and water hookups and these types of parks may not be easy to find within close driving distance of a hospital. This could limit your options as far as jobs go because you may not be able to easily commute from your parking spot to wherever your job is located if you rely on living in an RV.
If investing in a camper seems like something you would be interested in, I highly recommend looking at the overall cost of long-term camper spots, any payments you have on a towing vehicle and/or the camper itself, and the maintenance associated with keeping up a recreational vehicle.
Campers are a great option for a lot of travelers, especially because you can feel like you are truly at “home” no matter where you are parked. Plus, if you decide travel nursing is not for you you can still use your camper for vacations or other trips if you go back to another job.
Next week we will discuss the new trend of #vanlife and all of the pros and cons that come along with living this lifestyle as a travel nurse.
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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