Although becoming a travel nurse might look like a glamorous job, the reality is not an extended “workcation” with higher pay. In fact, relocating for a permanent role can offer more stability, more vacation time, and a better financial situation. Let’s take a closer look at both so you can decide which is right for you.
Relocating vs Working as a Travel Nurse
Before we get ahead of ourselves, what’s the difference between the two options? Relocating means taking up a full-time role in a new city. For example, you could move from Minneapolis to Charlotte to take on a new nursing role.
A travel nurse, on the other hand, works in temporary nursing positions at understaffed hospitals around the country. Most travel nurses work on one assignment for 13 weeks and move 4 times each year. Since they work on understaffed teams, they often have to work long hours, take on extra shifts, and are more susceptible to burnout.
The Reality of Travel Nursing
Being a travel nurse does allow you to catch flights and offers higher pay. On average, traveling nurses make more and are able to experience different cities and parts of the country. But while it can seem glamorous to travel around the country, most travel nurses find the cons outweigh the advantages, especially in the long run.
Before becoming a travel nurse, consider these professional disadvantages:
You’re always the “new guy” so you might get the worst shifts and have to work holidays.
Travel nurses report working 60-hour weeks on average, which can lead to fatigue and burnout.
You could run into licensing issues if you land a job in a state where your nursing license isn’t valid.
Because you’re working in understaffed hospitals and offices, you’re more likely to face burnout.
Over 77% of travel nurses feel unsafe at work. Often, hospitals are understaffed because they have an outbreak of COVID, flu, or another illness. When you’re agreeing to work as a travel nurse, you’re often put in workplaces where you’re at a higher risk of becoming sick.
If you do get sick, make sure to read your contract carefully. Most travel nurses lose their bonuses, weekly stipends, and other benefits if they call in sick and there are no paid vacation days in most contracts.
There are also cons for your personal life as well, including:
It can be costly to find short-term rentals and relocate every two to three months.
Despite higher salaries, many travel nurses save less than those with permanent roles because moving 3 or 4 times a year can negate higher wages.
Along with workplace burnout, you can also develop travel fatigue, a condition where constantly being “on the go” and not having a permanent place to call home harms your energy levels and mental well-being
If you’re moving every 3 months, it can be hard to establish healthy routines, such as a consistent workout schedule, cooking at home, and getting enough sleep.
The Advantages of Relocating
If the reality of travel nursing doesn’t sound like your cup of tea but you’re still interested in a change of scenery, relocating might be for you. Relocating for a permanent role allows you to explore a new part of the country while maintaining the job stability and mental well-being that travel nursing can’t offer.
Along with increased opportunities to travel, nurses who have recently relocated have found the move to be advantageous to their careers too. Relocation often comes with:
New opportunities to advance your nursing career
Receiving relocation assistance, depending on your employer’s policies
Swapping your current job for a higher-paying one and/or trading an area with a high cost of living for one with a lower cost of living
Transitioning from the travel nurse life
If you’re currently a travel nurse, transitioning back to a permanent role gives you comfort and stability, but it can also mean traveling less, especially if you take a full-time role in a place you previously lived in.
When applying to permanent roles, current travel nurses should look for places that foster their love for adventure, aka new cities with a lot to offer. States that have multiple environments and cities to explore, such as North Carolina, are especially good for ex-travel nurses. Charlotte and other cities located in the Carolinas offer getaways to the beach, mountains, and other vibrant cities, all within less than a 3-hour drive. If you are looking to embrace your sense of travel–the smart way–we’re here to help. HireMe Healthcare has the resources you need to relocate to North Carolina for your next career move.