Should You Rent or Own Your Primary Residence as a Travel Nurse?

Written by Rose Torrento on Thursday, October 15, 2020

buy vs rentThere’s no place like home. For travel nurses, home might be wherever you’re currently stationed on assignment — but there’s always your primary residence to consider. Your tax home may not feel like a true home if you’re constantly on the road, which can bring up questions about ownership. Does it make sense to own your home and pay a mortgage if you’re traveling for the majority of the year? Conversely, is it worth signing a lease and paying for a space you might only use for a fraction of the year? It’s a situation every travel nurse needs to consider with care.

When you’re gone, what about your “real” home?

Many travel nurses are away from home more often than not, meaning they aren’t spending as much time in their permanent residence, or tax home. If you don’t have a family who could reside in your home while you’re away, it might sit empty and unused.

Although some nurses might choose to rent out their home or use a service like AirBnB, this might make them ineligible for federal tax per diem and housing reimbursements, since they are not truly duplicating their living expenses.

All of this begs the question, “Is it worth owning a home if you’re not living in it?”

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to renting your permanent residence or owning a home while working as a travel nurse. Ultimately, it’s up to you to compare the pros and cons of each choice.

home ownership

Benefits of renting

Renting a home might make sense for some nurses, but not others. There are both pros and cons to renting your permanent residence while you’re away on assignment.

One benefit of renting is that monthly rent payments may be lower than a mortgage would be, saving you money month to month. Additionally, renting saves you from having to save for a costly down payment and from paying property taxes each year.

Renting also gives you more freedom to move when you want. When your lease is up, you can change your permanent residence relatively quickly. Another major benefit of renting your home is that you don’t need to worry about property maintenance or upkeep costs.

home investment

Benefits of owning

On the other hand, some travel nurses might find the benefits of owning their permanent residence to be more appealing.

The major benefit of owning is that a home is an asset that’s likely to appreciate over time. Investing in a home builds equity, allowing you to maintain or grow the value of your home and eventually sell it for a profit one day. The same cannot be done with a rental unit. An owned home might offer tax benefits as well.

Owning your own home can provide added comfort and happiness. Many people like to know they have a space that’s truly their own to return to after assignment that’s stable, private, and safe.

There is no wrong answer

In the end, the choice between renting and owning your home is largely situational for each travel nurse. It will depend on how often you travel, how you view your permanent residence, your family, and your financial needs. No matter what you choose, make sure you’re keeping track of your living expenses to comply with federal tax home restrictions.

As you ponder the decision to rent vs. own, start thinking about your next assignment! Your Health Providers Choice recruiter is ready to help you find one that fits your skillset, in a destination that you’ll be glad to visit. Contact us online or call us today at 888-299-9800. Whether you choose to rent or own your tax home, it’s always nice to have somewhere to return to after time spent on assignment.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.