When choosing your next travel assignment and you are feeling a bit more practical, it would help if you can consider a state with a lower cost of living. This way you can make the most out of your salary. Do take note that when you look at a pay package, it would help if you actually consider where the assignment is going to be. As a traveler, you will be granted some tax exemptions which you will be utilizing for both housing and meals. Now, the trick here is to find an assignment in one of the states that has a more affordable living expense with good to better rates. It would not be enough to find an assignment in the same state but it would be wise to do a little bit of research to see which agencies would offer the most for your efforts. Some advice I can give is to find an assignment that would offer more. If you can find a 48 hours a week contract, the better. I understand that most of the contracts will be a 36 hours per week offering but if the time is right, you might be able to find something that offers an additional 12 hours per week. One more thing that you might want to look out for is guaranteed hours. It would help if you can anticipate your earnings in each period and one way to do this is check if you are offered guaranteed hours in your contract. Now, let us look at the top 5 states where you can save money in living expenses:
Among the 50 states, Mississippi has the lowest cost of living. The cost-of-living index for this particular state is at 84.8. You can find an apartment with two bedrooms for $795 a month. This means you can actually save money through your stipends. For example, for a contract between April 2022 to June 2022, the anticipated daily lodging is about $96 which should bring you about $672 a week. A little more then you should be able to cover your rent for the whole month.
This state is also considerably cheaper to live in compared to a lot of the other states. It has a cost of living index of 87.8. This state is definitely worth considering since not only housing and transportation is cheaper but also healthcare. In fact, residents would only spend about $708 on the average for a mortgage or rent. For the period of April 2022 to June 2022, the estimated daily lodging is basically the same as Mississippi which is $96 which then also brings us to $672 a week. In fact, for the record, the expected income for a household to live comfortably is about $44,571 which says a lot if you consider a travel contract in this state.
Also one of the states that has a lower cost of living. You can take advantage of renting a two bedroom apartment for $879. Take note, this can be a very comfortable home away from home if you are on assignment. Now your estimated stipend for lodging for the week is about $728 if you take on an assignment in Oklahoma City (between April 2022 to June 2022), which is not too bad considering you can actually add about $151 and make your month’s rent. Transportation is also quite cheap in the state, they have some of the lowest recorded gas prices back in 2020 for $2.26 per gallon (I understand gas prices have skyrocketed in the recent months, so if you want to keep using your car, Oklahoma is definitely a state to consider).
Now this state has a cost of living index of 87.9 and has one of the lowest livable wages in the whole United States. The good thing is that the livable wage in the state is about $48,054 while the household median is at $57,422. A standard 2 bedroom apartment in the state is about $752 a month. Now if we take into account your stipend if you take advantage of a contract from April 2022 to June 2022 in Kansas City, you can be looking at $861 for lodging a week alone. So setting aside what you will be making on your regular salary, your stipend may be able to cover your rent for the whole month on your first week.
Another state that you can consider is Missouri. This state has a livable annual income of $55,078 while the median is at about $55,560. The housing in this state is such a win that you can find a four bedroom home for as low as $250,000. The estimated stipend you can get in Missouri (again for the period of April 2022 to June 2022) is about $987 for lodging and $448 for meals. This state also has one of the lowest recorded prices on gasoline at $2.21 per gallon back in 2020.
I am quite sure that most of you have skimmed past one (if not all) of these states when you are trying to find your next contract. You may have skipped past it due to a number of reasons but I am willing to bet that one of those reasons is the rate. I do hope that given this piece of information, you will be able to consider why the rates are so low but it does not necessarily mean that you will not be able to earn more in your contract.
If you would notice, I made sure that we are covering possible stipends if you are to take advantage of a contract around the time this discussion was written. This should help us get a feel of the difference of the state you are working in with how you are able to maximize your earning. True, the states mentioned above may not really offer the best of rates upon first glance, but taking into account what you need in order to fulfill your requirement which you can consider your overhead, working in these states would surely give you a better net income. Also take note that the calculations on the lodging stipend if you live out of state, will depend on your contract. So please be responsible in taking on contracts, be meticulous, and ask questions. If you do not understand something, asking does not make you look stupid. On the other hand, it actually makes you look detail oriented.
So if you consider yourself a “free-agent” and you do not feel the need to be tied down to one state, try one of the states mentioned above. If you ask me, these are quite underrated. Truth be told, travel nursing seems to be quite attractive because of the rates. A lot of people fail to realize the cost that comes with traveling. There is a reason why travel nurses earn a lot more money compared to the other staffing positions. They sacrifice more and spend more. At times, some rates do not really justify the kind of sacrifice a travel nurse does. Therefore, let us take it upon ourselves to be wise with the decision that we make when choosing our next destination contract.