I’ve found that the biggest factor in determining the actual income I’ll receive from a travel assignment is the housing stipend. For my first assignment, I took the provided housing. I don’t know how much the stipend would have been for Rosedale, Maryland. I didn’t ask. It was a furnished one bed one bath apartment a five minute walk from the hospital. I could see that glowing red ER door sign from my front door… that’s how close I was!
the biggest factor in determining the actual income I’ll receive from a travel assignment is the housing stipend
But I was getting an hourly rate of $23. 59 an hour for 36 hours and a per diem of $35/ day. Total monthly pay after taxes was $3,600. That’s less than I was earning at home.
I use an app called Payroll Guru to get accurate after tax numbers. Taxes on your travel pay may include state (which varies depending on the current state I am working in) and federal taxes. This app has always been accurate! The basic version is free through Google Play.
I stayed in Maryland for 4.5 months. As the months passed on, I found that it was getting harder and harder to make ends meet.
Safety and Comfort
location… location… location
The apartment was so close the hospital, no complaints there. It was on the first floor, and half of my apartment floor was underground, so my windows were ground level, meaning if someone stood outside my window and I looked up from inside my apartment I would see their feet. Awkward. When I had the blinds open, I felt like diorama of Emma, because all traffic and people approaching the building were forced to look inside my apartment. And the windows were only on that one side of the apartment, you know, the side that faced the busy main entranceway. I felt privileged that I had choices: privacy or light.
Baltimore is one of the biggest drug capitals in the US
The neighbor above me had a patio above my bedroom. He smoked cigarettes and weed all night while I was working my shift. When I came home to go to sleep, my pillow smelled like weed and smoke. 🙁 living in a house for 7 years made me forget what apartment life was like. I felt young and underprivileged again!
Did you know that Baltimore is one of the biggest drug capitals in the US? Well I found out by living there, first hand. Drug selling in Rosedale was so commonplace, it was like they were selling Girlscout cookies. Remember how I said that my window was even with the ground? Well all the sellers and buyers in front of the building could see diorama of Emma and Emma could see them. Remember that choice I had earlier: privacy or light? Yes, well, I chose to live in darkness.
Sometime after my first month living there, someone vomited a strawberry margarita on the carpet of the common area somewhere upstairs. Adult drunk vomit. Pungently awful. That smell lived there with us until the day I moved out.
I did feel safe-ish AT HOME, strangely enough. The drug sellers and buyers kept to themselves and smiled and said hi if I saw them in the parking lot. None of my packages ever got stolen.
Work however, was a different story. The hospital got shut down twice in one month for shootings. The victims were in the trauma side of the ER. Total shutdown. It was serious. All the tunnels to Washington D.C. were shut down, no people in or out, absolutely! I’d never experienced it like that in my hometown Houston. There was a mother in the the parking lot that called our secretary, her child was in the parking lot and was having trouble breathing, the police wouldn’t let her in to the hospital. She was told to call an ambulance to be taken to another hospital… It was not safe to be at ours.
The hospital got shut down twice for shootings.
The second shooting was at the bus stop of our hospital at 11 pm at night. The woman, a current employee in the ER, was shot 5 times by her boyfriend, an ex- employee of the hospital. Really?! I was ready to leave immediately. I stuck it out, but boy was that first assignment an adventure!
That was the first and last time I took provided housing. I did the research, bought a 25 foot RV, and always took the housing stipend afterwards.