Furnished Finder makes the life of a traveler so much easier

By Andrew Craig, RN | Housing

Nov 08

The housing struggle is very real for travelers. Fortunately, on our first assignment, we lived with Sarah’s sister.

We had it so good at that time. We didn't realize the struggle until we ventured out a little farther from home. 

However, we had serious challenges our second and third assignment. In Oregon, our second assignment, we worked in Klamath Falls.

If you’ve ever been out there, there isn’t a lot middle ground. It’s either sketch-ville or resort living.

 ​I wish I would have known about the Furnished Finder service then. We ultimately found housing but it was a challenge. 

​We lived it up because we ​rented a 3-bedroom town house but it was a small fortune at nearly $3,000 per month. Our third assignment, the housing was short term, corporate housing but it was very run down and with funky smells.

So, this article has been a long time coming! I spoke with Brian way early in my so-called internet career. After I wrote my housing guide, I needed to find a way to share with others. That’s how I met Brian. He is one of the co-founders of Furnished Finder. A service to help travelers find short term housing conveniently and efficiently. Housing is a major pain for travelers. Furnished finder aims to fill that void for travelers and make the process significantly easier.

I wanted to learn more about Furnished Finder so I sent Brian 15,000 questions​! HAHA He answered every single of one of them! Awesome!

Furnished Finder looks like a fantastic service that really helps travelers out there. I hope you enjoy this Q&A as much as I did! Thanks Brian!

Generally, how would a travel nurse book housing through your website?

Travel nurses start by submitting a housing request on the Furnished Finder website. A housing request alerts property owners who fit your criteria that you’re looking for furnished housing in their area. Then property owners with availability can contact you directly - this helps save the travel nurse some time in researching, and gets the ball rolling by having owners contact you directly. 

Travel nurses can also search our map anytime and contact our property owners directly. If you want to proceed with one of our properties, then you simply book directly with the property owner!  This accomplishes two important things: it puts you in control and cuts out the middleman. This basically means that you keep more of your stipend dollars! 

I'm sure it varies quite a bit. However, what is the average cost per month we would expect to pay?

Whatever the property owner charges, is what is listed on our site. We have all property types (rooms, private units, apartments, hotels...) so it will vary depending on the city, property type, and many other factors... The one thing that we have in our control, which we’re adamant about, is to ensure that the traveler is never charged extra rent or booking fees on our site. 

Travel nurse contracts are typically 13 weeks. Is that time frame feasible for the housing you provide on furnished finder?

Furnished Finder landlords prefer renting 13 weeks at a time because it means less turn-over (than a vacation rental)!  In fact, they’re specifically seeking us out, in order to rent to you!  Our site was built specifically for travel nurses, and the properties that list on our site are looking for A) better tenants and, B) longer stays! 

How do you ensure the housing is in a safe location?

Our listing specialists have a conversation with practically every property owner to ensure the property is a good fit for our map.  We also have strict listing requirements that properties must meet, and we frequently turn down/remove listings that don’t meet our safety and affordability requirements. In addition, our listing review system helps travelers determine the suitability of a property based on previous travel nurse reviews.

We turn down property owners who are too expensive, are located in an undesirable area, not sufficiently equipped, or unable to accept 13 week tenants.

What if we get there and there is an immediate safety/cleanliness issue? What's the process of dealing with that on the traveler end and on your end?

  • ​Don't take possession of the property.
  • Contact the owner directly for remediation.
  • Report all claims to Furnished Finder

​If you feel unsafe, or if there is a significant cleanliness problem, don’t move in (don’t even stay the night) as it shows possession. Only accept the keys if you're satisfied with the unit. 

How many of the listings on average can accommodate pets? Are there size/breed limits?

Up to about half of our units accept pets and there is a “pet only” search feature on our housing map!  We conducted a survey of 300 travel nurses, and we found that 28% travel with a pet.  If you asked me before, I would’ve sworn it would be about 40% or more, but according to that survey, about ⅓ of travelers come with a fur-baby in tow.

Every property owner makes their own pet policy. Furnished Finder does not limit size/breed, and provides no pet policy recommendations to our property owners except to say that if they accept pets, they’ll be opening up their property to about 30% more travelers. 

Why do you require Occupation? Isn't a traveler a traveler regardless when it comes to housing?

Yes, as travel nurses are concerned, but we’re seeing more and more travelers from other industries use our site and we don’t want to ask them travel nurse specific questions if they’re not a nurse.

​Why do you require the company? That seems like an unusual piece of information to request.

By providing the medical staffing company, it tells our property owners that not only is the potential tenant employed, but by whom.  This gives them assurances they don’t normally get from prospective tenants and is another reason for the landlord to choose the travel nurse over anyone else.

Why do you need to know if we’ve accepted an assignment? If we can pay, does this information matter?

Since affordable housing is a major component to accepting any assignment, many travelers search our map to better understand the housing market in a few given areas, before accepting an assignment.

It’s really about timing. The answer to this question tells the property owner how motivated the prospective tenant is to find furnished housing in their city now. It’s the equivalent of ‘I’m just looking’ vs. ‘I need to buy a car by Friday’ so to speak.

I see you have an affiliate program that says “Earn 15 % commission on all new property listings.” What about an option for travelers? Wouldn’t it be in your interest to help travelers spread the word about your service and maybe receive a small commission from that?

​I love where your heads at Andrew!... and I couldn’t agree more. We experimented with a “Love your Landlord” campaign where travel nurses would get a $10 Starbucks gift card when they mention Furnished Finder to their landlord and they enroll in our service. (The landlord just needed to put the travel nurse’s email address in the ‘referred by’ column at checkout). Based on the success of that campaign, we’d certainly take your recommendation and roll it out. In fact, we’ll make it the same as a business affiliate and make it a $15 gift card!  Thanks for the idea! 

Locations seem limited. Do you specialize in desirable locations or particular regions of the country?

Furnished Finder knows the most frequently-traveled cities and the largest hiring hospitals for travel nurses throughout the US, so we try to specialize on those particular cities.  Also, please realize that we’re very picky about the properties that list on our map… If they’re not right for a travel nurse, for instance if they’re too expensive or not geographically desirable, they're asked not to list on our map.  It’s definitely a quality over quantity approach.

Our map may not be perfect yet, and we’re making strides to improve every day, but there’s really nothing on the web like it if you're looking for furnished housing for 13 weeks at a time!

Sometimes we need housing in very odd places. Our assignments are often in unusual locations. Maybe the middle of nowhere where housing seemingly is impossible to find. Can you help with this dilemma?

We used to manage housing for stipend travel nurses and medical staffing companies, so we know that you’re not always in large cities. In fact, we know that you could end up in some areas way off the beaten path like cow-towns, Native American reservations, or just some town no one’s ever heard of!  For this reason, we have a few people dedicated to finding properties specifically in those less than frequently traveled cities.

It’s ultimately up to the property owner to decide if they’re looking to rent their furnished property to travelers or not, but we are actively seeking them out!  Once a landlord rents to a travel nurse, it is such a positive experience for them that they want to connect with more travel nurses, and that’s how they find Furnished Finder… so it’s kind of a domino effect.

Travelers, recruiters, and housing coordinators depend on us for housing, so I look at it as our responsibility to the travel nurse community to focus every effort on acquiring more properties so you have more housing options to choose from!  We’re adding new listings all the time, so check back often!

How do you find housing to advertise on your site?

A lot of word of mouth followed by internet research I’d say!  I speak to property owners every day, and I always ask the same question: How’d you hear about Furnished Finder and why travel nurses? There’s always a connection to a travel nurse like, “my neighbor loves renting to travel nurses and told me to contact you,” or “my daughter is a travel nurse and mentioned Furnished Finder.”  Those are great, but I really love the personal stories that come from having first-hand experience with a travel nurse in action.

I can share one particular story where a property owner built this beautiful cottage on their property in California for her Mother in Law, where a travel nurse cared for her daily during the last weeks of her life. The travel nurse affected this family so deeply during that time, that they dedicated the cottage to travel nurses in her honor as a way to give-back to the nursing community!  The best part is, they rent it for ⅓ of what it’s worth!  I absolutely love my job for reasons like this!

How do you ensure the area is a safe place to be? What’s the research process like for that?

Any property is welcome to schedule an appointment to speak to a Furnished Finder listing specialist where they may, or may not, be invited to list on our map.  In fact, this is why listing on our site is practically “invite-only”.

During the initial conversation, we layer the property address with crime maps and neighborhood data to assess it’s suitability for our travelers.  Many of our travelers travel alone, and since the majority of our users are also female, we take this very seriously. 

If a property owner is invited to list, the property will go through a second layer of verification where we verify ownership and check for foreclosure activity. Any unfit property can also be reported for any reason where it will be thoroughly investigated. If the listing is found to be unfit for any reason, we remove them immediately.  Also, every listing can be openly reviewed for other users to see, which helps to maintain listing standards & transparency.

Do you vet and screen the owners? Is there a level of exclusivity to being on Furnished Finder as a property owner?

Yes, absolutely!  We subscribe to a service that tells us the most recent owner on record with the county, and checks that property against their national foreclosure database.  (The only exception to this is sublets, which we’re happy to allow on our map, but label the listing appropriately).

If you’re a property owner on Furnished Finder, it means that you have a furnished space and prefer to rent to travel nurses. Everyone knows why travel nurses make great tenants!  1) They’re employed  2) They’re background checked and drug screened  3) Their assignment term is predictable  4) They stay longer than vacationers and other tenant types, and 5) They’re professional and respectable tenants overall.

Property owners don’t have to use us exclusively by any means, in fact, there are many Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway property owners that list on Furnished Finder because they either use us seasonally, or simply want an alternative to the fast paced/high turnover lifestyle of vacation rentals.

Do you require leases, deposits, background checks, or credit checks?

Basically, it’s up to each property owner to secure the tenant the way they’re most comfortable, but we typically coach the property owners to screen & accept payment through Cozy.  We like Cozy because when they do background/credit checks, it’s considered a ‘soft-pull’ on the traveler's credit report which means it doesn’t automatically lower your score.

When landlords ask us about leasing, we always recommend a month to month lease (rather than a 3 month minimum lease) to give our travelers extra flexibility and control. Also, if they choose to charge a refundable deposit, we also recommend that they charge no more than ⅓ of the rent. We encourage them to minimize the lease term requirements, and lower the deposit they expect, because travel nurses are highly desirable, predictable, and respectable tenants.

To provide some perspective to the landlord regarding deposits, there are 2 things they need to know:  1)  Travel nurses have hard costs when they take new assignments, and a low deposit is recommended because they typically don’t start pocketing salary until week 2 or 3.  2) Also, since a traveler most likely just completed an assignment somewhere else, they won’t receive their previous deposit back for up to 30 days which can further restrict cash flow at move in.

Kind of like you’re trying to lessen the divide between recruiters and travelers, we’re trying to do the same thing between travelers and property owners. It starts with education, which is why we have a conversation with each property owner before we invite them to list on our site.

We ultimately want special treatment for our travel nurses, but with that said, it’s their property, and they ultimately have to be comfortable with the terms. Our stance is that since travel nurses as a tenant group are so reliable, property owners should consider making their move-in requirements a little more lenient.

What does a traveler do if there's a problem with the housing or they aren't satisfied?

Travelers work directly with the landlord for all housing arrangements.

If the furnished finder service is no cost to the traveler, does the property owner front the cost as an advertising fee essentially?

Yes! This is where we make our money.  Property owners pay to list on our site because they are targeting travel nurses as tenants! 

I look at it like this; charging a fee to list on our site protects our travelers by keeping the bar high regarding listing integrity (which inevitably weeds out scammers). Alternatively, we can’t make the fee too high either since we’re dependent on property owners for listings! We feel we have the right balance to accomplish both.

Furnished Finder is totally free to the Travel Nurse, but they’re not the only ones that depend on us for affordable monthly furnished housing … your recruiter and company housing coordinators use our map as well! 

Regarding your privacy policy and terms of use, I was wondering if our private information stays with Furnished Finder or do you share/sell it with any other housing partners you might have?

No. Furnished Finder does not sell your information to any type of partner, ever.

Regarding Cozy and Tenant screening, in your FAQs, you say, “With Cozy! Cozy is a partner site who provides free tenant screening for Furnished Finder landlords. You simply create an account and start screening. (Screening fees paid by traveler). More info.” What is Cozy and what does a traveler have to pay here?

Cozy is our partner site who provides tenant screening and online rent payments for landlords across the nation. The screening report is optional and costs $40 (which won’t harm your credit / “soft-pull”) and when you pay rent with a checking account, it’s totally free for the tenant!  Should you need to pay with a credit card however, MasterCard and Visa charge 2.75%. Landlords can follow this link to find out more information about Cozy.

Your about page says, “Furnished Finder is led by a group of young, passionate men and women… With backgrounds in healthcare, business, real estate, and information management.” That sounds like an interesting combination of people. How did the idea of furnished finder come about?

Thanks for asking Andrew!  I used to participate in heart surgeries as a pacemaker & defibrillator tech for about 15 years, so I’ve made a lot of travel nurse friends over that time! Since we would do a lot of late night & weekend cases together (ugh!), we had a lot of time to talk about a lot of stuff.

When my wife and I got engaged, she moved into my house and we didn’t really know what to do with her fully furnished condo. As our wedding approached, she decided to rent it furnished. She was contacted shortly thereafter by Debbie Neufeld, a travel nurse who needed housing during her assignment in Bakersfield. Debbie was a phenomenal tenant and ended up extending her assignment a couple of times. After Debbie moved out, we kept placing travel nurses in our condo. 

Whenever the condo was listed for rent, we would receive multiple inquiries from travel nurses. We realized there was a quite a demand for furnished, travel nurse housing in that little town, so we bought a few more units in Bakersfield to rent to travelers. Pretty soon I was surrounded by travel nurses at work (and in our rentals) and after many conversations, we discovered that the need for affordable furnished housing was even bigger than we thought. As many travelers have told me over the years, one of the biggest stress points of being a travel nurse isn’t the job itself… it’s finding housing!

This is where the idea of Furnished Finder started, and we’re grateful to be in the position to have helped so many travel nurses find safe and affordable housing over the years. 

​Did you discuss your idea with travelers prior to Furnished Finder’s creation?

Countless times, yes!  They told us that it just boils down to access to affordable furnished housing and they don’t want to be charged anything in the process because they already have enough expenses between assignments. They said they just wanted a safe, clean, and comfortable place to stay during their time in town.

What were some challenges you faced in the beginning and some you face today?

We went through a few different business models over the years before we found one the right one.  This was a long and frustrating process where we ran into brick wall after brick wall, but the good thing about that though, is after you crash, you’re forced to turn another direction! I don’t mind failing at all, I just prefer to do it quickly so I can move on to find something that works!

Ultimately, you have to know yourself and what you believe in.  We wanted to maintain control at all times, so we chose early to build our company without taking outside money. This approach has it’s challenges for sure, especially early on, but ultimately it was the right decision for us because it gave us time to learn and fostered an environment for organic growth.

Now I don’t think our challenges are any different from what other businesses may experience, but everything changed once we decided to tune out all outside noise, and solely listen to our users to better understand what they wanted.

Do you think Furnished Finder is the best service out there for travelers?

When you compare our rental prices to any other site, the traveler either pays inflated rent, and/or commissions/booking fees. There are a lot of places travelers can go for housing, but we think we’re uniquely positioned to help travel nurses better than any other site!

Any other ones you recommend?

Airbnb and other vacation rental sites have their place, but it can be difficult sometimes to find properties available for 13 weeks at a time because they may have the unit booked for a few nights at a time throughout your term.

You can certainly find options on Craigslist, but it’s a lot of work and you really have to be careful… Experienced travel nurses can spot a scam a mile away, but there are thousands of new travel nurses coming into rotation every year that might not be so used to processing fact from fiction on Craigslist.

Also, don’t use who your medical staffing company uses! Staffing companies look at housing differently than you do...  They’re willing to pay the premiums they add on to rent because of the customer service and backend reporting/accounting systems they provide. It’s like paying retail, when you could’ve paid wholesale the whole time!  Be smart about where you spend your housing stipend dollars...  Always compare housing you find elsewhere to the Furnished Finder map!

Housing scams are a HUGE problem! On your blog, you say, “Furnished Finder Helps Protect Travel Nurses From Housing Scams With a New FREE Owner Verification Report.” Can you describe what the “FREE Owner Verification Report” consists of?

Absolutely! First, you need to know that I hate scammers with a passion. I mean, not much gets under my skin, but these people are absolute filth and deserve to be stripped of everything they hold dear… Now that you know where I stand, I’ll say that I take pleasure in both exposing them, while helping our travel nurse community at the same time.

No matter where a travel nurse finds their housing, we want them to be safe! ...and information is the key to protecting yourself when you travel.   The owner verification report is a free report we provide to any traveler who asks!  It can tell you important information on the property you’re considering like loan information, foreclosure activity, the owner's name, and other property-specific information.

There’s a lot of data you can get online, but it’s not always accurate, so our information comes from the largest, and most up-to-date property information database in the US to ensure you’re properly informed before you spend a dime on move in costs. I love this feature because it has single-handedly saved individual travel nurses like you over $29,000 so far this year… (and that’s just the ones that have been reported).

Any other advice or suggestions you'd give to travel nurses or travel professionals?

Regarding Furnished Finder: Our site is always free to use!  (recruiters use us as well). Submit a housing request and check our map for every assignment. (even if you don’t book one of our properties). Contact our property owners directly to book. Tell your favorite landlord about us (they’ll thank you for it)! Don’t forget to review the properties you stay in!

We know that we’re not the only furnished housing source out there, but if you find a place elsewhere (yes, I’m referring to Craigslist) and your spidey-senses are going off that the deal seems too good to be true, you may want to verify the property with Furnished Finder before you send any money.  It’s free.

Remember, don’t take possession of a unit (even for a night) unless it meets your expectations. Once you move in, you lose your leverage and could be bound by any contracts in place.

When submitting applications, be sure to ask if the credit check will be a hard-inquiry or a soft-pull. (A soft-pull is something that you initiate which doesn’t harm your credit score).

​I appreciate Brian answering all my questions. Furnished Finder is a fantastic resource for travelers out there. Here's Brian's story: ​

I’m Brian. My wife Lesa and I started Furnished Finder in 2014 where we got our start at the popular Traveler’s Conference!  Actually, I call it our initiation, because although we had to learn some things the hard way, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I’m extremely proud of what we’ve built and the team that makes it run every day! 

I’m also extremely humbled by the continued support we receive from our travel nurses, and grateful for the property owners that make their spaces available to this community.  Thank you for allowing us to serve you over the years!  You can reach me at Furnished Finder has 120,000 users representing over 2 million page views, and is the largest travel nurse housing site available on the web.

​Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored article. I gladly support services that make the life of the traveler easier, safer, or more convenient.

About the Author

Andrew Craig has a BSN and is currently working on his MSN of Nursing Informatics. He received his ADN from Black Hawk Community College then went online to study at Western Governor's University. He tutored nursing and science classes in college. He has worked in long term care, progressive care, and is currently a travel nurse with his wife Sarah. Sarah is also a nurse. They both enjoy traveling together but love to chill and watch Netflix as well.

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