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Travel Nurses: How to Acclimate to a New City

Travel nurses are Change Ninjas who know how to adapt to new working environments. But new contracts can come with unfamiliar locations, an additional stressor. Being at least a little familiar with the area can help ease the transition to a new assignment.  

It is helpful to know how to access the necessities of life, like where to find safe housing, the cleanest gyms, local farmer’s markets, and the best coffee shops.  

But if you plan on exploring your new location, you’ll also want to know what activities are available in and around the city. Are any local festivals scheduled during the three months you’ll be in town? Is the area known for its snow skiing or hiking trails? Where can you meet people who share your interests?  

In this article, I’ll go over how to uncover the inside scoop on your temporary home before packing your bags and share a few tips that may lessen your housing anxiety. Doing some legwork ahead of your move can help minimize the stress of starting a new contract in a new city. 

Finding Information on Your New Locale 

Who Do You Know? 

Do you know anyone who lives in the area where you’ll be working?  

Travel nurses will often choose a location because family or friends live there. If you’ve got a friend or aunt in the area, arrange a virtual chat to get a local’s perspective. Ask questions about the best restaurants, where the locals hang out, or where to find the best local coffee.  

If you’re lucky enough to stay with family or friends in town, you can skip straight to discussing local activities. If you don’t have family in the area, consider reaching out to family and friends to ask if anyone is familiar with the area. Maybe a nurse that you graduated with lives and works there. Or perhaps a relative knows someone who grew up there.  

Social Media and Other Online Sources 

Search for Facebook groups for travel nurses working in that region. Travel nurses are eager to help each other out and will be happy to answer your questions. Ask where to find the best short-term housing, which restaurants are worth your money, and which gym offers discounts to hospital employees. Stay active in the group. You will soon be offering insights to other travel nurses.  

Need more information? Consider checking out the official city Facebook group or Instagram accounts. If you are working in a large city like Chicago, look for social media accounts for the different parts of the city. Remember to explore the area you plan to live in and around the facility where you’ll be working. 

Other resources are museums and cultural websites, local event calendars, and sports team websites. Knowing what events will be happening, and where they will be held, may influence where you decide to live, especially if you’d like to be close to the action. 

Meetup Groups 

If you enjoy socializing and have specific activities you would like to get involved in, check out You can search for groups focused on hiking, biking, yoga, coffee shop get-togethers, book clubs, and other interests.  

Make Friends at Work 

Once you’ve rolled into town and unpacked your bags, it’s time to get to work. After settling into your new position, learn about your coworkers by asking about their interests and favorite hangouts. Be sure to ask about not-to-be-missed activities or cultural sites outside the city. You’ll glean insider information about the area and open the door to mutually respectful relationships. 

Ask Your Recruiter  

When you accept an assignment, ask your recruiter for information on the city and surrounding area. Recruiters work closely with the hospitals in their network and travel nurses who have completed contracts in those hospitals. Through these connections, your recruiter may have valuable insights into the inner workings of the hospital and the local area. 

Plan a Road Trip (Or Show Up Early) 

If the distance isn’t far and you want to visit the area in person before moving, grab a friend and hit the road. This option makes the most sense if you’re working in a state that requires a separate nursing license and in-state fingerprinting. You can look for housing, check out the local scene, and complete the credentialing requirement.  

If you have the time, consider heading out a day or two before your start date. Moving to town early allows you to scope out the area, buy groceries, and maybe complete that fingerprinting requirement. 

Getting Over the Housing Hurdle 

Consider carefully where you want to live. If you’ve chosen a facility in the inner city of Chicago, for example, do you want to live close to the hospital? Or would you prefer to commute from the suburbs? You’ll need to consider the costs and logistics of each, such as parking, transportation fees, and travel times.  

If you find it hard to decide on housing before experiencing the city, consider staying with family or friends or at a hotel for the first week. You will have time to explore the city and find safe and convenient housing.  

If you can’t find an apartment complex that offers month-to-month leasing, consider an extended-stay hotel or Airbnb. This option gives you some flexibility, especially if you’re considering successive contracts in the area. If you like where you are staying, you can arrange to extend your stay. If you don’t like where you’re living or want to accept a contract at another facility located in a different part of the city, you can move to a different hotel or Airbnb.  

Getting to know your surroundings before moving can reduce some of the stress you will feel when moving to a new location. The internet can do most of the work, but nurturing local connections can uncover the human experience that may make your temporary home more home-like.  

By Jessica Thompson, Account Manager, Planet Healthcare

Photo Credit: Canva

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