Every job has its quirks, right? One of the quirks of locum tenens practice is having to constantly change housing. It is more than just living out of a suitcase; it is having to get used to new accommodations every 3 to 6 months.
The truth is that housing is a big deal for locums. And the longer a physician continues working as a locum, the more he or she discovers about the housing issue. For example, time and experience eventually teaches locums that not every staffing agency puts a lot of effort into locating premium housing. Some expect their doctors to be fine with whatever they can come up with.
A well-traveled locum knows his or her housing concerns better than anyone else. If you are new to the locum game, consider the following four things that your more experienced peers have already discovered:
1. Kitchens Are Sometimes Kitchenettes
It is not unreasonable for staffing agencies to look for the most affordable housing options in a given market. As such, they may not have the same priorities as their doctors. Take the kitchen as an example. You might be planning on a cozy little apartment with a full kitchen only to discover, on arrival, that your kitchen is really a kitchenette.
Maybe this isn’t a big deal for you. On the other hand, you may have specifically asked for a kitchen because you have no intention of eating out every day. A kitchenette is really not adequate for your lifestyle.
2. Square Footage Is Not What You Expected
Experienced locums know that square footage is not always what they expect. A housing unit could easily be bigger or smaller than anticipated. While this is usually not a deal-breaker, it can mean a change of plans if agency-provided housing doesn’t comport with what you thought you were getting.
It is important to be upfront about the size of the unit you’ll be living in. If you cannot see yourself living in a studio, make sure your staffing agency knows that. If a two-bedroom apartment is too big for you, let that be known as well.
3. You Travel with a Pet
Pets are a big concern for locums who wouldn’t think about going anywhere without their furry friends. The good news is that staffing agencies can generally work with pet owners. It may take a little bit more time and effort to secure pet-friendly housing, but it can be done.
Just be aware that staffing agencies rarely cover the extra costs that come with pet ownership. For example, let’s say an apartment complex charges an extra $50 per month for pet residents, that money will come out of your pocket.
4. You Want a Particular Neighborhood
Well-traveled physicians who frequent certain cities can develop a taste for one particular neighborhood. Whether or not that neighborhood is available depends on the relationship a staffing agency has with local housing providers. Also know that neighborhoods can go both ways.
There may be one neighborhood you absolutely love while another neighborhood just a few blocks away is one you really don’t want to live in. Whoever handles housing at your staffing agency has no way of knowing without your input. And they do want to know these kinds of things. There’s no need for you to feel like you’re being a bother by talking about neighborhoods.
Housing changes are a normal part of the locum lifestyle. Well-traveled locums know that finding just the right housing for each assignment means staying in constant communication with staffing agency reps and making both needs and wants clearly understood.