There are a variety of different ways to find housing and move between assignments.
Options can range from renting furnished or unfurnished, apartments, single family homes, renting rooms, airbnb, VRBO, craigslist, hotels, motorhome or trailer, etc. Or your company could provide the housing for you (but you will forgo the housing stipend, as a result). The option you choose has to fit with your budget, ability to pack and move, and how long you plan on traveling.
Over the past few years, techniques with housing, packing, and moving have evolved. Here’s how:
RENTING FULLY FURNISHED – 2 SEDAN CARS:
When we first started traveling, we I started with 2 sedan cars, packed full; we brought clothes for all seasons, PT books/ binder, guitars, towels, bedding, some kitchen stuff (dishes, silverware, and cups), etc.
We were fortunate enough to find a house fully furnished. It was somebody’s personal home, in which they were not currently living. It had everything we needed and then some: pots, pans, towels, sheets, etc. It even had a dock, crab traps, and a canoe for us to use! I recommend checking craigslist to find “furnished/ corporate rentals” usually under the Temp housing listing. It included all utilities and cable. This makes for an easy move-in and no hassle of hooking-up and cancelling utilities when you move- out. This is ideal for one person traveling alone or for a team who is not sure for how long they want to travel.
RENTING FURNITURE – 2 SEDAN CARS
At our second spot, we rented at an apartment complex that provided “corporate apartments;” in other words, they worked with the rental company to provide the level of furnishing you desire. You could just get furniture or you could even get pots/dishes, etc. We chose to get the unit furnished with only the necessary furniture and purchased our own pots/ pans. It cost an additional ~$400 a month for a couch, TV, TV stand, bed, bed frame, dresser, nightstand, coffee table. This is ideal for one person traveling alone or for a team who is not sure for how long they want to travel.
After 3 months in at our second assignment, we determined that we really liked this location and job and planned to be there for another 6 months (at least). We calculated that, for the cost of renting this furniture ($2400 in 6 months), we could purchase all the furniture instead, and just move it around with us (since it is always easier and cheaper to find an unfurnished place) or sell it before leaving. At this point, we also learned that we loved travel and would plan to do this for another “few” years.
OWNING FURNITURE- UHAUL with CAR TOW or POD & 2 SEDAN CARS
We ended up staying 11 months at the place where we purchased the furniture, so in the long run, we saved money versus renting the furniture. However, now we had the challenge of moving it or selling it. We purchased items that were as lightweight and mobile as possible for the budget that we had at the time: couch was lightweight (but bigger than necessary), Queen bed was memory foam (from Sam’s club) and could be folded and tied together for more compact carrying and moving, bed frame was platform and did not require a box spring, nightstand/ end tables were TV table/stands that fold, TV was small (27”), table and chairs were cheap and light weight (on the side of the road for $30, and it was a fun project to sand, re-stain, and re-upholster chairs). Our apartment was bare with only the essentials, but enjoyable and comfortable. Also, because it was “our” stuff, it felt a little more like “our home.” For the next few moves and over 4 years, we rented UHAUL trucks and towed a car behind it or rented a PODS container in order to have the flexibility to put it in storage for a while if we were going on vacation and did not know where our next stop would be; we took a month off for wedding and honeymoon, and once we knew where and when we were going to arrive, we just set up the delivery date. Cost of both of these options ranges widely and depends on supply and demand of the area trucks and trailers and time of year. Keep in mind the size of furniture and your ability to move it; small/ lightweight things like an air-mattress and bean-bag chair are good options for people traveling alone.
OWNING FURNITURE- 2 SUVs & 6 x 12 TRAILER
After 5 years of dealing with UHAUL and towing a car behind the UHAUL truck, we slowly transitioned to 2 SUVs and bought a 6×12 trailer to tow. We knew the end of travel was nowhere in sight (maybe another 5+ years), and we were tired of dealing with UHAUL and spending money on renting it; the trailer would pay for itself in the next 3 move and, the trailer is a work expense on the taxes. This way, we had the flexibility to pack and unpack when wanted, to store when needed, and a more pleasant (and probably safer) drive with less volume to move. With this transition, also came the purchasing of nicer furniture that was more compact, minimalist, lightweight, foldable, easy to pack, but also more aesthetically pleasing. This was the best option for us and we wish that we would have done it years ago. We can store the trailer while on assignment for relatively cheap compared to renting furniture, a UHAUL, or a fully furnished unit. It is also really nice to have your own “home away from home.”
BACK TO FULLY FURNISHED – 2 SUVs & 6 x 12 TRAILER
In Naples, FL, in the winter months, the housing market is very competitive and limited. Therefore, the best option for housing that we could find was a fully- furnished unit (but is only 3 minutes to work!). As a result, we will keep the items we do not need in the trailer while in storage, which works out well. Also, it will be nice not to hassle with the utilities, cable, internet, since it comes with a fully-furnished unit. However, this unit is a lot more expensive than we usually pay due the location and to the fact that it is fully-furnished.
RVs or TRAILERS:
Some travelers live in a motorhome/ RV or trailer. They make really nice ones, and you can finance it like a home, but we have decided against this because living in different houses and apartments is a part of the experience. Also, campgrounds are usually farther from town and less convenient.