How Long Can a Travel Nurse Stay in One Place

Author: Coast Medical Service

Posted: April 9, 2022


smiling nurse in an orange mask

You enjoy helping to restore patients to health and enhance their overall quality of life as a nurse. At the same time, you wish you had more time to spend immersing yourself in another culture and broadening your cultural horizons. Fortunately, you can experience the best of both worlds as a travel nurse.

One of the main benefits of travel nursing is that you get to experience communities for longer than a week. That’s because travel nursing assignments last longer than your typical weeklong vacation. And let’s say that you particularly love an area after becoming more intimately knowledgeable of it. You could always extend your time there as a travel nurse.

Of course, all good things do end—at least temporarily—for tax reasons. So, this begs the question: exactly how long are travel nursing assignments allowed to be per the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? Are 6-week travel nursing assignments the best option, or can you go longer?

Here’s a rundown on everything you need to know about the appropriate lengths of travel nurse assignments and why 6-week travel nurse assignments make the most sense for travel nurses.

How Long Are Travel Nursing Assignments: IRS Regulations and the Benefit of 6-Week Travel Nurse Assignments

If you work as a travel nurse and you have a tax home—the city where you earn most of your income. In this situation, you can travel to other places for work and receive travel reimbursements tax-free. This is a major draw of travel nursing.

As a general rule of thumb, the IRS doesn’t provide clearly defined rules for how much time workers, like travel nurses, may stay in an area. However, tax regulations bar workers from receiving reimbursements or housing tax-free for over a year in a given geographical area.

Why is this? Because government officials consider it to be unreasonable for a person to move his or her home to work somewhere for only one year. A year might appear to be short-term, but a limit needs to be established somewhere to prevent travel workers from abusing the tax-free-reimbursement benefit.

In light of the above, it’s wise to keep the duration of each of your travel nursing assignments to 12 months maximum. 6-week travel nurse assignments can easily help you to accomplish this.

What Happens If you Stay in a City for Longer Than 12 Months?

Perhaps you decide to bypass 6-week travel nursing assignments and choose yearlong ones instead. If you fail to limit your travel nursing job duration to a year or less, your job location will suddenly become your tax home, as you will be receiving continual income there. This means that you will have to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes on the reimbursements you receive while working there.

Note that it’s not enough to simply switch to a different floor of the hospital you are temporarily working at to restart your temporary job clock. Likewise, it’s not enough to change agencies, facilities, or even temporary residences in the same metro area. If you are still receiving a constant income stream in that area, that locale will become your new tax home if you’ve spent a year or more there.

Also, let’s say that you decide to extend your 6-week travel nurse assignments in certain areas. These assignment extensions are considered to be continuations of the original assignments, so getting extensions of your 6-week travel nursing assignments doesn’t automatically restart your temporary job clock in those areas, either.

How Soon Can You Return to Places Where You’ve Had 6-Week Travel Nurse Assignments Before?

If you’ve enjoyed 6-week emergency room travel nurse assignments in a certain city, let’s say City A. Then, you decide to take a few weeks off for some downtime, so you go back to your tax residence. You continue going back to City A as long as you don’t stay for more than a year at a time.

However, your tax residence may shift to City A if you eventually earn more money there. Given the above, you will need to constantly move around to new areas for your short-term nursing assignments to maintain your current tax residence.

How Do You Handle Two Nursing Assignments That Are Close to Each Other?

Perhaps you are repeatedly given nursing assignments at two hospitals located 60 miles away from each other and the two hospitals are located in different cities, City B and City C. However, you live at the midpoint between these two cities, so your commute to each facility is only 30 miles.

Because a 30-mile commute is generally considered to be reasonable, you don’t have to stay in either city overnight to fulfill the assignments’ requirements. This means that you conveniently spend most of your work time in either City B or City C. Whichever city you earn the most money in will end up being viewed as your tax residence, even if it is different from your current primary residence.

In light of this, you should ideally work in the city of your primary residence and then make your 6-week travel nurse assignments—or assignments of any other duration less than a year—away from your primary residence. In this way, you will be more likely to generate most of your earnings in your city versus in the cities of your 6-week travel nursing assignments.

nurse with a mask holding a syringe

Benefits of 6-Week Travel Nurse Assignments

If you’re asking “how long are travel nursing assignments” and wondering what duration would suit you best, 6-week travel nurse assignments are generally the most ideal option.

Even though any duration under one year is relatively safe from a tax standpoint, 6-week travel nurse assignments offer the benefit of not being too long. In this way, if you don’t like your location, you don’t have to feel stuck there for multiple months on end. In addition, if you end up loving the location and site, you can simply extend your duration there.

Another reason why 6-week travel nurse assignments work well is that they are long enough for nurses to become acclimated to their positions. However, they are short enough that these nurses are not considered to be permanent, which any flexibility-loving travel nurse can appreciate. In addition, the less time you stay at one site, the more likely you are to avoid job-related politics—or at least you don’t have to endure it for too long.

6-week travel nursing assignments are also ideal if you have just a short time available to work before you need to take on another commitment, like a full-time job or full-time schooling.

Additional Benefits of Choosing Shorter-Term Travel Nurse Assignments

Yet another reason to choose 6-week travel nurse assignments is that you’ll have the opportunity to work in a greater number of settings. For instance, you may start out thinking that a large hospital would be the best fit for you. However, after working in a few larger hospitals as a travel nurse, you may discover that a smaller, more intimate setting would be more comfortable for you. This is something you might not have discovered had it not been for travel nursing.

Shorter stints in various cities will also give you the chance to explore a greater number of states and locales that you might be interested in permanently. Whether you’ve always wanted to experience life in the sun or by the lake, travel nursing allows you to test out many locations before settling down.

Finally, with shorter travel nurse assignments, you have more opportunities to exercise your skills and, in turn, help more patients. This means you can feel as though you are having a greater impact in your nursing profession. The more varied experience you get through travel nursing can also give your resume a major boost for your future job searches.

Note that with 6-week travel nurse assignments, you might find yourself filling in for someone who is out due to taking short-term disability. In addition, you may be taking over an empty position until the hospital you’re temporarily working at can fill it with a permanent nurse.

Take Advantage of 6-Week Travel Nurse Assignments with the Help of Coast Medical Service

If you’re interested in tapping into the benefits of 6-week travel nurse assignments, we at Coast Medical Service have you covered. Our staffing agency is honored to help talented nursing professionals to take advantage of travel nursing opportunities throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.

For more than 40 years, we have helped nursing professionals to find the perfect facilities for their career goals. Likewise, we’re passionate about linking health care facilities to workers who can help them consistently deliver effective, efficient, competent, and safe patient care.

Our travel nursing assignment opportunities at Coast Medical Service are numerous, including the following areas:

Get in touch with us today to start the process of booking the perfect 6-week travel nursing assignments today!

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