Finding Temporary Housing with Federal Per Diem

Per diem (which means “for each day” in Latin) is a daily allowance that U.S. federal employees may claim for reimbursement of lodging, meal, and incidental expenses while traveling. Per diem rates are established by the General Services Administration (GSA) for all destinations within the lower 48 U.S. states. Trying to find housing that fits with your per diem? Here are a handful of tips to keep in mind.

1. Find out your per diem rate.

Before you begin your search for lodging, you need to know exactly how much per diem you’ll be given for your trip so you can find accommodations that fit within that budget. The simplest way to find out your per diem rate is to check out the official GSA website’s Per Diem Rates page. After inputting the fiscal year and destination of your trip, this page will display a breakdown of per diem rates by month — for both lodging and meals & incidentals. Once you know how much money you’re working with, you can begin your search for lodging!

2. Know your temporary lodging options.

There’s a lot of temporary housing options out there! Extended stay hotels and Airbnb rentals are often very popular choices, though they aren’t always the cheapest or safest avenue. Many federal government employees looking for temporary housing instead turn to professionally managed corporate housing accommodations, like TP Corporate Lodging, which provides all the comfort and safety of a real home at a reasonable price point.

3. Don’t mix up per diem rates with “GOV” rates.

Sometimes a hotel might offer a “GOV” rate instead of offering a rate that is in line with GSA’s recommended per diem rate. It’s critical to understand that a GOV rate is different (and sometimes higher) than the federal per diem rate. If the GOV rate is higher than the per diem rate, make sure you get prior approval for the expense before booking to ensure you’re fully reimbursed.

4. Be aware of lodging taxes.

The federal per diem rate for lodging does not factor in a city’s lodging taxes, so make sure that doesn’t catch you by surprise later. According to the GSA, “lodging taxes paid by the federal traveler are reimbursable as a miscellaneous travel expense limited to the taxes on reimbursable lodging costs.”

Are you a federal employee in search of per diem lodging? We offer short-term lodging that is popular with many federal employees using their per diem. Call TP Corporate Lodging today at 800.428.9997.

8 Steps to Take Before Moving into Temporary Housing

Traveling with luggageWhen you’re moving into temporary housing, whether as part of a short-term project or an eventual relocation, the devil is in the details. Any move can be stressful, whether temporary or permanent — but when you have to keep track of details in two locations, the complications can quickly multiply.

The good news is that with a bit of advance planning, it is possible to transfer into your temporary home with a minimal amount of stress, so you can stay focused on the tasks in front of you. Here are 8 important steps to take before you move into temporary housing.

1. Find out what is included in your housing before packing your things.

Many corporate or extended stay apartments come fully furnished, so in most of these cases you won’t need to move any furniture. However, the apartment may not have more unique items that you want or need. For example, if you’re a chef or a cooking enthusiast, you might want certain utensils for the kitchen that the agency won’t typically provide. Be sure to obtain a complete inventory list from your corporate housing agency of everything in the apartment, and look it over carefully so you don’t load your luggage or your car with a bunch of stuff that is already included.

2. Pack only items you definitely want or need.

“Needs” obviously include work-related materials, computers and some of your other electronic devices, as well as clothing or important documents. “Wants” may include items you simply don’t want to do without. For example, linens will likely be included in a fully furnished apartment, but you may want your own pillow, towels or bed sheets. Try to keep the “wants” to a minimum unless you have unlimited hauling space. In determining what to bring with you, consider what you might want/need from the following categories:

  • Clothing
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • Electronic devices
  • Books/reading materials
  • Linens
  • Special cooking utensils or appliances
  • Important documents
  • Personal valuables

3. Pack appropriate clothing.

Consider the climate where your new temporary home is located, and be sure to pack enough clothing appropriate to the environment. The amount of clothing you pack should depend on factors like how frequently you plan to do laundry, how many business meetings or formal functions you might attend, etc. Also, if your extended stay will take you through a change of seasons (for example, summer into fall), remember to bring those clothes as well.

4. Sort and label your belongings.

This step is extremely important if you don’t want to lose anything (and if you don’t want to be charged for accidentally taking things included in the home). Since you’ll be likely mixing your personal belongings with items included in your temporary housing, clearly label everything that is yours. That way, you will always be able to differentiate, and when you move out, you’ll know what you brought with you. (Also remember to label anything you buy while you’re living there.)

5. Make mail delivery arrangements.

If you’re staying longer than 14 days, the USPS can forward your mail to another address for up to a year. If you’re giving up your old place, you might just want to do a change of address, or rent a PO Box so you don’t have to change your address twice. Make arrangements with the Post Office accordingly.

NOTE: If you have magazine and newspaper subscriptions, the Post Office will only forward these for 60 days. If you plan to stay longer, contact these publications to change your address to your new temporary location so you don’t miss them.

6. Make decisions regarding storage.

You may have external storage needs in both places, depending on your situation. If you’re planning to let go of your old home in your former city, plan to store anything you aren’t bringing. If you need to bring more with you than you can effectively keep in the apartment, you may need to rent a small storage space in your new city, as well.

7. Make permanent moving arrangements, if necessary.

If this temporary move is precursory to a permanent one, you’ll need to make arrangements at some point to move the rest of your belongings. You may choose to hire movers to bring all your belongings with you and store what you don’t need, or you may choose to keep those items in storage in your former city until you need them (or until you’re more certain where and when you’ll be settling). Any moving arrangements you can do now will save you the complications of doing them later.

8. Do a final check to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

When preparing for your move, you may want to start a running check list of things you want to bring, and things you need to do. Before making the actual move, go over this list carefully and make sure you have everything you intended to bring, and that every task is complete. It’s much easier to make any corrections on this side of the move than it will be once you’ve made the move. (You don’t want to arrive only to discover you’ve forgotten to bring something critical.)

When you’re ready to move into temporary housing in Atlanta or Jacksonville, TP Corporate Lodging can set you up in a comfortable 1, 2 or 3-bedroom apartment for far less than a hotel. For more information, call us today at 800-428-9997