Studying in the United States means living in the United States and finding the perfect house or apartment can help you to make the most of your international experience. There are a variety of housing options in the U.S. and, depending on the city, a wide range of affordable options. Picking a comfortable, affordable, and convenient house or apartment can make your experience in the United States a safer and more enjoyable one.
Upon your arrival to the U.S., you may not be ready to commit to permanent housing. In fact, many schools provide temporary housing for international students who arrive before the semester begins. Ask the foreign student advisor or housing office for information about temporary housing as an international student. Another option is the temporary housing offered by American Youth Hostels. They may offer affordable rates and allow students to live in a shared space that generally includes a dormitory-style bedroom and a shared bathroom and kitchen. Youth Hostels typically allow visitors to stay for one to three weeks at a reasonable rate. Hotels are also an option but tend to be pricey and without options for cooking your own food.
Living in temporary housing during your first several weeks in the United States can be a great way to explore neighborhoods, get to know the city, and determine where you would really like to live. Be sure to take note of the city’s transportation system, the locations of stores, libraries, and other services you might need, and the proximity of your college campus. Living near the things you need and the places you frequent can save time, allow you to get to know your community, and support you in having a wonderful experience studying abroad.
There are numerous options for permanent housing in the United States. Students can either rent or buy their homes and have options in apartments, condominiums, townhouses and houses. Since most students are on a limited budget and plan on living in the United States for shorter amounts of time, renting a home is likely the best option. To find a home to rent, contact realtors, rental authorities, local newspapers, and local-oriented websites like craigslist.com. These entities will likely provide you with a listing of apartments, condos, townhomes, and houses available to rent. Prior to enlisting these entities in your search, consider the following:
- How much can you afford to pay each month in rent?
- How much can you pay toward utilities every month? Some rentals include the cost of utilities in their rent while others do not. Be sure to know what your rent does and does not include.
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms would you like to have?
- Do you plan on having roommates or living alone?
- Would you like to find your own place and/or roommates or do you prefer to move in with people already living together?
- Do you plan on having pets? Some homes do not allow renters to have pets.
- Do you have enough money for a security deposit? The majority of homes for lease in the United States require that one to two months of rent be paid as a deposit refundable at the end of the lease.
- Do you need to have a dishwasher, washer and dryer, workout room, or other amenities?
- Do you want to live in a furnished house or will you be bringing or buying your own furniture?
- In what neighborhood do you prefer to live? Where would you like to live so that you can easily access the things you need?
Once you’ve considered the answers to these questions, begin your search. Keep a list of the ways in which each option does and does not match your criteria and don’t be afraid to ask to see the accommodation more than once. Ask a lot of questions and know that the majority of good lessors will be more than happy to provide you with the information that you need.
Finally, when considering permanent housing options in the United States, keep the following in mind:
- People who lease homes in the United States have basic rights. Check the tenant/landlord laws in your new state to determine your rights as a tenant.
- Consider buying rental insurance. Rental insurance can cover the cost of items lost to fires, floods, or burglaries. Read your rental insurance policy closely to make sure you know what it covers.
- Signed leases (an agreement between you and the owner of the home you’ll be renting) generally last anywhere from one month to two years. Consider how often you might want to move prior to signing any lease-the majority of leases are expensive to break.
- It can take up to a month or longer to be able to move into a home. Make sure your temporary housing is secured up to the point that your new home is available.
- Living and studying in the United States can be a wonderful experience amplified by finding your perfect home. Enjoy the experience!