While studying abroad is an extremely exciting opportunity, securing a place to live in the United States can leave you a bit anxious. However, with a little preparation and know-how, you can find the perfect place to lay your head. Here are a few tips for renting in the US as a university student.
1. Decide where you want to live
Will you have a car? Do you need to be close to public transportation or your university? These are important things to consider when looking for the right apartment.
In addition, be sure to thoroughly research the neighbourhood’s safety and amenities before selecting your location.
2. Set a budget
Depending which city you study in, apartment prices can vary drastically. Set a realistic budget for how much you are able to spend on rent each month and concentrate on finding a place in that price range.
Be sure to also factor in additional expenses such as utilities and cable, as these are not usually included in your monthly rent.
3. Search for an apartment
If you’re looking at apartments from abroad, it may be difficult to get a feel for the area or what the apartment really looks like. Using sites such as ApartmentSearch.com, not only can you search for apartments near a school or neighbourhood but you can also view crime statistics, the length of your commute, local restaurants, the cost of living and more.
4. Prepare your paperwork
If you find an apartment you like, be sure to quickly prepare your rental application to ensure that you don’t miss out on a great place. This is especially important in competitive rental markets such as New York or San Francisco, where there may be many applicants for one apartment.
5. Understand financing in the United States
When you apply to rent in the United States, landlords or leasing agents will check your credit history, which is a record of your repayment of debts such as loans, credit cards and bills. Unfortunately, if you’re moving to the US from another country you won’t have a credit history.
However, there are several steps you can take to fix this problem. First, start by being upfront with the landlord or leasing agent about not having a credit history; it will help build your case for signing a lease.
If you have a trusted family member or friend in the US, you could also have them co-sign your lease to vouch for your financial credibility. If this is not an option, offering to pay upfront for your deposits or pay a larger security deposit may demonstrate your reliability.
5. Read over your lease
Now that you’ve identified an apartment, it’s important to read through the terms of the lease thoroughly before signing it. Does your apartment allow you to sublease your apartment in case you wish to go home during the summer? What is the policy on noise, guests or parking? These are all important aspects to understand to avoid any conflicts with your landlord.
6. Set up your new home
You’ve signed the lease, now it’s time to make this space your home. Between moving to another country and starting class, settling into your new apartment can become a low priority.
However, little touches such as curtains, cozy bedding and personal mementos can transform an unfamiliar apartment into your very own space.