An apartment in the USA is not just a place of residence, but also one of the means of identification of a person. Let in America there is no concept of propiska as such, but in fact the address must be obligatory. Renting an apartment in the USA – let us tell you how it all works.
Why do I need an address in the United States?
- Before becoming a citizen, any immigrant is required to notify USCIS of his/her address (there is a 10-day notification period if you change your residence).
- When opening a bank account, you must provide not only your passport/green card/visa, but also proof of residency (e.g., an envelope that came in the mail in your name to a specific address).
- For driver’s licenses, you must prove which state you live in by showing the letters that came in the mail in your name.
- To get health insurance.
- To file a tax return.
- To apply for credit cards.
- To buy a car.
- Other reasons.
How do I look for accommodation in the USA?
You can start looking for an apartment on your own before you move to the U.S. to get an idea of what kind of housing is available in the U.S., how much it costs, and on what terms it is available.
When you arrive in the United States, you can contact a real estate agent.
Tell the real estate agent what kind of apartment you are looking for, in what price range, in what neighborhood, what other things you want (pool, panoramic windows, proximity to schools, etc.).
Once you have been shown the different apartment options and you have chosen the right one, the hardest part begins – checking your ability to pay.
Why do many immigrants get turned down for rent?
Renting an apartment in the United States means the most important thing – to prove your financial solvency. As a rule, potential tenants must provide at the request of the owner all financial documents: a statement of credit history with a credit rating, a statement from the account where savings are kept, a letter from the employer, which confirms income.
But what if the person has just arrived in the country and does not yet have a credit history?
An agent can talk to the owner about paying rent several months in advance. This is a common practice for new immigrants.
How much does it cost to rent a home in the United States?
The range of prices for housing in the United States is huge. It depends not only on the state, city, renovation, but also on the availability of a washing machine, television, internet, location, etc. The cost of renting an apartment in the U.S. varies greatly.
- In New York, an apartment in an apartment building will cost about $1700 a month, in a private house – $1500.
- Philadelphia – $1300 per month.
- Los Angeles in the Glendale neighborhood – $1700 and $1900 in Beverly Hills.
- In San Francisco – $1850.
If you want to live in a luxury building with a swimming pool, gym, barbecue and other services, such housing will cost about 30% more. In private houses you can rent an apartment cheaper.
The most budget-friendly option is to rent a room in an apartment. In New York, for example, you can rent a room from $500 per month.
If you have a large family and you need a whole house, the prices are about the same:
- In San Francisco, a private house with 3 bedrooms and at least two bathrooms will cost $4000 in a less prestigious neighborhood, from $5000 in the area of the Golden Gate Bridge;
- Los Angeles – from $3000 (the closer to the ocean, the more expensive);
- from $2800 per month will cost the same house in New York or New Jersey.
You can find cheaper and more expensive depending on the location of the house and its condition.
The above examples are for large cities where there is a concentration of different fields of activity and where there are more work options. If you work remotely and do not have to live in a big city, you can find housing in smaller cities for half the price.
Renting in the USA: how to protect yourself?
In the USA, apartments are rarely rented directly from the owner. As a rule, you should contact a Real Estate Agency. It is more convenient for the owner to transfer all the issues to the agent. Therefore, one way or another, you will end up with a realtor. If it’s not on your end, the owner’s realtor will not serve your interests in any way. Besides, while you are still not aware of the peculiarities of the real estate market in the US, it is better to trust a professional. Agents will agree on their professional language to meet the requirements of both the owner and the tenant. There will be no difference for you in terms of money: you pay either one agent (for example, from the owner’s side), or both – just the amount is divided in half. Therefore, you should not save money on the services of a realtor.
As soon as the owner agrees to rent the property to you, a lease is signed. The agent(s), the owner and you discuss the terms of the lease, payment terms and amount. After signing, you will be given a copy of the lease and the keys to the apartment.
The contract also stipulates the conditions for terminating the lease, as well as the amount of the deposit.
The deposit, usually in the amount of one month’s rent, is money in case the apartment is damaged after your stay. If all is well, this money is refunded when you vacate the apartment.
Realtor services are not free either. As a rule, it is the amount of one month’s rent, sometimes less. Some immigrants, wanting to save money on an agent, look for accommodation themselves, often even without a rental agreement. But this is fraught with the fact that at any moment they can evict you and you can not prove anything. When you have a contract, the law is always on your side.
What should be feared?
If a person enters into a lease agreement, then, as a rule, it is designed for a year or more. This means that it will be problematic to move out of this apartment sooner: they may not return the deposit, and your name may be added to the blacklist of tenants, which will complicate the search for a new home. For this reason, there are a lot of “live on someone else’s contract” style advertisements on the rental market. This means that you do not enter into any contract for housing, but pay money to the tenant, in whose name the contract with the owner. In this situation you get no address and no guarantees.