Getting started

How to prepare your accommodation search

Getting started

Looking for an apartment in the US is generally quite easy, but in the big cities it can become a time-consuming and nerve-wracking experience. Whatever you do, give yourself plenty of time as you will be much more likely to find what you are looking for.

It's best to start looking before you travel overseas or to allow some free time to be dedicated to the search once you arrive. If you are coming with your family, it may be more comfortable for them to arrive after you have found suitable accommodation. If you are traveling alone, the best solution may be to initially stay in a hotel, guesthouse or with friends or acquaintances.

Unless you want to rely totally on luck, you should consider several options for your apartment search. The most important thing is to have a very clear idea of what you're actually looking for so you don’t waste time. The best start is to get familiar with your new environment by walking around, getting to grips with local transportation and asking people you meet about different neighborhoods and areas.

Temporary accommodation

On arrival in the US, you may find it necessary to stay in temporary accommodation for a few weeks or months until you can move into an apartment. Note that hotel accommodation can be very expensive in the US, especially in the large cities. If they don’t fit your budget, you might want to try living in a motel for some time. These ‘drive-in hotels’ outside the city centers usually offer clean, no-frills accommodation at reasonable prices. Some hotels, self-catering apartments and bed & breakfasts also cater to long-term guests and offer reduced weekly or monthly rates.

Preparing your housing search

There are a wide range of options when looking for an apartment. As always, the more you're willing to pay (i.e. for an agent), the easier your search will be. For an efficient search, you should be familiar with the basic rental terms.

If you want to rent or buy a place in America, you will be asked to give a copy of your credit report. It is a good idea to understand the basics of credit reporting, know your rights, and know what is in your credit file. Knowing what is in your personal credit report will allow you to be prepared to address any issues or questions the landlord may have.

Each property owner has their own way of evaluating credit reports. The main objective, however, is to establish your financial reliability. The landlord wants to be sure that you can be trusted to pay your rent on time. If you don’t have a good score, consider submitting a letter providing some explanation with your application. For more information on this subject check the Just Landed Credit report section.

Further reading

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