Looking for an affordable apartment in the USA is a serious pain in the ass. Especially for newcomers and all of you who are visiting America on some kind of Cultural Exchange program/visa. If you are looking for a short-term or mid-term rental, there is a certain amount of money you need to provide in advance, in order to have your place for a desired period of time. And for students who are barely having enough not to stay hungry until the first paycheck, that amount of money is not a game they are ready to play. Nor landlords are willing to negotiate about price and terms that much.
USUAL REASONS FOR APT SEARCHING
There are several reasons why newcomers and particularly students are coming in the USA without housing provided:
- because they wanted to save some money on general expenses stated in the job offer,
- because neither local, nor sponsor agency are providing housing on desired location,
- because students are not satisfied with the given price and condition of the housing,
- because they are curious to see if they could make it on their own.
REAL PRICE FOR THE APARTMENT RENTAL
Let’s be honest – in the whole Work and Travel business, every aspect represents a business opportunity. Housing is on top of it. Where in every other scenario an average person, who is looking for a place on spot, would pay around 1000 bucks for a room, or in better case for a studio and somewhere even for a 1-bedroom apt, for you as a student it would be good if you get a nice room to sleep in. Very often together with strangers who are your roommates.
Having in mind that amount for that kind of ”luxury” is not as big as in the given example above, the truth is that students feel betrayed, deceived and generally – frustrated! As soon as they realize that for the same amount of money they could live somewhere else with one or two roommates top, frustration becoming overwhelming and leads to general disappointment which may create problems on both sides.
SO, HOW TO MAKE A WIN-WIN SITUATION OUT OF IT?
If you are a student without a place to stay, there are a couple of tips you can follow up in order to get what you want:
- you’ll need to find a place for a couple of days. Airbnb could be useful in the beginning if there are no good souls on Couchsurfing and Bewelcome;
- you need to be present at the location, ready to meet owners face to face;
- you need to have a valid phone number, preferably American of course;
- you need to have a story – who you are, what are your plans, for how long you are planning to stay and what are you doing for living;
- after you run out of decent places on Craigslist or some other websites, go ahead and ask the owners of local businesses if they know somebody who is willing to rent you a room. These could be small shops, bakeries, etc.;
- do the same in a local library and even in the church;
- try by searching our growing database of J1 Friendly Units, and hopefully we will have you covered there;
- if you eventually end up in the place you are not happy with, keep in mind that you are there for 4 months max and to sleep only. There are endless possibilities to spend your time doing something outside of the room.
ADVICE FOR LANDLORDS
If you are a landlord, there is not that much you can actually do, but just try to make general conditions of living acceptable by:
- take care of the dump, insects and rats;
- take care of the paint and odors;
- keep it clean and make sure students follow up your guidelines for the same;
- take care of the kitchen appliances;
- if you don’t have hotplate or oven, provide at least one microwave;
- create guidelines for using toilets and paper disposal if you had problems before;
- provide stuff for cleaning. That are couple of hundreds extra, but it will pay off.
It is important to obtain common understanding, and both sides will be happy with what they get.