For Students: Housing
AWA will provide any and all housing information associated with your job location. If you have a self-placed job or you need to find housing on your own please use the resources below. Most importantly, don’t arrive in the U.S. without any pre-arranged housing. Make reservations ahead of time to make sure you have a bed or room when you arrive.
What You Can Expect
Questions to Ask
When looking at options, consider the following questions:
- What is the lease length?
- Are utilities included?
- Is furniture provided?
- Is it within walking distance of my job?
- Is it near public transportation?
- How accessible are stores, banks, entertainment, etc.?
- What's the average rent for a place this size in the neighborhood?
- How soon can I move in?
- How much do I have to pay before I move in (security deposit, first month's rent, etc.)?
- Is it safe? Do not accept the landlord's word. Be sure you are satisfied with the security of the neighborhood and the apartment/house itself. You can also ask other people for their opinion.
- Does it have laundry facilities?
Signing a Rental/Lease Agreement
- If you rent, lease, or sublet, you should make sure you sign a rental agreement. Keep a copy of your lease agreement for yourself. A rental agreement may be optional, but you should still insist on signing one. The contract should define the terms you are agreeing to, including rental amount and dates, and protects the tenant and landlord. Before you sign any rental agreement, be sure to read it carefully and get an explanation of any terms that are unclear. Remember that only written information on a rental agreement makes an official legal contract.
- Many leases last for one year so look for a lease that will allow you to rent month-to-month or for a shorter term. Do not sign a lease for a period longer than you think you are going to stay in the housing, because you may be charged a fee for breaking the lease if you move out early.
- All states allow landlords to collect a security deposit when a tenant moves in. Security deposits are usually one month's rent. Your security deposit may be returned to you when you leave, as long as there has been no damage to the apartment during your occupancy and you fulfilled the lease agreement. It is a very good idea to inspect your new apartment with your landlord before signing an agreement. Be sure to get a written record of existing damages and a list of all included furnishings and their condition. You can also take photos of the apartment's condition when you first move in to make a visual record.
- When looking for an apartment, know how much you can afford to pay for housing and think about your additional living and entertainment expenses. Be smart with your budget, so that you have enough money left for food and other necessities after you pay your rent. Make sure you have enough money to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit when you arrive in the U.S.
- When planning your long term-housing, consider living with other American Work Adventures Participants -- this is a great way to make new friends and save money. Also consider whether or not the housing is furnished, includes utilities, and whether it is close to work or is close to public transportation, as these can all affect your monthly costs
Being a Good Tenant and Roommate
When you share your housing, you should make sure that everyone understands financial and other responsibilities within the apartment. Request a written agreement about the cost of housing and be sure to ask any questions that will be important to you. Some suggested questions you might ask are:
- How much does each person pay for additional expenses like electricity and Internet?
- How do you feel about having guests in the apartment?
- How do you feel about drinking and smoking in the apartment?
- Are there any things or areas in the apartment that will be private?
- How should grocery expenses be handled?
- Are you messy or neat?
- What should we do about keeping the apartment clean?
- Find Short-Term Housing
To research hostels, visit the following sites:
- www.hiusa.org : Hostelling International USA has offices throughout the U.S. Due to the popularity of their hostels, reservations are recommended to ensure that your stay is confirmed in advance of your arrival.
- www.ymca.int : YMCAs and YWCAs offer affordable temporary lodging. Within this website you can find a list of cities that offer affordable housing.
- www.hostelworld.com : This website is available in multiple languages and can help you find a hostel in the U.S. Hostelworld.com provides online bookings for hostels and comprehensive city and country guides.
- Hotels: There are many low-cost chains throughout the U.S. Hotels are good for small groups because you will pay for the room, not per person. Rooms often contain two large beds but you can ask for options. If you have an ISIC card, you will get discounts at budget chains across the U.S. An online search using sites such as www.hotels.com will help you find inexpensive options.
- "Eviction" means being removed from your housing, and there are many reasons your landlord can do this, including: not paying rent on time, making too much noise, or damaging property. If you are evicted from your housing, you should get an eviction notice and be given a deadline to leave the housing.
- Do not let eviction happen to you! Be respectful of your living situation. This means paying the rent on time, taking care of your property, and following all of the rules in USA.