One of the things that I found most stressful since the first moment about all this experience was looking for an apartment in New York. Whenever you move to another city it’s hard to find a place that meets your needs, and this is even harder when it comes to another country. In our case, we were coming in a couple so we wanted a place for the two of us, not a shared apartment, with easy commute to my job and close to the city. With these starting points, it looked challenging.
Some weeks before arriving we booked a temporary apartment in the place where we wanted to live (Hoboken, NJ), so that we could have time to know the neighborhood and visit rental apartments. Once there, we started the search using mainly internet sites as Trulia, Zillow and Craigslist, where you could find listings by location and price. What we discovered is that most of the listings (at least in our area) were managed by real estate companies, which means that you have to pay a broker fee (usually one month rent) plus the security deposit (one or one and a half months rent) and the first month rent. This is a big amount of money to pay upfront within the first weeks of your stay. You still could always find some listings managed directly by the landlord, which is more recommendable.
Besides the economic aspect, another thing to take into consideration when it comes when you are looking for an apartment in New York is that us, as foreigners in the US, don’t have credit record in the country, and some landlords will ask for it before renting. This is a clarification given by the bank that says whether you are reliable or not according to how have you have managed your credit and debts so far, and when you first arrive to the US you obviously don’t have any calification yet. Sometimes they will accept your situation, but they could also ask you for some guarantee to trust that you are going to be able to pay the rent (your training agreement, a letter from your employer or your bank statement could be enough).
Once you have skipped all these obstacles, don’t forget to make sure that the place is in good condition, the neighbourhood is nice and there are no hidden problems (we had a big one in our first apartment because the noise of the bar downstairs…). With all these difficulties and considerations, it took us a long time to find the right place. It was desperating sometimes, but luckily now after the adventure of looking for an apartment in New York we can say that we have a place to call home.