Looking for an apartment in NYC is a nightmare. Looking for an apartment in NYC when you are an inmigrant (or an non-resident alien authorized to work) is worst than a nightmare. A Credit Score and a Background Check are two things that every landlord is going to ask you for. Obviosly you do not have any of them.
Credit what? A Credit Score tells about your creditworthiness (how likely you are to pay your rent based on your credit history). It is calculated using the information in your credit reports. Most likely you dont have a credit history in the USA and you had never heard of it. Yes, you start your search at a desadvantage. If the landlord has lot of applicants, the apartment is not gonna be for you.
I personally do not like credit cards. However in this country they love credit. So my advise is that you should ask for your credit card as soon as possible. I herad of people that had to wait one year for one , but I got mine my second month here. I am building up my credit score, and propably the moment I reach a good count is the moment I have to leave the country. Anyway credit cards have rewards. In my case it is cash. Everytime I use my credit card I get a 1%-3% redemption. Not a bad deal.
On the other hand a backgorund check investigates a candidate’s background. It may include employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and license record checks. Some landlords agree that your Visa works, others don’t. Let it be.
In addition apartments in NYC greater area are overprized. Fact.
I work in NJ so I decided to live in Hoboken. NJ for taxes but NYC exictment. Walking distances, 20 minute-commute to Manhattan, great nightlife and the ultimate NYC Skyline views. Finding and apartment here was not easy at all. I do not even have a lease. I just have a roomate agreement. Nevertheless I can see the Empire State Building from my bed and that makes that all the process was worthy.