Finding an accommodation
You have different options: renting, sharing or subletting a place. Sharing a place is the best way to improve language skills and sample American culture in a unique way by living with American people.
How to find a place?
Visit Craigslist, the most commonly-used website to find a place. You can also visit www.roommates.com, www.easyroommates.com… or ask your colleagues. You may also contact interns who preceded you in the US.
Finding a place on craigslist is quite difficult when you are still in France as the first rule is to ‘‘deal locally with folks that you can meet in person’’. When you answer an ad, take the time to introduce yourself and explain that you are willing to do a Skype appointment. Even if you do that, there may have less than 10 % of responses. Doing your own add is the best solution.
In case you couldn’t find a place before you leave, don’t worry: it’s a lot easier to find somewhere to live when you are on US soil. In general, you should be able to find accommodations within a few days of your arrival.
There are a lot of housing scams, especially on the Internet, so you must conduct your housing search carefully. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the US. This will allow you to see the property and meet your landlord/lady without requiring you to wire large sums of money to someone you have never met. If you absolutely must secure permanent housing before arriving in the USA, it is recommended that you look for an established university or residence facility rather than an individual apartment owner.
The Federal Trade Commission stipulates some telltale signs of scammers:
They want you to wire money. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee, or first month’s rent. Wiring money is the same as sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease. It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you’ve never met in person for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it’s for rent. If you don’t know someone who can do this, wait until you are in the US so you can visit housing locations yourself. In addition to setting up a meeting, do a search on the landlord and listing. If you find the same add listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam.
They say they’re out of the country, but they have a plan to get the keys into your hands. It might involve a lawyer or “agent” working on their behalf. Some scammers even create fake keys. Be skeptical, and don’t send money overseas. If you can’t meet in person, see the apartment, or sign a lease before you pay, keep looking.
Safety should be a high priority when looking for housing. The best thing to do is visit a neighborhood before moving there.
Average monthly cost of housing really depends on location, the type of housing, and what is included (furniture, utilities, etc.). Take a look at craigslist.com to get an idea of the cost of housing in your area.
A security deposit (equal to one month’s rent or more) as well as first and sometimes the last month’s rents are due when you sign your lease. Often, a six months or one year lease is required when renting an apartment, but depending on the housing arrangement you select, you may be able to negotiate a shorter lease or a month-by-month lease.
You will be able to find both furnished and unfurnished housing options in the US. A furnished room or apartment will oftentimes be more expensive, but it can also help to reduce the costs of purchasing furniture and apartment necessities after you arrive.
If you need to furnish your apartment, you can find inexpensive furniture and kitchen supplies at places like Wal-Mart, Target, IKEA, K-Mart, etc.