Jetting off this summer to live your best life in the USA? You should probably start thinking about where you’re going to be living.
Have a look at our top tips to finding your J1 accommodation!
1. Do your Research
Start sooner, rather than later and spend a bit of time researching potential accommodation. Once you have decided on your location, start your search. It might be an idea to wait until you have secured a job to find accommodation within a reasonable distance. Or at least with sufficient public transport nearby. Stick to the safe neighbourhoods, you get what you pay for, so if you’ve found cheap accommodation that seems almost too good to be true, it probably is!
2. Where to Find Accommodation
The best ways to find safe and secure accommodation are:
- Ask for advice, ask friends or family who have done the J1 programme for advice on where to live and if they have contacts for previous landlords. If you’ve secured a job you could ask your employer if they have any recommendations or contacts who could provide accommodation.
- Use the J1 Facebook groups, these pages are updated regularly with students looking for room-mates and putting you wide to potential scammers. But, be careful as anyone can access these pages and may see this as an opportunity to scam students.
- Look for accommodation on or near the university campuses. You’re guaranteed to be near facilities such as shops, bars, restaurants and public transport lines. As many US students travel for college, they usually move home for the summer months, leaving their student accommodation vacant. This is ideal for J1 students! But, make sure it’s all legal, some leases do not allow for sub-letting, so many students illegally sub-let to cover their costs for the months they are not living there and their landlord has no idea. If you’re caught you’ll be evicted.
3. Avoid Scams
Every year the threat exists in having your entire J1 programme ruined because of a scam when searching for a place to stay stateside.
- DO NOT wire transfer big sums of money before seeing the accommodation, trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, look elsewhere.
- Book a hostel or Airbnb for the first week or two for when you arrive, while you search for your accommodation, it’s the safest way to find legit accommodation. This way you can go to house/ apartment viewings before you sign or pay anything.
- Use reputable websites to find accommodation and check previous reviews. If you must have accommodation before you arrive. Ask the landlord for a Skype call and tour of the apartment.
- A common excuse used is that the ‘landlords’ are conveniently out of the country when you’re planning to arrive and leave you with fake keys for non-existent accommodation.
- And, if you sniff out a scam, let others know!
4. Read Your Lease, then Read It Again
Like any contract, read through it thoroughly, even get a second pair of eyes over it before signing!
- Make sure the accommodation is furnished (if that’s what you want). Many landlords will show you pictures of the place fully furnished when in fact it’s just an empty shell. Now, many students prefer to pay less rent for an unfurnished apartment and just fill it with cheap essentials from Craig’s List etc.
- Find out if your utility bills are included in the rent as this might be an added cost, check for electricity, gas, water, Wi-Fi.
- Don’t over-crowd, it’s illegal and uncomfortable! And if you’re caught you will be evicted.
- Don’t sign a lease longer than you intend to stay. You WON’T get your deposit back and you’re giving Irish students a bad reputation which will only make it harder to find accommodation for the future.
5. Moving In
- Arrange your arrival time and date with your landlord so that they can arrange to meet you with keys etc.
- Check the place for pre-existing damages, and if you find any, take pictures and let the landlord know so that you are not blamed for them. There are some landlords out there that will do anything in their power to avoid giving you back your security deposit.
- Respect your housing. It’s important to treat it with care to ensure you get your security deposit back. And respect your surrounding neighbours and avoid noise complaints, as you may get fined.
Once you have that out of the way you can enjoy yourself, US visas are not easy to come by so take full advantage while you’re a student. You’ll have the summer of a lifetime! Visit USIT to sign up today!