If you are looking for a place to live in the United States, there are two main options you have. Renting and Buying. 

In both cases, you need to have a good credit score to be successful and to get the place you really want!

We created a blog post for you to explain this process and the Importance of Credit. Learn more here.

Rent a place in the USA

As we just mentioned, it all starts with a good credit score – because most landlords are going to complete a background check. If you have bad credit- you are out of luck.

Many Integr8’ers (aka Immigrants) do not have a long credit history to establish a good credit score. Because – well, most of us did not grow up in the United States!

But the good news is: Landlords are usually bothered by a bad credit store – not by a short credit history!

So as long as you don’t have any missing payments or bankruptcy on your credit report, you should be good to go!

Houses vs. Apartments

Houses are usually rented out by individual Landlords. They handle the process themselves OR they hire a Property Manager to handle the process for them.

At the end of the day, they usually use the same process as for Apartments. We will talk about that in more detail below.

You can find houses to rent on many platforms such as http://www.zillow.com

This is just one of many examples where you can look. Google will be your best friend for your research!

Apartments can be handled by individuals as well (landlord). However, most of the time apartment renting is handles by an Apartment Complex.

An Apartment complex is handled by actual real estate companies and not individual landlords.

Once you move to the United States you will notice that there is A LOT of apartment complexes in the United States.

This is what we love about apartments handled by real estate companies:

  • They usually have nice amenities such as swimming pools and gyms.
  • They have their own facilities staff that are available around the clock (to say it in American terms: 24/7)
  • They have an office on the premises that you can just walk into if you have any issues.
  • They have staff on-site that can handle your concerns pretty quickly, for example, complaints against noisy neighbors, etc.

Both Houses and Apartments have their pros and cons.

Houses are usually more spacious and oftentimes have a backyard or garage. Apartments are smaller but may have nice amenities such as pools, gyms and more.

If you decide to rent an apartment, we would like to share our ultimate advice with you: If you have the choice, pick an apartment on the highest floor.

Trust us- you will be grateful for it. Why? Because nobody above you can stomp around at 3 am and interrupt your good night’s sleep.

You can find apartments to rent on many platforms such as www.apartments.com

This is just one of many examples where you can look. Google will be your best friend for your research!

The Renting Process in the United States

The process of renting can vary based on the landlord or company. After taking a tour through the place you would like to rent, you need to ask for an application to be considered as a tenant. 

Here is an overview of what to prepare for:

  1.  Ask for the application and return it as soon as possible.
  2.  Check the income requirements: A lot of times you need to meet minimum income requirements to qualify for the home. Ask your landlord what these requirements are.
  3. Provide paystubs to prove you meet the income requirements. If needed, show the amount you have in your Savings Account, too.
  4.  Make sure you have a good credit score. If you had any missed payments in the past, prepare a good explanation to communicate to the landlord.
  5.  Research a good Insurance company for the Renters Insurance along with the costs that come with it. Most of the time, Renters Insurance is a requirement to move in.
  6. Ask the landlord about Utility costs and if there are any utilities included in the Rent.
  7. If you have pets, ask if there are any additional costs for pets living in the home.
  8. If you have dogs, make sure the place you want to have doesn’t have any breed restrictions. Some landlords don’t allow certain breeds on their property (for example Pitbulls, Dobermans, etc.).
  9.  Ask for additional costs such as Security Deposit. Landlords like to collect that once you move in- just in case you ever miss rent or damage something in the property.
  10.  Ask about the application fees (the cost to apply and be considered as a tenant).
  11. Ask which fees are refundable and non-refundable. Application fees are usually non-refundable, while Security Deposits are refundable and will be paid to you once you move out (again- as long as you don’t have any outstanding rent payments or damaged their property).

They will usually run your credit report and a criminal background check. If you meet all the requirements, you are good to go.

UNLESS someone was faster than you. If the market is competitive, the first come – first serve rule applies.

THAT’S WHY it is important to react fast and complete the application as soon as possible!

Now here is the last tip in case you are looking for a place to rent but don’t have a job yet: Most places require you to have a job and a minimum income…

BUT- we know from personal experience that some (not many though) will still accept your application if you can prove that you have enough savings in your account. 

You will need to call around and make sure that this is acceptable to the landlord/property management. This important so you don’t waste your time looking at places that you are unable to get accepted for.

It can definitely work but you need to find the right places that are okay with it until you get back on your feet and start your new job!

Oh and- if you are currently unemployed but you have a job offer then you are good to go! Most landlords accept the offer letter of your future employer to approve your application!

Other Renting Options in America

If you live in an area where renting by yourself is too expensive, you can consider moving in with other people and find roommates. 

This option will help you share the place and therefore- sharing the costs!

You have two options when it comes to this strategy:

A) You rent a place and find roommates to share the costs with.

B) You find a roommate that already has a place and you apply to move in with them.

If you go with option A, make sure you follow the rental process as mentioned above. Definitely complete a background check so you don’t end up living with a criminal.

You also want to check on their credit score and income so you don’t end up with someone that doesn’t pay the rent!

You can find roommates on many platforms such as www.roommates.com or http://www.roomies.com 

These are just two of many examples where you can look for roommates. 

Some last Personal Tips for Renting in the USA

We personally don’t recommend Craigslist for the roommate search. There are a lot of creepers out there so you want to be very careful with this. 

ALWAYS take someone with you when looking at a place with roommates or if you have someone looking at your place. NEVER be alone, because a lot of bad things can happen.

If it is an Open House tour or Apartment Complex you are usually fine going by yourself. Otherwise, we recommend having someone with you.

We hope this post was helpful to you! 

Let us know if you were successful on your journey of renting a home in the USA- and we will publish it on our site ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have some thoughts or ideas that you would like to share with our team, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.


Check out more articles about Housing in the USA here:

General Housing Information you Need to Know

The Importance of Credit in the United States

Tips & Tricks to Buy Your own Home in the USA