I quite often run into people at work where they are new to the city and need help with many things around. I have re-located to many cities with in United states and know the pain and the time it takes to settle down. This is to help people who are new to city, and looking for a place to settle down. I will be posting on Housing, furnishing, making new friends, things to do, travelling options and more ..
Today’s posting is about housing.
Renting a place: I would not suggest that you get onto lease immediately until you have fair idea of the place, commute to work, family, child care responsibilities and in terms of activities to do in your spare time. Yes, they are all linked well together.
Temporary living- furnished – 2 weeks to 1 month, you could look for the famous Air B and B, sometimes, if you are lucky enough – craigslist -sublets and temporary housing can be of some use, if not, the safest in small cities could be – Extended stay america (It comes with kitchen & utensils), you can go on a month-to-month lease. If none of the above work, you can always stay in comfortable hotels until you figure it out.
So, you want to settle down in more comfortable place where you can call it a home:
Rent the whole unit for yourself.
a) Everything is online these days, google is the best place to scout for all the apartments in your zone/ zipcode, you will get fair idea as to how much rent on the average per unit 1 B/R, 2B/R etc and of course place matters, safety surely matters.
b) Craigslist & Hotpads or Zillow: Craigslist & hotpads has postings directly from owners and real-estate brokers. If you have time and patience, and want it bit economical, you should reach out to all the home owners and make appointments to visit the place. Ask them to send pictures, that will save you a lot of time. It is very important that you check out the home before you commit to move in to the home.
Online tips : You can check out the school district rating (if you have kids or not, it will give you sense of how good the community is, the greater the rating, the rent is usually high and also considered a nice neighborhood), you can choose to have furnished or not, proximity to groceries, parks, gym, public transportation etc are all found.
I personally prefer hotpads/ zillow over craigslist and I find, people are more responsive and it accurately lists the history of the home and also gives comparable prices of rentals around the area. They are more trust worthy relatively for the reason that the facts about the house are intertwined with real data. It also gives visual proximity to everything around.
c) If you are an Indian – then sulekha.com is the portal where indian do rental postings, they prefer people from India.
d) Before you do steps from #a to #c, make sure you check with people who are already living there, they might have better insight and over all idea about places around. They may just know their neighborhood alone, so do not expect more. And most importantly, reach out to your acquaintances/friends on facebook for guidance.
e) Real-estate broker – things will move super fast, they do the job for you. Specify your requirements and they have great suggestions. The only part where it hurts is – atleast in nyc, you have to pay 18% of your one years rental amount as real-estate broker fee or one month of your rent which ever is higher.
f) You can also check out with rental offices in each area, the apartment units / community’s usually have a rental office.
Looking for a roommate?
a. If you are relocating for job purpose: reach out to your community at your future employer / place you will be working and ask for information. State your rental range, what you want and neighborhoods you are interested in.
b. Craigslist is a great portal if you want a sublet, roommate or shared living – you usually will find great deals here.
c. If you are from India and want to live with Indians only – then sulekha.com will be able to help you. Also, there are facebook groups that will help you get in touch with indian communities.
d. Through referrals, ask your friends, friends of friends of friends might be able to help you in some way. It has worked for quite some people, you never know.
Now that we have some base: Questions to ask when renting a place out.
a. What utilities one has to pay? if anything is included, may be it’s heat, water, gas, electricity, cable & internet etc. Some apartments have all of them included and you need not worry about it. In some part of them are included and you are expected to transfer the rest of the bills onto your name (also helps improve your credit history).
b. Is parking free? if not what would be fee? if you are relocating to snowing areas, it is such a pain to clean the car, so do not forget to ask if there is any covered/in-door parking available?
d.Most importantly, if the laundry is in the unit or outside? If it is outside – look at the distance, if it is too far and you do not have a car and not walk able, then you should re-consider your decision.
e. Find out if they have any benefits, if you sign the lease for longest duration, especially if you are going through real-estate broker, the chances are that, you will have one month free rent. Also, find out what happens during the renew – would they increase your rent? if so what is the percentage. In NYC, they have been constantly increasing the rent by 10% every year. So watch out.
f. If you have pets, make sure about the policies, you might be expected to pay additional rent or insurance for the pet to live there.
g. If you have kids – you should prefer ground floor if possible, people downstairs will complain with your kid jumping all around, ask for near by child-care facilities, or baby-sitting facility. The owner may or may not be aware but no harm in asking such things.
Hope these tips help you in getting started when you are relocating to any city with in United States.
Dear readers, if you have any additional tips, please feel free to write in comments. Your inputs might help some one out there.