Housing and Accomodation in USA

There are many different types of accommodation that is available in the country for expats to consider moving into when arriving in the US. Considering budget and individual needs, expats will find a lovely place to live.

Accomodation Types

These types of houses are widespread throughout America, with expats choosing to rent out apartments, and single family homes purchased the most. Most expats also consider house sharing where they are able to rent out an individual room in a large house.

Single Family Homes: These are stand alone houses, which are usually on a small plot of land. This type of home may be best suited for a full family. A single family home is rented out by a private owner and can be quite expensive.

Apartments: An apartment is the most common house which expats would move to and can range from a single room studio apartment to luxury multi bedroom lofts/penthouses. The rent for an apartment will depend on how big the place is and the location. Apartments have most of the facilities and amenities.

Duplex Homes: A duplex home is where two or more people are living in the same building. It has separate entrances for two households. Includes two story houses having an apartment on each floor

Condominiums: Also known as townhouses, these houses are located close together and are separated.

Renting in USA

Expats wanting to rent a place in the US will find that it is a fairly easy process. Before moving to the country, ensure that research is done, about the different types of properties, looking at budgets and also looking at the area around the city. For single expats, a house or an apartment share may prove a good cheaper solution or living away from the city will save a lot of money on the rent.

To find a place to rent there are many things expats should do, such as:

  • Looking in local newspapers and magazines. Expats looking in a magazine will find that these specialise in providing rental listings and are widely distributed around the cities.
  • Driving around neighbourhoods looking for ‘Rent’ signs
  • Internet sites – which will allow expats to see range of prices, apartments and what is located near the site
  • Real estate agents can also help expats in finding property in the US. These are sales people who are licensed to represent buyers or sellers in properties for a particular state.

It is important that once expats have found a property they tender a lease application. This is known as a state rental agreement document. Tenants who would like to rent a property will also need to prove that they are serious about renting the property. In addition to this expats will be required to show that they have enough amounts of funds to cover the rent for the first month and another month’s to cover security deposits. Credit checks and a background check will be done, and expats are advised to include references from previous landlords with their applications.

The lease agreement that is given is signed on a six month – one year basis. Tenants may be responsible for other payments for gas, electricity, water depending on the rental agreement. This should contain all the details which concern your rights as a tenant including the security deposit, monthly rent, terms and conditions, any special clauses and conditions which must be read.

If you are with an agent, the process of the agreement and deposit to pay will be clearly explained and you must be accepted by the landlord before all this takes place.

It is recommended that whenever expats are moving in to a property, to check for any defects or damaged furniture. Also check items which are listed on the agreements are present and undamaged.

Expats moving to the United States will come across different prices where some cities will be higher than expected. Most cities where the job opportunities are, are usually popular and most expensive. Prices are in the ranges of:

City Median Rent
San Diego $1,670
Seattle $1,700
Miami $1,740
Oakland, California $1,800
San Jose, California $2,170
Los Angeles $2,200
Washington DC $2,700
Boston $3,200
New York $3,300
San Francisco $3,400

Buying property

Expats wanting to buy a property in the United States do not require a green card or any particular type of visa. But they must secure an individual taxpayer identification number. This is an Identification number which is issued to foreigners who don’t meet the requirements to get a social security number.

It is very common to get a mortgage to finance your house purchase and there are many affordable options available. However to be eligible for a mortgage expats will need to earn a good credit score. When you arrive in the country as an expat, open a US Bank and Credit card account, and you must ensure that you report all of your income on tax returns. These are usually used by lenders to decide how much you can afford to buy.

Once you are ready to apply for a mortgage, an experienced financial institution should be chosen as they will be able to judge your credit history.

To get a mortgage or a loan, expats will be required to show plenty of supporting documents for it to be granted. They will also need to prove that they are legally employed and will be able to carry out buying a new home financially.

Real Estate Agents

Depending on the state/city you have moved to, there will many real estate agents around to help you with your house search. Expats should be able to trust the realtor so that they are able to explain how buying property in the country works and they should assist you with the paper work, costs and other details.

Expats wanting to buy property should gather information on the market looking at average housing costs so that they are able to decide on a budget. This way the real estate agent will find it much easier to locate the perfect property for you and your family considering individual needs. They will be able to advise you on the area and neighbourhood as they will know this home town very well. A realtor considering your needs will find the property type you are looking for and will be able to negotiate a good price. The realtor will assist in viewings, house inspections and property reports.

The steps after a real estate agent has found the perfect property for you

  • A formal offer is made to the seller
  • A deposit on the property is placed by the buyer who will need to show that they commit to the full purchase of the property once conditions have been met. As an expat deposits may be larger than American citizens.
  • The buyer will then ensure that inspections and appraisals have been done.
  • A deed of sale contract will then be drawn up, signed and filed with the county which will create an official record of sale. This would be when the possession of the property must be turned over.

When expats are looking for their own property there are many questions which should be asked and considered such as:

  1. Is the area safe
  2. How far is travel to get to work
  3. How long does it take to get to the shopping centres
  4. If you have children, where are the best schools around the area