To make your arrival as successful as possible, AAG requires that you have secured housing BEFORE you arrive to the US.
Even if you plan to find housing once you arrive, you MUST have a place to stay for the first few nights upon your arrival.
Refer to your job offer/placement offer, Host Company, Agency or AAG for recommendations regarding your housing options. Search the internet for budget lodging and short-term housing in the area of your choice. Hostels, affordable motels, universities and colleges are good options.
Arriving to the US without a place to stay is not safe. Take the time to make your housing reservation before you leave and know how you will get there from the airport.
Keep in mind that in some areas, it will be very difficult to find and secure housing once you have arrived. Even the suggested housing leads in your Job Offer/Placement Offer may be full. In addition, there are thousands of J1 participants just like you who are planning for their arrival too, so you will want to book your housing early!
To help ensure the success of your program, AAG must approve your housing.
All AAG job offers include information about housing in the area. Please refer to the housing section of your job offer to determine if your program housing is AAG Provided, AAG Assisted, or Participant Arranged.
AAG Provided Housing – this means that AAG has secured the housing for you and your rent will be deducted from your paycheck accordingly. Please confirm with your agency that you have been booked for this housing option. AAG Assisted Housing– this means that AAG has located and vetted the best housing option for this job and you must stay at this location in order to accept the job offer. Participant Arranged Housing– this means that YOU are responsible to locate and secure your own housing for the duration of program. In addition, AAG must review and approve your program housing prior to your arrival to the US. If your job offer states that housing is Participant Arranged, you must submit your housing details to: firstname.lastname@example.org at least 4 weeks prior to your arrival to the US. AAG representative will contact you directly to confirm whether your Participant Arranged housing has been approved.
Make sure that you know in advance the cost of your housing: Deposit Amount and the 1st month’s rent. You will not be able to move into your housing if you do not have money to cover your deposit, 1st month’s rent and housing application/processing fee (when applicable).
When budgeting your finances, please keep in mind that AAG recommends that you bring:
Your SEVIS participant record must accurately report your current US address. If you are approved to change your housing during your program you are required to update AAG with your new address within 10 days. Contact your AAG Outreach Coordinator to receive the approval and further instruction.
ATTENTION: Please make sure to exercise extra caution when considering postings for a room, apartment or roommate. For additional safety, you may screen the locations and people you may be renting from or with through the US Department of Justice public database of registered sex offenders: http://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Search
www.apartmentlist.com – National apartment locator http://www.apartmentfinder.com/ – National apartment locator http://www.extendedstayamerica.com – National hotel chain for extended short-term stays http://www.hotels.com/ – National Hotel finder
University listings and Bulletin boards – Many campuses have bulletin boards where students post notices looking for roommates. Keep in mind that many students with year-long leases need to sublet their apartments for the summer and often do so with affordable prices. Most universities also have an Off-Campus Housing Office with lists of available housing and rental options in the local area.
www.simplebills.com – This is an online bill management system that can help you manage and pay your bills if sharing expenses with roommates. www.cort.com – CORT is a national furniture supplier that provides short-term furniture rental and delivery.
When searching for housing, be sure to think about the following list of questions and terms so that you can make the most educated decision about where you plan to live:
1. Is this housing safe?
Don’t accept the landlord’s word as the only resource toward the safety of your housing. You can ask other people for their opinions or research the internet for general facts about the area or property.
You may also screen potential landlords or roommates through the US Department of Justice public database of registered sex offenders: http://www.nsopw.gov/en-US/Search
Be sure you are satisfied with your choice. Trust your instincts! For more information about safety, please see your J-1 Participant Handbook: http://participants.allianceabroad.com/files/P_Handbook_2013.pdf2.
2. Is this housing affordable?
Think about all the costs associated with your housing.
Is it furnished? Are utilities included in rent? Are there laundry facilities? What is the length of the lease?
The answers to these questions will affect your overall monthly costs.
3. Is there access to affordable transportation?
Can I walk or ride a bike to work? Are the roads safe? Is there access to public transportation? What are the transportation costs? Will I have access to stores, banks, food, entertainment, etc?
4. Do I understand the housing terms and requirements of my leasing agreement?
Be sure to read and understand any rental lease agreements before you sign them. Once you sign a document, you are legally bound and responsible to the terms you’ve agreed to. If you have difficulty understanding terms of your leasing agreement, please discuss this with your Agency or contact AAG. Make sure to keep a copy of your leasing agreement for your records.
Deposit Requirements: Understand the deposit requirements of your chosen housing location. Be prepared to pay your deposit upon arrival and prior to moving into your housing.
Paying Rent: Bring enough money to pay your first month’s rent and any additional months while you’re waiting for your first paycheck. You will be financially responsible to pay all rent due according to the signed housing terms and lease agreements.
Most Important Thing to Remember: You must secure housing PRIOR to your arrival to the US. It is not safe to arrive without a place to stay. Furthermore, if you arrive in the US without pre-arranged and confirmed housing, you will have to say in a nearby hostel/motel and pay for you room per each day, which is very expensive. If you need assistance finding a place to stay, please contact your agency or AAG.
The housing leads you have been provided in your Job Offer/Placement Offer for Participant Arranged Housing are the best options available. In some areas, you will need to not just secure housing, but pay a deposit well in advance of your arrival. Also consider the following:
Most rental properties need to have rent paid from the beginning of each month until the end of the month, even if you arriving mid-week or leaving before the month is over. Rent is due on the first of every month for that month. Most landlords will ask for a security/damage deposit to make sure any damages, late arrivals, or early departures are covered. The security deposit is an agreement between you and the landlord, which means the landlord is going to reserve the housing for you. Your part of the agreement is that you will pay for the entire amount of time in which the housing is reserved for you. Pay attention to your leasing agreement to learn the terms of your security/damage deposit, whether it is refundable and how much of your security/damage deposit is refundable. You are responsible for all damages, even if you did not do them. It is important that you notify your landlord in writing of any previous damages that you discover upon moving into your housing. Any violations of the rental agreement will result in not receiving your security/damage deposit back. If the deposits are being mailed back to you after your departure, make sure to give your landlord a self-addressed and stamped envelope with your current home address in your home country. If you make a mistake on the envelope, this will cause a very long delay in getting your deposit back to you. If the landlord is returning your deposit after all the tenants are out of the rental property this could take 6 weeks or more, after the last tenant leaves. The landlord will take an inventory of what is missing from the property, look for any damages, and get the total repair or replacement costs for damaged or missing items. That cost will be deducted from your security deposit. The landlord also may need to wait until utility, cable, or telephone bills are received. Keep in mind if you leave the rental property early, ad there are damages, or the property is not cleaned and left in its original condition, you will probably NOT get your deposit back OR it could take one to two months after the last student leaves to get back any money owed. Alliance Abroad is not your landlord. Your Outreach Coordinator can assist you with certain situations. Since this is an independent living program, you are the responsible party