HOUSING IN USA
RENTING A PROPERTY
If you have a company relocation package, try to get your business to help you find housing in the USA. They may also know people who are willing to help those who do not speak English as their first language and who do not have a history in the state they are moving to. If you are a student, then you should make use of your exchange program to help you.
There are some standard requirements to rent a house or duplex and this also applies to some apartments. You will usually need funds in the amount of one month's rent up front and another month's rent to put down as a deposit. The deposit is intended to assure the owner that you intend to treat the property with respect, and to provide them with funds if you suddenly leave the property or cause significant damage. Assuming that you look after the property, you will normally get a large portion of the deposit returned to you when you move out. It is common for a small portion of it to be put towards having the place deep cleaned, even if you have already cleaned it thoroughly in preparation for your departure.
It is customary to sign a 6 or 12 month lease agreement. Often, but not always, you will be asked for references. The amount of time it takes to have your lease approved can vary from immediately to a week or two while someone checks your references. You should be aware that some housing estates and apartment complexes have more in depth and complex rules than do individually rented out houses and duplexes and 'college student off campus housing' locations. If possible, bring English translations of references from mortgage companies or from people you have rented from previously.
Styles and prices vary dramatically across the United States. One can rent apartment homes, condominium homes, townhouse, single family houses, patio or garden homes, to name a few, depending on the city where you are being assigned. In the United States, a real estate agent is the best resource for assistance in finding the most suitable style of home, the most suitable community within a metropolitan area within the lifestyle and budget criteria of an assignee.
Cost of housing
Just as the styles vary from city to city, so does the price of homes. One can normally find a suitable home, whether it be a single family house or apartment home, within any given budget. In most US cities, the further from the centre of the city one chooses to live, the lower the real estate prices. In most of the larger metropolitan cities, one can find many cultures represented and one can find expatriate families living almost anywhere.
BUYING A PROPERTY
If you are going to buy property using a mortgage, you may wish to consider doing so before you move to the USA to avoid the need to wait until you have developed a suitable credit history in the States. Of course, should you have the funds available, you could simply purchase a property outright after your arrival.
It is advisable to buy owner's or renter's insurance. The amount covered may depend in part on how much you have invested in the property itself and also the amount of valuables that you keep at your home. Make sure you are aware of any tendencies towards flooding or other hazardous weather in the area where you have purchased or rented a home, as you will need to insure against damage from a probable risk (water damage in a flood zone, for example).
Investing in property
The property market changes rather frequently in the USA. Sometimes this is caused by trends in migration within the country, at other times it is a simple and clear indicator of the overall economy. Owning property can be a good investment. Housing and land are both very solid assets and can dramatically improve one's overall 'asset portfolio'. However, it is advisable to pre-determine how much time and money will need to be invested in a property, in addition to purchasing costs and property taxes, prior to closing a deal on a house or apartment complex.
Buying to invest requires using more complex strategies to ensure that the property will in fact yield a profit. This includes factors ranging from the location - are property values improving in that location? - to the amount of labour a place needs to increase it's value and how you are going to make that investment - will you live there and work on the building every weekend for three years to improve it's value by $20,000, will you rent it out to someone who will increase it's value, or will you simply hire professionals to increase the value sooner so that you can charge higher rental fees, for example?
While renters are not subject to paying property taxes, home owners are. Property taxes are also a defining factor in the quality of local school systems in America.