Living in the United States: Housing Expectations

By: Fernando Vazquez, Work and Travel Housing and Compliance Coordinator

You’ve done a lot of research into your job and the American workplace. But, did you do any research on what it is like to live in the United States? Living here can be completely different than your home country. Don’t worry; Greenheart has come up with a few things that every American knows about living here. This is what to expect when renting housing in the United States:

  • Everything starts off with the lease/housing contract you sign. If you are required to sign one, read it carefully. It will outline all the guidelines set forth by your landlord or host organization.
  • Once you have signed your lease/housing contract or received a receipt confirming you have secured housing, you will more than likely be asked to pay a security deposit.
  • The security deposit can be as expensive as the first and last month’s rent. This is also the time when you should ask if the deposit is refundable and any additional terms to receiving the deposit back.
  • You will be expected to pay rent on time. Refer to your lease/housing contract or ask your landlord or host organization to confirm when rent is due.
  • You may also have to pay some or all utilities including the following – electricity, Wi-Fi, cable, etc.
  • Some household items you should expect to buy on your own include, but are not limited to: linens, towels, toiletries, cooking utensils, silverware, cleaning supplies, food etc.
  • Appliances and furniture provided in your housing may not always be new. Some of these items may be used and worn. Either way, treat them well.
  • Alert your landlord or host organization when any property has been damaged or broken (i.e. couches, walls, microwaves, light fixtures, etc.), or when one of your provided utilities is not working.
  • If it is determined that you contributed to any damage or malfunction, you may be required to pay for any expenses. Otherwise, your landlord or host organization will cover the expenses and fix whatever is not working.
  • Greenheart expects every J-1 participant to have their own bed, regardless if you are sharing a room or not.

You are now ready to tackle living in the United States!