Housing

  • Always ask about temporary faculty housing - it sometimes exists and can be extended to graduate students. Upside: won’t require big deposits or exhaustive credit checks, gives you time to get acclimated and get a few stipend checks
    • Along those lines, nothing beats walking streets to find good deals on housing. Even in the era of Craigslist, some people just throw a sign up in college areas and those are often the cheapest places
    • Harder if you have an significant other and/or pets, but sometimes good options anyway.
  • Check with your department/program secretary or current/former grad students about places to live. I know too many grad students who rented sight unseen and were stuck in a year lease in a neighborhood that was unsafe, not convenient, awful for other reasons.
  • Ask if there’s a grad student listserv or board for incoming students to share info, find roommates, etc.
  • Depending on your housing area, PhD stipend will not meet the income minimum for places such as apartment complexes in Maryland, for example. They will ask you to find a guarantor who makes 3-4 x the yearly income, which is a barrier if you don’t know anyone who makes 60K up for instance. So, be cautiously optimistic about apartment complexes because there are obstacles, but moving in with roommates or house shares that are less formal will be easier.
  • Sometimes, graduate schools can act as guarantors for landlords on your behalf -- this is especially valuable for foreign students who don’t have a credit score in the US yet and may be refused by landlords on that basis. You can ask a prof if they are willing to be your guarantor.
  • Many schools have graduate student housing that is reasonably priced and near the university, with at least some assurance that the apartments are not in, like, illegally bad condition. Establishing credit and prooving a high enough income also are not issues in grad student housing the way they would be in other apartment complexes. Check this out at any school you get into. Determine whether the housing is reasonable for the local market or too expensive, etc.
  • Student housing cooperatives are often MUCH more affordable than other kinds of housing (and usually includes some or all of bills + food and often there are house meals, etc. which offer important social support and someone else helping make sure warm food ends up in your face). __https://www.nasco.coop/__ is a great resource for student coops..
  • Check sabbatical homes.com to see if there are any faculty houses/apartments that might be available for a year. Ask the administrative staff at all of the different departments if they know of any faculty going on sabbatical and leaving the area. Often you can house-sit for a reduced price, especially if the faculty has a lot of plants and/or animals.
  • A PSA because it's happened to two people I know already: If a job pays for relocation as part of a job, temporary housing at your permanent destination is considered a taxable benefit. That tax is often withheld from your first or first few paychecks - and it can be a lot of money. Make sure you know how much is being paid for your temporary housing and at what rate you will be taxed for it. Then you can plan to not have a real paycheck for a few months or opt out of the benefit and couchsurf. This is particularly important if you leave academia into a high paycheck and have to spend a little time looking for permanent housing - you may see thousands (no joke) withheld from your first paycheck or two.