Job Relocation Primer

by | March 10, 2009

Whether you're looking for a summer sublet or something more long-term, finding a home - especially in a new city - is tough. You're about to move to a strange city for a new job, or worse - a three-month internship - and you need reasonably priced housing. What to do? You're not likely to find the ideal apartment, neighborhood and price by simply calling realtors. Since you probably don't have much time for a house hunt, we've collected a few hints to help you kick off the search.

The first thing to do is find out whether your new employer offers any assistance. Some firms, like Procter & Gamble, will give you short-term housing and pay for it, or have you pay a token sum toward housing costs. At least a few New York firms will help you locate a sublet in Manhattan (no easy task) and pay half your rent.

Not all firms are so helpful, of course, leaving you on your own. Don't despair. In most major cities, it's easy to find companies that offer temporary living arrangements - mostly for executives. A simple web search with key words like "temporary" or "short-term" "apartment" will turn up tons of resources. Anything labeled "executive housing" is usually targeted at high-level executives on long business trips - and thus priced to be competitive with business-class hotels ($75-$100 daily). Other apartment-search services However, if you can find others with whom to share these apartments, they may become more competitively priced. A lot of these "short-term housing" companies list on a Web site called RentNet at http://www.rentnet.com.

Many firms, like Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, maintain internal lists of sublets or temporary housing where new employees or interns have stayed in the past. Some offer to help you secure these situations again, and will even send someone to visit to make sure that the sublets are up to your standard. Ask your recruiting coordinator for a copy of their internal housing list. But be wary - one former intern relates: "They recommended a place they said was fine and encouraged me to take it sight unseen. When I visited I found a disgusting, dusty, place that looked like a garage. The people who owned it were pack rats and had six cats in this one-bedroom apartment." That former intern advises that "you always take the time to go look at your summer housing in person if at all possible." Good advice.~You may also want to find a temporary roommate by subletting a spare bedroom in a house or apartment. While you do face the danger of roommate incompatibility, there are advantages as well - your rent will undoubtedly be lower, your roommate will already own things like brooms and utensils, and your roommate will be able to give you pointers about your new city. Most large cities have some sort of free weekly with housing listings - most of which are accessible on the Web. In New York, you can check out www.villagevoice.com; in DC look at www.washingtoncitypaper.com. These weeklies also have listings for temporary summer rentals and sublets.

Another resource to consider: universities and colleges. Virtually all universities have housing offices, and often have listings for temporary lodgings in other states and cities. Many campus newspapers also offer their classified listings on the Web. Universities can be of assistance more directly, too - many schools rent out dorm rooms and graduate housing during summer months. (Stick with graduate housing if possible, which is usually more spacious and better furnished.) For instance, Columbia University's graduate apartments are among the best bargains in New York City.

Don't forget the power of word of mouth. Tell your friends and family about your need for summer housing. One intern found "a great house-sitting situation in Philadelphia" through his second cousin, and another former intern advises that "you can often crash with friends or family, or the family of friends, until you get yo

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