Finding a Home in the U.S.

Oct 28

houseBefore you move to the U.S., you need to decide whether you want to buy or rent. In many cases, expats find that they rent at first. This helps them get a feel for an area, and is especially convenient if their job requires them to move from place-to-place. In both instances, familiarizing yourself with the home buying process can make it easier.

Finding a Home in the U.S.

Thanks to the Internet, identifying homes is relatively simple. One key source you can use is This site aggregates properties for sale across the U.S. and allows you to search according to zipcode. However, it does not feature all realtors, so you may want to search Google for realtors in the locality you are moving to.

As you do not know the area you are moving to, using the services of a realtor is highly recommended. If, after searching and other realtor websites, you see one or two agents who crop up in your area, contact one and use their services. A good realtor not only knows which properties are available, they know which schools are good and how the transport links are in your chosen area. Establish a connection with them online, then try to identify a week or so you can spend in the country finding a property. Visiting properties and neighborhoods yourself is highly recommended, if you want to make sure a property is right for you.

Renting a Property in the U.S.

Most landlords in the U.S. will require you to pay a month’s rent in advance, as well as a month’s rent in the form of a deposit. There may also be fees associated with the realtor you use, but this can vary between companies and states. Some property owners may require references before they let to you. Obtaining these references can take a couple of weeks. Most initial rental agreements are around six months or 12 months. If you later plan to purchase a property in the U.S., bear this in mind when setting a budget for your rental home.

Buying a Property in the U.S. as an Expat

Buying a property in the U.S. as an expat is a whole different ballgame. As a newcomer to the U.S., you won’t have established a credit history there. If you already own a property, selling it and using your funds to pay for a new home is a good option. For those who do not own a property, there are still options available.

The first involves developing a U.S. credit history. Take out a credit card and treat it nicely, then you can slowly work towards getting a mortgage. Like other countries, this requires stable employment history. Your other option is to choose a mortgage with a 20-30% deposit rate. This usually means lower interest payments every month, but does require larger savings than other buyers. The main plus side to this is that your money may go further in the U.S. than it does in other countries. This is dependent on where you live, but many European expats find themselves owning larger properties than they would at home.


Erick Boigon Erick Boigon (10 Posts)

My name is Erick Boigon and I am a transplant from Toronto Canada to Denver Colorado. It may not seem like that much of a transition from Canada to the U.S. but I have been really surprised what it took to get here! Currently I am working for a large company in Denver as a software engineer after receiving a M.S. in software engineering.

One comment

  1. I just moved to the states and didn’t have any problem finding a rental house where my kids and pets could move. It looks like I will need to spend some time establishing my credit history before I buy a place. Hopefully I don’t have to wait too long because it looks like the prices are going up!

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