Cultural Orientation

Housing

When you first arrive in the United States, you may be placed in an apartment or a hotel, or you may stay with relatives who have already resettled in the United States. If you are single, you may be placed with other single refugees of your same gender.

  • Housing in the U.S. Slideshow

  • Housing in the U.S. Podcast

  • Housing in the U.S. Fact Sheet

Your Resettlement Agency will make sure that you have housing during your first month in the United States and they will look for housing that is clean, affordable, and in a safe neighborhood. In the beginning, you will have a limited income, so your first home may not be your ideal choice. However, securing a steady income will allow you to choose a home, in the future, that suits your income, needs, and preferences.

Furnishings

Your Resettlement Agency is responsible for putting basic furniture and household items in the apartment or house they have selected for you and your family. The items will include furniture, linens, kitchen supplies, and personal care items. The agency is not required to provide you with new items. The items should be in good condition, but they do not have to be new.

A house or an apartment usually has a kitchen with a stove, sink, and refrigerator; a living and dining area; one or more bedrooms; a bathroom; and closets.

Housing Costs

Housing in the United States is often expensive, and finding a suitable place to live can be difficult. It is common for people to rent a house or an apartment. The cost of housing differs from state to state, from city to city, and even from one neighborhood to another. Wherever you live, housing costs will be the largest part of your monthly expenses.

You can move out of your apartment or house if you let your landlord/landlady know ahead of time, as agreed on in your lease. But be aware that there are costs associated with a move, and you should make sure you can afford to move before you break your lease.

Housing Rights and Responsibilities

In the United States, both tenants and landlords have rights and responsibilities. When you rent an apartment or a house, you must sign an agreement called a lease. In the lease, you are considered the tenant, and you agree to rent the property for a certain amount of time, pay the rent and utilities on time, and maintain the property. Breaking the lease you signed (vacating the apartment before the lease term is over) could result in a fine and could negatively impact your credit rating. If you do move, there are items that you must take care of that includes notifying the U.S. government and post office, etc. Please make sure to seek guidance from your Resettlement Agency if you are considering a move.

Landlord responsibilities

Housing laws apply to both landlords and tenants. Landlords must see to it that their housing meets certain standards of safety and sanitation for rental property. The landlord must be sure that electrical, plumbing, and heating systems are in good condition. They must provide smoke detectors and make sure there aren’t any rodents or insects. Housing laws also state that landlords cannot refuse to rent to people because of their race, nationality, religion, sex, family situation, or physical or mental condition.

Being a Good Neighbor

A good neighbor in the United States is someone who is considerate of people who live near her/his apartment or house. A good neighbor keeps common areas in apartment buildings clean. In the case of a house, you must keep your lawn neat and only put out trash on trash collection days. Being a considerate neighbor means that you must keep noise levels at a minimum at night so that you do not disturb your neighbors.

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