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Hello, My name is Maham Javaid, I just moved from NYC to SF and I'm trying to find housing in the city, Berkeley or Oakland for about $750-$950 a month. I can't sign a one year lease - which is proving to be a big problem. Anyone have any leads or ideas. Ive scoured, used and contacted so many people from Craigslist that it now asks me if I am a robot before allowing me to send emails from their website. Thanks!
The hardest part of the grant is done. You've got the grant and the visa and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Now comes the operational work; like planning where to live. I'm going to try and give a brief run-down of the things you should look into before finalizing a place: Never pay more than 50% of your stipend in rent. If you stick to this basic rule you should have more than enough money to eat what you want and travel whenever you want across the country. Make use of previous Fulbrighters/undergrad alumni that have travelled to your city. In case you can't find one yourself ask USEFP to get you in touch with one. Nothing can replace the advice of someone who has been there themselves and comes from the same cultural context. All Fulbrighters have been where you are now and would be more than willing to help. Always get someone to corroborate places that you find online for potential housing. If you have done (2) above Fulbrighters who are in the city can be requested to check out the place on your behalf or at least give an opinion about the deal you're getting. (Yes, some Fulbrighters have actually even gone and inspected places themselves for incoming students!). If you cannot get someone to inspect/comment about the potential housing prospect then get a sublet for a week or two and inspect places on your own time when you get there. Sublets are inexpensive and can be found via multiple sites such as Craigslist. Generally, the closer you live to your University the better. Ideally, never be more than a 30 minute walk from your campus. Yes, public transport is great generally but it's practically non -existent on the West Coast with San Fran being the notable exception. Also, if you're on the East Coast, you never know when a bus misses its schedule and you get late for your final presentation; public transport is good but not infallible.
I came across this cool website that simplifies rent sharing. Might be of some use to new and current students. Although getting a bigger apartment and splitting rents is more economical, there is always the underlying problem of room selection. Usually rooms have different sizes and characteristics that make it difficult to split rents equally. Issues like; who gets the bigger room, who gets the better view or who gets more storage space are perhaps very common in scenarios like these. However, a couple of students have created a website that does all this for you. Each person places a virtual bid on the room they want by allocating the maximum amount of money they are willing to pay, which is then factored in an algorithm that assigns rooms based on selected criteria. So if you are thinking of sharing an apartment or switching places for next year you might want to check it out. The website is called Spliddit.
NYC has it all. Finding an apartment close to campus is obviously preferred but finding something in the lower Manhattan area can be expensive even if it means it comes with the occasional celebrity sighting. The best advice I would give is to find a place that has easy access to a train station. Even if you live farther out, being close to the subway reduces half the travel time, especially if it’s an “Express Line”. On average, NYU housing for graduate students is limited and even if you do find something, prices usually range between $1500-$1700 for the whole year. Exact rates etc. can be viewed via the link below: (http://www.nyu.edu/content/dam/nyu/resLifeHousServ/documents/20142015Rates.pdf). Considering the proximity of the A line (Express) to NYU’s campus you might consider living in Brooklyn even. I spent the summer in the Bed Stuy neighborhood in a shared apartment, with my own room, for just $900 a month! Rents are lower because there is a perception that Brooklyn hosts a lot of “unsavory” characters but due to gentrification and the sort, there are a lot of available housing options in the area that are as safe as any other part of the city. Plus, you’re closer to hipster localities such as Williamsburg etc. So in a nutshell: Live near an Express subway line if you decide to live away from campus. Explore living in boroughs such as Brooklyn for NYU and Queens/Bronx for Columbia. DO NOT spend more than 40% of your budget/stipend on rent. (Trust me!) All colleges have links to sites with apartment listings; often though, Craigslist works just as well as any. If you still want to explore though, here are some good resources to go through: http://www.nyu.edu/life/living-at-nyu/off-campus-living/apartment-listings.html