Apartments for Low Income

Questions and Answers

Your Questions About Cheapest Apartments In America

April 6, 2013

Donald asks…

How much do I need to save to work abroad for a year?

I wanted to work in Australia for a year during my gap-year (before university)
How much do you think I need to have saved before I can do this?
Assuming I stay in hostels/rent an apartment (which ever is cheaper)

Administrator answers:

I am not sure where you are from… BUT Certain Visas require you to have a certain amount of money saved up and evidence of the savings (travelers checks) that you have the amount.

When I moved to Japan to work for my Gap Year, I went on a Working Holiday Visa (not available to people from the US) and I had to prove to the Japanese consulate that I had enough money to live in Japan for a month ($2500). I believe Australia has a similar program for Working Holiday Visa with one of the restrictions being that you can only work a particular job for up to 3 months before changing jobs. They want your primary purpose there to be “holiday”.

Hostels are a great idea. I have been able to score some in Europe for as little as $11/night and in Central America $4/night.

Keep in mind, that for your Gap Year, the main purpose should be to get out and have some experiences. Look at getting jobs that allow you to move around a bit. Things like bar-tending/restaurant jobs, working in hostels or a tour guide. I have had friends who have done those jobs all around the world with no experience!

For more info I will post a few links below. If you have any other specific questions, feel free to get in touch with me. I will help any way I can.

Mark asks…

Where in Chicago is a nice place to live?

I’m in the UK, and want to relocate to America. I’ve done research (basic) into the areas I would like to live in and Chicago seems to be a really nice place. I have never been there before, so is there anyone who can tell me what areas are nice, and which should I avoid? Also, what are the living costs there? Such as cost of renting an apartment (anything from a studio upwards), how much the average wage could be etc. Also, are the people friendly to British people? I appreciate any help on this!

Administrator answers:

I relocated to Chicago in the early 90s, after considering New York and San Francisco, and I’ve really enjoyed living here. As far as big cities go, it’s a really great place. There’s lots of good restaurants, nightlife, concerts, cultural institutions and plenty of free and cheap things to do, including free access to a great “inland sea” (the 5th largest lake in the world). I won’t say that you won’t miss the ocean, but this is a darn fine substitute for being completely landlocked.

Chicago’s mass transit is pretty good. You can get nearly anywhere with a combination of buses and trains (though the schedules can be somewhat erratic, but that’s true most places, I think).

I’d recommend you limit your housing search to neighborhoods on the North Side until after you get a feel for the city. The North Side is better served by mass transit and has many more entertainment options. The downside, of course, is it’s more expensive.

Studio and 1BR apartments on the North Side tend to run about $600 and up per month, though it’s possible to find things cheaper.

The best place to find housing is in the Chicago Reader, one of our free weeklies. Click the “Apartments” link on the left side of the page and search by neighborhood or area.

Neighborhoods I’d recommend (pretty much in order) are: Bucktown, Wicker Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Square, Andersonville, Lakeview, Edgewater, Wrigleyville, Ravenswood, Lincoln Park, Roscoe Village, North Center, Ukrainian Village, North Park/Budlong Woods.

All these neighborhoods are safe and pretty well-served by shopping, nightlife and transit.

Average wage depends on what you plan to do, of course, but Chicago Metroplis 2020, a local think tank, published an economic report in 2002 that the average annual salary in the region during 2000 was $43,000.

And don’t worry about the friendly-factor. I’ve always found this to be a pretty friendly place. I’ve never had trouble striking up conversations on buses, in shops or at cafes. You also have the advantage of an accent will be irresistible to nearly everyone you meet.

Good luck!

Thomas asks…

How much does it cost roughly to go to America ?

I want to go to America, like LA and New York. I want to stay there for like 6 months, does any one know how much that would cost, for the flight over there, i live in Australia. ?
Are LA and New York good places to visit ? i think so.
whats your opinion ?

Administrator answers:

If you are thinking of going, now is the best time to book your ticket. You can get flights from as little as $900 return to LA from Sydney including taxes. This is less than half price of what they usually sell for. Check out Virgin Atlantic & Delta who both had flights last week for only $900 and Qantas was a bit more expensive at about $1000 including taxes

Both LA and New York can be expensive accommodation wise with New York clearly being the most expensive. AUS$100 per night will get you a 2 star hotel in LA. These hotels are the equivalent of our Formule 1 Motels however the ones in LA are worse, you wont be able to find anything cheap than that.

You best bet for accommodation is to go into share accommodation in an apartment with someone who is already living there. This is the best way to keep the cost down especially since you are planning on being there for quite some time. This will work out alot cheaper than staying in a hostel as renting in the US is much cheaper than in Australia. Plus on top of that the property you stay in will be completely set up allowing you to cook at home and keep expenses to a minimum. Check out some US Real Estate websites which have Share Accommodation sections. Another option is to check out and you can find accommodation on here however be warned as some of the ads on this website are scams so never hand over any money until you are at the property meeting the person. There is still alot of legitimate ads on this website for share accommodation. Most prices listed on this website for accommodation are monthly prices as that is how Americans advertise rents. Prices in LA start at about US$400 per month ($100 per week) and go up from there. Prices in New York start around the same however many places for this price in NY are generally in areas you may not want to walk around in after dark.

At a bare minimum i think if you were to book today you might be able to get Flights and accommodation for 6 months for $4750 (I have converted US rent prices to Aussie $$$ and added the flight in Aussie $$$) or if you book when flights go back to normal pricing $5750. On top of this you would be best to have another AUD$5000 spending money so you are able to do what you like and wont have to live on a shoestring budget. You will need travel insurance which may be another $1000 on top which you DEFINITELY MUST get as if you have to go to hospital over there and you dont have insurance you will be broke for the rest of your life paying off the hospital bill. I would personally budget $11000 minimum if I were going to do this however it would be possible to do it for cheaper if you really budgeted and shopped around for accommodation.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Australia and the US have a Visa Waiver program where if you will be in the US for less than 3 months you do not require a VISA and simply have to pass a quick background test by completing the form located at If you plan on being there longer than 3 months, you will need to contact the US Embassy and try to obtain a VISA for 6 months which can be very difficult.

Sandy asks…

Why is it so hard for individuals to get better jobs? Do we have to make our own?

I am hispanic and I do not want to work housekeeping or be stereotyped. I hate to think working minimum wage is how I am going to support my son and myself. I hope one day I can work in a nice business and lavish in cleanliness, and properness. As racial as this sounds, African-Americans went through the whole servent thing, and mexicans are doing it more today. Who came to America first? Why don’t people clean up for themselves!

Administrator answers:

The way most climb out of poverty is to have their own business. You can borrow money to get you started. One of my businesses was to own and rent out condos. I bought them cheap used the rent money and interest rebates to pay them off and them bought more. You can buy condos and apartments cheap in the U. S. Now. I learned by playing Monopoly no joke.

David asks…

How to arrange a road trip in USA?

I’m 23 from UK and looking to go to America for 3 months for some travelling with a mate. Ideally we want to start by doing a road trip down the east coast, starting maybe in NY or Boston and going down to Miami. We want this to take up about a month but not sure the best way of organising it! We want to drive but not sure if we should rent a car or can we buy one?? And is it best to stay in motels/camp a few nights or are there other options?
Once we are done in Miami we want to fly to California and spend 2 months there just relaxing and drinking!! The only problem with this is we don’t know were we could stay for that sort of time without costing huge amounts, were not fussed about the accommodation as long as we have the basics and can self cater.

Does anyone have any advise or tips?
Budget of bout £10k each

Administrator answers:

Here are some of the logistical challenges you’ll face:

1. To rent a car in most places you have to be 24. Some rental companies will rent to young adults aged 21-23 with a hefty additional daily fee. For example, Budget rental car will rent to you for an additional $27 PER DAY if you are 23 years old.

2. There are additional charges for more than one driver. The prices vary, but are usually about $10 per day (sometimes with a maximum fee of about one week’s fees).

3. Can you buy a car? Sure. The challenge will be in getting it registered and being insured. It’s my understanding that all states require you to provide the “permanent” address of the person registering the car. As a visitor on a tourist visa you don’t have a permanent address. If you have a family member or friend who lives in the US, you might be able to use their address to register the car (in the state they live in). Technically that might not be legal, but it’s a workaround.

Finally, before you can register the car, you’ll need to prove that you are insured. You may find it a challenge to find US insurance companies willing to insure a car for you with your UK driver’s license. So you might need to take the US written and driving tests to get a US license.

So I’d be looking at a long term rental. It’s bound to be easier, and possibly less expensive.

If you want to camp, you should be able to find lots of campgrounds outside of the major cities. Fees will be a lot less than staying in a motel. Keep in mind that if you want to bring your camping equipment with you that there are some things that you cannot bring on a plane and will have to buy here i.e. Propane and a cooking stove.

In city, look for hostels or ask around for cheaper lodging that is still in a safer neighborhood.

For Los Angeles, I’d be looking for a sublet/short term rental. Try looking on Craigslist (www.craigslist) or offering on Craigslist, or do a google search for short term apartment rentals and the town you want to stay in. Overall California is not public transport friendly, so consider where you are living carefully to avoid being stuck.

Finally, keep in mind that on the visa waiver program you only have 90 days before you have to leave the country. You need to apply for a tourist visa or follow the rules carefully for extending your 90 ESTA visa to be here longer than 90 days.

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