To rent an apartment or a house, there is a relatively standard process that must be followed. At first, the prospective renter should take a tour of the residence. It is advised to make an appointment first but some large apartment complex properties accept walk-ins and are more flexible than smaller or private residences.

Most landlords or managers will ask for a picture ID that they keep locked in the office while they show you the property, so it should be kept handy when going on an apartment or house search.

When interested in a residence, the first step is generally to fill out an application. Private landlords have their own rules and may not require anything but an ID and a down payment, but apartment complexes or managed homes have a strict process they will follow. To fill out the application, a picture ID, a pay stub (salary confirmation) and often a reference (employer, former apartment, friend, etc.) is required and credit will be checked. An expatriate with no credit history in the U.S. may be required to pay a higher deposit or first and last month rent of the contract. Many expatriates use their employer’s information for current address and contact information.

Lease Agreements

Apartments are the most popular type of lease as they are very flexible with month-to-month leases or discounts for 12 – 14 months leases. Deposits vary and depend on move-in promotions. Typically the deposit is a refundable half months rent with non-refundable deposits for pets. Waste disposal and taxes are generally included in the rent and water is charged by the rental company as a percentage of overall complex usage. Utilities like electricity, phone and cable (TV, Internet) are generally not included but there are exceptions and it is recommended to ask about it when talking to the leasing agent. Most apartment complexes offer maintenance and repair service within 24 hours.

Houses can be rented for longer time frames as the contracts usually have a minimum of a 1 year lease. Since houses are often rented out privately, the agreements vary greatly with each owner. Owners who use a real estate leasing agent often have the same type agreement as apartments.

Generally, apartments and houses are not rented furnished and only come with built-in kitchen including a standard refrigerator and stove and a built-in bathroom. They may have window coverings such as blinds but it is highly recommended to check before signing the lease as there is no industry standard.

Leases have strict cancellation rules. Most leases require 30 or 60-day notice for cancellation, even if it is only to avoid renewal. If not canceled, an ended lease usually goes straight into a month-to-month lease. If a lease is broken without proper cancellation, a fee, stated in the contract, must be paid. The fee may be a certain amount, for example $800 plus the monthly rent until a new renter has been found. The deposit will not be returned in such cases. It is very important to go over the agreement terms prior to signing the lease and understanding cancellation notice requirements. For expatriates, this can become a challenge when being faced with sudden relocation. Many apartment complexes are managed by a larger parent company and they usually agree to allow moving within their properties by assessing some fee. It may also be negotiated into the contract prior to signing the lease. Overall, it varies with type of property rented and flexibility of the landlord. Be aware of this when looking for a stay and consider it when looking at the leasing terms.


Apartments inside the Loop, near the downtown, midtown or Galleria area, cost more than apartments outside the Loop but it also depends on the modernity of the property and amenities. Prices near downtown and midtown can range from $1,500 to $9,000 for luxury apartments with over 3500 square feet. Apartments in the Galleria area range around $800 to $2,000. Prices for apartments outside the Loop range from $600 to $1,500. For prices, visit

Prices for houses mainly depend on square footage, number of rooms, and building age and range from $1,000 to limitless, with an average price of around $1,500 for a 2 – 3 bedroom house. For prices, visit

Townhouses and duplexes are mostly rented inside the Loop and prices are generally $800 to $1,500 with more luxurious accommodation costing more. For prices, visit