Whether you decide to relocate and look for a new job because you want a change of scenery or because you need to be closer to family, making the move can be both exciting and stressful. You may find yourself in a chicken-and-egg situation: being a local gives you an edge when hunting for a job, but not having a job makes it more difficult to rent a place to live. Enlisting others to assist you and presenting yourself in the best light will help you find the rental house you need.
Finding the Right House
If you’re moving to a new city, you don’t have the luxury of spending time exploring neighborhoods and touring homes. You need a place to live, and you’ll probably do most of your searching long-distance. If possible, visit the area at least once to get a feel for the neighborhoods where you’d like to live.
Contact rental agents and ask for their help in finding a home. If you have friends or family in the area, they can serve as your representative for touring potential rentals. Search Craiglist for available rental homes in your area. Then contact the renters by phone and explain your situation. Some will be willing to rent to you sight unseen; others will not. Plan to spend a lot of time on the phone talking to many potential landlords in order to find one who will work with you.
Landlords want to know you can make the monthly rent payment, so they don’t view someone who is unemployed as a good risk. If you’re leaving a job in order to relocate, use your current employment as evidence of your ability to hold a job. Present letters of reference from your current landlord or employer. Point out any positives in your situation, such as a high credit rating or substantial savings in the bank. If you work in a field where workers are in demand, such as medicine or a skilled technology field, point out that your job outlook is positive.
If possible, have some interviews with potential employers lined up, and use the fact as evidence that you don’t plan to remain unemployed long. Be prepared to pay the first and last month’s rent in advance. You may need to pay several months’ rent up front in order to secure the rental home of your choice.
Expand Your Search
Look for situations in which landlords may be willing to take a chance on someone who isn’t currently employed or from the area. For instance, instead of renting a whole house, look into house sharing. A single person or a couple might be able to rent a room or two in a house. People who rent rooms may be more lax about a formal rental agreement or credit checks than someone who manages a string of rental properties would be.
Look into caretaking a home for someone who is temporarily out of the country or who lives in the area only part of the year. You can advertise your services on Craigslist for this type of arrangement. Also consider a sub-let; people who are locked into leases may be willing to rent to you, especially if you pay several months’ rent up front. Instead of a house, expand your search to include condos and mobile homes.
Alternatives to Consider
In an especially tight rental market, if you don’t have good credit or a lot of savings, you may find it almost impossible to rent a home when you’re new to the area and unemployed. If you find yourself in this situation, make finding a job your priority. Once you’re employed, you’ll look like a much better risk to landlords. Stay with friends or relatives while you job-hunt or get to know the area. If you don’t know anyone, look for extended-stay motels where you can live until you’re employed and able to move into the rental home you really want.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.