If you're fortunate enough to have a place to live where you do your electives then you can skip this portion, if not read on.
The biggest problem my wife and I encountered is finding a place to live in new York City. There were several constraints. First, we needed an apartment for a short period of time at a reasonable price. second, we decided we don't want to deal with signing a contract, paying bills, etc etc. Third, I was busy preparing for step 2; spending time looking for apartments in NYC was the last thing I wanted to do.
The other interesting thing that happened just before we came is that two of my friends booked a temporary apartment through a "Craigslist" add. The bottom line is that they rented an apartment that doesn't exist from a women who stole the identity of her previous victim. The outcome was pretty bad: they lost their $1500, they ended up with no place to stay in NYC, and of course they had to spend much more to stay at a hotel (Please don't be stupid, don't wire money blindly to someone you don't know and before you see the place).
Of course, we did not want the above to happened to us. Therefore, we left the internet and decided to go with a real estate agent, but as it turned out the agent wanted between $500-$1000 just to find us the place so we dropped that idea as well.
The bottom line is that my parents, who were in New York for a weekend, found us a place to live. I think that if you can have someone do the same for you that is the best. It is very important to check out the place before you rent it both to make sure it exists and also to see that its livable. You simply don't want to deal with any surprises that may impede the purposes of your visit, which are doing the electives and getting an excellent residency position.
Regardless, whether you find a place through craigslist, friends, parents, or anything else the final message is you must have a full proof plan with regards to housing - as this will affect your performance during electives.
If you are like most people and don't have someone to physically go and set things up for you then I can tell you that due to our difficulty my wife and I looked for ways to help the students coming after us. We found someone who was willing to help us out for a nominal fee that I think is well worth it. It will save you the headache of looking for an apartment, dealing with bills, contracts etc by yourself as well as the precious time it takes away from your step 2 preparation. If this interests you you please email us via the contact the page on this site.
Finding A Place To Live
Application & Interviews