How Do I Go About Finding An Apartment in DC?

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MY DC EXPERIENCE


I've been in DC a long time now and I've lived in several neighborhoods, always paying reasonable rent for nice places. Currently, I'm living by myself in a condo building tucked right in between Dupont, 14th Street, U Street, and Adams Morgan. I'm literally 2 to 3 blocks to each, and I ended up here after almost 2 months of searching within a few block radius. (Funny story, when I picked that spot, I was in the height of my dating days and I wanted to be within walking distance to every possible date spot in DC to avoid all of the ubers I had been paying for from Glover Park.) It's been the absolute best spot; the location is perfect, the bathroom and kitchen are renovated (a must), and the layout makes it feel much, much larger than its 530 square feet. 

Of course, good things must come to an end eventually to pave way for better things, and I'm moving to Northeast DC into a building on H Street at the end of July. Though I'm not gaining much in the way of square footage, I am getting a floor plan that will work for 2 people, a washer dryer in unit, and a building with a pool and lots of outdoor space.  

HOW DID I FIND THESE PLACES? 


  • My first tip is not to wait until the last minute. While a lot people will tell you that DC real estate turns over quickly, and that may be true to some extent, I've always found my places at least a month in advance. If you are rushed in looking, you may feel the pressure to jump on something that isn't right or is priced too high. Start perusing craigslist a couple months in advance to get an idea of what's out there, in your price range, in your desired area. If a property manager or owner is on their A game, they'll know if someone is moving out 60 days in advance and list the property so it doesn't sit vacant...and you want a landlord who's on their A game.
  • Use regular old craigslist! That's where I've found every single one of my places. While websites like apartments.com or going through the building's actual website can be helpful for seeing your options, floor plans, ameneties etc., the deals are on craigslist. Typically, an apartment building or management company will not list a unit on craigslist until they start advertising at a discounted rate or with a special like "one month free."
  • Look at condos that are being rented out rather than apartment buildings. That's how I found my current place! Because someone that lives out of state owns it, it is far below the going rate for a 530 sq. foot apartment in a central location.
  • Try to get off the summer lease start date schedule. While that hadn't worked out for me previously, it's definitely a way to find a deal on an apartment. Summer is the busiest time for people moving to DC, so rents are higher than at other times of year. This time around, I'm taking over someone's lease that started in December, so I get to cash in on that winter lease rate.

ANY LAST TIPS? 


Since I've been around the DC block a few times, I know most of the areas within Washington pretty well. If you're new to the area, definitely feel free to ask me my thoughts on a particular neighborhood! Also, don't assume you need to live outside the District lines! Arlington and Bethesda are great, but the DC neighborhoods give you the freedom to get rid of your car and feel like you're a part of the city, quirks and all. You'll get a little less space, but a heck of a lot more character...and characters.

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