Help! I need a hand finding an apartment in DC for 3 people all about to commute in different directions.
September 3, 2008 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Help! I need a hand finding an apartment in DC for 3 people all about to commute in different directions.

I need to find an apartment in DC for 3 people. 2 bedrooms/1 den/2 bathrooms or 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms will work.

One of us is commuting up the red line to Van Ness. He is willing to pay between $900 and $1000. My other roommate is going to commute to Suitland, MD way down south on the green line and he said he's willing to pay up to $1200. I am commuting to Crystal City, VA on the blue/yellow lines and I could theoretically pay up to around $1500 if I had to. I'd rather not pay that much more than my roommates though. I'm not about to pay their way. $900 + $1200 + $1300 = $3400. I think we could swing around $3400. Maybe a little more if the place was amazing.

We are thinking NW DC would be our best bet; somewhere around Dupont Circle. It seems that this is a good common location for these 3 different commutes. However, we could be persuaded to look into another location. U St/Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights/Mt Pleasant and even Arlington/Clarendon could be options. We all want a walkable area without living in the ghetto, naturally. The green line seems a bit shady up north. However, red line is damn expensive.

Where do you think is best for this amount of money/amount of people/type of commutes? Specific websites for help and specific apartment complexes would be greatly appreciated.

I'd love to find a rowhouse but they seem to be so hard to track down. They seem to come and go so quickly that it's hard to find them when I'm not living in DC yet. They are also pretty damn pricey.

Thanks for the help.
posted by decrescendo to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in Mt. Pleasant and it's spectacular - not too hipstery, not too expensive, not too anything. It's a fun small community (with a decent farmer's market) that's only three blocks away from the Columbia Heights metro and the new Target that laid down the hammer of gentrification.

Rent is still quite affordable here, though it might go up because of the new developments in Columbia Heights. It's not ghetto but it's not Chevy Chase; you need to be vigilant. But that's just living in DC. We've got a couple decent bars and restaurants, plus we have easy access to Adams Morgan if that's more your scene.

Suitland and Crystal City = green and yellow, same as CH metro. If your Van Ness roommate is not opposed to taking the bus (which nobody should's totally fine) the H4 bus will go to the Cleveland Park metro or the Tenleytown metro, whatever's easier. The 42 bus line goes Mt. Pleasant - Dupont - Metro Center, and it's a useful line for me.

Let me know if you have questions about Mt. Pleasant - I really do love it and encourage more people to check it out.
posted by harperpitt at 10:02 AM on September 3, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah I might hit you up for some more information. I'm just becoming discouraged at the lack of 3 bedroom places and insane rent. I want to be within walking distance of things for a 23-year-old like myself but we might not be able to pull off Dupont Circle.
posted by decrescendo at 10:05 AM on September 3, 2008

I live in the Logan Circle area and am very happy with the neighborhood. It should cater to your transportation needs as long as everyone is willing to walk 10-15 mins to the Metro.

Going towards Van Ness, the walk to Farragut North is roughly 15 mins.
Going towards Crystal City, the walk to McPhearson is roughly 10 mins.
The green line is trickier, but you could walk to McPhearson and transfer at Chinatown.

I live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath and our total rent is $1500 a month. 3 bedrooms might be tough though, hope this helps.
posted by DrDreidel at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2008

Suitland guy is going want to get a car. If you can live in east side of Dupont (say 16th street near Logan Square), you can walk down to McPherson Square (what a commute, such a sweet area), your buddy can walk 15 mins to west to Red Line stop. Transferring for metro isn't a big deal in the morning.

$3400 is definitely doable.
posted by sandmanwv at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2008

Response by poster: So he's better off DRIVING from Logan/Dupont to Suitland over metroing?

That seems crazy to me, but what do I know? I don't live there yet.
posted by decrescendo at 10:38 AM on September 3, 2008

I think you should spend $3,000 (split evenly) on an apt near one of these metro stations:

1.Gallery Place/Chinatown (red/green/yellow)
2.Fort Totten (red/green/yellow)

This way you could all walk out of the house and get to wherever you are going without having to transfer at metro center. It will save you a LOT of time.

Also, having roommates pay different amounts usually does not end up working after the first couple of months unless someone has a significantly larger bedroom or a bathroom attached to their bedroom.

Good luck.

PS. The yellow line to pentagon city or afterwards is a lot quicker than the blue line if you're starting from their only other point of intersection (L'enfant).
posted by hal_c_on at 11:05 AM on September 3, 2008

Columbia Heights would be perfect. Puts you and your roommate going to Suitland right on the Green/Yellow lines. Roommate going to Van Ness can catch one of the H busses on Columbia Road right in front of the 7/11. He'll probably have the shortest commute of all of you too. There's been a lot of new development in the area, but it's still a pretty cool area, with new retail (Target, BB&B, Best Buy, Staples, etc.), a really convenient grocery store (Giant), new restaurants and bars, walkable proximity to the historic U street corridor, Mt. Pleasant (also not a bad idea, as well as U Street, although the commute to Van Ness would be slightly different (about a .75 mi walk to Dupont Station)).

I don't recommend Ft. Totten: The area is still kinda-shady, but more importantly, all of your commutes would be murder and there is basically nothing nearby at all. Gallery Place isn't a bad place, except, well, there aren't many places to live nearby that aren't ridiculous condos.
posted by General Malaise at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2008

Response by poster: I honestly think I'd rather be a little closer to the "action" than Columbia Heights. But maybe that's my lack of experience speaking. It seems a little too suburby for me, perhaps?
posted by decrescendo at 11:37 AM on September 3, 2008

Seconding Columbia Heights. CL always seems to have houses for rent up 16th or towards the Georgia Ave station. Logan and Gallery Place are mostly condos - you don't want three guys in a condo, and you're going to need parking.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 11:40 AM on September 3, 2008

Response by poster: I think the 3 of us really want to be in the action as much as possible though, without paying $6000 per month. I think Dupont might be our best bet. I think Columbia Heights is a little too far for my liking. I'd rather travel north to hang out in Columbia Heights sometimes, not constantly wish I was closer to DC.
posted by decrescendo at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2008

Response by poster: Do you think the commute to Suitland would be possible by car from Clarendon?

Because I think I'd rather live in NoVA than Columbia Heights if I couldn't find something in Dupont.
posted by decrescendo at 11:56 AM on September 3, 2008

DC has a number of buildings with "converted" two bedrooms. Someone at some point put up a wall between the living room and dining room to create a third room and you can live much more affordably in those units. I have been in a few of them and they are great. I would try to be on the lookout for those. Someone ends up with a smaller room and a hallway closet and you divvy the rent accordingly. Or you can pay a fee to a contractor and convert it yourself (with the building's permission). You recoup the expense in two months pretty much.

$900 + $1200 + $1300 = $3400. I think we could swing around $3400.
Not exactly true. You could swing at or under $3,000. You want to make sure there is padding in there for utilities, cable/internet and private parking if applicable or other expenses (bike storage, etc). You could pay $725 in "rent" and end up at $1,000 by the time you add in all the other stuff. I am pretty sure converted two bedrooms (3 total bedrooms) in Woodley Park go for around 2,600 - 3,000, for example. Also, right now is one of the more expensive months, keep that in mind. Good luck.
posted by ml98tu at 12:26 PM on September 3, 2008

Getting to Suitland from Clarendon is easier than you'd think. Take 395 N to 295 S and exit Suitland Parkway.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:31 PM on September 3, 2008

Just a word of warning, finding 3 bedroom apartments in DC is not easy. I lived with 2 other roommates all through law school and honestly if I could do it again I would have settled on just having one simply because our housing options were so limited because of it. We always had to end up renting an entire house, we could never find any 3 bedroom apartments. Also, even when we did find 3 or 4 bedroom houses, often the landlord wouldn't want 4 people living in a 4 bedroom house, for some bizarre reason, making the rent per person ridiculous. Since we could only really rent entire houses we always ended up living in the very family oriented neighborhoods of NW. If you really want to be in the action you might be advised to split up and look for 2 apartments in the same building.
posted by whoaali at 3:07 PM on September 3, 2008

Columbia Heights is where a lot of the action is partner. Depending on where you are in that neighborhood, you're a stop away or a brief walk from U-Street (awesome) and 15 minutes walking to Adams Morgan. Mt. Pleasant is right next door as well.

As far as the commute, unless you live and work on the same train line, everywhere takes 45 minutes to get to in DC. I lived in Mt. P and worked all over the place, from Tenleytown to Chinatown to Georgetown and Largo and Annapolis and Oldtown. Nowhere is closer than 45 minutes driving, bus or train, trust me. The only way you're getting anywhere in less time is by walking or bike. I second the driving to Suitland. It's MUCH faster.

If you're going to have a car, keep in mind that parking in Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights is a nightmare on the weekends. So you'll need to rent your own parking space, another 200 bucks/month.

For 3500/month, you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Just remember that now is the worst time to be looking for places. A lot of the houses and apartments have been taken by students. Hopefully once the GOP is kicked out of Washington, a bunch of swank places will come up for rent in December/January.

I'd also look into the greater Shaw/U Street area off the green line. Better parking and still in the action. You can find what were once middle class black townhomes that people have been priced out of recently for around what you're looking for. Just beware the karma...

Really though, go check out Columbia Heights. I think your opinion of it is based on some misconceptions. It's not suburban at all and it is, for the most part, indistinguishable from Mt. Pleasant. In a few years, it will eat Mt. Pleasant, I'm sure.

Good luck. I really think that you'll find something to your liking. I'd advise you to set up an RSS feed for "3 bedroom NW" on craigslist and jump asap on whatever pops up. These things come and go with the quickness, so be prepared to fork over a security deposit within 24 hours.
posted by willie11 at 8:59 PM on September 3, 2008

Last two posters make good points: 3 roommates is much harder than 2, especially in areas dominated by apartments rather than houses, and Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant and U are much more interesting than Dupont (and I'd say Adams Morgan as well) these days. I'm in Logan and kind of wish I were further north.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:14 AM on September 4, 2008

Also, please call me and I can provide realtor assistance because I currently live in Upper Marlboro, which is near Suitland, I've worked in Arlington for 8 years which is near Crystal City, I've also worked on Connecticut Ave at Fannie Mae at the Van Ness metro station for 2 years, and I currently work downtown for the past 2 years. I know these areas very well. If you are wondering or concerned about any fees by using a realtor, the majority of the time for rentals the agents are paid by the landlord who is listing the rental.
posted by raymia at 9:13 AM on September 29, 2008

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