Apartment in DC
October 8, 2004 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I want to thank everyone for their advice on my previous question about getting to DC for an interview. I'm at the next phase of my problem now: I got the job. That's not the problem; starting a week from Monday is. I need an apartment in Washington, DC in... yeah, umm, five days or so. I'm looking up brokers right now, any other options? Good websites? This is my first move ever, so I'm mind-numbingly ignorant about this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I cannot say this enough:
Washington City Paper. They update their classifieds on Tuesdays, and they're the place to go for housing info.
Other than that, your usual suspects (craigslist, the Washington Post) are your best bet.

Good luck, and welcome to DC!
posted by Inkoate at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2004

You might also want to check the sublet listings on Craig's List -- that way you can maybe find a place for a month or two and then find a more permanent apartment once you're on the ground. (Also, congratulations!)
posted by occhiblu at 1:00 PM on October 8, 2004

Apartments.com is also helpful, especially for big buildings. When the market is tight, though, it seems like places don't advertise. It's worth going door-to-door in an area you'd like to live. Also, look for a "special." Frequently you can get 1 or 2 months of rent free, cheaper parking, etc. It's not always advertised, so call places that claim to be out of your price range. For example, I'm paying about 20% less than is advertised for my place.
posted by callmejay at 1:02 PM on October 8, 2004

DC has this weird thing (or did four years ago when I was looking for a place) - no brokers. Get the Sunday Washpost (can be obtained Saturday if you go to their offices on 16th St. and I think L) and the city paper. Also, try apartments.com AND apartments.net.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:28 PM on October 8, 2004

Are you only considering living in the city? What about a place in NOVA, or MD?
posted by mhaw at 1:33 PM on October 8, 2004

I did this four years ago, and four years ago before then in NYC - found an apartment in a ridiculously short amount of time. I was lucky and found a places outside the city - first in Hoboken, and now Alexandria. You might consider this. But, its fun living in the city, so I would say - go with a sublet for a couple months, get to know the city, and find a more permanent place after you're somewhat settled. In my experience, realtors will help you find apartments, but I'm guessing because the real estate market is so crazy down here right now for buyers you might not get much attention from one, so go with the above mentioned resources.

With the City Paper - definitely look online on Tuesday. The print comes out on Thursday and by then a lot of the listings will have been taken.
posted by drobot at 1:51 PM on October 8, 2004

mhaw- I'm 90-99% positive I want to live in the district, or at a minimum avoid driving to work. My office subsidizes Metro fees, so choice of transport is a no-brainer.

DC has no brokers? Oh, man. I'm getting a tad freaked out now.

CL: I'll try to get the Post from my library or something... my problem is that I don't live in DC, I live in New Jersey right now. Hence the mini-crisis ;)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:04 PM on October 8, 2004

First off - congrats on the job!
I second the Craiglist sublet/roomates wanted idea for a start. You can maybe live somewhere on a temporary basis as you scope out the District. Get a mailbox at a FedEx Kinkos or UPS store or the PO or similar place - it will make keeping up with your mail easier if you end up moving around a few times.
This is also one of the unusual cases where LiveJournal may be useful. I know in the DFW groups there are often people looking to sublease, etc, Check out:
DC LJ Meetup and Everything DC LJ

though I bear no responsibility if you end up at a goth/pagan nude renfaire with depressed teens reciting atrocious angsty poetry . . .
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:05 PM on October 8, 2004

XQUZYPHYR - The post listings are online - www.washingtonpost.com - free registration.

Craigslit and the City Paper are your best bets, though.

It will be *much* easier to actually get a place when you're here. Definitely research places to stay from NJ, but it's a heck of a lot easier when you're in the area.

If I remember correctly, you'll need checks and money for a security deposit, and possibly first/last month's rent. And get to the open house or whatever *early* because there will be others in line for the same apartment and many landlords will give it the first decent candidate they meet.

I think subletting might be your best bet if you can't make it down for a weekend to look for a place. There are usually people looking for roomates, too, but they tend to interview the candidates, etc. before making a decision and might not be fast. Don't be discouraged - it'll work out.
posted by drobot at 2:11 PM on October 8, 2004

congrats! maybe look in Adams Morgan or 17th st., or by Thomas or Scott Circles? (i'd look at a map, and pick areas all around Dupont, if it was me--and Mass. Ave has tons of apt. bldgs)
posted by amberglow at 2:29 PM on October 8, 2004

Cool. The financing thing isn't a problem- I wisely saved enough money to more than cover security deposits, moving costs, and advance rent. Theoretically, I could write a check spot-on and get an apartment if I wanted.

In fact, that's ideally what I'd like to do, if actually possible. Right now it seems my best bet would be research the hell out of some stuff this weekend and plan a trip down there on Tuesday/Wednesday to actually look at some choice locations. Maybe I'll get lucky.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:36 PM on October 8, 2004

I found my last two places here. I love the Capitol Hill/Eastern Market/Lincoln Park area, though it is a bit pricey.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:45 PM on October 8, 2004

My friend just moved back to Maryland, and she said that Silver Spring, MD is a good, not-to-expensive area to look in.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:55 PM on October 8, 2004

congrats, XQUZ.
I lived for a while in Alexandria and it is cool and quite convenient, while very expensive (it was 12 years ago, at least)
posted by matteo at 4:43 PM on October 8, 2004

Silver Spring isn't in the city, of course - BUT it is cheap and has the furthest out Metro stop.
posted by sixdifferentways at 5:39 PM on October 8, 2004

Has anyone heard of "Locators Inc"? I called them after checking the City Paper listings, and they seem to have a lot of openings... they'll charge me $185 to do so, but claim they can find me a place immediately and give me an updated list. I think it might be worth it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:54 AM on October 9, 2004

I second the Capitol Hill area. If you had asked about this about a year ago, I would have tried to sublet my apartment to you!
posted by GriffX at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2004

XQUZ, i smell something with that...there are tons of apts in DC, and it's a very transitory town--there should be vacancies without you having to pay anyone.

That co. reminds me of the apt.listings flyers that used to be (still are?) all over here--pay for an "exclusive current list" bs.
posted by amberglow at 11:11 AM on October 9, 2004

Yeah, I kinda got talked down by some friends on that too. I already saw two listings online for small but possible apartments within a half-mile of my office on rent.com and apartments.com. So I probably won't call the guy back.

Exactly how does the looking at apartment thing work in DC, though? Do I need to schedule an appointment? Or can I just go down there on like Tuesday and knock on some leasing office doors? I ask because I've seen some good places online, but I can't reach anyone.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:28 AM on October 9, 2004

Sundays are big apt days. Get down here, get the paper (s) and a map, figure out which neighborhoods you want to look in and plot out the times/places you need to be. Then go hit a ton of apartments. Come armed with all the paperwork you have - you may have to make a split second decision and try to bag a place immediately. (This is how I ended up in a complete hole, but the market is said to be much much better now.)

Oh and BEWARE of anything called an "english basement." They always sound great - location, price etc - but they always end up being basements.

For the large apartment buildings, you can come during the week and drop by the leasing offices. I tried this with a friend and we just walked around the neighborhoods she had chosen (Adams Morgan/Dupont) and saw some pretty nice places.
posted by CunningLinguist at 5:46 PM on October 9, 2004

CL: Thanks. I'm A. coming off a cold and B. just reading your comment Saturday night at 1:15 in the morning, so I don't think I'm going to be making it to DC first thing Sunday morning. A big apartmenty building thingie... thing is what I'm aiming for, preferably near or in the Hill, Dupont, Foggy Bottom, or Adams Morgan area.

I've sent some e-mails out through rent.com and apartments.com, and hopefully offices won't all close Monday for Columbus day. I'm definitely going to do the weekday come-down-talk-to-the-lease-office thing.

Split decision isn't just what I want to prepare for, it's what I'm aiming to do. If I can have an apartment by Wednesday I'll shit a brick. Define "paperwork" that you think I should bring... I don't start my job for another week so I don't really have any forms from them. Do you mean proof of citizenship, or specific financial records?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:21 PM on October 9, 2004

Oh, and to matteo and some of the others recommending Virginia: I think I spoke too soon about being set on DC. I'm starting to actually put the numbers on paper and accepting that I should live in NoVA is probably much more realistic.

I know, I think I've changed my mind on what I'm supposed to do here about six times now. It's a good thing I don't need to move there soon or anything! Huh? Huh? Hmmmm..........
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:23 AM on October 10, 2004

What is this crazy talk about no realtors in DC? I found my first studio through a DC realtor, and everywhere I go here I am bombarded with Long & Forster signs, and have friends who have used them (though admittedly these friends ultimately bought condos instead of going the rental route).

I did the walk-around-the-neighborhood-looking-for-big-apartment-buildings thing with a friend once here in DC and we managed to get let into many places, but each was ultimately either a little too pricy or run down. As far as forms go, you might need a credit report; when I got my first place I didn't need that but did need 2 or 3 references and the downpayment. Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 5:04 PM on October 10, 2004

XQUZ - From my experience last year getting a lease in DC, you will probably be required to give a prospective landlord:

* Credit report (or $25 for them to run it)
* Your last three paystubs (or maybe a letter with your about-to-be salary from your new job?)
* Previous landlords' names, addresses & phone numbers, covering the last two years

The application will probably also ask for your bank account number, and possibly also credit cards and balances.

(Especially in bigger buildings, but really throughout DC, they're very big on bureaucracy.)

Also, DC law prohibits a landlord asking for more than first month's rent and *either* a security deposit (which can be no more than one month's rent) *or* last month's rent -- so you won't have to put down more than two month's rent.

On the bright side, most of the units I looked at in the bigger buildings tended to be nicer than similarly-priced units in townhouses.
posted by occhiblu at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2004

(I probably should have phrased that last post more as, "You may not need *all* of the following, but you should bring it all just to be safe." The place I ultimately rented required nothing more than my past landlord's name and current job title, but I did apply to a number of places that required a lot more info.)
posted by occhiblu at 4:31 PM on October 11, 2004

Hey XQ, I lived in NoVA for 3 years, it was fantastic - wish I could be of more help, but I can tell you that any area along the first four stops of the Orange line (with the exception of Rosslyn, which is not that attractive) will be nice, relatively affordable, fun, close to the city, etc. Congratulations on the job - I moved to the area right after college (from Los Angeles) and really enjoyed it.
posted by jonson at 10:13 PM on October 22, 2004

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