How do I get a good apartment at the right time?
April 19, 2011 4:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm in College Park, MD for graduate school. My lease ends in August, and I feel like it's time to start looking for a place. I want to stay within a few minutes of campus (lived in Hyattsville before, and really liked that) but also want to try to get a place between $500 to $700 before utilities and cable. I've mostly just known people for the past few places I've lived, so I'm looking for some advice on when to start seriously looking, where to look, and other advice.

Further details and requirements:
  • I've spent the past year in a really bad situation with a bunch of random undergrads. I want out, and I want my next roomies to be either professionals, grad students, or engineering majors.
  • Everything on Craigslist right now seems to be renting for the next few months. If I'm trying to get a place for August (I could possibly swing paying two rents for July, but would like to avoid it) then when's the best time to be looking?
  • Has anyone commuted DC to CP, or Bethesda/Rockville/Silver Spring to CP? If so how bad was the commute, and where would you recommend in the metro area?
  • I'd prefer to be closer to campus than to nightlife/attractions. I absolutely hate the town of College Park, but I like being close to campus, and spend most weekends in Baltimore anyway. I have a car, so transportation isn't a huge issue.
  • I'm pretty clean, quiet, and fun to hang out with (if I may be so modest), so anyone who's also looking for a place in the DC area and wants a MeFite roomie, well... that's probably too much to ask, but I figure it can't hurt.
Any advice, tips, or leads would be appreciated. I feel like apartment hunting is just one more thing on my shoulders at the moment, and I don't want to wait too long and get stuck somewhere terrible.
posted by codacorolla to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Can you ask your cohort? Or your program? Grad Student list serve? Rent your own place and filter out possible roommates to your liking?

2. Bethesda / Rockville is going to be 30-40 minutes a way every day on the beltway; add 10-20 for the way back... (if you you'll be going at rush hour). Silver Spring will be less, but you'll be taking some really busy, miserable roads during rush hour

2a. I would recommend NE DC much more for a grad student (it will cost more)! From Brookland / Mt. Pleasant / Columbia Heights your commute would be 15-25 minutes, and surprisingly fast, because you'll be coming from the other side of the city.
posted by stratastar at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2011

Oh. Start looking now. My feeling is that there are more leases that start in September and June, but in general, even in CP you're not competing with most student housing, your competing with DC housing.

Right now there's an uptick in places trying to hook interns, but you'll be very hard pressed come June.
posted by stratastar at 4:22 PM on April 19, 2011

I'd try posting what you're looking for on the neighborhood listserves. I see rooms for rent every so often on the Hyattsville listserve. Riverdale Park might be worth a try as well. University Park also has a listserve, but I'm under the impression that it suffers from draconian moderation.
posted by peeedro at 5:57 PM on April 19, 2011

I can't speak specifically to the best way to find more suitable roommates or an apartment in your price range, however I've lived in Silver Spring my entire time in the DC area, including my first two years when I was attending grad school (MLIS) at UMD. There is a UMD shuttle that currently stops near the SS metro stop in front of a parking garage on Bonifant (near the intersection with Dixon). The shuttle is free and not a bad ride. I can't remember exactly how long it took, maybe about 35-40 minutes during commuting times due to traffic, and less time (sometimes it felt like significantly less time) later in the evening (a lot of my classes were in the evening and got out at 9:00 p.m.). If you miss the shuttle, you still have the option of taking the Metro and it's close enough that you could ride your bike if you were so inclined.
According to Google Maps it's about 7 miles from the downtown area of Silver Spring to the middle of campus.
posted by kaybdc at 6:44 PM on April 19, 2011

On preview, I missed that you had a car, but the shuttle or metro is still an option if you don't want to drive or pay for parking. Also there are a few different routes to get from UMD to SS. I don't drive so I didn't pay close attention but my supervisor had lived in Takoma Park for awhile and was familiar with the area. He'd sometimes give me a ride home and I swear he had took a slightly different route each time, most of which were secondary roads that weren't terribly busy. Frankly 90% of the time or more the worst bit was always trying to get off campus at 5:00 p.m.
posted by kaybdc at 6:53 PM on April 19, 2011

"Bethesda / Rockville"

No, way over your budget. Silver Spring is decent though -- not really that sexy, but liveable. Live near the Metro station and you've got subway and bus service to just about anywhere.
posted by bardic at 11:08 PM on April 19, 2011

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