Are we barking up the wrong tree?
May 17, 2007 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Any secret search engines or sites for finding rental houses in the DC metro region?

We're looking for a house to rent for a year that is within walking distance to a metro (at least 10 minutes), has at least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, has a good elementary school nearby for our son, and where we can take him outside and he won't be dodging cars. We've looked on (primarily apartments so not helpful), (not many listings and primarily looking for roommates not families), craigslist (be far the most helpful but no luck yet), and www.militarybyowner. com (strangely outdated listings). Are we missing something? We've been looking for the past four months and still no luck. Perhaps our rental limit is keeping us back (we want it under 2,500 a month)? We're trying to find something in the Arlington, Falls Church, and more gentrified areas of DC. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. We're supposed to be moving in a month.
posted by notcomputersavvy06 to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: No new suggestions here, but I will note that mashes up craigslist and google maps, so that may help you in looking.
posted by fings at 10:22 AM on May 17, 2007

Try , make a list of the properties you'd like to see and then call a realtor to schedule showings. Good luck!
posted by necessitas at 10:29 AM on May 17, 2007

An actual single-family house, walking distance to metro, good school, good neighborhood, for $2500/mo. may be very tough to find. Not saying that it doesn't exist, but that's a very stringent list of criteria. Particularly the "house" and "walking distance to metro." That alone probably means you're looking to rent a $750,000 house, maybe more like $1M depending on location. Single family houses near metro are scarce, and they're not cheap.

If you relaxed your criteria out to "walking distance to public transport" (e.g., the DASH bus in Alexandria or MetroBus elsewhere), you'd probably find a lot more, particularly in the southern part of Alexandria and parts of Arlington.

Anyway, if you really don't want to compromise, you might try just driving around some of the neighborhoods near metros and see if you see any "For Rent" signs ... maybe you'll get lucky. There are quite a few older homes, some rentals, in Crystal City near 23rd St. ("Aurora Hills" neighborhood), I once rented a room in there that was fairly inexpensive. But most of those places are in the process of being McMansionized; even a real dump there sells for more than half a mil, and rental prices aren't that great either. (Why rent it out when in this market you can cash out?)

Working with a realtor may be your only option, but I'd prepare to either moderate your expectations, or increase your price range.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:25 AM on May 17, 2007

I've rented via Formant Realty before, and they were pretty easy to deal with--the only time in my entire rental history that I got my full deposit back. They concentrate on the Capitol Hill area, so just about everything is relatively close to Metro. Be careful though--neighborhoods can go from comfortable to dicey in a single block.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:52 PM on May 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with Kadin2048. Several friends of mine have recently sought three bedroom places in NW DC and metro accessible suburbs, and they've had many fewer requirements than you've cited for amenities, and even then, finding places under $2500 a month is tough. You're probably going to have to up your budget or expand your search to less desirable neighborhoods in order to find something.

Of course, some people get lucky, so I'm not going to say it won't happen, but that price is on the very low side for single family homes in gentrified neighborhoods with good schools on streets with little traffic.
posted by decathecting at 4:42 PM on May 17, 2007

I think the problem is that many people who live here wishes they could find this perfect hypothetical place you're describing. You will almost surely need to compromise one or more items - you may want to rank your preferences and see what falls off the bottom. If you really need all of those things, be prepared to pay a lot more.

For example, the further out you get, the further it is between metro stations... or, at least, the stations are more "commuter" in nature, and not part of residential neighborhoods the way they are in some parts of downtown.

You'll definitely get more house/lawn/school for your money, if you're willing to live a little further outside of town (Rockville/Upper Bethesda area, for example), and are willing to be further from Metro stations.
posted by nkknkk at 4:47 PM on May 17, 2007

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