Apartment hunting in DC is much like finding an apartment in any other big city, and can, at times, be frustrating. It’s important to know a few key facts about what kind of living situation you’re looking for, for example, whether or not you need a roommate(s); how long you will be living in DC; how close you will be to your office; and your budget. Once you have these factors in mind, you’re ready to start searching.
Zoomdojo tip: Check out Oregon State's guide to finding good, affordable housing in DC.
Start Early: Things turnaround pretty quickly, especially on websites like Craigslist—so if you see a posting that works for you, jump on it quickly! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get anywhere right away—these things can take time. That said, it’s best not to sign up for anything, until after you have seen and researched the place, area, and the person you are renting/subletting from. If you need to wait until you officially arrive in DC in order to visit potential apartments, plan to stay with a friend for a few days, or try CouchSurfing before you settle down in your own place.
Useful Sources: Craigslist.com and sublet.com are good for general searches. For DC specific listings, check The Washington Post and The Washington City Paper in the classified section. There are several universities in DC with summer housing, specifically Georgetown University, GW University, and American University, to name a few. Additionally, email friends and check Facebook groups for potential roommates.
Prices: The number one complaint about living in DC is the expensive housing prices—they can be a doozy. Depending upon the type of apartment and the area, prices can run anywhere from $800-2500 per month. A general rule of thumb, however, is that the further away from the city the housing is, the lower prices will be. Many interns or recent graduates look for housing in Northwest DC, Virginia, or Maryland and use the convenient and affordable metro to commute into the city. If you are planning on bringing a car to the city, keep in mind that you will need housing that provides parking; this can also get pretty expensive at approx. $10 per day.
Suburbs: There are several suburbs in the DC metro area where you can look for a place to stay for the summer. Recommended suburbs include Arlington, VA; Alexandria, VA; and Bethesda, MD. These three are all located 20-45 minutes outside of downtown DC.
Safety: Like any big city, Washington has its share of crime, so it is best to take any precautions you can when choosing the right housing. Look for apartments in well-lit areas, with security close to the building. Typically, Northeast and Southeast DC tend to be less safe, becoming safer as you move towards the Capitol.
Amenities: If amenities like a gym, washer/dryer, Wi-Fi, etc. are important to you in your search, you should keep your eyes peeled for these extras as you look at different locations online and onsite. Usually, in descriptions of apartments, it will mention which amenities are available and if there is an extra cost.