Housing in DC
Cost. Housing costs vary a lot in D.C. depending on the location and property type but expect to pay at least 2-3 times what your rent costs in Albuquerque. The cheapest options are typically postings from people with a spare room they want to rent out. Single or studio apartments are typically the most expensive, but it is possible to find great deals from individuals who are away from D.C. and want to sublet a room or apartment for only a few months.
Neighborhoods. Take some time to read about D.C. neighborhoods and make sure you understand the areas that you are considering. Living near a Metro station is ideal, but take into consideration the possibility of bus routes if you find a great place to live that is not close to a Metro.
Group housing. If you want to live with other UNM students, you will need to plan ahead since most short-term options are simply a spare room in a larger unit and it can be difficult to find multi-room listings. If you see one posted, you should act quickly before it is rented out. Another option is finding a multi-room apartment that is either being sublet or the complex offers short-term rentals. However, a short lease means higher rent. Also, most apartments don’t offer furnished units, so you will either have to buy, bring your own, or rent. Regardless, if you are interested in living with a group of students you need to allow more time to prepare, search for, and secure housing.
Living solo. It is not difficult to find a single room for rent in D.C. In fact, it’s easy to look online, find a room, and secure it in an afternoon. D.C. tenants are constantly on the move. While it is possible to secure a semester lease up to 6 months out or more, most room listings are posted closer to 1-2 months from their availability. The rule is to be patient.
Listings go FAST! If you see a post for a room you like you cannot wait long to think it over. Housing is a hot commodity in D.C. and if you find something that looks good, dozens of other people are thinking the same thing. It is not uncommon for someone to secure a renter within 24 hours of a posting. This is why it is important to understand the neighborhood and know exactly what you are looking for before you begin to seriously consider any posted rooms.
When responding to a posting, include some basic information about yourself so that your response stands out and looks appealing. Landlords can get dozens and dozens of responses after posting a room for rent. Don’t make them have to respond back to you to get basic info about who you are – other peoples’ inquiries will include interesting background and yours will be deleted.
Scams. Trust your instincts if you find a listing that seems suspicious. Scammers often post reasonable looking units/rooms for rent and, after you contact them, they ask for a pre-payment, deposit, or other banking information. Don’t be caught off guard. If something seems suspicious, ask to speak with them on the phone or say that you would like to see the property (ask to do this even if you are unable to be in D.C. at the time). Typically, these simple questions or requests will stop a scammer from emailing or contacting you further – you’ve called their bluff.