Advice on Housing
Moving to a new city and looking for a place to live is always challenging. On this page, we have gathered together suggestions from current and former students who want to share their experiences on finding a place to live in the DC Metro Area. While this is meant as a helpful guide to prospective students, it is not an endorsement of any one site or service. We will update this page on an ongoing basis to reflect feedback from students and new resources as we come across them.
Links to online articles:
http://www.expressnightout.com/2012/04/a-home-of-your-very-own/ This page has an embedded Ready to Rent digital flyer.
Housing Assistance sites:
http://och.gmu.edu/ George Mason University's Off-Campus Housing site is helfpul but is more focused on Fairfax County in Northern VA, which is within reasonable commuting distance.
Tips from current and former students:
- I came to DC in early July and spent a day (with a family member) walking around neighborhoods and riding the metro around the district figuring out what the neighborhoods were like in reality, not just reading about them on websites. Helped me figure out where things were located, distance to the mall, and most importantly- what neighborhoods seemed safe.
- On living in the city vs. the suburbs but near a metro: The two last stops on the Orange line, Dunn Loring and Vienna in Northern Virginia, are all of 35 minutes away from the Smithsonian. And, there are several apartment buildings within a 5-10 minute walk; they are near groceries, on bus lines to shopping malls, etc.
- If you can handle a longer metro commute, the rents are much lower further away from the city. There are lovely neighborhoods at the end of the Red line and they can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than apartments that are downtown.
- Alexandria, VA is much closer to the Smithsonian than the further reaches of the Red Line in MD (and the trains, Blue and Yellow, seem to run more frequently).
- Real estate moves very quickly if you are looking to live in DC. When I went to open houses in Capitol Hill people were ready with their checkbooks to hand over security deposits. I wasn't ready for this and lost a few apartments as a result, so be ready to say yes right away!
- Live near a metro. The first year I commuted via bus and then metro and it was a headache.
- I like living in DC a million times more than I did living in Alexandria, VA. If you want to move to VA I would suggest Arlington or somewhere near there. I'm not sure that the money I saved in rent was worth the money on transportation and time commuting.
From a landlady's perspective:
- Rental housing gets unbelievably competitive in the late summer and landlords can usually have their pick from a long list of applicants. With this in mind, it is a great idea for a prospective tenant to have a credit report in hand to leave with the rental application. It is also helpful to let the landlord know if a parent is planning to co-sign the lease.
- Rents tend to be higher in "pet-friendly" buildings because they in greater demand. So, if one isn't moving to DC with a pet in tow, skip those buildings.