Saturday, February 26, 2011

Furnishing the New Digs

Now that I've found my apartment, I am in the midst of finding rental furnishings. There are a lot of programs out there that offer different discounts, terms, furniture, etc.

To the internet!

Ok, so I also started off with the recommendations of the some people in the apartment industry (Thanks to Mama Martin) and also what former TDY-ers like myself have done.

Time out
TDY = Temporary Duty Assignment. I don't know where the Y came from unless it's from "Duty" and TSA would confuse the alphabet soup that is the government.
Time in

How did I finally decide on which company to use? The offering of a sleeper sofa. That's right. That's how I decided. All other factors (price, delivery, fees, etc.) were mostly equal, I needed a defining characteristic. I know that I have friends and family that want to visit while I am in DC, so I knew that I would need a place for them to sleep. (Or in the case of the parents and grandparents, a place I would like to sleep while they're in my bed.)

The team at Churchill Corporate Furniture have been great and answering all of my questions and changing my order as my mood changes.

The great thing about these furniture rental companies is that I can also rent a vacuum, DVD player, TV,  and all of the kitchen pieces. I plan on bringing my own linens though because that? Gives me the heebeejeebees. I will probably get lamps out there because I don't know where I will want the lamps and how many I will need. As far as decor, I have a couple of things that I'll be bringing, but the minimalist look is so in right now, right?

Without further adieu, here's what I've got on the furnishings so far:
Dining Room

Dresser sans mirror with matching nightstands

Coffee and end tables

The prophet sleeper sofa...and a POP! of color
Granted, my dream sleeper sofa was a fold flat chaise/sofa number with an ottoman that turns into a queen bed and had storage underneath. Sadly, it wasn't available for my lease term. Sad. Face.

Seriously. How perfect would that have been?!
Oh well. It wasn't meant to be. C'est la vie.

Next up on the checklist is utilities. Verizon or Comcast? Comcast or DirectTV? Oy. This could get interesting.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What Is A Zipcar?

Instead of taking Bruce, my Subaru Legacy, across the country to pay for parking, insurance, and gas, I am going to depend on the Metro trains and buses, my two trusty feet, and Zipcar.

Now, being from a city that doesn't have Zipcar, I had to google it, then stalk their website for answers.

Located in about 50 cities in North America, Zipcar is an alternative to owning a car. Basically, there's a fleet of cars - ranging from a Kia Soul to BMW 358xi to Ford Escapes - that have their own name and "homes".  Basically, you book a car for a timeframe - from an hour to days - and then you tool around town and have a car at your disposal. The rates are incredibly reasonable and you get discounts for certain days, types of cars, and how much you use it.

The benefits are amazing because you don't pay for gas, insurance, or parking (well, I mean, if you go somewhere you might, but I mean for storage). You also keep your carbon footprint down because you share the cars with other people.

When you're ready to go, you just walk up to the car that you checked out, put your zipcard up to the windshield and a little transmitter knows that it's you and that you have the car for that designated period. The doors unlock, the keys are inside, and off you go! I think that their iPhone app even unlocks the car for you when you're logged in. Regardless, the little remote on the app is fun to play with.

Since you can reserve the cars at any time, I will use them for my major Target runs, Georgetown shopping trips, and to pick up and drop off some of my visitors.

It's something I'm looking forward to using since I'll be able to drive such a wide variety of cars and pick one up where ever I might be in the District at the time.

Long Distance Apartment Hunting

To add to the stress excitement of moving to DC in six weeks, I needed to find a place to live based on opinions from trusted sources (not apartment managers), google stalking, walk scoring, and several phone calls to the buildings to ask a bunch of questions about amenities and having them email me all the information, too.

In the past 10 days, I have thoroughly looked all over and I have found a place, but in the matter of safety, I'm not going to post about where I'll be living. What I will tell you is how I came about an apartment, sight unseen, in a nice step-by-step format.

  1. Blast an email to anyone that you can remember from your life that lives in or around where you'll be moving to see if they know anything or anyone that can send more info. Ask for details like: what neighborhood? What neighborhoods to avoid? How about mass transit? What's parking like? What average rent for an apartment?
  2. Figure out your MUST Haves and your would likes. For example, I MUST have in-unit washer/dryer, close to mass transit and grocery, one bedroom, A/C, dishwasher. I would like hardwood floors, a balcony, low rent, pool, gym, zipcar on site. (A whole post about that later.)
  3. Once you have some ideas on where to look, start using google, forrent. com,, etc. to find buildings in your area. Craigslist creeps me out, but the local newspaper may also have some listings. You can narrow down by rent, amenities, location, and other requirements.
  4. If you're not taking a car, go to and see how the place fairs. I wanted to be close to mass transit, convenience store, coffee shop, restaurants, and a grocery store. It also points out gyms, parks, hospitals, and schools. The higher the walk score, the better it is for someone to get around on foot.
  5. There are a lot of websites with reviews out there. Read them, see what other people have to say. The website for the building is only going to have all the good information, best pictures, etc. so someone's perspective on the actual living aspect is good to have.
  6. Use streetview on google, if available. Take a walk around the blocks to see what it's like where you'll be. I went to one site that the building was still under construction. While it's good to know that the building is new, a look around the surrounding neighborhood is not so great.
  7. Call the building and see if you qualify and if there's availability. No need to get your heart set on a place if there's no place for you to be. You also may have income qualifications which can limit your search.
  8. Show the pictures and discuss with people that know you and, if possible, have lived with you. Oh, and these people have to be honest. If you give them some options they can give you some pros and cons that you may have not thought of before.
  9. Go with your gut. When you find a place that meets your MUST haves and some of your would likes that's in a part of town that you want to be in, then sign up, get your deposit in and start figuring out utilities, movers, flights, and anything else.
Now that I've found a place, I am having to find furniture to furnish the place, so I'll post about that, too. So much to do, only four weeks to go!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How It All Starts

I have decided to start a side blog to chronicle my adventures as I pick up and move across the country, and explore what it's like to live in a great, big, East Coast city far from my suburban life in a square state  where the buffalo roam.

Here's an excerpt from my post that announced the big move and bigger opportunity on Caffeine & Cocktails:

I'm moving to Washington, DC for a year as part of a "temporary duty assignment". I will be taking on a position to help transition to the next generation of software. I could totally go geek on you and talk more about it, but really, I don't think a lot of people care all that much about what I'll be doing. I'll be there for a year, am welcoming visitors to indulge my touristy side, and cannot wait to see what this crazy opportunity has in store for me!

How did this all come about? Well, my boss sent me a link for a loan-a-case-manager program with the details that their anticipated start date was January 18. The date that I received the link? January 10. So, I thought it over, asked for my boss' boss' blessing, (well, I had to have it), and sent off my resume forgetting all about the position. A month later, I checked my application status and there was no change, so I figured that the position was filled or simply I didn't make the cut.

That is, until I got an email with "Interview?" in the subject line. 

Wait. What?

They had not filled the position and they wanted me to interview for it!!!! Omigodomigodomigodomigod! Not only that, they wanted to have their decision made my the end of the week.

That's it. I was offered the position, I accepted. (Really, if there was anything to think about, I shouldn't have applied for it.) Now, I'm on the fast track to call The District my home for the next year.

The last time I was in this city (aside from driving by it on the way to the airport in Baltimore), I was 12 and on a tour with my classmates and our teachers. Pretty sure I could name all the monuments, but have no idea where any of them are located.

That's what maps and apps are for, right?

So far, I have google stalked, wiki stalked, walk scored, and inundated my friends that have any kind of knowledge of the areas in DC. 

I am looking to create a DC Bucket List and I have already got a couple things compiled:
  • Visit all of the presidential memorials
  • Visit all of the armed forces/war memorials
  • Find that "Awakening" sculpture again
  • Visit all the Smithsonian museums
  • Visit the White House (on a legit tour, not go all Salahi on the place.)
  • Visit the Supreme Court
  • Visit the U.S. Capital
  • Visit the National Archives/Library of Congress
What else should I add to this list?

And since I identify a litte with Mizz Elle Woods, I totally will be channelling my inner (and outer) blonde to take over the city...except I won't have a purse sized dog or wear a pillbox hat, but feel free to call me Capital Barbie.