Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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!

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