Regardless which school you attend in Washington, DC, you are going to be faced with big decisions, when it comes to housing. Obviously, if you are living on campus, you will simply need to focus on downsizing your shoe collection you intended on taking. If you are planning to move off-campus, things get a little tricky. There are studio and one bedroom apartments to be found, but you may find it more affordable to get one or more roommates and secure a large place.
Find a Rental
Most of the major universities have someone in the housing office who can give you a list of recommended nearby rentals. Some schools offer this service right on their website. For example, if you are going to Georgetown University you can access a housing list on the site. You will find that you can rent a room at numerous locations on 6th Street and Western Ave. You can also find affordable one bedroom units on Ingomar St.
You should also check the boards in the cafeteria or dorms where people list their need for a roommate. If these options don’t help, check out Craigslist and other online rental sites, as well as the “Washington Post” and “Washington City Paper.”
Generally, the farther away from the campus, the more affordable housing is. However, this also means a longer commute, and public transportation may not be as available as what you will enjoy close to school. The Metro is the main source of public transportation, but there are several bus lines that run through the DC Metro Area. If you move close enough, you can always walk or ride your bike.
Rental options can be scarce near all campuses in August. It is a competitive market, so have your checkbook with you and be ready to sign a lease, if you find one. It is not a bad idea to try to find a place in July instead, so you don’t have to fight the masses for the vacancies. Plus, this will give you time to enjoy the area and secure a job, if you plan on working. If you are trying to move off-campus during the middle of the school year the selection may be very slim. Your best option might be to find a room for rent or look for someone in need of a roommate.
Before You Sign
The first thing you need to do is verify that your landlord is licensed to rent in DC. The law here requires property owners to obtain a Basic Business License (BBL) issued by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Second, always read through your lease. Leases can vary significantly from landlord or apartment complex to the next. Make sure you are comfortable with what you are signing and know your rights and responsibilities.
Lastly, do a rental walk through with your landlord, so any damage can be noted by both of you. This will ensure you don’t get charged for it when you move out.
You will likely either love or hate having roommates. You do not have to be best friends, but you do have to be respectful of one another. You should all sit together and create some ground rules. Make sure everyone signs the rules and receives a copy. During this time you should also work out rent, utilities, groceries, and other expenses, and determine how much everyone owes, or if each person will be responsible for a specific bill.