Looking for a New Place to Call Home?
As one of the country’s biggest metropolitan areas, Washington, DC’s population is expected to surpass 700,000 residents soon.
That’s hardly surprising considering our nation’s capital has a lot to offer, including robust job growth, a rich history, and eclectic neighborhoods.
That also means if you’re planning on moving to the District, you may find the apartment search challenging.
Luckily, we’ve been around the block a time or two. We know exactly what you should do to find the apartment of your dreams.
Here are some tips on how to find the best apartments in DC and what you can do to maximize your chances of securing the perfect place.
When to Start Looking for Apartments
You should prepare to spend about two months on your apartment hunt, particularly in DC.
That’s about the average amount of time it takes to find the ideal unit in large US cities.
For more affordable prices and a more extensive selection, the winter months — December through March — are the best time to search for an apartment in DC.
The same can be said for most major American cities for a few reasons.
During the warmer months, you’re competing with more prospective renters, including new grads, job hoppers, and relocating families. Because of this landlords can raise their rents.
Many people also prefer not to venture out in the cold to look at units.
So bundle up, get out there, and take advantage of rent drops over the winter months.
Establish a Budget
You’ll also need to know what kind of rent you can afford before you begin your apartment search.
Calculate your total monthly income first.
Next, make a list of estimated expenses. Include groceries and utilities (if they aren’t included in the rent) as well as your monthly phone bill, car payments, and student loans.
If you plan on having cable and/or WiFi access in your new space, you’ll need to factor those expenses in as well.
Sometimes your property management company will offer these services for a specially negotiated price that is bundled into your rent. Take this into account before you install your own cable and WiFi.
Getting these expenses on paper will help you determine what you can afford on your own. And if you can’t afford it on your own, you may need to consider getting a roommate to help with costs.
Ideally, you should have a rent price range in mind that is no higher than one-third of your total monthly income.
If you plan on bringing a pet with you, you’ll obviously need to look at pet-friendly apartments. And be aware of their rules and limitations.
Some places have limits on how large a dog can be or how many cats can live in the unit.
Many places also have pet deposits and fees, so factor that into your budget as well.
Lastly, make sure to review your parking options. Any parking fees can definitely take a chunk out of your disposable income.
Get to Know Each Neighborhood
DC is made up of four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast.
Do research on each one, including their crime rate, commuter options, and proximity to your place of employment.
Local neighborhood guides will also provide a snapshot of each neighborhood, giving you an idea of the demographics, diversity, local attractions, and housing options.
Have some fun by actually visiting the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Take time to check out the local scene.
As perfect as an area may sound online, nothing beats seeing it in person. Bonus points if you chat up the locals.
Whenever you can, talk to residents and small business owners to get their opinions of the neighborhood and any apartment recommendations.
This will help narrow down your search. You should have a few DC neighborhoods in mind before you start looking at listings.
Be Paperwork Prepared
Since apartment hunting in DC tends to be competitive, you should have all the necessary paperwork ready before starting your search.
This will make the lease signing process go much smoother once you find the right place.
Documents you will need include:
- Your two most recent pay stubs or other proof of income
- An ID such as a driver’s license or passport
- Written references from past landlords or, if it’s your first apartment, from employers
Make sure you also have enough money saved to up.
You already know that you need to cover the first month’s deposit. But you also have to buy food, cleaning supplies, and any furniture you’ll need once you’ve settled into your new digs.
Get to Know Each Neighborhood
The most obvious place to begin your apartment hunt is online.
Craigslist is a popular and now searchable site, but you do need to be aware of scams. Use a trusted apartment search site like ours to ensure you’re seeing only authentic listings.
If you don’t mind paying a fee in exchange for freeing up some time and stress from the apartment hunting process, working with a DC-area rental agency may be the way to go.
Some of these companies act like an online matchmaker, only emailing you listings that fit your criteria.
You may also want to take reviews from other renters into consideration when choosing a DC apartment complex.
ApartmentRatings is like a Yelp for renters, revealing how a property scores on the noise level, safety, maintenance, and more. Written reviews are provided by residents as well.
You should be able to locate reviews online of property management companies and landlords.
More Info on DC Apartments
We have a wealth of additional information for choosing the right apartments in DC.
From the best places to eat in each neighborhood to commuter options, we can help you get started living your best life in DC.
And when it comes time to look for apartment buildings, look no further than our apartments.
Come in today and join our incredible community.