I knew D.C. was going to be expensive when I came back to the area, but some of these prices still get me every time.
Living in Atlanta, I had a 1BD apartment in a great building and location for $1300. Here, people are paying that much for a room in a house.
You’re for sure going 2K+ for a nicer spot and that may or may not be including amenities. There are some unicorn spaces out here, they’re just hard to find.
These are a few sites I’ve been using to hunt them down:
HotPads has been surprisingly good for deep diving into listings, and it also pulls up private bedrooms in homes.
Apartments.com is to apartment hunting what Oyster.com is to searching for a hotel. I love both of these sites because they tend to have more pictures and virtual tours so you can really get a good look at the property. If the place I’m searching doesn’t appear on those sites, I side eye them.
Bungalow and Common Living provide beautiful co-living spaces; while I love the idea and those nice houses, I still haven’t sold myself on co-living just yet. Honestly, the price point for the nicer private rooms in shared units is near that of some 1 bedrooms and studios I’ve come across. I’m still holding out for my golden ticket.
Affordable Dwelling Unit Program
The ADU program makes units in some buildings affordable for people within certain salary ranges - sounds great, but finding out which buildings even participate in the program is a beast of its own.
DCHousingSearch.org is a free site funded by the city’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), but the only thing I really use it for is to try to spot buildings with ADUs. The site lists affordable housing options, but they include units within the Inclusionary Zoning program, which you have to go to a program for, and you get picked through a lottery process, and just a whole lot of other stuff most of us really aren’t trying to make time for if we don’t have to.
The difference between IZ units and ADUs is that with the ADU, all you have to do is fall within a certain salary range and you get a lowered rent on select units within a building (if they’re available). To my knowledge, the buildings that participate get tax and zoning cuts or something like that as incentive to participate in the program.
I only heard about this program through word of mouth - it typically isn’t advertised on a building’s site if they have ADUs. You can send an email to the leasing office to see if they participate. Even if they don’t, they may be able to suggest another apartment complex that does.
I recommend hitting up the newer buildings, if you aren’t looking to move immediately; like the one’s just about to open or that are still being built. This could put you in front of the line when it comes to available ADU units, or even other rent specials they may be rolling out.
Bozzuto has some of the best properties on the east coast, in my opinion, from the building design to the service (and their SmartRent program!). They have several residences in the DMV area that participate in the program, like Rhode Island Row (right across from the train station), Residences on The Avenue (right across from Foggy Bottom Station and above a Whole Foods), and Monroe Street Market (right across from Brookland Station and on top of Busboys and Poets and a Barnes and Noble).
A side bar about Monroe Street Market: I went there for a tour and was a bit shy about asking about the program, because I’m weird like that. I had nothing to worry about; they were very open about the program and put me on the list of people they notify when new ones become available. So don’t feel awkward about asking!
Craigslist Red Flags
Because scammers have become extremely jiggy with their tactics, I thought an updated list of things to look out for besides listings with no pictures was a good idea:
Listings with just 1 picture, especially with no website.
People that want you to fill out deep information of yourself before you even get to tour the place (example: I reached out about a room in a house and the reply I got wanted me to fill out a JotForm for a “prescreening.” Their whole thing was if I passed their prescreening, I’d get the application fee or something like that waived. That struck me as odd, so I didn’t bother replying. I had went against my better judgement that this listing was too good to be true in the first place and reached out anyway, which brings me to my next point)
If sounds it’s too good to be true, it is. That listing said it would be $950 for a room with a private bathroom and wifi and a rack of other amenities included. On top of that sounding way too good to be true, I saw multiple other listings priced at $950 selling the same dream. They almost looked legit - they had multiple pictures and even a little information about the neighborhoods they were in. Some had addresses, which lifted another red flag for me:
Addresses that are listed to condos. Not that somebody couldn’t be renting out a unit in a condo building, but it still seemed odd. I saw a listing that said it was listed in a particular building, but the address in the listing didn’t match up to the location of the building mentioned. Bandera roja.
Listings that seem to be from rental agencies, but have no official website. Any business meant to be taken seriously should have some sort of website, especially in this field.