Thursday, April 27, 2017

Making D.C. Home

Searching for housing can be stressful, especially in an unfamiliar city. As is often the case with these things, I simply got lucky – my colleague had a friend who needed a new roommate for his two-bedroom apartment, and she thought we would be a good match. I happened to be going to DC for my college reunion a couple of weeks later, so made the time to meet him and visit the apartment. At the time, I didn’t think the location was ideal, but the place was beautiful and he and I hit it off. Knowing how particular I am about cleanliness and maintaining a certain (calm) home environment, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity. Soon after, I signed a lease – and just this week, I renewed it for another year!

My story’s happy ending perhaps belies the stress that preceded it! You might be feeling overwhelmed by the time and research required to find a place – not to mention the uncertainty, if you’re outside the city and/or bunking up with strangers. But don’t despair! My experience should also serve to reassure you that things do work out. While August may seem far away, the best way to reduce stress and maximize your options is to get an early start. Begin getting the word out to your friends and family that you’ll be moving to DC soon. Even if you don’t know anyone in the city you might, like me, have a friend who does! While I know plenty of people who have had great luck finding roommates on sites like Craigslist, I’ve always preferred connecting with or through people I know. Also be sure to check out the resources that SAIS offers and link up through your class Facebook group. Those are great places to learn about the neighborhoods in DC and about potential openings.

I love taking advantage of my rooftop when the weather gets nice

To narrow down your search, think about what is most important to you. Is it proximity to campus? Access to public transportation? A dishwasher? Your own bathroom? If you can’t visit an apartment in person, be sure to request actual pictures (not “stock photos”) or even video tours. Then, think about your ideal roommate. Do you want to live with one person, or with a group? With fellow students or SAIS outsiders? Someone who likes to host parties and socialize, or someone more introverted? Most importantly, be absolutely honest with the person or people you’re considering living with. What are your deal-breakers? Where are you willing to compromise? What does a “clean” apartment look like to you and how do you expect to share the responsibility of maintaining it? Being frank about these things before making a commitment can help prevent conflicts in the future.

Good luck to you with the housing search! The best news is that DC is a great city to live in, with each neighborhood offering its own advantages. I don’t think you can go wrong!

Thanks for reading,
Daphe (Student Blogger)