Dear PoP – Moving to DC and Getting a space in a Group House

Photo by PoPville flickr user rockcreek

“Dear PoP,

I recently found out that I will be moving to DC in the winter and was wondering if you knew what the typical lead time is for finding a place to live in the city, specifically a room within a group house. Basically, I’m trying to plan when I should begin making weekend trips to DC to check places out, but really don’t have the slightest idea as to how early people typically list openings in the city. Thoughts?”

I gotta think about a month or 6 weeks would be a good lead time. Is that too cautious not cautious enough? I’d think you’d want to give yourself a little more time in order to familiarize yourself a bit with the different neighborhoods. I’d say 6 weeks. What do you guys think?

14 Comment

  • You can always stay at the Petworth hostel while you look for more permanent housing…

  • If using Cragislist, I’d say 30 days or less. Typically less. I found when I used it that listings would pop up in the first week of the month for a room to rent beginning the first of the next month. 6 weeks may be too early to find available rooms. But looking earlier and traveling will give you a better idea of where you want to live in the city.

  • Most places require 30 days notice before moving out. You can try looking before 4 or 5 weeks out, but I would bet you don’t find anything until about a month before the move in date. It can be stressful with such a short time frame. I suggest allowing a bit of flexibility with your move in date.

  • Thats house looks like lala land

  • Only took me five days. I camped on someone’s couch, wrote a check, moved in a few days later. I admit my timing was perfect though — I beat seven other prospective tenants by willing to show up at the landlord’s house at like 10 PM, which some people I guess won’t do for a basement in Kalorama?

  • Try to sublet if you can. I did that when I first moved. Subleted a group house room for a month, and used that time to figure out where in the city I wanted to live. Finding a room in a group house is actually quite difficult. It’s like going on a job interview, because there’s always tons of people in this city looking for a room. So if you can at least get a toehold with a sublet or short-term situation, that will help you a lot.

  • Start sooner than later! We had 20 people show up for an open room in our house. I felt so bad we could only take one. It IS like a job interview!

  • From my own house hunting and room offering experience, group houses generally advertise openings 30 days in advance. Be ready to visit a lot of places; finding space in a group house is an (almost) full time job. Competition is fierce. I looked at 45 places to find a room. Our most recent CL ad for a room in Columbia Heights garnered 370 responses. Good luck!

  • We usually hold open houses within a month before the move-in date. When I was room-hunting, I had my best luck in the two weeks before I needed a place.

  • CHisOK! – I think it’s more like fraternity rush than a job interview…

  • Just, for the love of god, don’t send out emails asking if you can move into someone’s spare room with your mother/pet/fiancee/friend. I rent out my spare room and seriously got at least one response with someone trying to bring each of the above.

    In all seriousness, about a month. I listed mine 6 weeks before it was available, though.

  • I’d say you’re unlikely to secure anything more than 20 days out in that kind of living situation. But its competitive so I’d come out two weekends within that period and set up multiple visits within each visit.

  • And make sure if they ask for references that the people you list actually get back to people. I’ve dropped applicants because their references never got back to me.

    A few weekends before coming out is helpful and ditto on the not sending “out emails asking if you can move into someone’s spare room with your mother/ pet/ fiancee/ friend.” Jeez, if I wanted two roommates instead of one I would have advertised for it.
    And don’t bitch about the amount of rent posted unless the poster/landlord said it was negotiable. And if it is negotiable have something other than pity to bargain with. Otherwise stick to the places you can afford.

Comments are closed.