Today I signed my new lease for my apartment in D.C!!!!! YAY! I have to place to crash, cook, live and store my clothes!!!! This was no easy feat. Let me explain to you that first, I am a Californian, so in the beginning of my search, my enthusiastic, yet not so polished initial emails to potential landlords did not evoke many responses initially. I got some good advice from MIIS friends that when first approaching new people in D.C, especially through email, try to make it look like a cover letter. This was good advice that I hope to put into practice in many other domains...perhaps when I try and purchase a fixy to get to and from the health food store....but I digress.
Here is an example of the email that I sent:
Dear Property owner,
I am a young professional in my 30s looking to move to D.C to start my career in International development. I am moving with my husband of 2 years so we would be two people living here. I need a furnished place fro 6 months, starting January 23rd (or february 1st, whatever works best) and I would possibly be moving in August. we have no pets nor a car.
I am able to play a month or two of rent plus a deposit in advance when I arrive in D.C on the 23rd. I am currently visiting relatives in France, I am not able to tour this apartment yet. But it is very nice from the pictures, perhaps we could set up a time to do a skype tour?
thanks for your help, happy new year! Please don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So after a few tweaks to my initial greetings to potential new landlords, i started getting responses. Let me also say that it seems to be that the closer one gets to a moving date, the more interested landlords are in responding to you (but this is not always the case).
Secondly, I have fairly strict parameters for living conditions, especially for a person in my situation. Whereas most of my intern comrades are happy to share a bunk bed in a 5 room house with 15 roommates, my relationship status necessitates individual apartments, strictly no roommates. Also, having spent 10 days in Washington for the Inauguration of our sitting president, does not give one much of an idea of where or what things are. I know Dupont circle, Adams Morgan, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. Outside of these districts, I have absolutely no idea what anything is.
Thirdly, I am looking for a short term lease with a furnished apartment, so the thing that makes the most sense is a sublease. However, it seems most subletters (is that how you spell it?) seem to be also out of town and have decided to sublease their place after already moving out. Not awesome.
Fourthly, I am doing all this from France. The time difference is 6 hours, and I cannot do a single tour in person. Add all this together, and voila, my life for the past few weeks.
I would like to add that craigslist seemed to be primed to separate me from my money with little to no assurance that I would actually have a place to move into. Click here to see some of the exact things that I almost fell for like 10 times...
Eventually I found a great place, that i was able to take a virtual tour of through skype. Luckily i belong to a wonder group of people called Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. I joined their washingotn D.C facebook group, and I advertised my conditions and I had many people suggest places to check out. I really like facebook for this, and it's also how I found my place to move to for the beginning of MIIS, while I was still serving my term in Burkina Faso, in Peace Corps. So at the end of the day, it's Facebook 2 craigslist 0.