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Summer Internship in DC - Housing

PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Just found out I got accepted to a summer internship in DC. It will be from June 1st through August and because of circumstances (like me being overseas right now) I probably won't able to physically be in DC until late on May 30th. I've never rented a place without being in the same city before (either the company put me in temporary housing first or housing was covered) so...

How does one go about securing housing without being there, without risking being committed to a dump or defrauded? Or should I just plan on staying in a hostel/cheap hotel for the first week and finding a place after I get there (which will be a pain working full time and with no car, but doable)

Also, does the DC metro really not have a monthly pass/bulk discount? That seems so archaic. How is the UMD-college park to downtown DC commute? Just browsing craigslist it appears the cheapest places with metro access are from college students leaving for the summer.

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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The Smartpass is what regular commuters use for the DC metro. The DC metro sucks, and is the worst public train system for a major city in the US. Nonetheless, it's what we've got.

    Craigslist is honestly the primary method of finding a place around here, especially a place on the cheap as a roommate to someone already renting. The only way to be sure you're not going to get defrauded is not to pay them till you're here. You could try communicating with various people on craigslist and see if someone will rent you the room and let you hold off on paying till you've shown up.

    College park to DC is a pretty big commute. Where specifically are you interning? If you're going to be in the Farragut area, you might consider finding a room somewhere in Falls Church and bicycling to the metro there.

    Darkewolfe on
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    HerkimerHerkimer Registered User regular
    edited May 2010

    How does one go about securing housing without being there, without risking being committed to a dump or defrauded? Or should I just plan on staying in a hostel/cheap hotel for the first week and finding a place after I get there (which will be a pain working full time and with no car, but doable)

    Craigslist, or the WaPo website, but neither of those is going to be able to guarantee that you're not going to get scammed or buy in to a rathole. Is there someone there who can do a bit of legwork for you?
    Also, does the DC metro really not have a monthly pass/bulk discount? That seems so archaic.

    Eh, I got a discount when I lived there, but that might be because I was working for the federal government. Dunno how it is for non-feds.
    How is the UMD-college park to downtown DC commute? Just browsing craigslist it appears the cheapest places with metro access are from college students leaving for the summer.

    If you can live close to the green line station, it wouldn't be bad at all. You could probably get to either the 7th Street or Gallery Place stations in about 20 minutes.

    Herkimer on
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    bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    From what I gathered when I was there, there are smart-card style fares too, which may be what you're looking for.

    As for housing, look the same way you would anywhere else, rental advertisements in papers/craigslist/apartmentfinder.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
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    PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    College park to DC is a pretty big commute. Where specifically are you interning? If you're going to be in the Farragut area, you might consider finding a room somewhere in Falls Church and bicycling to the metro there.

    I'm interning at the Senate, so I will be taking the metro to Union Station.
    Herkimer wrote:
    Craigslist, or the WaPo website, but neither of those is going to be able to guarantee that you're not going to get scammed or buy in to a rathole. Is there someone there who can do a bit of legwork for you?

    Yeah, I know a couple of people in the area but we haven't talked in far too long, so I'd rather not impose unless necessary. I'm sure I could arrange a final verification though, just not a "check these 5 places out and choose the best one" type thing.

    Alright, off to craigslist. Perverse curiosity is going to take me to W4M I know it...

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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    If you're just interning on the Hill, I'd recommend trying to find a place on the Hill. When I started in the Senate, I lived out near Rosedale. Rent is fairly cheap out past 10th St., and it's a 15-20 minute walk to work.

    Darkewolfe on
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    PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    If you're just interning on the Hill, I'd recommend trying to find a place on the Hill. When I started in the Senate, I lived out near Rosedale. Rent is fairly cheap out past 10th St., and it's a 15-20 minute walk to work.

    Good call, I didn't realize there were economical places within walking distance. Can you ballpark what your cost was? Also, what is that neighborhood like?

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    KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Craigslist is what I've used to find my last three apartments in the DC area, it's worked pretty well. How far are you from DC? Two out of the three times I've been trying to find a place long-distance, which makes it tough - if you can swing it, try to schedule a trip to the city and visit as many propective apartments as possible on that day. It doesn't matter as much if you're just staying for the summer, but it's really hard to get a sense of a place without seeing it, even with pictures.

    Another option - do you have any friends in the area who might be able to do you a favor by checking out a place (basically to make sure it's not disgusting/completely unlivable) that you can't get to? (I've done this once for a summer sublet, worked out OK).

    Keep an eye out for sublets - students who have a 12-month lease but want to get away for the summer will want to sublet.

    As for the Metro, yeah it's pretty crappy. No month-long passes, delays all the time, ugh. The trains are air-conditioned though, which is pretty much an essential in the summer. As far as fares go, check with your workplace - a lot of offices will have programs that help you pay for Metro - by letting you pay pre-tax (might not be helpful if it's an unpaid internship), or by just giving you a Metro stipend.

    KalTorak on
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    PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Rent is fairly cheap when you're stacked 16 deep in a 2 bedroom apt.

    FTFY.

    DC housing is crazy, nice places are snapped up site unseen on craigslist within hours, not days. Different streets are nice, slightly shady, or terrifying depending on the time of day.

    If you can't find something decent close, look for other places along the red line - the metro red line is the one to Union station.

    This will probably help with the craigslist - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_neighborhoods_of_the_District_of_Columbia_by_ward

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
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    OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Off topic from housing but since you will be on the hill, check this blog out so you know how not to act:

    http://dcinterns.blogspot.com/

    Orestus on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    If you're just interning on the Hill, I'd recommend trying to find a place on the Hill. When I started in the Senate, I lived out near Rosedale. Rent is fairly cheap out past 10th St., and it's a 15-20 minute walk to work.

    Good call, I didn't realize there were economical places within walking distance. Can you ballpark what your cost was? Also, what is that neighborhood like?

    My rent was $700/mo, which is the cheapest rent I've ever had since moving here. There were four of us living in a 2.5 bedroom house. Laundry was a challenge, but everything else was not a big deal.

    I lived on the edge of a sketchy neighborhood. Some eight-year old girl got hit in a stray shotgun blast about two blocks from my place right before I moved out. However, as long as I didn't go in that particular direction late at night, and stayed away from this orphanage thing around 9th street at night, I was never in position to worry too much. My roommate was mugged once during his two years living there, and that was because he was drunk, on the phone and walking in the area at midnight.

    If you don't mind riding an 45 minutes to an hour each way on your commute, you can just live out on the Shady Grove end of the red line and ride in every day. If you live within biking distance of the Shady Grove metro you can probably get pretty cheap, you'll just spend an hour to an hour and a half each way commuting.

    Darkewolfe on
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    PirateJon wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Rent is fairly cheap when you're stacked 16 deep in a 2 bedroom apt.

    FTFY.

    DC housing is crazy, nice places are snapped up site unseen on craigslist within hours, not days. Different streets are nice, slightly shady, or terrifying depending on the time of day.

    If you can't find something decent close, look for other places along the red line - the metro red line is the one to Union station.

    This will probably help with the craigslist - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_neighborhoods_of_the_District_of_Columbia_by_ward

    eastern market! columbia heights! (not as convenient)

    kaliyama on
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    PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Craigslist is what I've used to find my last three apartments in the DC area, it's worked pretty well. How far are you from DC?

    I'm currently in Antwerp, Belgium and I will be in Seattle when I get back to the states... :)

    PlushyCthulhu on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Here's a hugely helpful question. What is your budget for rent? Make sure that the number includes utils.

    Darkewolfe on
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    KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Craigslist is what I've used to find my last three apartments in the DC area, it's worked pretty well. How far are you from DC?

    I'm currently in Antwerp, Belgium and I will be in Seattle when I get back to the states... :)

    Hmm I guess taking a quick day-long jaunt to DC to check out apartments isn't quite in your future then...

    KalTorak on
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    PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Here's a hugely helpful question. What is your budget for rent? Make sure that the number includes utils.

    Ideal, $500 for 1 bedroom sublet
    Maximum, probably $1100ish.

    Internship is unpaid, but I have savings.

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    KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Orestus wrote: »
    Off topic from housing but since you will be on the hill, check this blog out so you know how not to act:

    http://dcinterns.blogspot.com/

    Bahahaha this is outstanding.

    KalTorak on
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    geckahngeckahn Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Arlington is also an option, FYI.

    geckahn on
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Here's a hugely helpful question. What is your budget for rent? Make sure that the number includes utils.

    Ideal, $500 for 1 bedroom sublet
    Maximum, probably $1100ish.

    Internship is unpaid, but I have savings.

    hahahah. ah. that was a good laugh. $500? are you going to work for grassley or kit bond or somebody? you could do $500 for sharing a room with somebody. not even corrupt republican senators can afford decent housing. http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/nj_20080628_2254.php

    kaliyama on
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    PlushyCthulhuPlushyCthulhu Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    kaliyama wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Here's a hugely helpful question. What is your budget for rent? Make sure that the number includes utils.

    Ideal, $500 for 1 bedroom sublet
    Maximum, probably $1100ish.

    Internship is unpaid, but I have savings.

    hahahah. ah. that was a good laugh. $500? are you going to work for grassley or kit bond or somebody? you could do $500 for sharing a room with somebody. not even corrupt republican senators can afford decent housing. http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/nj_20080628_2254.php

    I saw a couple UMD places listed at ~$500, but yeah not expecting that anywhere downtown.

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    WildEEPWildEEP Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    George Mason University over in Fairfax VA shuttle service to the metro and on campus housing over the summer for interns. You don't have to be a student of GMU - just a summer intern. They host all kinds of people and the rate is low + utilities/internet is included.

    http://housing.gmu.edu/summer/intern/

    WildEEP on
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    WildEEP wrote: »
    George Mason University over in Fairfax VA shuttle service to the metro and on campus housing over the summer for interns. You don't have to be a student of GMU - just a summer intern. They host all kinds of people and the rate is low + utilities/internet is included.

    http://housing.gmu.edu/summer/intern/

    UMD and George Mason are not in DC. IMO the way to wring the most from your internship is going to be being i nthe capitol for the social engagements after and around work. Living at those places makes it harder to do so. I'd take GMU over UMD, but i'd take splitting a place in DC proper for less than the $900 GMU is trying to charge you.

    kaliyama on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    If you live out in Falls Church and bike in, live out in Shady Grove and bike in, or basically otherwise live toward the end of a metro line and bike to the metro, rather than living in walking distance, you can probably find something int he $5-600 range.

    Expect to pay $8-900 and live in the ghetto, somewhere near rosedale in northeast, or live a 15 minute or so walk from the Columbia Heights metro.

    Darkewolfe on
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    If you live out in Falls Church and bike in, live out in Shady Grove and bike in, or basically otherwise live toward the end of a metro line and bike to the metro, rather than living in walking distance, you can probably find something int he $5-600 range.

    Expect to pay $8-900 and live in the ghetto, somewhere near rosedale in northeast, or live a 15 minute or so walk from the Columbia Heights metro.

    lies $850. columbia heights is not the ghetto, and i'd guess it was a 5-10 minute walk.
    http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/sub/1734518792.html

    kaliyama on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Well, depends on what part of Columbia Heights. Some parts are a little less upscale than others, although the area is generally fairly hippy-filled. That particular posting requires someone who can meet them in person beforehand, looks like.

    Darkewolfe on
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    ransimransim Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    First off, do not under any circumstance just get an apartment in DC site unseen. People pray on interns and college students here with notoriously bad living conditions.

    You can find good references here:
    http://www.dchousing.net/

    Also check out:
    http://thisshouldbeillegal.com/
    http://dcra.dc.gov/dcra/cwp/view,A,3,Q,641385.asp

    Its primarily geared towards college students, but the same sort of thing applies.

    Few other places to check:
    http://cheapdcinternhousing.com/
    http://americanhistory.si.edu/getinvolved/housing.cfm#3

    As for metro, there isn't really a bulk discount, but you do get cheaper transfers if you use a SmartTrip Card. Its refillable and if I remember correctly its $5 to buy, so you spend $20 and get $15 in fare on the card automatically.

    http://www.wmata.com/fares/smartrip/index.cfm

    Its fairly easy to use and is accepted on all WMATA buses and trains.


    And as a note, you may be able to find cheap, accessible lodging in the Arlington area. The area around the Orange Line is very urban and there are a lot more lodging opportunities. There is also the area of SE near capitol hill that is undergoing revitalization now, near the new baseball stadium. You may be able to find cheaper lodging there as well since its not quite finished being revitalized but its not really ghetto anymore. There just aren't quite as many amenities.

    I've always found: http://www.apartmentshowcase.com to be incredibly useful.

    Good luck. And feel free to PM me if you have questions, I live in the area and I'd be glad to help if I can. Though I will admit I don't know DC as well as VA, I do know plenty of seasoned DC dwellers I can lean on for information.

    ransim on
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    Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Lots of places in Columbia Heights are most *definitely* the ghetto, I assure you.

    Anyway, I had a 1br on the (eastern) end of the blue line for $1400/month, one bedroom. Now I have a 3br house with garage and finished basement for $1700/month in Alexandria. Little more expensive but so much more room.

    I'd offer you a room here, but I'm leaving in July unfortunately.

    If you end up finding another person to live with, I'll get you in touch with my landlord. He's a good guy, and asked me to keep my eyes open for potential tenants.

    The only way you're going to find a (nice) place for <$1000 is by sharing an apartment. Even then it might be tough.

    Iceman.USAF on
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