Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:09 pm

Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by joesmi » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:09 pm

My wife and I will be selling a home in the New York area and renting an apartment in DC. We are retired and looking for a safe area with a high walkable and biking index.
When we visit DC we stay in the Dupont Circle/Georgetown area which we like. Capital Hill and the Navy Yard area based on internet searches via Trulia appears to also meet our needs.
Our next visit to DC will be for apartment hunting. The last time we rented an apartment was about 40 years ago.
What would be the best approach to make the best use of our time? Do we contact a realtor, do internet searches, local paper rentals, etc?

Additional Information:
As for the apartment, a 2 bedroom would be nice, but we are looking to stay within the $2,500 to $3,000 range so I think we may have to go for a one bedroom since we are looking for a few amenities (i.e. in unit washer/dryer, dishwasher). As far as walkability, grocery stores (Trader Joe's is a favorite of my wife) and restaurants within a 15 to 20 minute walk. About the same for the metro. When we visit and stay in the Dupont Circle/Georgetown area, we usually walk to the Mall and museums.
Last edited by joesmi on Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 130
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:24 am

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by Sam1 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:13 pm

Hi Joe,

dc is very different from the NYC market as you don’t have to use a broker. You’ll use a broker more if you want to rent a rowhouse or condo. If that’s the case then try Washington fine properties or another brokerage firm that is active in Georgetown and DuPont

There are a few luxury buildings in the west end area. Try westend25 , especially if you have a dog. DuPont flats is another decent property

Posts: 167
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 11:14 pm

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by gretah » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:15 pm is a good way to learn what is available and what places cost.

CraigsList has scammers. I would steer clear.

When I moved to a city in a new state, I contacted my alma mater and asked for emails addresses for other alumnae. I wrote to a few and one gal took me up on an offer to take her to lunch in exchange for an overview of where to live. Worked out great. is a good resource.

Posts: 101
Joined: Fri Jan 17, 2014 4:48 pm

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by Rayandron » Sat Apr 14, 2018 1:29 am

I know the DC area reasonably well, but there are several areas that could be a good fit based on the information you've provided. Key information you might want to share if you want better advice would be your budget (if any), and what "high walkability" means to you and your wife. For me, high walkability means my kid's daycare is in walking distance, restaurants are in walking distance, and I can walk to the nearest metro station in less then 15 minutes. I've never been retired so I don't want to assume what high walkability means for you. Does it mean you can walk to a movie theater or grocery store, perhaps of a certain variety such as Latino or Asian or organic? Do you want to walk to pro baseball games or where you can watch plays or attend college lectures? DC is not as dense as NYC and does not have as connected a metro/subway system, so you have to be a bit more deliberate with what you want to be close to. Anyway, you get the idea and regardless, I would suggest reading the THE WALKUP WAKE-UP CALL: DC, which should help you get a more exhaustive list of the highly walkable areas in the DC Metro market. ... an-places/ (no affiliation with this website, but you do have to do a free sign-up to download the PDF report)

As far as renting an apartment, in DC in my experience I prefer to rent a condo rather than an apartment. The main difference is whether the unit is owned by an individual(s) or a company, and in residential real estate transactions at least I would rather deal with a human being trying to maximize their happiness than a company that's striving to maximize profits. In other words, I believe condos rent at a discount relative to comparable apartments, because condo owners will cut you a deal if they think you'll be a good tenant (things like good credit, no pets, an email letter expressing what you'll do to protect their hardwood floors, etc) and they'll generally leave you alone and/or be more hesitant to increase rent every year compared with less forgiving apartment companies. YMMV as there are are arguments that favor renting an apartment over a condo.

Anyway, in my opinion there is enough information on the web to do quality online research and narrow your options down to 2 or 3 neighborhoods. Then visit units in all 3 neighborhoods and see if anything clicks. Another thing to keep an eye out for is that DC has some areas that have spectacular views of the Washington Monument and other landmarks/water features from one side of the building and very different views from the other side.

Edit: I forgot to mention, for how to find units for rent in the neighborhoods you're interested in, I would recommend searching Zillow with a custom search. Specifically, click the Rent tab at the top of the zillow home page and then set your search filter parameters with zip code and set the Home Type to have the condo category (and Apartment category if you prefer) selected and the other home types deselected (i.e. houses & townhomes, assuming you aren't interested in those), and then see what comes up in the neighborhoods you're interested in. If you need additional help send me a private message.

Posts: 4379
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by denovo » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:08 am

"Don't trust everything you read on the Internet"- Abraham Lincoln

Posts: 105
Joined: Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:14 am

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by feehater » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:50 am

I did end up having luck with Craigslist, after sorting through the chaff. Not the most efficient way. One frustration I had with the DC market was that a lot of places offer a rate for people below a certain income that they get tax subsidies to offer. But they don't make this clear until you go to the work of contacting them, when suddenly all market rate apartments are 2x what was advertised. Maybe this won't be a problem in your price range though.

Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:53 pm

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by Natsdoc » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:06 am

Agree with condo over apartment - usually get a bit nicer place. Navy Yard has tons of new large apartment buildings however so may be easier to go that route as there is likely more availability but the big buildings are notorious for offering a teaser rate for the first year then bumping up the rent later.
Lots of legitimate places advertise on craigslist but I'd it looks too good to be true it probably is. is another good resources given the area and high number of military families that hold onto their homes as rentals.

User avatar
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:51 am

Re: Most efficient way to find an apartment rental in Washington DC

Post by rhinopylon » Sat Apr 14, 2018 6:49 pm

zillow is a pretty good resource for finding rentals as well.

Post Reply