Be prepared to pay up. When places are inexpensive, there is usually a good reason. Either the area is pretty yucky and really far away from the city or the place itself is gross. However, this doesn't mean all the expensive places are nice. Some people are just out to get you, and you have to accept that and be prepared for it.
Be sure to factor in all the associated fees. Make sure you can make the full payment, not just the rent payment. I'm talking about rent, security deposit, utilities, cable and Internet, application fees, amenities fees, extra fees for shorter rental terms, cleaning fees, background check fees, fees for pets and so on.
There seems to be no end to the fees that can be attached to a lease, and when they are added in, something that seems to be a perfectly affordable place might just blow your budget out of the water.
Don't be intimidated into handing over money for a place you aren't sure about. This comes back to being able to see the place and meet the people before you send a check or sign a lease. So many people on Craigslist responded to my inquiries with demands for checks or wire transfers immediately — or they wouldn't hold the apartment or room. The good thing about D.C. in the summer is that a lot of people are moving in and out, so there is a lot of availability.
Just do it. Pick the dates you plan to come to DC to check out housing and then decide on what advertised places you want to view while visiting. That’s what I did earlier this month, and I found a bedroom in a Georgetown house that I will share with five roommates.
That said, I haven’t moved in yet, so I can't tell you how it will turn out!
Do you have questions about renting and living in D.C.? Join our live chat on Thursday afternoon during Campus Overload Live.