Washington D.C. capital building.So you’re moving long distance to Washington, D. C. but not quite ready to commit to permanent housing. Should you sign a lease from afar, or find a place to stay while you house hunt? Where do you start?

To help you with the search for a short-term–one month to three month–stay, we talked to a few people who have made this kind of move themselves and to a few experts in the short-term rental business.

Keep in mind, your choices for short-term housing will be determined by three factors: – how much you can pay, – how close to transportation you need to be, – how long you want to stay and what neighborhood you choose.

For help deciding on a neighborhood, we recommend Newcomers Handbook for Washington, D.C. by Mike Livingston.

When you’re searching for a place that’s out of town

Financial analyst Christian Miller, 32, found his D.C. short-term rental on Airbnb.com. He has the master bedroom in a two bedroom apartment in a rehabbed building on the U Street Corridor. He loves the “incredible sunlight, a balcony, a deck with a view and a gym in the building.” His rent is just under $2000 per month.

“I started my search in a panic, went to AirBnb, entered the zip code of the neighborhood where I wanted to be and the first place that came up turned out to be exactly what I wanted.”

Miller was in D.C. at the time so he was able to see the apartment before sealing the deal. Renters who live hundreds or thousands of miles away don’t have that option. For them, there’s Wegolook.com. Launched three years ago, the site has 7400 “local lookers” who will visit the property you’re considering– “we go look when you can’t.” For $59 you’ll get a basic report on what they find complete with photos and videos.

Wegolook can also check out properties on Craigslist (still the first place that people recommend when looking for short-term housing) or anything you find in the shared housing or sublet section of the classifieds of the Washingtoncitypaper.com. A recent click on shared housing on the paper’s site brought up a room in a house in NW with a 24-hour metro bus stop at the front door for only $400 per month. If you don’t see what you want, try posting your own ad in the “housing wanted” section.

Corporate housing and furnished apartments

These are fully furnished apartments managed and sometimes owned by companies that specialize in relocating people for large companies. Some are administered by huge corporations with properties that they own or rent in every major city. Execustay and Oakwood are two of the giants. Watch out for sticker shock with this option, though. Sharron Saunders, Global Communications Lead for Oakwood Worldwide advises, “Don’t be afraid to look outside the metro area. Several of our apartments are close to the metro and a short ride from the city.” An example: a one-bedroom in Arlington, VA, one Metro stop from D.C. where rents start at $99 per day.

Archstone is another furnished apartment option. They offer short-term apartments in D.C., Virginia and Maryland and pride themselves on “flexible leasing” for 2 – 12 months. An example: a 450 sq. ft. studio on 29th Street NW for $1550 per month.Georgetown apartment for rent via Attache

Room with chair, table, T.V. and lamp.A smaller, more local version of this business model is Attache which rents properties in D.C. exclusively. Attache’s President, Tim Touchette, says that all you need to do is “bring your luggage and your laptop” to any of Attache’s 189 furnished apartments, and you’ll be resting comfortably in no time. Utilities are included and rents for a one-bedroom “hover around $3000.”

An example: a Georgetown one-bedroom in a newly renovated townhouse steps from M Street for $3250.

Finding a sublet in Washington, D. C.

Sublet.com is the logical place to begin. An example: a 2-6 month studio with a shared kitchen in Adams Morgan for $2050.

We also checked out ULoop, a site that lists sublets near college campuses and there are plenty in the D.C. area. Most of the apartments listed are for shares but there is a sublet category as well. A quick caveat: when we put in D.C. for a search a number of sublets came up but most had been rented. Can’t hurt to try.

Perhaps you need to find a roommate?

If you want to cut costs and don’t mind sharing space, go to the search sites roomster.com, roommates.com and roomiematch.com, which promises to help you “find a roommate without the spam, scams or scums.” Roomiematch claims that their average D.C. rent is $750 for a share in a two-bedroom apartment.

…or just a place to stay while you house hunt

For this, vacation rental sites are a great option. Two good sources for short term housing from one night to six months are HomeAway and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner), sites where home owners post their second home or investment property. If you’re planning to take your family with you and need more than one bed, this is a great option. An example: Homeaway has a listing for a 2-bedroom row house that sleeps 6, a short walk to the White House, the National Mall and the zoo, for slightly under $2000 per week. About half that will get you a one-bedroom on the second floor of a townhouse in DuPont Circle. Listings usually include nightly and weekly rates but you can negotiate with the owner for a better rate for a longer stay.

No matter which way you go, D.C. is a great city. Once you get there, you’ll feel right at home. Hopefully, these resources will help you find a place to stay while you search for the home you really want.

Good luck!

Moving to DC? Let Moveline help. We’ll get you guaranteed quotes from the top DC movers, and assign you a Move Captain to manage your move.