I'm currently in the process of searching for housing in Washington, DC.
After living in the same house for two years, I seem to have forgotten about the many challenges I faced when hunting the first time around, challenges that most 20-somethings looking for city housing face.
In light of my struggles, here are some of the things many Millennials have likely faced whilst hunting on a budget:
The most desirable neighborhoods are out of your price range.
If you're lucky, your friends will be in the same position as you are, so you'll end up living near each other in a neighborhood that's "up and coming" or only a little dangerous (those popping noises were totally fireworks, not gunshots, right?) or in a neighborhood that isn't near anything cool.
If not, well, you're just a hop, skip and an Uber away from your friend's luxury high-rise.
You can't afford to live in the luxury building that basically doubles as a five-star resort.
Doorman? Great in theory. Pool and gym? Must be nice! Realistically, you're lucky if your building has a washer and dryer.
During my first housing search, I found an affordable open unit on Craigslist that seemed perfect… until the guy wanted me to wire him the first payment without ever seeing the place because he was "out of town and [couldn't] show the unit first."
This time around, I've seen similar posts where the "landlord" needs payment a month before the tenant can move in. If a roommate or landlord won’t show the place but expects you to reveal your checking account, run away fast.
Rooms are filled faster than you can blink.
In high-demand areas, you don't have a day to think about committing to the place. If you sleep on it, someone else will have signed the lease by the time you wake up.
Even when simply emailing someone before looking at the space, you'll discover that "cozy" means approximately 8 feet by 5 feet and "lots of natural light" means you won't sleep past 7 am on Saturday.
Finding an open room is generally cheaper than finding an open unit, but the tradeoff of living with a complete stranger is a total gamble. You might get a great roommate or a recluse who never showers.
Open house chaos
I went to several open houses in the past week that truly felt like sorority rush. You enter with upwards of eight other people, fight for face time with the current tenant, act super enthusiastic, even if you're a bit skeptical and, if you're like me, end up being a bit awkward and worrying about whether or not he or she likes you.
However, if things DO go well and you're offered the place, it will feel like bid day. Only this time, there's a lot less cheering and pictures and a lot more paperwork.
Letting them down
If you're offered an open room and don't think it's a good fit, finding the proper way to let the would-be-roommate know you're no longer interested is always a sticky situation. After meeting potential housemates, calling off living together can feel like a breakup.
"Should I call or send an email? Or, is that too impersonal? Will he be mad at me?" It’s tough to be a people pleaser while looking out for your own best interest.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It