Apartment Hunting in Washington

26 Jul

A thousand speckled dots of clouds over the east coast. That’s what I’m looking at right now. Of course, by the time you read this I’ll already have landed in Washington DC, and my view will be quite different. At the moment the internal Wi-Fi of my laptop is turned off, the iTunes is giving me a taste of the newest MGMT album, and a frigid air conditioner is toying with my immune system. In a nutshell, this is a typical image of flight, though you can easily replace the laptop with an iPod on any other occasion. This week finds me reading “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich, a creative appraisal of the creating and founding of Facebook.

It’s on the road again for me, though I’ll only be in Washington until Friday, searching for an apartment and hopefully not just wasting my time. After all, it’s not a cheap flight down from Boston and I have better things to do than kill three days on someone’s couch in DC. Down below we’re now passing by some small city. We’ve been airborne for at least 15 minutes so maybe it’s somewhere in Connecticut. This month’s been kind of a whirlwind, so who can really keep track anymore?

I’ve been surprised in finding that getting an apartment back in the States is almost as complicated as it was in Latin America, though for different reasons. Back there it was an issue of living with someone you didn’t know or possibly trust, trying to find a neighborhood that wasn’t too dangerous, too expensive, a bedbug-free environment, etc. Come to think of it, there are still many corollaries. Now, I’m more focused on a long term stay rather than month by month.

The difference allowed me to be more flexible and leave a potentially lousy situation easily. No lease, no contract (most of the time), and if lucky no deposit. But this also left us expats open for slumlords who took advantage of us and our possible illegal status. Here in Washington, everything must be legitimate and legal. There will be a lease, contract, and maybe even a credit check. This takes time. Though Washington can be a fairly transient city and there are a lot of apartments to search through, it’s not easy. Someone I know who just moved there told me it took him six weeks to find an apartment. If you’re not near a Metro stop, it can also make life difficult.

My friend Ben scoffed at me when I told him how much time I had planned to search for a place. He insisted I come home earlier, but I said I’d be okay with the time I had. A false sense of availability from Buenos Aires allowed me to think that you could walk in to view an apartment and move in that day. It was sometimes that easy in BA. You had to be there exactly at the right moment.

The next three days will be spent viewing apartments and walking around the city, trying to become familiar with what will be my new home for the next two years. I’ll move down to Washington in less than a month, but so far nothing is confirmed except the move down date of August 23rd. Let’s see if I can make this happen.

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