Apartment Search from Afar with a Five Step Plan

Woman Moving Into New Home And Unpacking BoxesI am a 2014 engineering graduate with a seven hour move to make in August, from a small town to Washington, DC.  Moving to a location that is so far away is complicated, especially when you don’t have the time to visit the area. As any good engineer I have approached the upcoming move with a detailed plan that should get me and my stuff to DC on time and on budget.  Here’s my plan:

Networking: First, I got my entire family involved. I talked to all my relatives who branched out to their friends and coworkers. All throughout college everyone encourages networking, now I’m testing out how it will work in real life. I recommend that you do the same and allow family, friends, and possible coworkers to give you advice; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, I plan to contact my future employer and see if they can set me up with someone to talk to that has recently moved into the area.

The Criteria: After networking, I decided what exactly I was looking for in an apartment. What do I most need out of my apartment? Parking space? Near public transportation? My only necessity was to be near the metro but by adding two roommates the list has grown longer.

Websites galore! Now the search was on, all hands on deck and websites galore! I am at the key part of my search. My parents are looking on their lunch breaks at work. My roommates have downloaded apps such as Zillow and Lovely. I have been contacting different real estate agents to find out what they are offering. Actually finding the apartment is by far the most stressful step.

Putting my life in boxes: Downsizing my closet was next, and figuring out how I would make money to buy an adult wardrobe. For graduation my parents bought me a brand new mattress and I will definitely be bringing that with me. I am going through most of my clothes and downsizing my closet. Clothes that are in mint condition that I don’t wear will be sold to Plato’s Closet so I can make some cash to construct a business casual wardrobe. I also have been selling textbooks on valorebooks.com, for extra cash. My friend and I are big fans of Pinterest, so we have been buying furniture from thrift stores and up-cycling as craft projects. When it comes to moving, I like to believe that your first apartment can be beautiful without emptying your wallet. 

The Big Move: Lastly I’ve thought about the cheapest way to move everything in the shortest period of time. Now, my mom considered options like mailing all my stuff in boxes and flying me down. She is a mail carrier so she automatically thinks post office first. But in order to have a decent amount of furniture to start with, the best option is U-Haul. The only downside with U-Haul was getting my mom back home. So instead of attaching a car to the U-Haul, we are getting a plane ticket to fly her back. This option saves my mom from having to make another 7+hour trip, saves any wear and tear to the car and most importantly saves money.

At first when I found out I was moving I was so excited, but then I felt overwhelmed. This is my first big move and I have considered many different options and these seem to be the best. My research isn’t totally done but I think I covered most of my bases. I’ll let you know how it worked out!

While our contributing blogger Mary Adams has been a small town girl her whole life, she is taking her engineering degree to the Nation’s capital. She enjoys craft beer and running, as her real dream is to own her own brewery called Tastefully Offensive 


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Mary Adams has been a small town girl her whole life, but now she is taking her engineering degree to Washington, D.C. She enjoys craft beer and running. Her real dream is to own her own brewery called Tastefully Offensive.

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar Simone

    Great post! I’m doing very early research on moving to the DC in a year or so. I’m super nervous about it but my desires it! Thanks for your insight, keep us posted!

  2. Avatar Fiona

    Hi I might be moving to the DC area within the next month or two and I was wondering, how did you find an affordable and safe apartment. I’ve been networking too and most people told me to live outside of DC, any suggestions on how to get started?

    • Mary Adams Mary Adams


      I recently just found my apartment a week before I am moving to DC. I stayed on Craigslist constantly for days looking at new posts. I found an affordable apartment in the NW area of Washington by researching and researching. You can’t give up and time will always be on your side, even if you have 7 days left. I wanted to live in DC, but depending on your budget Virginia or Maryland may be a better option!

      I wish you the best of luck!
      It took me a lot of time but it was worth it in the end!