Moving Sucks. Apartment Hunting Sucks More.

Moving sucks, right? Everyone hates it. It’s a hassle, it’s time-consuming, and it’s always more expensive than you think it’s going to be. You have to bribe your friends with free pizza and beer to help you load (and unload, please?!) a U-Haul truck on a Saturday, the one day everyone wants to be doing anything other than helping someone move — especially in the middle of August. (Whomp, whomp.) Then there’s the unpacking, and changing your address with your employer and your bank and your cell phone provider, and — seriously, why do you have three credit cards? And let’s not even venture down the DMV road. No one wants to go there.

But guys? That’s the easy part. Trust me.

Sadly, you can trust me, a 28-year-old female who has been looking — unsuccessfully — for a room in a group house in Washington, DC for the past three months.

Yes, actually moving into your new place is the easy part. Finding a new place to move to is the hard part. Just ask this girl, who had such a hard time finding affordable housing in New York City she started a Tumblr about it. And it’s hilarious — as any good Tumblr should be.

What makes my particular situation all the more painful is that I currently live in a great place. In fact, some might say it’s an awesome place. How so? Well, it’s a one-bedroom condo that I live in by myself (that’s worth 5 points right there), it’s 2 miles — a short bike ride — from my office (3 points), I can walk to a grocery store (2 points), and it’s right across the street from the running trail where I spend four to five mornings a week (2 points). Oh, and, I have my own washer and dryer (47 points). Andplusalso, free and abundant parking (31 points).

Any sane person might ask, why the hell are you moving?

And that’s a good question. My answer might be unsatisfying to some, because it comes down to what’s more important to me: I’d rather live with roommates and be able to save huge fistfuls of cash each month.

Yes, having 700 square feet entirely to myself has been awesome, but it comes at — literally — a price. And it’s not a cheap price. It’s possible that with roommates, I could pay half as much in monthly rent. Do you know what I could do with an extra $750 a month? I do. Oh, I can think of lots of things. And all of those things (like going to India for a month this fall) are more important to me than having 700 square feet entirely to myself, though I guess I will miss being able to walk in the door and immediately take off my pants. #winsomelosesome

So, why is it so hard to find a room in a shared house? I feel like my criteria are reasonable:

  • After placing a bed in the room, is there still space to stand up? How about to sit in a chair?
  • Does the room have a door? How about a window?
  • Will I be sharing a bathroom with fewer than four people?
  • Do any of my roommates have a tendency to play their djembe at 3 a.m.?
  • Would I feel safe walking down my new street at noon without Mace in hand?

The fact is, it’s kind of bad for everyone looking to move right now. The housing market has gotten tight. It’s especially bad in DC, where legislation from 1910 restricting the height of buildings makes it impossible to build tall apartment complexes within the district limits to accommodate DC’s swelling population. That means affordable housing is available, just not in the city, where people, you know, actually want to live.

So all of this leaves me competing with hoards of other 20-somethings (and early 30-somethings) for rooms in beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) row houses scattered around DC, hoping that our appropriately chipper emails (“Hey there! I’m interested in your open room. Love Mt. Pleasant!”) will get us an invite to your open house, and that our similarly charming personalities will enchant you during that open house, at which you will be meeting so many people you won’t be able to remember anyone’s name, and mentioning that “Wow, I’m also from California!”, or “My sister went to that school, too!”, will not help our cause, because 32 other people are feeding you similar lines.

So what do I do? I keep replying to Craigslist ads. I keep going to open houses. And I keep sending friendly follow-up emails. I figure I have to run into some luck sooner or later.

But moving day? I’m looking forward to it. Bring on the pizza.

Header image from Perfect Strangers of NYC.

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