I knew coming into the Atlas Corps Fellowship that it’s not going to be just about professional but also personal development. I also knew my first challenge would be to find housing in DC, which in hindsight seems to be a pretty fun competitive process.

My housing search began in December, with a series of mails sent out to ads posted on Craigslist (which is the best source for finding housing here). Since it was the first time I was ever going to live on my own, I was very excited browsing through the ads, drafting emails, viewing house pictures, thinking about life in the US and then sneakily shutting the browser window when I saw the rent.

I received a few positive responses right away but it didn’t take me too long to realise that it was far from over. Finding a house virtually comes with it’s own challenges for both the stakeholders involved: fraud identity, personality mismatch,  ability to pay (especially without a bank account back then), holiday season slowing the pace, etc. Not that it’s impossible to find one, just that people can tend to be slightly lazy and the demand in DC seems to be high enough that people don’t need to go out of their way to try and figure out if one is a legitimate person from overseas or a scam.

Fast forward to mid-January, the first two weeks surviving out of a suitcase in a hostel was the beginning of living out of my comfort zone. After reviewing multiple options, rejecting some and getting rejected by a few, I was close to giving up hope. It was funny that the only housing mail that I ever followed-up on after they didn’t reply to my initial mail, was the one that finally worked out.

Coordinating this from about 7500 miles away was quite an adventure. While I couldn’t finalise anything from back in India, it was still very helpful to have done the virtual search before as it helped me be aware of most neighbourhoods before landing itself. I also figured that there would probably be enough turnover in the city and I could find a few decent housing options last minute if I looked out aggressively once I reached DC.

It was such a big relief to have a roof over my head, but more importantly it was a personal win in that I feel way more prepared to take on challenges like this in the future. This is my personal win #1.


– Along with Craigslist, you could check out PadMapper too.

– You could also read this article to know more about DC neighbourhoods.

– Check out Tarika’s (Atlas Corps Fellow, Class 17) blog post on her experience in finding housing in New York city.


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