parebare23 wrote:How late do you think is too late to begin the apt search for a place in DC?
It depends on what you're looking for. There's a lot of movement in shared housing; I suspect you could find a room in a group house/shared apartment in August without too much problem, so long as you were available to interview/attend open houses. (There might be even more than usual given that it's an election year, but that might not get you through the school year.) I've never known someone to not be able to find somewhere to live, but if you want to not be subletting/have a good lease term, I suggest looking at least 4-6 weeks in advance.
If you're a wait list or transfer, or just don't think about housing til August 10th, I don't think you'll be homeless, but you probably won't be finding your home for the next three years, if that makes sense.
When I was moving to DC, we looked intensively for a 3 bedroom unoccupied townhouse from mid-may on and got our lease signed around 4th of July for an Aug 1 move-in. And we were pretty nervous at that point. But we also had semi-strict price criteria ($3k max), so that limited options. The more criteria you have and the less you're willing to spend, the harder it is. If you have pets, a car, strictly preferred neighborhoods, etc., get on it early. If you have $1500-$2000 to spend on a downtown studio or 1 bedroom, or want to move into shared housing that's already occupied, I suspect your search might be a little easier but I'm not sure.
This applies to DC only; I didn't consider Virginia.
Bottom line: start looking by memorial day if you can. If not, you can still get lucky, but you might have to adjust some of your criteria.