The nation’s capital has museums, historical monuments, and cherry blossoms galore, but Washington, D.C. is so much more than that. It is a thriving city that is one of the most exciting and fast-paced places to live in the entire country.
Before you pack your bags and head to D.C., however, you should familiarize yourself with the city’s rental scene. Apartments in D.C. have quick turnover rates. You want to be prepared to find a place that is perfect for your budget and circumstances.
Average Rent in D.C.
The cost to rent an apartment in the nation’s capital has increased greatly in recent years. In fact, a report by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute found that there are virtually no open apartments in the city that rent for less than $800 a month. Behind New York, San Francisco, and Boston, D.C. has the highest rental prices in the country.
As of December 2018, overall average rent in D.C. was $2,072. A one-bedroom costs around $1,996 on average and a two-bedroom will average around $2,532. A studio apartment might cost you around $1,642.
How to Find an Apartment in D.C.
Finding a place to live in D.C. that is within your budget is a challenge, but it is far from impossible.
Do Your Research
It doesn't make sense to overwhelm yourself during the search process with rentals you may not even be interested in. Figure out your budget and ideal location to narrow down your apartment search. This means you'll only see rentals in areas that interest you the most, in a price range you can handle. Nowadays, there's tons of online resources that can help you with your search criteria. Some of the best websites to find apartments include:
Oftentimes, these sites give you the option of signing up for notifications when new rentals pop up in your criteria. Make sure you're signed up so you can be one of the first in the know!
Prepare for Every Showing
To give yourself a competitive edge when you’re looking, have all your paperwork ready in advance. This will impress the property manager and put you ahead of other potential tenants who weren’t as well prepared as you. Also, try to go apartment hunting in the winter. People are less likely to go to open houses when there are a couple of feet of snow on the ground, but if you can tough it out, you’ll have fewer people to compete against.
Washington D.C.’s Neighborhoods
Where to live in D.C.? There are tons of fantastic neighborhoods to choose from. Here is an overview of just a few of them:
The Shaw District is a large area that takes in the U Street Corner and extends toward downtown. It holds the crown as being one of the coolest areas in the city. There are tons of breweries, bars, and cafes. There are even specialty pet stores and art galleries. It is also home to Howard University, so it might be the ideal place for you to settle down if you’re a student. However, a one-bedroom could cost you around $2,355 a month.
If all you can afford in the area is a tiny apartment, rent a storage unit nearby so that you can have a place for your excess belongings.
Columbia Heights is an emerging neighborhood that has undergone some gentrification in recent years. Here, you’ll find a host of big chain retailers alongside local dive bars and other cool hangouts. There are tons of murals on the street, so there will always be a piece of art to delight your eyes.
Columbia Heights is home to some of the more affordable apartments in D.C. You can find one-bedrooms that average $2,216, and a large number of young people dwell there. Bike riding is one of the main methods of transportation, but the bus is also a convenient option.
George Washington University is located in the city’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood, so you’ll find a host of students in the area. However, it is also a favorite spot for white-collar workers. You can rent a one-bedroom for about $2,425 here. It is near the famous National Mall and the Georgetown neighborhood, which is one of the city’s wealthiest areas.
From Foggy Bottom, you can hop on the D.C. Circulator and go to the Georgetown Waterfront, where you’ll find great dining and entertainment options.
This is a fairly new neighborhood. As the name implies, it is on the waterfront. It is also only a few blocks from the United States Capitol. Most of the dwellings here are upscale condos that attract young professionals who want a great view of the river and the city. You can get a one-bedroom for $2,400 on average.
There are tons of things to do here. The Nationals Baseball Stadium is a great place to catch a pro game, or you can head to Truckeroo, which is a monthly food truck festival that features live music.
Alexandria technically isn’t part of Washington, D.C, but looking outside the city proper has some benefits. Niccole Schreck, a rental experience expert, writes, “If you do have a car and you’re looking to find an inexpensive apartment, you may want to consider looking outside the city proper. As you get into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, you may find it easier to find a nicer place for less money per month.” Rental prices drop to around $1,800 for a one-bedroom.
Alexandria is a Virginia city right across the river from the nation’s capital, and it attracts folks who want a quiet lifestyle that is still close to the hustle and bustle of D.C. Many young families and young professionals have settled down there.
Alexandria is a walkable city, but it also offers affordable parking. Public transportation makes it easy to get across the river if you have to head into D.C. for work.
Welcome to Washington, D.C.
Although the cost of living in Washington, D.C. is on the expensive side, many residents find that the cost is more than worth it. The city is an exciting place to live. Do your research carefully before moving to D.C. Plan your apartment-hunting adventure, so you can find the perfect place in the ideal D.C. neighborhood at the perfect price.