If you are a young professional working in Washington, D.C., one thing you’ve probably noticed by now is that there is a fairly large gap between your monthly income and the city’s monthly rent requirements. Not everyone can afford the “luxury” apartments in Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, or Dupont Circle; so what’s a cash-strapped young professional to do?
Here are a few alternatives that will be much kinder to your wallet (although tight on space).The neighborhoods that made the list were chosen not only because of their average price ranges on craigslist but because they also provide nearby entertainment options and services after a hard day’s work.
Price Range: $900-$1,300 per person in a shared house
What’s cooler than being able to tell your friends and family back home that you live on Capitol Hill? While this neighborhood spans beyond the actual hill all the way down to the Potomac Avenue metro station, it’s a lively and relatively cheap place to live if you are just out of college and do not mind splitting a house with some roommates. The entire strip of Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to Eastern Market is covered in bars and restaurants, and there are even more by the market area, including Barracks Row. The area is a quieter alternative – relatively speaking -- for living in the city. If you don’t mind living in the midst of older couples (and they don’t mind you), this may be a perfect match.
H Street Corridor
Price Range: $800-$1,300 per person in a shared house
If you’re looking to keep down costs by way of a shared living situation but with a better nightlife, H Street is the next big thing for young professionals like you. Although it’s still a transitional neighborhood, the area is a D.C. development bright spot. Many young professionals are inundating this area, with its budding restaurant and bar scene. For those who may want to “Megabus it” or take a train home, Union Station is nearby, and for those who want a quick trip to both ends of the mile-and-a-half long corridor, H Street will be the first line for the D.C. streetcar system(whenever it gets rolling). You can ride the light rail to your favorite bar, sober or not. If you do not mind sharing a house with other young professionals, this might be a cool place to live considering its nightlife and proximity to downtown D.C.
Price Range: $900-$1,500 for a studio to 1 bedroom (starting)
On the complete opposite side of downtown D.C. and well within northwest, this area is anchored in part by American University. Tenleytown is just far enough out of the main downtown area to provide cheap rent. Whether it be a studio basement apartment or an actual 1 bedroom, this quiet and suburban neighborhood is perfect if you want to live in peace without many nightly interruptions. One of the first Whole Foods in the District is conveniently located by the areas namesake metro station, and busses regularly provide transport to Dupont Circle during all hours for quick nightlife accessibility. The area is particularly geared towards the upper end of the young professionals’ spectrum, being a key area for graduate student living along Wisconsin Avenue. The area is further from downtown DC than the other neighborhoods on the list but it’s also a lot closer to urban job centers like Chevy Chase and Bethesda, as well as the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.
Price Range: $900-$1,500 for studio
In the past, Columbia Heights has been an iffy neighborhood as far as safety was concerned, but a lot has changed recently and much of the blight is gone. Many of the families living in the area are renting out their basement apartments or rooms in their houses to young professionals. At its core, a Target ̶ part of the D.C. USA retail center – is in close proximity and a Giant grocery store sits across the street. All are located within walking distance of the Columbia Heights metro station. Tons of food options are available, from Z-Burger to Tacqueria Distrito Federal, and the prices are easier on the wallet than many of the restaurants downtown. Being on the Yellow and Green Lines, Columbia Heights offers frequent metro transport straight to Gallery Place-Chinatown, where you can switch to the Red line or venture down to L’Enfant Plaza to get on the Orange or Blue lines. Although it may seem to be far from much of the city, the frequency of the Yellow and Green Line trains makes getting downtown extremely easy.
Price Range: $1,200-$1600 for a studio to 1 bedroom (starting)
The Waterfront territory of D.C. is still a destination in the making, with several construction projects underway including The Wharf and Half Street. The Wharf will provide cafes, restaurants, public spaces, and living options for many who want to live right on the SW Waterfront, and is scheduled to be completed in the next few years. In the meantime, there are some townhouses and many more apartment complexes in the area that are going for cheaper than standard DC prices. They may lack the charm of Capitol Hill due to their 1970s vernacular but they’ll most likely be easier to afford as well, and one bedrooms aren’t out of the equation either. Navy Yard and the Waterfront may not be classically great places to live, but they are slowly becoming one of the next great places for young professionals.