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Cost of Living in Washington, DC [2024]

November 28, 2023
Considering a move to Washington, DC? Before moving, learn about the cost of living in DC to budget for your perfect move.

Washington, DC is a major metropolitan area in the US. Like most major cities, the Capital City boasts many amenities and attractions that keep residents and tourists enamored.

From the grand historical monuments to the lively city center, DC is in a unique position, serving as both our nation's government seat and as a bustling metropolis.

Lovely parks, the Smithsonian Museums and historic buildings, are just some of the distinct attributes that make DC special. There truly is something for everyone.

If you're lucky enough to consider moving to the District of Columbia, you should work on your budget. It's essential to understand the cost of living before moving to Washington, DC. Not only will this set you up for a comfortable living, but it’ll also ensure that you can find the perfect affordable apartment in a neighborhood that suits you.

Here's everything you need to know about the cost of living in Washington, DC.

Cost of Living in Washington DC Guide

What Is the Cost of Living in Washington DC?

As to be expected with any major metropolitan area, living in Washington DC can get pricey. The average cost of living in Washington DC is 51.9% higher than the national average.

Cost of LivingWashington DCU.S.
Median Home Cost$675,400$276,100

How Much is Housing in Washington, DC?

Washington, DC rent prices are higher than your average and have comparable rents to New York and Miami. The housing market has also seen steady growth year-over-year. The median home price in Washington DC is currently rising to $675,400.

How Much is Rent for a 1-Bedroom Apartment in Washington, DC?

Washington, DC rent costs have increased by 0.1% since last year. The current median cost for a one-bedroom apartment in DC is $1,808.

How Much is a Rent for a 2-Bedroom Apartment in Washington, DC?

The median cost for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,786 in Washington, DC as of November 2023.

What Salary Do I Need to Live in Washington, DC?

The gold standard for budgeting is that your housing cost, such as rent or mortgage payments, shouldn’t exceed 30% of your monthly income before taxes. The rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Washington, DC is $1,786, so a DC resident should make at least $5,953.33 monthly or $71,440 annually before taxes. However, splitting rent with a roommate or two can dramatically cut the cost of DC's pricey rents.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the mean annual wage in the DC metro area is $93,547 or around $46.77 hourly. However, it's essential to estimate your personal costs to determine the true wage you should earn to live comfortably in the Washington, DC area.

How Much is Transportation in Washington, DC?

DC residents can expect to pay $5,477 for a single adult each year on transportation. For a family of two working adults and two children, that figure climbs to $14,484.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority handles Washington, DC's public transportation. Your fare will depend on several factors, including the time of day for your trip and the distance between stations. You can use the Metro's trip planner feature to calculate your fare.

Residents can use the eco-friendly SmarTrip Card for passage on Metrorail and buses throughout the Metro area. It's best to load these cards and keep track of your credit via the mobile app.

That said, DC is a walking and biking city, even though many residents own vehicles.

How Much are Food Costs in Washington DC?

A single resident in Washington DC spends $3,396 a year on food. However, if you’re moving your family, including your spouse and two children, expect to pay $11,564 a year. These rates are based on assumptions that the family doesn’t eat out regularly.

With all the delicious restaurants in the DC Metro area, you may end up dining out quite a bit. According to Numbeo, eating for one in DC runs an average of $19.50, not including a tip, at an inexpensive restaurant. A mid-range restaurant with a three-course meal for two could cost $110 and up.

How Much is Healthcare in Washington, DC?

For healthcare and medical costs, a single adult will pay around $3,037 a year. For a family of three with two working adults and two children, the cost rises to $9,816.

However, your circumstances may be very different, depending on your lifestyle, age, and other factors. So, it's best to do your research and shop around before making a final decision about your health insurance costs.

How Much are Utilities in Washington DC?

Utility costs in Washington, DC average a total of $254.19 monthly. This includes your fuel, water, gas, and electricity bill costs. For Internet at 60 mps or more, you'll pay an additional $56.06 a month, bringing up your total to $310.25.

If you’re worried about utility costs, opt for a recently renovated apartment with energy-efficient appliances, or search for units that offer all utilities bundled in with the cost of the rent. Either of these options can help you save on utility costs.

Washington DC in the fall, with families walking and runners jogging. - cost of living in washington dc

Washington DC Fitness and Entertainment

While DC might not be known as the entertainment capital of the world, it does not lack in recreation, fun, and entertainment.

DC Fitness Costs

The average cost of a gym membership in Washington, DC is $86.88 for a single adult. However, if you prefer Tennis, you can rent a court for an hour for just $18.33.

DC Parks and Recreation

Various parks within the DC area offer an opportunity for fitness and free fun. Rock Creek Park even boasts a Planetarium to make the night sky a visage for all to see. Hiking, biking, walking, running, and more — there's so much to do.

If you prefer to head indoors for your fun, the Smithsonian offers free general admission. You can peruse various exhibits without spending a dime. It's the perfect way to spend an afternoon, or several, as the museum is massive.

The fans walking into an early morning baseball game between the Nationals and the Met's on the fourth of july- cost of living in washington dc

Sports Lovers Rejoice!

The Capital One Arena, located in the Penn Quarter - Chinatown neighborhood of DC, is the DC sports circuit's heart and soul.

Whether you want to catch an NBA, WNBA, NHL, or collegiate basketball game, you can head to the arena.

If you're a baseball fan, you can watch the Washington Nationals play at Nationals Park in the Navy Yard, one of the best neighborhoods in DC.

Taxes in Washington DC

Residents in DC have to pay the federal income tax, despite not being given full statehood and having a non-voting Congress representative. Additionally, residents pay a District Income Tax, sales tax, and property taxes.

Other Expenses to Consider in DC

Though this list has been thoroughly compiled, there are always hidden costs to consider when moving to a new city. Luckily, these are categories that you might already have in your budget. However, it's important to consider how these items might change based on your new location.

There are also additional costs in DC to consider. The average monthly cost of childcare in DC is $2,260.91 for a child in preschool or a private daycare for the entire day, representing the bulk of a family's monthly spending.

Luxury costs should alo factor into your budget. Living in DC can get expensive, especially when you take advantage of all the restaurants and shops it has to offer. That's why it's a good idea to take advantage of free entertainment. Check out free museums, parks, concerts, performances, and more.

Washington DC, USA at the tidal basin with Washington Monument in spring season. - cost of living in washington dc

Find Your Next Home in Washington, DC

Ready to start looking at apartments in DC? You can begin to explore which neighborhoods are right for you.

Then, get started with our quiz today to get matched in your ideal Washington, DC location and price point!

FAQs: What to Know About the Cost of Living in Washington DC 2023

How expensive is an apartment in Washington DC?

A 1 bedroom apartment in Washington DC costs $1,786. A 2 bedroom apartment in Washington DC costs $1,764.

What is the cheapest rent in Washington DC?

A two-bedroom apartment is the cheapest rent you can get in Washington DC, with the median rent sitting at $1,764. The average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in Washington DC is higher at $1,786.

How expensive is it to live in Washington DC?

Living in Washington DC is relatively affordable. In Washington DC, rent averages $1,786 for a 1 bedroom apartment. Transportation costs in Washington DC amount to $5,509 a year. Food costs $3,351 a year on average for a single resident of Washington DC.

How far is Washington DC from New York?

Washington DC is 229 miles away from New York. It takes 3 hours and 49 minutes to get to New York from Washington DC by car, 22 hours by bike, and 81 hours by foot.

How far is Baltimore from Washington DC?

Washington DC is 39 miles away from Baltimore. It takes 54 minutes to get to Baltimore from Washington DC by car, 4 hours by bike, and 13 hours by foot.

How far is Virginia from Washington DC?

Washington DC is 180 miles away from Virginia. It takes 3 hours and 6 minutes to get to Virginia from Washington DC by car, 15 hours by bike, and 53 hours by foot.

What is the population of Washington DC?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Washington DC is 671,803. It is the 20th most populated city in the country.

What is a good salary in Washington DC?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Washington DC is $93,547. However, the recommended salary in Washington DC is $5,953.33 per month or $71,440 annually. This total reflects a salary that would allow a renter to live comfortably and afford to cover the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment which sits at $1,786.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Davina Ward
Davina G. Ward is an esteemed journalist and expert on the apartment rental market. Read More

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