Mapping Rents in D.C. ‘Hoods: Georgetown Is Tops

As if anyone needed another reminder about how expensive housing is in the District of Columbia, apartment rental site Zumper mapped the cost of a month’s rent in a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. neighborhoods.

Subsequently, the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute released a report showing, among other things, that rent has increased in D.C. most for low- and middle-income renters and that the number of apartments in the area where monthly rent is below $800 has decreased from 58,000 in 2002 to 33,000 in 2013.

There are few surprises in the Zumper report. Georgetown is the most expensive place to live ($2,600), with Downtown-Penn Quarter-Chinatown ranking in a close second ($2,510). Arlington is more expensive than living in a lot of neighborhoods in D.C. but with a lot less urban character. Ditto on SW Ballpark – Navy Yard, where rent averages are $2,104, hundreds of dollars more than in LeDroit Park – Bloomingdale ($1,550), Capitol Hill ($1,795), Glover Park ($1,760), Petworth ($1,610), Mount Pleasant ($1,650) and a couple of other neighborhoods. The main point here is that it’s not worth living in big-ass, expensive apartment building in a neighborhood with no personality, when there are lower prices in a number of charming (though sometimes in-transition) areas in D.C.

Speaking of charming, in-transition neighborhoods: Zumper’s map shows that despite continued sketchiness and crime, H Street-NOMA and Columbia Heights have officially become expensive places to live with rents for a one-bedroom apartment averaging out at $2,100 per month.

Rents are actually down slightly in Columbia Heights though there is this story from DCist about a building owner increasing monthly rents by more than $900.

The map also reaffirms Logan Circle-Shaw as an incredibly popular, in-demand neighborhood akin to Dupont Circle. What sets the area apart from others with high rent price points like Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon Square, Woodley Park and Downtown is that the neighborhood currently is not home to massive buildings with market rate — read “costly” — rents. As more of these complexes, including buildings around the Shaw metro station, adjacent to City Market at O and near Logan Circle come online, the median one-bedroom monthly rent will likely shoot up even further. (This seems to defy common sense with regard to supply and demand, but that’s D.C.’s rental market in certain neighborhoods for you.)

So, what does this all mean for you and finding affordable housing in Washington? As D.C.’s real estate market becomes increasingly like those in New York City and San Francisco, finding affordable housing will progressively become a more daunting task but it’s possible, if you’re a savvy shopper. Try living with people — as many as you can — if affordability is your top concern. One-bedrooms might be expensive in Columbia Heights but there are plenty of large, multi-bedroom houses with rents around $1,000 per person in the neighborhood.

Look outside the box in terms of neighborhoods. If you want to live in near Dupont Circle but can’t afford rent there, don’t mosey over defeated to Arlington, check out a group house in Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant or Bloomingdale. If those hoods are still too pricey, check out Petworth, Brookland, Trinidad, Eckington or Capitol Hill.

If real estate trends in D.C., New York and San Francisco illustrate anything, it’s that rundown, crime-ridden areas can quickly become hot, up-and-coming, appealing neighborhoods.

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