Washington, D.C. is abuzz. Life here is as spicy as ever and the restaurants are winning awards nationwide. Isn’t about time you got in on the action?
Whether it’s working for the federal government, for MedStar Health, Marriott, Innova Health, or one of the prestigious colleges in the area, you’ll surely want to know how to budget your precious pennies before moving.
Here we explain the real cost of living for Washington, D.C. – broken down into three different professions and lifestyles.
Use this guide to see how much it costs to balance monthly expenses for apartments, dining, transportation, and leisure.
Martina, Lead Technical Analyst at a Multinational Company
Annual Salary: $114,000
Housing costs for a luxury apartment in D.C. ($3050): After accepting the job offer for relocating from Texas to D.C., Martina knew that with this being her fifth time moving, she wanted to do it without furniture.
With her new pay raise, she settled for a one-bedroom apartment along the U Street Corridor.
At $3050 per month, Martina’s rent for her Blueground apartment is steep but saves her the hassle of sinking her cash into new furniture and delays in setting up her internet and cable.
In the long run, thanks to the flexible lease terms, she may also choose to move to another Blueground apartment downtown when she develops a taste for Penn Quarter.
Dining ($165.50): Martina may pull some long hours at the office but she enjoys coming home to cook a meal with her partner.
To make things simple, she gets meal kits with pre-portioned ingredients delivered by Marley Spoon. Three dinners for two comes out to $61.50 per week.
On the other nights of the week, she substitutes a few odds and ends from Whole Foods for $64.
On average, she’s out for a bite at one of D.C.’s hottest restaurants two nights of the week (Possibly ceviche and a cocktail at Pisco y Nazca for $19 or a savory brunch and coffee at St. Anselm for $21).
Transportation ($467): Because her job takes her out to Maryland, Martina leases her Mini Cooper S Convertible for $400 per month and $67 in gas. Her Blueground rent includes a parking spot, so there are no added expenses there.
Leisure ($345): Martina goes to three Soul Cycle classes per month ($30 each) and pops into a free museum over weekends with her partner. Whether it’s a haircut or manicure, her beauty regime averages out to another $64 per month.
Between a consignment shop jacket, an impulse buy of fresh flowers and a new paperback read, her purchases come to another $121. She has a monthly unlimited data plan ($70) to keep up with social media and work emails.
Monthly Total: $4027.50
Annual Salary: $92,000
Housing costs for a furnished apartment in D.C. ($2850): Hamid was sent here with two months’ notice for a two-year posting in a diplomatic role. He needed to find a place in a hurry while abroad.
Best of all, he wouldn’t have to pay for his furniture to be sent from overseas and when his posting finishes, he won’t have to deal with reselling it.
Dining ($245): Hamid pulls long hours and opts for delivery most nights of the week ($154). He picks up groceries only every once in a while from the local Safeway ($43).
Adapting to the habits of his temporary home, Hamid heads out for a happy hour ($48) with other diplomats between three to four times a week (which sometimes leads them to the 11th-floor terrace bar at the W Hotel).
Transportation ($340): Hamid doesn’t drive while in D.C. so he relies on at least two taxi or ride-hailing app rides per day. During the weekends, he’ll use the Metro or bus during the day to get around ($18) but almost always falls back on a taxi to get home at night.
Leisure ($337): As a new arrival to the city, Hamid’s free time is filled with exploration. He’s been taking on a different Smithsonian museum (free) every weekend but also has tried out rock climbing ($25) and an escape room ($28). Hamid has had to invest in some new clothes to supplement what he moved with, which includes three new dress shirts, slacks, and a new jacket ($214).
His monthly unlimited data plan ($70) covers his needs while in D.C. and allows him to use WhatsApp when calling back home.
Monthly Total: $3372
Marc, Store Manager at a Cafe
Annual Salary: $53,000
Housing costs for a studio apartment in D.C. ($1050) – Marc rents a simple centrally-located unfurnished apartment for $850 per month by Dupont Circle. This basement unit suits his needs as a place to sleep at the end of the day while he prefers to invite friends out instead of entertaining himself at home.
Marc chose this Dupont Circle studio because it keeps him a walking distance to work as well as nearby bars and restaurants.
When split across twelve months, furniture (a mix of Ikea and Craigslist finds) averages out to another $100 per month.
Dining ($87) – Because he works at a cafe, Marc only has to pay for one meal per workday. He supplements these small meals with ratios of cereal bars and fruit from the local grocery store.
Once a week, he meets up with friends over Pad See Ew at Thai Chef Street Kitchen ($12) or fish tacos at Kramer Books ($18).
Transportation ($55) – Marc takes himself to work by foot but generally runs through $28 worth of SmarTrip Metro credit per month. For the odd ride back home after hours, he’ll take a taxi or Uber which adds to $27 worth of rides each month.
Leisure ($335): Marc is a bit of a gym buff so he keeps a monthly membership to a Crossfit gym for $199. On top of that, he also buys new gym gadgets, clothes and protein powders throughout the month ($65).
He has a Netflix subscription to enjoy during his downtime ($11) but when the weather’s good, he’ll go for a run through the National Mall.
And he stays up-to-date on the news and keeps his Spotify running playlist ($10) in order thanks to his 3GB data plan ($50).