Living in Washington D.C.: 10 Pros & Cons (Video & Prices)


Living in Washington
Washington D.C., US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Washington DC is famed for being the nation’s capital, not to mention one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. From the numerous job opportunities to the abundance of great neighborhoods and stunning green spaces, there’s a lot to love about living in the city, but is it the right place for you?

Population Median Age Bachelor Degree or Higher
692,683 3458.50%
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Pro: no shortage of great neighborhoods

Despite being small, DC has an array of neighborhoods with distinct personalities and charm. There’s something for virtually anyone considering moving to the city if you take the time to explore. Here are some of the best places to live in Washington DC.

  • Glover Park

Located in Northwest DC, next to Rock Creek Park, Glover Park is a close-knit neighborhood where everyone seems to know each other. The area is highly walkable, with most residents opting to use bicycles to get around the city.

This neighborhood mostly comprises large porch-fronted row houses and smaller 1950s and 60’s style apartments and condos. You’ll have access to plenty of green space and even a community victory garden.

  • Georgetown

Georgetown is one of DC’s most renowned and celebrated neighborhoods. It’s right in the heart of the city, making it an important commercial and entertainment hub. The streets of Georgetown are lined with exclusive shops and high-end boutiques. The neighborhood is also home to embassies, museums, art galleries, and some of the best bars and restaurants in all of DC. Another perk of living in Georgetown is that it’s a very walkable area, allowing easy access to all its impressive amenities.

  • Adams Morgan

Adams Morgan is a small but vibrant neighborhood that celebrates art and culture in a big way. You’ll come across plenty of colorful buildings adorned with funky street art that gives the place a unique vibe. This lively and fun area has a thriving nightlife scene reminiscent of metropolitan areas like San Francisco or New York.

Adams Morgan only spans around 5 blocks so that you can walk or bike to most places. Additionally, it shares a metro stop with Woodley Park Zoo, allowing for quick and easy access to Washington DC.

A majority of the houses in Adams Morgan are large stylish row houses, some of which have been converted into rental units. The neighborhood is home to all kinds of people; young, old, singles, and families.

  • Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle is one of the most desirable neighborhoods to live in the city. It’s particularly popular with young and wealthy professionals who gravitate towards the area’s fast-paced life.

Con: the high cost of living

According to Payscale, the cost of living in Washington, DC, is 39% higher than the national average. Here is a look at some of the expenses:

Median Home PriceMedian Household incomeMedian Earnings for MaleMedian Earnings for Female
$692,178$86,420$81,358$70,402
Data sourced from Zillow Median Home Sale Prices and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Rent Per MonthAvg. Prices
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre2,324.74$
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre1,785.82$
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre4,281.48$
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre3,194.00$
Utilities (Monthly)Prices
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment 148.14$
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)61.57$
Food NamesAvg. Food Prices
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)3.45$
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)2.62$
Rice (white), (1 lb)2.48$
Eggs (regular) (12)2.77$
Local Cheese (1 lb)5.35$
Chicken Fillets (1 lb)4.98$
Beef Round (1 lb) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)7.20$
Apples (1 lb)2.70$
Banana (1 lb)0.67$
Oranges (1 lb)2.53$
Tomato (1 lb)2.18$
Potato (1 lb)1.20$
Onion (1 lb)1.28$
Lettuce (1 head)2.30$
Water (1.5 liter bottle)1.87$
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)12.00$
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle)2.84$
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle)2.75$
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)11.00$
Service NamesPrices
One-way Ticket (Local Transport)3.50$
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)100.00$
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)3.75$
Taxi 1 mile (Normal Tariff)4.20$
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)30.00$
Gasoline (1 gallon)2.70$
Meal/DrinkAvg. Prices
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant15.00$
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course75.00$
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)8.00$
Domestic Beer (1 pint draught)6.00$
Imported Beer (12 oz small bottle)8.00$
Cappuccino (regular)4.60$
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)2.39$
Water (12 oz small bottle)1.98$
Service NamesAvg. Prices
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult79.65$
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)14.50$
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat14.00$

Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021

Pro: numerous employment opportunities

It comes as no surprise that over 40% of the nation’s capital workforce is employed directly or indirectly by the government.  Many of these are high-paying jobs with promising career development opportunities and benefits.

Tech is another big industry in the city, with data from 2019 indicating that for every 10 new job openings, 5 of them will be computer-related.

Other major industries include construction, healthcare, education, hospitality, and professional services.

Within the government, the US Department of Commerce employs the largest workforce, with over 10,000 employees. Outside the government, George Washington University is the top non-governmental employer. Other top employers include FTI Consulting, Patient First, Cvent, Choice Hotels International, CACI International, Medstar Health, and Marriott International, Inc.

Con: traffic can be a headache

Living in Washington
Washington D.C., US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Traffic is a big issue in DC, with commuters spending an average of 30.8 minutes on the road on one-way commutes. A majority of traffic problems in the city result from the ongoing construction of the Purple Line metro. DC is also home to over 700,000 residents, so it comes as no surprise that traffic congestion is a problem.

San Diego Median Commuting Time Median U.S. Commuting Time
24.5 Minutes26.9 Minutes
Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Means of Transportation to Work/SchoolPercentage %
Car65.43%
Bus3.70%
Train/Metro11.11%
Bike7.41%
Walking8.64%
Working from Home3.70%

Data sourced from numbeo.com – Jul 2021

Pro: stunning green spaces

Living in Washington
Washington D.C., US (Sourced: via twenty20)

Washington D.C. has plenty of parks and gardens for everyone to enjoy. 

The U.S. National Arboretum has one of the country’s most expansive collections of bonsai trees. You’ll also find miles of trails that make this destination the perfect choice for a scenic hike. 

Rock Creek Park is a natural oasis that is filled with plenty of things to do. It also serves as the home to native species like snapping turtles. Hirshhorn Museums Sculpture Garden is a fascinating place that you can visit to admire 60 contemporary and modern art sculptures. 

There are plenty of family-friendly parks to enjoy – Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill, and Meridian Hill Park are all great spots. 

If you love ethereal gardens with many different kinds of trees and flowers, you can head to Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, Dumbarton’s Garden, or U.S. Botanic Garden in your downtime.

Washington Temperature Table

Best months to visit Washington: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November.

MonthTemp. Low. Avg.Temp. High Avg.
Jan28℉45℉
Feb32℉48℉
Marc37℉55℉
Apr48℉68℉
May59℉77℉
Jun68℉86℉
Jul73℉90℉
Aug70℉86℉
Sep64℉82℉
Oct54℉72℉
Nov41℉59℉
Dec36℉50℉

Con: poor public schools

Washington, D.C. might be renowned for having historical libraries and museums, but their public school system needs a lot of work. Only 66 percent of students graduate from high school, and their test scores are some of the worst in the nation. On the other hand, private schools and charter schools in the city have won numerous academic accolades, but they’re costly.

Pro: easy to get around in the city

Living in Washington
Washington D.C., US (Sourced: via twenty20)

There are many different ways to get around the city. You can opt to drive, but you should be aware that traffic can be an issue, especially during rush hour.  Amtrak and MARC rail stations also connect residents to other cities like Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia. 

The subway system, popularly referred to as the Metro, connects residents in downtown DC to Virginia and Maryland. It will take you around 40 minutes to an hour to get around using the metro. It’s worth noting that the Metro system does not operate 24 hours, and it also doesn’t provide services to all areas of the city.

Over 6 000 taxis are operating in DC. You can easily hail one using the convenient DC Taxi Rider app.  If you prefer to get around using a bicycle, you’ll be happy to know that the city has over 3 000 bicycles in its Capital Bikeshare Program.

Washington D.C is also very walkable and pedestrian-friendly, with wide sidewalks that you can safely walk on. Many neighborhoods are super walkable, and the city’s compact size allows for easy walking.

Con: income inequality

Washington, D.C has a stark mix of high-profile individuals and people barely making ends meet by working two minimum wage jobs. It comes as no surprise that the city ranks second in the country for income inequality, with a ratio of 17.5. Residents that fall in the 20th percentile earn a median household income of $20,152, while those in the 95th percentile earn $352,958. With a poverty rate of 16.8%, around a fourth of DC residents live below the poverty line, a shocking statistic.

Pro: the city is diverse

You’ll find people from all walks of life in DC. The city is a melting pot of different ethnicities, cultures, and orientations. People from all over the world flock to Washington, D.C., as it offers large ethnic neighborhoods and a variety of cuisines, music, and entertainment from countries such as Ethiopia, Italy, China, and many more.

Con: the bug problem

Washington, D.C, has a huge mosquito issue. The sheer quantity of mosquitoes can be a major drawback to living in the city because you can’t spend too much time outdoors during the summer months without sustaining painful bites. Here are some tips to combat mosquitoes that work for most residents:

  • Get rid of water that may accumulate in things like bird baths and buckets. These are prime egg-laying spots for these critters
  • Keep your lawn free from twigs, branches, and leaves to eliminate hiding spots.
  • Install screens in doors and windows to keep mosquitoes out.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt about DC being full of opportunity if you’re willing to immerse yourself in all that the city has to offer. Although the cost of living is high, so are the salaries. The pros outweigh the cons, and if you’re willing to adjust to the not-so-great things about Washington dc, it might just be the place you’re looking for.

Washington compared to other cities (June 2021 rent price data from Zumper national rent report)

CitiesStudio1-BR Avg. Rent 2-BR Avg. Rent 3-BR Avg. RentMedian Home PricesMedian Household Income
Charlotte$1,282$1,277$1,477$1,762$296,603$62,817
Chicago$1,039$1,400$1,750$2,223$296,603$58,247
Columbus$677$901$1,091$1,525$208,768$53,745
Denver$1,203$1,446$1,935$2,583$543,544$68,592
Houston$1,265 $1,192$1,521$1,761 $222,540 $52,338
Indianapolis$864$921$993$1,399$187,628$45,670
Jacksonville$764$991$1,198$1,683$236,615$54,701
Philadelphia$1,070$1,341$1,693$1,882$221,996$45,927
Phoenix$962$1,103$1,392$2,046$350,077$57,459
San Antonio$893$950$1,184$1,572$221,886$52,455
San Diego$1,603$1,921$2,558$3,374$829,062$79,673
Seattle$1,195$1,594$2,056$2,923$863,058$92,263
Washington$1,663$2,129$3,033$3,499$692,178$86,420
Data sourced from Zumper national rent report and the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

Recent Posts