Rent vs. Buy: Cleveland Park

by Michele Lerner

Plenty of rent-versus-own calculators are available online to do a purely numbers-driven evaluation of whether you should buy a home or rent one. (The New York Times has a particularly good one.) But, as most buyers in search of a new home know, the decision to buy a home is not purely financial. It requires a long-term commitment to a property and a neighborhood. UrbanTurf will work its way through the neighborhoods of the city to gather estimates of rent and home prices as well as the distinctive characteristics of each community. This week, we visit Cleveland Park.

The Broadmoor, a 194-unit co-op at 3601 Connecticut Avenue (map)

The Neighborhood

Northwest Washington’s Cleveland Park is roughly bordered by Rock Creek Park to the east, Wisconsin Avenue to the west, Woodley Road to the south and Tilden and Quebec Streets to the north. The popular neighborhood attracts a cross-section of families, singles, couples and empty-nesters who are drawn to the area’s convenience, charm, and location.

Cleveland Park’s iconic Uptown Theater

Home to the Uptown Movie Theater and National Zoo, Cleveland Park also has restaurants, cafes, shops and bars clustered along Connecticut Avenue near the two Metro stations which serve this part of town: the Cleveland Park station and the Woodley Road/Adams Morgan/National Zoo station, both on the Red Line. There are also restaurants and shops along the neighborhood’s secondary commercial corridor of Wisconsin Avenue. Apart from Connecticut and Wisconsin, the neighborhood offers plenty of quiet throughout its tree-lined side streets and parks.

To Buy…

Homes in Cleveland Park include condominiums, row houses and single-family homes. Single-family homes in this area are among the most expensive in the city, while condos are much more reasonable.

Realtor Lynn Bulmer with Evers & Co. Real Estate says that the average price of a single-family home in Cleveland Park in 2009 was $1,575,000. One-bedroom condominiums averaged $312,750 in 2009, while two-bedrooms averaged $424,066.

Metro station on Connecticut

Currently on the market is this one-bedroom, one-bath condo at Vaughn Place in McLean Gardens, priced at $335,000. Located on the eighth floor, the condo has 750 square feet and a balcony. The community has a swimming pool and a 24-hour front desk. After a 20 percent down payment of $67,000, the estimated monthly cost of owning this home is $1,460 plus a $275 condo fee for a total of $1,735.

A two-bedroom, two-bath condo with 1,019 square feet is on the market for $549,000 at The Monterey at 2902 Porter Street, #46. It includes hardwood flooring, a gas fireplace, a tile balcony and a shared roof deck. After a 20 percent down payment of $110,000, the estimated monthly cost of this home is $2,400 plus a condo fee of $387 for a total of $2,787.

…Or To Rent?

A Craigslist search for Cleveland Park comes up with several one-bedroom apartments with an average cost of around $1,500 per month. Only two two-bedroom homes were found, averaging $2,175 per month. There was one three-bedroom, renting at $3,450.

The Verdict

Renting in Cleveland Park is significantly less costly than buying, and a lot of young people are drawn to the neighborhood because of its not-too-expensive rents. A one-bedroom rental will typically cost at least $200 less per month than buying; on a two-bedroom the savings jump to $600.

That said, if you can afford buying, Cleveland Park may be a good place to spend your money. Not only does the neighborhood offer an attractive blend of urban amenities and quiet residential streets, it also has active community organizers who are working on plans to revitalize some of the empty storefronts near the Cleveland Park Metro station. As that activism bears fruit, the neighborhood is likely to become more desirable still.

See other articles related to: renting in dc, rent vs buy, dclofts, cleveland park

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rent_vs._buy_cleveland_park/1896


  1. Aaron said at 3:26 pm on Friday March 19, 2010:

    Wanted to just add that I would disagree with your boundaries set for this neighborhood.  Cleveland Park for many, including those who rent in the area, would end on the southern tip at Porter Street.  I don’t think many of the apartments around the Zoo, and behind Connecticut believe they live in any area but Woodley Park.

  1. CP Native said at 6:19 pm on Friday March 19, 2010:

    @Aaron, certainly not Porter for the southern boundary! From 34th St. west to Wisc., Woodley Rd. and the Cathedral close form a clear southern boundary; east of 34th, Cathedral Ave. is probably a more reasonable southern boundary. South of Cathedral Ave, it does feel like Woodley Park is the center of gravity, rather than CP.

  1. Simon Landau said at 9:26 pm on Sunday March 21, 2010:

    I rent in Cleveland Park and it certainly is less expensive than buying.  The neighborhood really does offer a nice mixture of city and small town feel.

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