UrbanTurf Reader Asks: The Search For a DC One-Bedroom Apartment

by UrbanTurf Staff


In this week’s installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader asks for advice about the best way to find a one-bedroom apartment in DC for $2,000 a month or less.

I moved to DC with my boyfriend at the end of May 2010. Before we moved, we only had a couple days to find a place to live, and we settled on a studio in a high-rise apartment. I’ll be blunt in the interest of getting good help: we pay $1,785/month without parking, and got one months’ free rent when we moved in. Starting June 1, we will need a new apartment to live in, as we are sure the rents where we are currently living have gone up significantly since we moved in. Although the building is nice, we already feel we’re paying quite a bit of money for a studio. We absolutely want to stay in DC, and like many young couples, our ideal unit would also be: close to a Metro, in an area that has some walkable amenities (grocery, restaurants), and a unit that is at least somewhat updated. We will each have gotten small salary increases by the time we move, so we are hoping we can find a one-bedroom apartment for slightly more than our studio currently costs.

Is this a pipe dream? Given our wish list and a willingness to spend roughly $2,000/month, are we relegated to a studio? Our move is still five months out and I’m already feeling dejected. Should I be looking at high-rises? Craigslist? We’re pretty open minded about neighborhoods, so any help/advice would be appreciated.

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

**Small clarification in this post: The individual is not limited to a “downtown” one-bedroom apartment.

See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks, renting in dc

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_is_finding_a_one_bedroom_for_2000_a_month/2829


  1. Rental Advice said at 12:13 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Not a pipe dream, but in this market it is definitely a tall order. My advice would be to become best friend’s with Craiglist and check it religiously. I found a one-bedroom apartment over on 19th and Q for $1,750/month that way. Of course, that was 18 months ago.

  1. one bedroom said at 12:27 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    A pipe dream to get more than a studio for $2000 per month? What is happening in this city?

    You should be able to EASILY get a one bedroom, utilities included, just north of Mount Pleasant or Columbia Heights. At least this was the case back in July, when we moved out of our 1-bedroom that we felt was getting overpriced at $1400 per month.

    If the rental market is really this insane, boy am I glad we bought. The mortgage on our 3 bedroom house at the east end of H street is waaaaay less than $2000/month.

    If you can live without a super-close metro, I would really suggest giving H street/North Capitol Hill a chance.

  1. Cap Hill said at 12:27 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    You can easily find a one-bedroom apt in a rowhouse on Capitol Hill for around $2k a month. Walkable to either Union Station, Eastern Market, or Cap South Metro. GL!


  1. Anon said at 12:39 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Look in NoMa. Either Flats at 130 or Loree Grand. Both offer concessions.

  1. Lauren said at 12:56 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    What do you mean by “downtown”? If you only want to live around Metro Center/McPherson Sq/Farragut West, finding a 1BR for under 2k would probably be tough as there’s just not that much residential in that area.

    But if you go up to Dupont or other nearby neighborhoods, a 1BR with a budget of $2,000 should not be that hard. Ex: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/apa/2153553777.html

  1. M.G. said at 1:56 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    I sent in the question, and I just want to clarify that I never actually used the word “downtown” in my question, I simply said we would like to stay in DC. At this time we are not interested in NoVa or MD, but we are open to a wide array of DC neighborhoods.

  1. JohnDc said at 2:59 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Response to: Anon said at 11:39

    While Flats 130 & Loree Grand are nice they are, in my opinion, overpriced. $2200 for a 1 bedroom? I live in Bloomingdale/Eckington and you could find a 2 bedroom for ~$1600, albeit it an english basement. There is only Baraki & Big Bear Cafe that are extremely close but the new NOMA Harris Teeter / PotBellies / Au Bon Pan is a 15 minute walk one direction and U Street is a 15/20 minute walk the other one.

  1. JohnDC said at 3:02 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    One other note. The new Capital Bikeshare program makes it easy & free (per use) to get across the city. So keep that in mind when you look for housing. Its $75/year but free per use if under 30 minutes. You just drop it off at another station near your destination and forget about it.

    I can meet my friends in dupont in 10 minutes where before walking would take 35.

    Station Map @ http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/

  1. Wiconsin and Mass said at 3:08 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Try the area around Wisconsin and Mass—I’m by Wisconsin and Woodley in a doorman building and pay $1.6k/mo for a 2bd.  1bds are around $1.1k.  Lots of older, but clean and well maintained buildings up there (and some new ones too), and I’m 3 blocks from 2Amys/Cafe Deluxe/Giant/Cactus Cantina.  Ton of bus lines to Adams Morgan/Tenley/Gtown/Dupont - I don’t have a car and never had a problem.

  1. Wisconsin and Mass said at 3:08 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Oh - and that’s utilities included.

  1. Chenna said at 3:16 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Park Place apartments in Petworth.  Not too far from downtown and other areas to hang out in.

  1. M.G. said at 3:19 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Thank you for all the comments so far, I really appreciate people’s help. I thought of something as I was reading these that I wanted to add to my question: do people in a similar situation to me use a realtor to help them? Might a realtor know more about independent (not high-rise) apartment availability than the average person could find themselves on the internet? How much might a realtor’s assistance cost? I spent some time perusing CL this morning and so far the options aren’t exactly great. Am I missing a way to reach individual condo owners who rent their units out?

  1. logan said at 3:35 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    I have found that realtors in DC generally don’t add much to a search for a rental. Some mgt companies who mange units for individual owners have websites, such as EJF. But even they list on CL as well.

  1. SL said at 4:32 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    M.G., I think many of the larger, nicer buildings don’t advertise in Craigslist - they tend to stay full and can fill vacancies from people calling them directly and some have rental offices. The Ellington on U Street comes in mind b/c I had a friend look at an apartment there. I think the best think you can do is just pick a couple neighborhoods you like and write down numbers of buildings that look good. Most buildings will have a sign on them with a number you can call. Craigslist is still great and many buildings do advertise there, but I think of it more for renting individually-owned condos or houses.

    Also, some of the larger companies manage several buildings and have websites - Bernstein Management, William C. Smith, etc. I can’t think of others of the top of my head - maybe others can chip in?

  1. Daniel said at 4:50 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Actually, I found my realtor completely by chance when I was looking for an apartment. He was with Long&Foster;, and while I didn’t ultimately take the apartment he was showing (on Craigslist), he was a great source in helping me eventually find an amazing apartment (managed by Coldwell Banker). He knew the right people contact, how to negotiate rent, and ultimately, the deals that were not advertised on CL. Let me know if you’d like his info.

  1. Daniel said at 4:51 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Keener and Borger are two that come to mind.

  1. Kelly said at 4:59 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    If you’re working and living in the city, don’t forget about the bus routes.  While they can be slightly less convenient than the Metro, they still provide the convenience of public transit and keep you out of the neighborhoods that are high priced because they’re right next to a Metro station.

    Good luck!  May you find a rent controlled apartment whose previous tenants were in it for 10+ years. (While harder to find, those can be a steal!)

  1. Daniel said at 5:26 pm on Wednesday January 12, 2011:

    Sorry for the over-posting, but if you’re interested in living in a slightly older art-deco building (1950s) with washer/dryer at 16th and U Street, my building has a vacancy for a 1-bed for $1475 (available as of last week). Not huge or fancy by any means, but I think the location and price more than makes up for it.

  1. Tom said at 12:25 am on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    In Capitol Hill, Yarmouth Management usually lists vacancies under 2K.

  1. M.G. said at 10:03 am on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    Thank you again to everyone for their comments. Daniel, you’re not overposting but I will not be out of my lease until June 1, so your vacancy is probably premature for me. However, I also met a realtor from Long & Foster over the summer when I was looking for an apartment, and he was showing an apartment in Dupont I ultimately couldn’t afford. I really liked him, and I’ve been thinking about contacting him as my move date gets closer. I wonder if we met the same person? His name is escaping me right now but maybe you and I can exchange his info via the Urban Turf editor (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

    Also, regarding buses, I do like and use the bus systems frequently, but my boyfriend requires Metro for his daily commute, so that remains important to us in our apartment search.

  1. Mary said at 10:43 am on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    I’d look in SW - it’s very close to the city center, new grocery store, metro stations, fun little community sailing club, cantina marina on the river and a couple more restaurants opening soon. There are a couple of options for renting down there in brand new buildings that opened as apartments rather than condos as the market started to slide, but have a look at Waterside Towers, in particular. Not super luxe units, but very large, nice quiet building, pretty well maintained…and it has rent control.

  1. former Georgetowner said at 12:07 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    I’ve used John Formant in the past.  They have 1 bedroom apartments for less than $2K. Have a look: http://www.johncformant.com/RentalPropList.htm

  1. Kristin said at 12:26 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    You may want to utilize the service, Urban Igloo http://urbanigloo.com/. It’s a free service for you and you will get a leasing expert that does the looking for you. Think of it like a realtor, but with a concentration in apartments and rentals only. I believe they have access to MLS listings as well.

    Craig’s List is also good. I’ve found many deals on there for my clients; you just have to keep a look out.

    I agree…it’s not impossible at all to find something in that range. You are looking a bit far in advance though so probably what the leasing agents are quoting you are full market rents. This is due to the fact that they have no idea of what the market conditions will be like at that time or what the availability will be.

    Getting closer, you may come across some special concessions or discounted rate deals, but for now, all you are going to get is market info, which always seems to be more than what they actually offer when the time comes.

    Also, there has been a lot of new construction popping up in DC. I’m not sure what will be completed by June if any, BUT it may be worth a shot to look into those communities.  When they are in lease up mode, they tend to offer aggressive rent specials and discounts to get the building quickly filled.

  1. Stringsattached said at 2:13 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    For that kind of money a month…is buying not an option? With today’s rates you should be able to get a 2/3 bedroom condo. My wife recently purchased a new single family for 350k and our monthly payment is $2259 including escrow. Being that it’s winter, competition is going to be sparse for property so I would suggest exploring the possibility.

  1. Stringsattached said at 2:15 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    And it’s my wife and I who purchased…typo.

  1. Kim said at 3:14 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    I just wanted to chime in and second the North Capitol Hill/H Street area suggestion. I’m not sure if you require a specific Metro line, but there are a lot of great basement apartments within easy walking distance to Union Station (it’s just a matter of finding one available when you need it). I live in this area and pay $1650/month for a one-bedroom with an updated kitchen (that includes a dishwasher) and a new washer/dryer. The appliances aren’t state-of-the-art by any means and the washer and dryer are stacked ones, but they get the job done. I have friends who rent in this area who pay even less, but I paid a little more for the privilege of having a pet. The apartments are out there, it’s just a matter of running in to the right deal at the right time.

    As far as realtors go, I personally didn’t work with one and I’ve heard horror stories as well as success stories, so I guess that’s just hit-or-miss. I found my apartment on Craigslist, which seems to be the place to look if you want to end up on the Hill (even the buildings, which are generally smaller, older buildings tend to list on Craigslist.

    You could also grab one of those Apartment Guides that seem to be near a lot of Metros to get you started (if you want to live in a larger building, at least). They are nicely divided by neighborhood and there is a table in the back listing prices.

    Good luck!

  1. ks said at 10:58 pm on Thursday January 13, 2011:

    I realize it’s tough - but hang in there. I spent 2 months scouring craigslist, but in the end found a 1 BR on 17th & R for $1700 a month, including water. Not a basement - it has a fireplace, outdoor space (back patio and balcony), exposed brick, remodeled bathroom and newer kitchen. I’m blocks from the grocery and less than 10 min to the Dupont metro. They don’t raise the rent til you have been here 5 years. My place had no pictures on the ad, so be sure that you are aren’t being too picky.

    Good luck!

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