UT Reader Asks: Where Should Someone On A Budget Live Solo in DC?

by UrbanTurf Staff

UT Reader Asks: Where Should Someone On A Budget Live Solo in DC?: Figure 1

In this week’s installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader who is moving out on his own inquires about where he can find a place to rent in DC in the $1,600/month range.

At the ripe age of 26, I've decided to venture off on my own and live alone in this city, despite the astronomical rent. The question is, without roommates to help defray costs, can I find anywhere decent to rent? My budget maxes out at $1,600 a month, including parking, amenity fees, etc. Less than that is better.

I'm happy with either a studio or a one bedroom. I'm pretty flexible on neighborhoods, with the caveat that I don't want to live outside the city. All the standard spots that someone in my age group would enjoy -- Mount Vernon Square, Shaw/U Street, Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Dupont, Woodley Park -- are fine. I'm also intrigued by the Southwest Waterfront.

One sticking point is that I'd prefer a unit with off-street parking, or at least a rental near abundant on-street parking. I'd also like to live within a mile of a Metro stop, or at least near some high-traffic bus stops if that's unreasonable. Finally, I want to rent an apartment or condo, not someone's English basement. My plan is to move sometime in mid-April.

I'm wondering if I'm expecting too much. Of course, I know I won’t find the perfect spot – few people on a budget ever do – but do these parameters seem reasonable, given what I’m looking to spend? I imagine thousands of 20-somethings here are in my situation.

So far, I've had some mixed results as I've looked around online. One spot in Logan Circle looked promising, until I called to arrange a tour and learned that the studio unit was just 250 square feet. Another listing was attractive until I learned the owner expected his tenant to chip in when the property tax bill arrived.

In the past I've found that since rent here is so high, everyone wants to get in on the action, leading to lots of sub-standard units on the market that I don't want to waste my time with. Meanwhile, some of the units that were within this budget not too long along (namely the new spots near the ballpark) no longer offer the same level of concessions they once did. And it seems like a lot of the newer buildings in DC just don’t offer very many studios.

Does the UrbanTurf readership have any advice for buildings that cater to someone in my position? I’ll buy a six-pack for whoever suggests the spot that becomes my abode.

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).

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/ut_reader_asks_where_should_someone_on_a_budget_live_solo_in_dc/5089


  1. jj said at 4:12 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Parking is going to be your toughest challenge with that budget. I'm a Dupont landlord--I charge 1595 for a 490sq foot studio in a perfect location. That includes everything in a full service building. Funny about the property tax, but actually in some other countries, tenants do pay the property tax.
  1. CP said at 4:18 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    It may sound strange, but I would check out Cleveland Park. I have heard there are buildings along Conn. Ave where studios go for $1,000 a month or less.
  1. Joe said at 4:24 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Agree. Look at CP or even Tenleytown/Van Ness. There are often cheaper studios and usually ample parking.
  1. Lisa said at 4:26 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Capitol Hill. Zone 6 parking is plentiful. You can always drive closer to one of the metro stations if you need it and there are plenty of bus routes. H Street and Barracks Row provide plenty of great going out places.
  1. Michael said at 4:28 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    SW Waterfront generally has studios for around $1500/month and there's ample street parking in the area (or at least there is when there's not a show at Arena Stage.) Definitely worth a look.
  1. kateln said at 4:35 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    You will not get a studio or a 1 BR for less than 1600 (or $1000!) with off street parking in Cleveland Park. That's absurd. Perhaps in Van Ness or further up Connecticut, but it'd be a run-down apartment and you'd certainly get what you pay for (i.e. very tiny amount of space, not well kept). CP is a wonderful neighborhood, but it's getting more popular and off-street parking is in high demand, as it is everywhere. $1600 though is a good price point for a studio. Definitely do a good search around the SW Waterfront, there should be plenty of parking down there and options within your price range. Shaw as well - I lived in the neighborhood for two years and never once had an issue with on-street parking. Once you start moving over toward Dupont/Mt. Pleasant your going to have trouble, both with staying in your budget and finding parking (whether it's off or on street).
  1. gina said at 4:59 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    There are studios near AU Park (Mass Ave) for $1400, which includes a pass for parking in the lot of the building, 1 mile from metro (AU shuttle may be an option there), and right on bus line into the city. The Greenbriar building is very quiet because it hasa mix of owners and renters with 24 hour security. It's a class B building however, and so although it has a rooftop deck, there is no pool or gym.
  1. 20-something in DC said at 5:03 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    3801 Connecticut has studios for about $1550 a month. The same management company also manages The Kenmore and I think that would be in your price range as well (but not as close) to a metro. Also I would look at some of the older buildings on 16th street. I recall seeing studios there for around $1400 a month. Some weren't the nicest apartments but the location was great.
  1. Capitol Hill landlord said at 5:16 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    My wife and I own a beautiful studio on Capitol Hill with direct views of the Capitol building and Washington monument. It's a 5 minute walk from Eastern Market (+ metro) and about 10 minutes (right in between) to everything on Barracks Row and H St. We loved the location right in the middle of things but still a very safe old established neighborhood. It's listed for $1700, which is right around what other similar units in the area have gone for. Check it out on Craig's List!
  1. Anon said at 5:39 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Tivoli Gardens on 14th and Ogden in Col Heights. My friend just scored a one bedroom for $1600. I haven't been inside, but the exterior looks well maintained and has all the amenities you are looking for.
  1. Monty said at 5:55 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    You might be able to find a basement apartment in Mt. Pleasant for $1600 or less (possibly with parking). Not sure if you are considering basements.
  1. StringsAttached said at 6:00 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    http://www.sheridanstation.com/ Check it out; these are brand new units so you would be the first to live in it. I called and asked about parking and the rep told me the have 45 covered spaces which are first come/first served but I know there is street parking available. Anacostia metro is directly across the street which gives you access to buses and train. A circulator bus runs in the area as well.
  1. KLK said at 6:20 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Arlington! I used to live under a mile from the Clarendon metro at Washington & Lee and was there for 5 yrs and the rent increased $25. I think my rent was $800 for a huge 1br. And yes, I know this isn't "DC" but it is close and the reader has a car!
  1. Janson said at 7:02 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    I have friends with sub $1500 nice studios in well run buildings in Adams Morgan. Any big building where a tenant might have stayed for a few decades will have some below market rents because of rent control. I lived in the Calverton in a great studio for $1200 a few years ago. No parking, but a great concierge.
  1. Ryan said at 8:16 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    I'm the renter who wrote to UrbanTurf. Thanks for the great tips so far! You've given me a lot of good ideas. I really like the suggestion about Cleveland Park and Van Ness, which I hadn't really thought much about before. If anyone has suggestions about specific buildings that are good for people in my position, please post those too. Thanks.
  1. Mary said at 8:35 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    I was in more or less your shoes when I moved back to DC nearly 10 years ago now and that, plus proximity to the river, is how I landed in SW. And loved it so much that I bought a few years later. Most buildings down there come with utilities bundled with rent and there's at least one, older, complex that has rent control. It's also a really easy commute to both MD and VA as well as into the city, so you're less likely to have to move for a job switch or something.
  1. Marrio said at 8:49 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    You can take a look at Capitol Park in SW the studios go for less than 1300 and it is close to 3 metro stations (FCSW, LP & WF). It's a great starter location in the city and will give you a chance to save some money until you find something even better. I started out there before moving on to River Park.
  1. Jay said at 9:03 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Believe it or not, 425 Mass has currently a studio available for less than $1,700 on its website...www.425mass.com is the site. I currently live in a studio in this awesome building for $1,765 per month, which I thought was a steal for this area..3.5 block walk to Chinatown and Judiciary Square metro stations...so close to 395 to get into VA really quickly...come live here and I'll share my referral bonus😃
  1. Nikki S. said at 10:11 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    I rented a basement in a small neighborhood known as The Stronghold (about a mile from the Brookland metro stop near North Cap 'n' Michigan, NE). I wasn't looking for a basement, but was happy to make it work: Brand new unit; rent included all utilities, cable and wireless Internet and off-street parking. I loved it and lived there four years until I saved enough to buy a one-bedroom in Southwest (River Park!). Found it by posting an "apartment wanted" ad on Craigslist back in 2006 after being unsatisfied with the apartments I came across in the "for rent" listings. I was paying $1075/mo when I moved out in 2010.
  1. Vanessa Vaughan said at 10:27 pm on Wednesday February 8, 2012:
    Here's the winner right here: Aventine Fort Totten. http://aventineforttotten.com/ They have studios and 1 bedroom apartments for less than $1600/month (I've actually lived there for 2 years in a junior 2-bedroom at $1485/month plus water and electric). Parking in their lot is free and parking in the garage is $50/month. There's a pool, fitness center, grills, AND it's right across the street from the Fort Totten Metro (so you have the Red line, Green line, and Yellow line, and a bunch of different bus lines). It's quiet, secure, still in the District (15 min to downtown via metro), and a newer complex (built in the last 4 years).
  1. Anonymous said at 1:26 am on Thursday February 9, 2012:
    If you're a woman or are relatively new to DC, you'd be most advised to look first in Cleveland Park or Woodly Park, in the buildings along or close to Connecticut Avenue. The apartments (in your price range) that you'll find here will be in older buildings, well-managed in most cases, but which lack the full amenities of more recent construction (gym, pool, etc.). Van Ness deserves consideration, as does the Cathedral area and American University Park. Look also at Glover Park. The buildings along lower 16th St., NW, from about P Street up to W, or a bit beyond, might also work for you. On street parking, though, will be more problematic. You may also want to head across the river to Arlington for a look see. Arlington is a happening place for people of your age. Go first to Claredon, then Courthouse and Virginia Square. Most of the newly constructed buildings will be out of your price range, but there will be units available that you can afford. Moreover, you're just minutes from downtown via the Orange Line. An example: Sheffield Court Apartments http://www.equityapartments.com/virginia/alexandria-arlington-apartments/clarendon/sheffield-court-apartments.aspx Since you're on a tight budget, perhaps you should drop you max rent to $1,400. This will give you some leeway if things get a bit tight. Where you park your car, and how easy it is to find a parking spot at night is very important.
  1. H Street Landlord said at 2:20 am on Thursday February 9, 2012:
    What's your guap like? Because you could possibly buy a home in Trinidad or Rosedale (for a comparable or slightly higher) mortgage payment, rent out the other bedrooms and live almost rent free. Just a thought. As for rentals in areas that haven't been mentioned, I would check Truxton Circle and Eckington.
  1. Joe said at 3:50 pm on Thursday February 9, 2012:
    Check out Bloomingdale or Eckington. You have good access to the metro and you can easily walk or bike to U street & H street. There's some great old homes and you'll get to experience living in a cool dc neighborhood
  1. Brian - UIP Property Management said at 6:04 pm on Thursday February 9, 2012:
    There are some studios coming available for $1500 in a newly renovated project in Petworth at 3800 New Hampshire Avenue. Check it out here: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/apa/2826299067.html The contact on there will also be able to help you with other neighborhoods for similar prices as well.
  1. Freeman said at 6:33 pm on Thursday February 9, 2012:
    Choosing a place to rent, like buying a house, is about being clear on your priorities. You really should decide which one you value more -parking or being close to public transportation - both of those things are going to cost you, but one makes the other much less necessary, so why pay for both? I gave up a car when I moved to DC and have no regrets - I live near good bus connections (NextBus on the smartphone is essential!) and Metro. When I really do need a car, there's Zipcar or the car rental companies, which often have good deals on the weekend (around $25-30/day). Giving up a car (and associated costs of parking, gas, insurance, depreciation, etc.) may well save you enough to afford a bigger, better-located apartment.
  1. Natalie O said at 1:58 am on Friday February 10, 2012:
    Check out availability at the Kennedy Warren in cleveland/woodley park. The smaller studios fit your budget and heated underground parking is an option. Amenities-- like the staff-- are amazing. Indoor lap pool, complete fitness center, very secure building in outstanding shape. I broke down and paid a bit more for a BIG studio, but it's rent controlled, which pays off bigtime if you plan on staying long term.
  1. Vik said at 5:48 pm on Friday February 10, 2012:
    I think Capitol Hill would be my first choice, but I agree with a lot of the suggestions of Cleveland Park and Columbia Heights.

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