What Salary Do You Need to Afford a One-Bedroom in DC? $47,640

by UrbanTurf Staff

What Salary Do You Need to Afford a One-Bedroom in DC? $47,640: Figure 1

A resident of the DC metro area needs a salary of at least $47,640 in order to afford the market rent for a one-bedroom, reported WAMU on Thursday. To rent a two-bedroom, one would need an annual salary of $56,480.

Using recently released data from the Center for Housing Policy, WAMU took a look at the median salaries in the area of a few professions, and weighed them against the salaries necessary to rent in the metro. For example, the average firefighter in the DC metro makes about $45,765 per year, not enough for a one-bedroom, while the average police officer makes $54,755 per year.

From WAMU:

“One of the most overlooked aspects of this recovery is that for many workers, incomes are not rebounding in step with local housing markets,” explained CHP Senior Research Associate Maya Brennan, co-author of the report. “Even in a strong sector like travel and tourism, wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of renting or homeownership.”

For the full report, check out WAMU.

See other articles related to: affordability

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/what_salary_do_you_need_to_afford_a_one-bedroom_in_dc_47640/7470


  1. Fred said at 1:40 am on Saturday August 17, 2013:
    Hmmmm. This probably assumes you have no students which most people moving to DC have. I would think you probably need to making closer to 60k a year to afford a 1br. With my student loans I couldn't afford more than 1k a month for rent, which means you definitely are living with a roommate or two.
  1. SW, DC said at 7:54 pm on Monday August 19, 2013:
    I would advise any FTHBs with a salary of $47,640 or below to SERIOUSLY consider using HPAP. The program basically gives you $40K toward your down payment (you can't combine this with your own money) and an additional $4K towards closing costs. The loan is 5 year differed with zero % interest to be repaid within 40 years (your primary mortgage will be 30, so this should be VERY easy). If you can comprehend zero % interest, then you realize this is ALMOST like free money! I work for DC government so I got an additional $10K from EHAP (the portion of the program designed for DC employees). I also stumbled across this program called DC Bond (which I'm not sure still exists) that was designed to help lower income FTHBs. That program was a GRANT for an additional $10K and 1/2 a point on my interest rate. DC also has a tax abatement program (again, for lower income residents) in which [after the first 365 days in your house] you are excluded from paying property tax for the next 5 years. This program dropped my mortgage payment by over $100 a month!! You have to call your bank and hound them to take care of it though! The building I was moving in also was at the time offering no closing costs, so I used the 4k that HPAP provided (to pay the closing costs anyway, to take advantage of the "free" money, and offered 4K lower for the condo (which was ultimately accepted). The combo of that $64K, lower interest rate, tax abatement and the fact that my offer was accepted $17K below asking price (13K below plus the 4K closing costs), allowed me to buy WELL above my initial target price into a SPACIOUS one bedroom less than a block away from a prominent Metro station. I also JUST missed the 8K FTHB Obama credit. Also, were I part of a DC union, I would have received an ADDITIONAL 10K. The entire process was however long winded. From start to finish it took about 11 months (mostly the fault of my BoA Mortgage Lender). I share my experience to say that if you are aggressive and creative a salary of $47,640 should be MORE than enough to live comfortably in DC. There are ample programs out there that you are paying for whether you use them or not. May as well use them! I thank God everyday for the programs and the divine intervention in which all the stars aligned PERFECTLY! Good luck and get aggressive. There are DEFINITELY deals out there waiting for you. One love!
  1. Jason said at 8:13 pm on Monday August 19, 2013:
    I earn 100k and have paid off my loans and I still find its not worth the extra expense to live alone. The savings percentage is about 30% for splitting a 2BR over leasing a comparable 1BR by yourself but because rents are high, the real value of the money is also something to consider. Splitting a nice 2BR over renting a nice 1BR by myself saves me at least $10,000/year. That is basically all my entertainment, restaurant and vacation spending and then some. Whether I earn 50k or 150k, $10k after-tax is a lot of money just to walk around your apartment naked.
  1. 3rd Generation Washingtonian said at 9:47 pm on Monday August 19, 2013:
    WHAT IS THIS? Is UT crazy? For the new low/mod income housing programs in DC the median for one person household is $60k! This article and WAMU is WRONG! Especially if you have student loans, which most people do have- unless you're fortunate enough to have your parents pay for it.
  1. adriana said at 2:57 pm on Tuesday August 20, 2013:
    I agree with the dissenters. When I first moved to DC 7 years ago, I made around $60K. And I definitely didn't feel rich enough to afford a 1 bedroom apartment. Luckily I found a rent-controlled 1 bedroom apartment that literally went on the market the day after New Year's. (It was a 1 bedroom apartment in Georgetown for $1075/month. It was 450 SF, no AC, tiny kitchen, no dishwasher, no washer/dryer, etc) I looked at it, applied, and got the apartment that same day. At the time, I think 1 bedroom apartments in nice parts of town were renting for at least $1500 a month. Although my student loan payments were $130 a month and I didn't have a car payment, I definitely did not feel rich enough to afford the 'market rate' for a 1 bedroom. I'm guessing apartments are a lot more expensive now, and expensive everywhere. I really don't see how a 1bedroom could be afforded by a person making less than $50K.
  1. JB said at 6:08 pm on Tuesday August 20, 2013:
    With a 20% downpayment you would be surprised what you can afford. Most people just assume they can't afford to buy a house. I bought a home in DC with a $43k salary. It can be done.
  1. Lloyd said at 2:18 am on Thursday August 22, 2013:
    Our office goes by 40 times the rent, if you want a property that cost 2,000 a month, you need to make 80,000 a year
  1. Eponymous said at 10:17 pm on Thursday August 22, 2013:
    I think many of the people here who feel that this salary is too low might be missing the fact that this study was for the entire Washington Metropolitan Statistical Area (see the linked article from wamu). This includes Frederick, Harpers Ferry, and other locales WAY outside of the Beltway and nowhere near a Metro station. It's not that hard to get a 1br for under $700 a month in many of these places. If I were to pick a bone with the study, it's that it allows remotely-located prices to skew the salary down, but doesn't skew the cost of living up for fuel prices. A teacher who works in Arlington and lives in Harpers Ferry might spend only $600 on rent, but $400 a month or more on gas (depending on the car). Thus, these non-Metro-accessible places skew the rental price averages down, while in reality the higher fuel costs can eat up most or all of the "savings" so that the salary is still insufficient. This doesn't matter much if you both live and work in Harpers Ferry, but it makes life awfully difficult for low-wage employees who have closer-in jobs - they can't win.

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