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Old 02-03-2011, 06:52 PM
 
1,641 posts, read 2,197,880 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by movingtodcsoon View Post
Mods: Can this be stickied?

Every other post on this board is usually someone looking to move to DC and always the posts are similar "looking for cheap apartment in safe area, metro accessible" or some derivative thereof. So, I thought it would be useful to everyone to post this general guide for the benefit of everyone on the board. If this doesn't answer your question, then please ask away, using the guidelines at the bottom to help ensure your question gets answered without the usual snark.

"Cheap" in DC is not "Cheap" anywhere else, other than NYC

The housing market in DC (and the surrounding area) is much like that in NYC, only perhaps a bit less expensive (but not much!). Assuming you are looking for an apartment (and not a room share, we'll get to that), you need to budget, at minimum $1100 for a studio if you want to be in a safe, close-in area (1 bedrooms will run you at least $1300 - 1400). Be aware when searching through apartments you will find some that look to have lower rents...make sure to note if these are income restricted, which means that you have to be below a certain income level to qualify for those apartments. These apartments may be just fine and if you qualify, go for it, but it all depends on your idea of "safe."

Okay, where are the "unsafe" areas of DC?

That all depends on your perspective on things and who you are. I am not trying to start a debate here, but as a single white woman this is my perception and my perception only. You may feel perfectly safe and even prefer somewhere I would not, which is why asking about "safety" is a dangerous proposition on the boards. Then again, simply relying on crime statistics (for instance through Washington Post Crystal City Overview: Photos, Stats, Crime, Home Sales and Schools on washingtonpost.com Neighborhoods) is also misleading. Point is, take everything with a grain of salt.

In any case...it's generally acknowledged that the Southeast quadrant of DC and parts of Southwest are more "up and coming." These are growing in popularity and gentrifying to some degree (for instance near Waterfront and Navy Yard) but still not areas I would want to walk around alone at night. The same goes for areas of Columbia Heights (but I have friends who absolutely love it down there, especially given nightlife around U street, again my perception).

Virginia -- Parts of Alexandria have a lot of income restricted housing and are less safe -- I lived in Del Ray for a summer and while a cozy town, we had someone break into our apartment building 3 times during the 3 month period we lived there.

Maryland -- I have never lived in Maryland so I can't speak from personal experience, but its generally regarded that Montgomery County is generally safer than Prince George's county HOWEVER parts within each may be safer or less safe than others

But I want to be safe and I can't afford to live in those areas

There are several options here that you need to consider. It is all about YOUR priorities. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself and rank -- it is entirely personal. THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS WE ALSO NEED TO ANSWER YOUR INQUIRIES

1. Do I need to be by a metro rail? Would I be okay if I were on a bus line?
2. How long of a commute to work am I willing to have? Would I be okay driving? Taking the commuter rail? (where will I be working?)
3. Would I be willing to live with a roommate or multiple roommates?
4. What amenities do I absolutely need in an apartment -- pets? gym? a/c? washer/dryer?
5. What is the absolute maximum, with utilities and any fees, I can afford?
6. What is my definition of safe?
7. How important is nightlife? family community? schools?

Question 1: If you don't need to be near a metro you will pay SIGNIFICANTLY less. Areas like Shirlington in Arlington offer more affordable living but you will have to have a car or be heavily dependent on infrequent buses.

Question 2: If you are willing to live further out, you can find less expensive options for housing. Be aware that VRE and MARC are notorious for delays, however, so you will need to make sure you are willing to have long commutes. Also be aware this limits your ability to access nightlife in DC, if that is important to you.

Question 3: The vast majority of young professionals in DC (in their 20s) live with at least one roommate. It's a fact of living that if you are only making ~$40,000 you cannot afford your own place. 2 bedroom apartments are marginally more expensive than 1 bedrooms, so this is an economical decision. Many younger DCers also find it useful to live in group houses and rent a room -- this is also nice because it means an instant group of peers with whom to form friendships, which can be hard in DC.

Question 4: The more amenities you desire the more expensive and the fewer options you have. Pet friendly buildings are few and far between in the DC Metro Area and tend to be more expensive even before the inevitable non-refundable deposit and pet rent. Be prepared that many buildings have amenity fees on top of rent (see, for instance the Archstone buildings) which you need to factor in as you're figuring out what you can afford.

Question 5: Be aware that many buildings in the area have shared utilities. This means that even if you are the best at conserving energy, you pay for the idiot who leaves all the lights on in his apartment. You need to ask how much average utilities are in the building and factor this in. Don't have a washer/dryer in your apartment? You need to factor in the cost of laundry, too.

Question 6: See above.

Question 7: There are definitely areas that 20- and 30-something singles live and others where families live. How important is this to you? I know more about being in the former, so I can say that 20s and 30s singles tend to live in Arlington (either the orange Rosslyn-Claredon-Ballston area -- which tends to be pricey -- or the blue Pentagon City/Crystal City area), U Street or Capitol Hill. Families seem to prefer places like Bethesda, Rockville, Alexandria, Friendship Heights, or Chevy Chase.

Where can I find information/apartments/etc.
Craigslist is an invaluable resource. Many apartments will advertise directly on craigslist in addition to other sites. Washington Post Apartment Showcase is also a great tool.
You forgot San Fran, Certain part of Vegas, Certain part of Maryland, Coast of NC, Coast of CA (majority of it)... There are a lot of places that's more expensive to live than DC, but I guess you have to specify how much crime and rats/roaches are in the apartment to know where its worth living. Because you could live pretty cheap in the "letter apartments" in nyc, but you'll have to store your clothes under your mattress, because that's what occupies most of your apartment.

But I would say, it's a lot better in DC to live in a basement apt, since it has more "modernization" and "renovation" and you wouldn't have to worry about the rat size roaches like NYC in the "letter" apartments.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Wilmington, DE
257 posts, read 329,630 times
Reputation: 78
I've colored coded the areas where one should use caution or avoid. If your new to the area don't move to the red areas or the orange coded ones in NE, SE, or PG county. The orange in NW only denotes housing projects.

Crime Areas in the DC region - Google Maps

I'll update the map frequently.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
3,548 posts, read 7,385,581 times
Reputation: 1344
Quote:
Originally Posted by Internal Breathing Fire View Post
I've colored coded the areas where one should use caution or avoid. If your new to the area don't move to the red areas or the orange coded ones in NE, SE, or PG county. The orange in NW only denotes housing projects.

Crime Areas in the DC region - Google Maps

I'll update the map frequently.
I couldn't get the map to work. It just took me to a satellite view of what appeared to be outter NE DC, but the street names/grid appeared to be off.
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Wilmington, DE
257 posts, read 329,630 times
Reputation: 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by 14thandYou View Post
I couldn't get the map to work. It just took me to a satellite view of what appeared to be outter NE DC, but the street names/grid appeared to be off.
Thats weird, I'll check the link.
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Old 02-05-2011, 02:06 PM
 
Location: Washington D.C. Metro Area
267 posts, read 647,677 times
Reputation: 206
Actually I'd agree with the person who said Coast of CA (anywhere) is expensive. I'm looking to move to DC from San Diego. Right now I'm inland (about 10 miles from the ocean) and I pay $1700-1800 for a 2 bdr/2ba 782 sq ft apartment in a big community. Old carpeting, peeling cupboards, cheap fixtures...so nothing upscale although we do have pools and a small fitness center.

I've been looking at DC/MD/VA and it seems to me I should have no problem finding a 2-3 bdr/2ba place in an o.k. area (I'm not looking for exclusive or best area) for darn close to this price and it looks to me I'll get a lot more square footage for my $$$. I haven't really run into many 3bd that are less than 1200 or so sq ft.

To me DC has a lot more cheaper options - without giving up a safer environment. JMHO - but CA is way more expensive and doesn't seem to vary as much - even in the worst areas of San Diego housing is still at 500K for a 1200 sq ft house (and remember we don't have basements out here!). Property tax on that is around $5-8K per year as well.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:30 PM
 
Location: N Bethesda, MD
53 posts, read 284,914 times
Reputation: 32
I’ve resided in several areas in Mo County, Md.

From:
The Chateau in Takoma Park (Silver Spring), MD
The Enclave, White Oak (Silver Spring), MD
Derwood, MD (Rented a one bedroom for 6 months)
North Potomac, MD (Rented the basement of this rich man’s house)
Bethesda Hills, Bethesda, MD
Avalon at Rock Springs, Bethesda, MD
All in all, the best area that I lived in was Bethesda, MD (not N. Bethesda but the Bethesda off of Old Georgetown Road which a lot of people consider Rockville). Even though I love Bethesda, there’s no night life, it’s more of a family city and way more expensive then other cities in Mo County. Plus, you pay more in rent for a smaller apartment. Everyone just has to weigh their priorities and what works out best for them.
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Old 02-07-2011, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Baltimore
1,340 posts, read 3,677,845 times
Reputation: 655
Quote:
Originally Posted by JosephineBeth View Post
Actually I'd agree with the person who said Coast of CA (anywhere) is expensive. I'm looking to move to DC from San Diego. Right now I'm inland (about 10 miles from the ocean) and I pay $1700-1800 for a 2 bdr/2ba 782 sq ft apartment in a big community. Old carpeting, peeling cupboards, cheap fixtures...so nothing upscale although we do have pools and a small fitness center.

I've been looking at DC/MD/VA and it seems to me I should have no problem finding a 2-3 bdr/2ba place in an o.k. area (I'm not looking for exclusive or best area) for darn close to this price and it looks to me I'll get a lot more square footage for my $$$. I haven't really run into many 3bd that are less than 1200 or so sq ft.

To me DC has a lot more cheaper options - without giving up a safer environment. JMHO - but CA is way more expensive and doesn't seem to vary as much - even in the worst areas of San Diego housing is still at 500K for a 1200 sq ft house (and remember we don't have basements out here!). Property tax on that is around $5-8K per year as well.
DC is actually considered a more expensive area than San Diego. I think only NYC and San Francisco are more expensive overall. $1700 will get you a studio in many of the nicer areas of DC. If you want an older apartment in an okay area you should be okay though.
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Old 02-07-2011, 06:33 PM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
3,548 posts, read 7,385,581 times
Reputation: 1344
Quote:
Originally Posted by ffknight918 View Post
I think only NYC and San Francisco are more expensive overall.
Which of course explains why those are the three cities I enjoy most.

Figures.
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:20 AM
 
Location: Washington D.C. Metro Area
267 posts, read 647,677 times
Reputation: 206
@ffknight - I guess I should have clarified I'm speaking of the greater area incl. suburbs not only DC Metro (which would be more expensive).

I've been comparing rents for comparable areas and they're not too far off of each other comparitively. True DC Metro is closer to SF prices....but the good thing about the DC area for me (I don't live there yet but I just came back from looking) is I can go outside the city a bit and get a decent place as far as rent - I think the thing with San Diego is there isn't really anywhere to go - I'd have to go way way out and have a 2+ hour commute to even get remotely close to what I can do 30-45 minutes from DC (I'm speaking regular drive time no traffic lol). I think property size is also a big differential for me - I'm fine with a 2Bdr if it's decent size...where I currently live in San Diego (o.k. area - lots of petty crime, theft, gang issues) if I want to rent any sort of 3 bedroom that's not a real dump I'd be looking at $2200-$2800. It doesn't seem so different to me in the outlying DC type areas.

I should also say that I really want a townhome type situation - without yard upkeep and such. I want decent size but not huge - no more than 1400 sq ft tops ideally (otherwise utility costs are terrible). CA has relatively few townhomes - more condo's. So I love all the townhomes and similar looking homes that I saw for rent
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Old 02-09-2011, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Standing outside of heaven, wating for God to come and get me.
1,382 posts, read 3,209,478 times
Reputation: 501
Quote:
Originally Posted by Internal Breathing Fire View Post
I've colored coded the areas where one should use caution or avoid. If your new to the area don't move to the red areas or the orange coded ones in NE, SE, or PG county. The orange in NW only denotes housing projects.

Crime Areas in the DC region - Google Maps

I'll update the map frequently.
Ha, ha, My place sits on the border of a orange area... 1311 Delaware Ave, SW..
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