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Old 10-13-2015, 01:00 AM
 
18 posts, read 15,895 times
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I recently graduated from college in May and I'm currently in the process of interviewing for a job in DC which – if I got it – would have me moving halfway across the country. I have some family in DC so I've visited a lot over the years and know the basics of the city from a tourist perspective. But my relatives all live in Alexandria, so I'm not too familiar with downtown or the surrounding areas outside of that.

Basically, this job that I'm interviewing for hasn't offered me anything yet, but I have the feeling that things are going to move pretty quickly if I do get an offer, so I'm trying to think ahead to where I should be looking for a place to live and what areas I can afford without ending up somewhere dangerous.

If it helps, the job I'm interviewing for is downtown (K Street). Also, I'm single, mid-20s, female, and would very very much prefer to live alone (I've had roommates for the past 3-4 years, and while I'm not anti-social, I'm ready to have my own space even if it's a studio). I'm not a huge nightlife person, but I don't want to be totally isolated either.

Thoughts?

Edit: I don't have an official salary yet, but if I had to guess, I'd say it will probably end up being mid-40s, which means I'd be comfortable with a rent around $1100-1300

Last edited by saradiane91; 10-13-2015 at 01:20 AM..
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:06 AM
 
Location: DC
2,044 posts, read 2,525,540 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saradiane91 View Post
I recently graduated from college in May and I'm currently in the process of interviewing for a job in DC which – if I got it – would have me moving halfway across the country. I have some family in DC so I've visited a lot over the years and know the basics of the city from a tourist perspective. But my relatives all live in Alexandria, so I'm not too familiar with downtown or the surrounding areas outside of that.

Basically, this job that I'm interviewing for hasn't offered me anything yet, but I have the feeling that things are going to move pretty quickly if I do get an offer, so I'm trying to think ahead to where I should be looking for a place to live and what areas I can afford without ending up somewhere dangerous.

If it helps, the job I'm interviewing for is downtown (K Street). Also, I'm single, mid-20s, female, and would very very much prefer to live alone (I've had roommates for the past 3-4 years, and while I'm not anti-social, I'm ready to have my own space even if it's a studio). I'm not a huge nightlife person, but I don't want to be totally isolated either.

Thoughts?

Edit: I don't have an official salary yet, but if I had to guess, I'd say it will probably end up being mid-40s, which means I'd be comfortable with a rent around $1100-1300
Let me be direct, you will struggle to find an apartment on your own with that budget, and you clearly are unaware of the cost of living in DC itself, which is pretty high. Rentals for Studios in safe areas west of the river generally start at $1500, and go up from there, and this is pretty common throughout the safer and transit accessible areas of the inner beltway (Silver Spring, Arlington, Takoma Park, Alexandria, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, etc). Getting a roommate would go a long way, living in a shared house with that budget would put you in a prime area.

Again while many people want to move out to their own place when they get there, doing so in DC when you are still at a professional entry level salary is difficult.
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:15 AM
 
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I think you can find studios for under $1,300 in a few not-dangerous areas within a half-hour, or 45-minute commute to downtown. You might just have to make sacrifices like not being close to a Metro stop and instead taking a bus.

I had a friend renting a pretty nice studio in Glover Park for just under $1,100 a couple years ago. That's a really nice neighborhood just north of Georgetown with a lot of young professionals in their 20s and is extremely safe. It's cheaper than one might expect given its demographics because there's no Metro stop, but you could take the bus downtown in about 30 minutes.
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:17 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DistrictSonic View Post
Getting a roommate would go a long way, living in a shared house with that budget would put you in a prime area.
Thanks for the advice! I'm originally from NY, so I sort of had reverse sticker shock when I started looking at apts in DC (I expected them to be a lot more expensive than they actually are) but for the last few years, I've been in a Midwest college town where I was paying ~$400-500 a month for nice apartments with roommates, so it's still a pretty big jump.

Can I ask, what's the difference between having a roommate and living in a shared house? Looking into housing in DC, I keep seeing "shared house" but that's the first time I've seen that. Is it just a townhouse with several roommates? Also what would you consider a "prime area"? I have a car right now but, mostly because I AM from NY and know how much of a headache it can be to have one in a big city, I'm thinking about giving it up and going metro-only. Would I be able to find something within walking distance of work or at least with easy metro access on that budget in a shared house?
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:36 AM
 
Location: DC
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Prime area = U Street, Capital Hill, Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, Shaw, etc. Really close to entertainment districts or where people work.

A shared house is usually a shared row home, since that is the most common form of house in DC. It can be a SFH, or any other type of house. But it's not an apartment. They exist both inside and outside DC itself. DC and SF both have this tradition. You rent a room in the house, and share living space.

They are very popular option for young professionals in the area. Especially for the first year or two they live here. It also loops you into social circles.

Another option is the english basement, in fact I would recommend this one. It is an apartment in the lower level of a SFH or Row home.

For your budget you can easily find something within walking distance of the metro at least with a shared house at the very least.

Glover Park apartments mostly go between $1400-$2000 these days. So that's a maybe.
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Old 10-13-2015, 03:03 PM
 
Location: West Hollywood, CA from Arlington, VA
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If you could bump your budget up a little bit to maybe $1400, you could get a studio that doesn't come with cockroaches and is walkable to Metro (maybe sell your car?).

I've had really good experiences with this management company in Arlington and it's as affordable as it will get in the DC Area: www.arlingtonurbanrentals.com. The orange and silver subway lines connect Arlington with K street in about 10-12 minutes and North Arlington has tons of people your age.
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Old 10-13-2015, 03:15 PM
 
18 posts, read 15,895 times
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Being able to bump up my budget would depend on the salary offer I'm given if I get the job. I'm aiming for an upper limit of spending a third of my income on rent since I also have a $250 minimum monthly payment on my student loan which will start in January.

By the way, how hard-and-fast is the 30% rule? If I were making $45K ($3,750/month pre-tax) and took on a $1500 rent with my $250 student loan payment, I feel like I'd still be able to survive after giving up some luxuries like eating out a lot or going to a lot of bars (which isn't something I do more than a few times a month anyway). I feel like I'd be able to live pretty comfortably on ~$1,200 a month in post-tax, post-rent income. Health insurance paid by employer, no car payment or car insurance if I give it up in favor of the metro. Other than a cell phone bill, am I just missing something when it comes to the whole "surviving as an adult" thing?

By the way, thanks for the advice, everyone! I'll definitely look into Arlington and Glover Park as well as the idea of a house share.
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:38 PM
 
2,055 posts, read 3,160,582 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saradiane91 View Post
Being able to bump up my budget would depend on the salary offer I'm given if I get the job. I'm aiming for an upper limit of spending a third of my income on rent since I also have a $250 minimum monthly payment on my student loan which will start in January.

By the way, how hard-and-fast is the 30% rule? If I were making $45K ($3,750/month pre-tax) and took on a $1500 rent with my $250 student loan payment, I feel like I'd still be able to survive after giving up some luxuries like eating out a lot or going to a lot of bars (which isn't something I do more than a few times a month anyway). I feel like I'd be able to live pretty comfortably on ~$1,200 a month in post-tax, post-rent income. Health insurance paid by employer, no car payment or car insurance if I give it up in favor of the metro. Other than a cell phone bill, am I just missing something when it comes to the whole "surviving as an adult" thing?

By the way, thanks for the advice, everyone! I'll definitely look into Arlington and Glover Park as well as the idea of a house share.
Yeah you're missing a lot of things. For one, no reputable landlord will rent to you unless you make at least 40 times your monthly rent. Of course there can be exceptions to that, like if you have a lot of money in the bank or can get someone to co-sign for you and help you out with rent. But generally speaking if you're making 45k it will be difficult to find anyone to rent to you for much more than $1,100.
And for good reason: very few people can afford to spend that much of their income on rent. That's the other thing you're missing. I think you're overestimating how much money you'll take home after tax, social security, etc. I don't have time to crunch all the numbers right now but it looks like you're expecting to take home 35k on a 45k salary? That seems too high to me.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:31 PM
 
18 posts, read 15,895 times
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Originally Posted by stateofnature View Post
That's the other thing you're missing. I think you're overestimating how much money you'll take home after tax, social security, etc. I don't have time to crunch all the numbers right now but it looks like you're expecting to take home 35k on a 45k salary? That seems too high to me.
You're right - I was doing the calculation wrong. I think I would bring home closer to 30K out of 45. I do have someone who'd be willing to cosign for me, but thanks for pointing that out!
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Old 10-13-2015, 08:33 PM
 
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You'll be bringing in around $2800 after taxes per month assuming you get paid twice a month at $45,000. That's also before taking into account for health insurance (roughly $150 a month), your student loans ($250), and any 401k contributions you want to make. Does the company offer a 401k match? Let's assume a 5% match here. So after taxes and all these deductions, you have about $1180 per paycheck, so $2360 per month.

I'd suggest putting away $360 a month for a savings account, so you have about $2000 for rent, food, entertainment, and bills. If you want to live alone, I'd suggest no cable, just internet, which would be around $40 a month. Bring your lunch everyday and cook at home when you can. My grocery budget was about $160 a month when I was making $43k. Gas, electric, and water will be another $100 unless you can find a place that includes utilities. Throwing in $50 for your cell phone.

So you're looking at $1650 a month for rent and entertainment. Entertainment being any shopping you want to do, going to happy hours, dinners with friends, partying on the weekend. Mine has always been $500-600 a month.

I also forgot transportation. If you take the bus, $70 a month ($3.50 a day x20). If you take the metro, you're probably looking at $120. Hopefully your office will pay for transportation, but I don't want to assume.

So yea your budget is going to be around $1000-1100 a month. Not exactly much to live on your own, but it is possible if you look outside downtown. Maybe up near Brookland, Petworth, Columbia Heights.

My suggestion? Suck it up and live with a roommate and have a better quality of life instead of living further out.
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