Planning a big move to Washington, DC? Want to know the best areas to live in? Living in Washington, DC is different than living in any other American city. The city is home to the federal government and the president, so there's always something new and different going on.If you're looking for the best neighborhoods in Washington, DC, then look no further.
Here's your complete guide to living in Washington, DC and what to expect when you're trying to find the best place to rent.
What's it like to live in Washington, DC
Renters moving to Washington, DC for the first time have a lot to explore and experience. Though it may not be as big as New York City or Chicago, Washington, DC offers a ton of cool sights to see and plenty of trendy, tasty restaurants. As the seat of the federal government, Washington, DC has no shortage of museums and other historic places to visit. Whether you're moving for business, school or person reasons, you'll find that the best neighborhoods in Washington, DC have plenty to offer.
The average rent in Washington, DC right now is about $2,000 for 744 square feet, but this varies depending on where you live and what amenities your rental property has. Some buildings charge a higher rent, but they pay for utilities and offer other benefits, such as free internet. Others have communal gyms, covered parking spaces and even pool and recreational areas. These benefits will raise rent prices as well.
The location and walkability of the neighborhood in Washington, DC will also affect the rent rate. Rental properties near Metro or bus stops will almost always be higher than those far away from public transportation. Apartments and homes near nightlife and restaurants will also be move expensive. For those renters with families, pay attention to areas within good school districts. Those properties usually have a higher rent rate as well because they're near in-demand school systems.
When it comes to living in Washington, DC, most renters can expect smaller spaces with higher rents and better amenities the closer they are to downtown and Capitol Hill. The farther you are from the downtown and Capitol Hill areas, the more likely it is that you will find larger spaces and slightly lower rent prices, assuming the building does not have many extra amenities.
What to Look at When Choosing a Place to Live in Washington, DC
When you're looking for a place to live in Washington, DC, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. With so many great neighborhoods and cool places to explore, it can be hard to narrow your favorite Washington, DC neighborhoods. Do you go for something smaller that's right downtown or do you want to have a little more space in the outer Washington, DC neighborhoods? If you're a student at Howard or George Washington University, then you'll probably want to be close to campus or at least public transportation.
When touring a place to live in Washington, DC, keep these helpful tips in mind to avoid feeling overwhelmed:
- When walking up to your prospective property, take stock of the street lamps and foot traffic nearby. Is there enough lighting? Do you see people with families walking around? Or is it very quiet?
- Check the locks on all windows and doors. You can never be too careful.
- If you're looking at a basement unit, make sure you look up and down for potential water damage. Washington, DC does see its fair share of rain in the spring, and flooding is a possibility. Look for signs of water damage, and ask the person showing the property if there have been any problems with flooding.
- If you viewed the property in the morning or early afternoon, come back at night and see what the area is like when the sun goes down. Like any city, Washington, DC has crime, but the likelihood of being targeted goes down when streets are well lit and more people are out and about. Walk around for a bit and see if you feel comfortable before signing a lease.
5 Best areas to live in Washington, DC
It’s hard to find a bad place to live in Washington, DC. There are so many cool neighborhoods, beautiful streets and fun hotspots to explore.
We’ve rounded up the best areas to live in Washington, DC that will be a hit no matter what your needs are. Check them out.
If you love to eat out at the trendiest restaurants? Like to try cuisines from all over the world? Adams Morgan mixes cultures from all over the world and always has something cool and new to see.
While you won’t find Metro access in this Washington, DC neighborhood, Adams Morgan is just north of Dupont Circle, which means downtown isn’t too far away. In Adams Morgan, look for colorful buildings, fun nightlife and tightly packed buildings.
Rock Creek Park
You’re probably thinking, “Rock Creek Park is massive. Which part of it is really one of the best areas to live in Washington, DC? You’re right. Rock Creek Park is massive, and it’s home to the Smithsonian National Zoo, which is a great place to visit and revisit. But the truth is Rock Creek Park is surrounded by some great neighborhoods.
On the northwest side of the park, you have Chevy Chase, the affluent neighborhood that’s a little bit more of a suburb within a large city. Renters with families often gravitate towards Chevy Chase because of its good school districts, bigger spaces and family-friendly activities.
On the other side, there’s Brentwood, which offers direct access to some key parts of Rock Creek Park, including its golf course, soccer fields and tennis courts. If you value being near outdoor spaces with recreational opportunities, then Brentwood might be a good choice for you. It’s also teeming with nightlife, so you’ll never be bored.
No guide of the best areas in Washington, DC would be complete without Dupont Circle. Located just north of downtown, this historic neighborhood is home to Embassy Row and a number of beautiful, old homes.
If you work downtown or on Capitol Hill, then you can’t beat the walkability of this neighborhood. You’re just a five-minute drive to downtown, and Dupont Circle also has its own Metro station if you’d rather ditch your car entirely.
The major drawback of Dupont Circle, however, is its steep rent prices. If you want to live here, then you can expect to pay higher than average rent prices. But when you factor in time saved by having an easy commute and reliable access to public transportation, then maybe the cost is well worth it.
You can’t get much closer to the action than Foggy Bottom. Located just above the area of the National Mall where the Lincoln Memorial sits, Foggy Bottom is a hip neighborhood that offers riverfront access and as well as easy walks to major government institutions.
Though Foggy Bottom may be a little more expensive than other neighborhoods, its closeness to all things government make it a favorite spot for anyone who has a job at a federal building. If you plan on having friends and family visit from out of town, then it’ll be easy to show them the many museums and monuments that Washington, DC has to offer. Because Foggy Bottom is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the area, you’ll find streets lined with gorgeous homes and lots of older buildings.
Dupont Circle may be the historic, affluent neighborhood, but just east of it is younger, hipper Logan Circle. A favorite of millennials, Logan Circle has plenty of bars and restaurants, but it also has newer apartment buildings. That means newer and better amenities for renters in a neighborhood that has no shortage of historic homes.
Also like Dupont Circle, Logan Circle is very walkable. If you’re planning on going car-less, at least for a while, then you won’t have to go far for a grocery store or pharmacy. You’ll also have a ton of options when it comes to restaurants, and if you’re single, you’ll find dating opportunities abound at the many bars in the area.
One of the very best things about living in Washington, DC is that there’s really no bad place to live. While some neighborhoods may be trendier or more walkable, most areas in Washington, DC offer something cool and different to its residents.
Need some help on finding a great place to live in Washington, DC? Let the experts at Atlas Lane show you around. Check out some of our properties here and schedule an in-person or virtual tour today.