Renting vs Owning a Home in the Washington, DC Area

From determining the average rent in Washington, DC to exploring Washington, DC real estate—there are a few things to consider when trying to estimate the cost of living in the Washington, DC area. And while costs are high in some neighborhoods, that doesn’t leave you without options. There are also plenty of nearby neighborhoods to consider that will offer you the space and flexibility you need to find the perfect home. 


General Cost of Living in Washington, DC Area


Housing is one of many costs that go into factoring in the cost of living in Washington, DC. You’ll also want to consider groceries, utilities, transportation, health, and of course—funds for going out on the town. That said, in general, the cost of living in Washington, DC proper is higher than a lot of areas in the US. 


Cost of Renting in the Washington DC Area


The average rent in Washington, DC for a 1-bedroom apartment is currently just over $2,000—which is down from the cost of rent last year. For a similar-sized space in Baltimore, you’d be paying around $1,300, with prices varying quite a bit around different neighborhoods.


Cost of Home Ownership in Washington, DC Area

The median cost of a home in Washington, DC is just over $550,000. Prices go down from there, depending on how far away you move from the city center. But if that seems high, that’s because it is. In fact, land in DC is the third most expensive in the US according to one study, with an average value per acre of $1.2 million. 


The reason for the cost? Because so many people are eager to live there and there just isn’t enough space. New York is considered the most expensive, with Los Angeles second in line. 

Living in Washington DC Area Neighborhoods

If affording the high prices of Washington, DC seems impossible, don’t worry—there are other options! And they aren’t all an impossible commute. Here are just a few neighborhoods that make living in the Washington, DC area possible without breaking the budget. 

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is about an hour’s drive away from Washington, DC. That might seem far, but it’s a drive that many commuters make. In return, they enjoy the luxury of working with new home builders to create a more personable space that starts at as low as around $400,000

Or if you’re considering renting, the average is about $1,300 a month. While utilities and transportation are still higher than the national average, the cost of living and groceries bring the overall expense of living in Baltimore to below average, making it a viable Washington, DC real estate option. Or a reasonable place to rent a space. 


Rockville, Maryland


If you want to enjoy the experience of living in Washington, DC without sacrificing space, you won’t be far from the heart of things in Rockville. Just over a half-hour drive away—Washington, DC real estate prices spill over a bit into Rockville, but you’ll get a lot more square footage in return. You can find homes by new home builders in Rockville for under $600k. Those prices include on-site amenities and personalization options during the building process. 


As far as rent goes—the average price is $1,900 with an average apartment size of 965 square feet, compared to the 745 square feet you’d get in DC for a few hundred dollars more. 


National Harbor, Maryland


If you aren’t finding your Washington, DC real estate fix going north, you can always try heading south instead. National Harbor is only a twenty-minute drive from your dream life of living in Washington, DC. As a popular tourist destination, you’ll find plenty of charm. However, that also drives the prices of groceries and utilities up making it a more costly option than Baltimore. To compensate for that, you might consider condo living. You can find condos by new home builders in National Harbor starting at around $400k. 


If you’re considering renting instead, rent will set you back about $1,400 for just under 800 square feet or so.


With the average rent in Washington, DC being well above average, living in Washington, DC can be a challenge. But you shouldn’t let the cost of living in Washington, DC discourage you from exploring nearby neighborhoods that still make it possible to enjoy all of the perks of the capital with less of the high costs. That includes endless cultural attractions, plenty of history, and a promising job market.  Ready to check out what living in Washington DC might look like? Check out the new construction communities by Pulte Homes, one of the leading new home builders in Washington DC.



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Published 9.29.2021

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