What Does it Cost to Live in DC?

Posted by on Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 at 2:32pm.

DC, like most urban areas, has always been an expensive place to live. But how much does it actually cost to live here?

The Center for Housing Policy recently released a report on the affordability (or lack thereof) of housing in the District. According to the report, a salary of $47,640 is required to rent a one-bedroom apartment at fair market pricing in the Washington Metropolitan area. That prices firefighters ($45,765 annual salary), child care workers ($30,522), and wait staff ($25,254) out of the one-bedroom housing market. Salary requirements jump to $56,480 for a two-bedroom unit, which is above the incomes of police officers ($54,755), legal secretaries ($53,839), and electrical engineering technicians ($53,254).

Owning a home in the DC area requires an even higher salary. In order to buy a median-priced home for $302K, a minimum salary of $80,129 is necessary. That salary is below the annual incomes of software programmers ($74,611), registered nurses ($72,631), and elementary school teachers ($57,020).

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four must make $88,615 for a modest, below-middle-class existence in the DC area. The required income considers the cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, and other necessities. The only other metropolitan area with a higher median income for a family of four was New York City at $93,502.

Local housing prices continue to rise, but incomes are often not matching that pace. So some people choose to live farther from the city to lower the expense of rent, but that comes with increased commute times and transportation expenses. Others, who chose to stay in the city, must devote a large percentage of income to rent and cut expenses on food and healthcare.

DC is certainly an expensive place to live.

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