Cost of Living in Washington, DC, United States

Updated On July 29, 2023

How Much Does It Cost to Live In Washington, DC?

Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States of America and the seat of its three branches of government, and don’t forget the federal district of the U.S.!

The city has an unmatched collection of gorgeous, important, public museums and many of the nation’s most loved monuments and memorials.

It has been ranked as one of the most expensive cities to live in the entire country compared to New York City and San Francisco.

The opportunity to have access to a vast number of jobs at top companies and amazing business opportunities in the nation’s capital is worth higher rent and cost of living.

Cost of Living Index:
* Based on Research & User Data


Dining out will shock you – it’s really easy to hit 50$-75$ per person even in a casual restaurant.

The people that live here all want to be part of something “important”, which then results in a luxury housing with astronomical prices and trendy (overpriced) restaurants catering to this crowd.

This is why the cost of eating out is more expensive here, with meals in inexpensive restaurants costing 16$.



Groceries are expensive (unless you go to Trader Joe’s).

Interestingly enough, organics aren’t much more expensive than conventional, so if you eat a largely organic diet, you probably won’t find the most shocking.

If you’re used to eggs at 0.99/dozen, brace yourself: in Washington, 4.51/dozen is an insanely good sale.



Transit is also extremely expensive and unreliable compared to other cities, but how expensive it is depends on where you live.

If you live within the “minimum” fare range from work, the fare is 2.75$ each way, to and from work on Metro rail.

In case you live far out, you might pay almost 6$ each way, just for rail.

If you have to take a bus to get to the rail, that adds even more.

There is no discounted weekly/monthly pass option like in many cities.



Utilities are mildly expensive. While the per-unit (KwH, CCF) rate is much higher than most of the country, homes are smaller and the older ones are well-insulated so your usage will probably be slightly lower, balancing out to just a slight increase.

Those living in a bit bigger apartments (like 85m2) will have to pay bills for all basic utilities that cost around 178$.

Sports and leisure


Fitness and sports are more expensive in Washington than in other major cities throughout America.

If you want to become a member of a fitness club or a gym in this city, your monthly fee will be around 95$.

If you want to watch a movie here, expect it to cost around 15$.

Clothing and shoes


Potomac Mills is a humongous shopping mall in Woodbridge that contains over 200 stores and it’s where you can do all of your shopping – you’ll surely find anything you want.

Usually, jeans of good quality cost around 60$, quality sneakers around 100$, while lighter pieces of clothing are around 39$.

Watch out for the discounts!

Rent per month


As of December 2016, the average apartment rent in Washington, DC is 2,466$, which is staggeringly high.

Rent for a one-bedroom in a decent part of DC can run you around 2400$ a month.

That’s around 22,800$ per year just for rent.

If you rent a room in a group house at market rate, you can get anything from a small room for 650$ to a comfortable room for 800$-1000$, depending on the location.

Cost of Living Averages Table for Washington, DC

*Note: All prices are indicated in USD.
Average Restaurant Prices
Meal (Inexpensive Restaurant)$20.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 Liter)$8.00
Water (0.33 Liter)$2.22
Average Market Prices
Milk (1 Liter)$1.07
Loaf Bread (500g)$3.65
Eggs (12)$4.51
Average Transport Prices
One Way Ticket$2.75
Monthly Pass$100.0
Average Utilities Prices
Basic (Water, Electricity, Garbage, Heating, Cooling)$178.38
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local$0.10
Internet (Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)$57.05
Average Leisure Prices
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult$94.90
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour)$22.79
Cinema, 1 Seat, International Release$15.00
Average Clothing Prices
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Comparable)$59.96
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, etc...)$39.27
1 Pair of Adidas Walking Shoes (Mid-Range)$100.79
Average Rent Prices
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$2470.58
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$1965.86
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$5376.6

How Does the Average Person Spend Their Money in Washington, DC?

Not surprisingly at all, for a world-famous city such as Washington, where rent is through the roof, the biggest expense of living in one of the most popular cities of the world is rent.

Rent takes up over a whopping 40% of all income, which is a shockingly high percentage and just goes to show how expensive rent is in this city.

Food is definitely the next biggest expense for anyone living in Washington – though this is the situation in most countries around the world.

Sport and staying fit takes up more money than utilities from the people of Washington, percentage-wise.

Average Costs Breakdown


Washington, DC: Average Salary, Minimum Wage & Mortgages

Washington can be expensive, but remember that the minimum hourly wage is very high here, so even if you are marginally working, you can survive.

Jobs are relatively plentiful.

All of the large and world-known companies – which attract hundreds of hopefuls each month are what make the most money in this city.

With huge rent prices, it’s difficult to save money, and even more difficult to purchase a home without having an income of over $100k.

The average monthly salary in Washington is very high – around 6000$, while the minimum wage is just around 2300$.

Average Salary$6090.1
Minimum Wage$2296.67
Mortgage Interest Rate6.51%

Washington DC Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Washington DC Safety Review

Safety Index:

Cost of Living by City in Washington, DC

CityCost of Living Index
Albany, NY72.4
Albuquerque, NM72.4
Anchorage, AK72.4
Ann Arbor, MI72.4
Arlington, TX72.4
Asheville, NC72.4
Atlanta, GA72.4
Austin, TX72.4
Bakersfield, CA72.4
Baltimore, MD72.4
Bellevue, WA72.4
Bellingham, WA72.4
Berkeley, CA72.4
Birmingham, AL72.4
Boise, ID72.4
Boston, MA72.4
Boulder, CO72.4
Brooklyn, NY72.4
Buffalo, NY72.4
Burlington, VT72.4
Charleston, SC72.4
Charlotte, NC73.33
Chattanooga, TN72.4
Chicago, IL72.4
Cincinnati, OH72.4
Cleveland, OH72.4
Columbia, SC72.4
Columbus, OH72.4
Dallas, TX72.4
Dayton, OH72.4
Denver, CO72.4
Des Moines, IA72.4
Detroit, MI72.4
El Paso, TX72.4
Eugene, OR72.4
Everett, WA72.4
Fayetteville, AR72.4
Fort Myers, FL72.4
Fort Wayne, IN72.4
Fort Worth, TX72.4
Fresno, CA74.2
Gainesville, FL74.2
Grand Rapids, MI74.2
Greensboro, NC74.2
Hartford, CT74.2
Honolulu, HI74.2
Houston, TX74.2
Huntsville, AL74.2
Indianapolis, IN74.2
Irvine, CA74.2
Jacksonville, FL74.2
Jersey City, NJ74.2
Kansas City, MO74.2
Knoxville, TN74.2
Las Vegas, NV74.2
Lexington, KY74.2
Little Rock, AR74.2
Long Beach, CA74.2
Los Angeles, CA74.2
Louisville, KY74.2
Lubbock, TX74.2
Madison, WI74.2
Memphis, TN74.2
Miami, FL74.2
Milwaukee, WI74.2
Minneapolis, MN74.2
Nashville, TN74.2
New Orleans, LA74.2
New York, NY74.2
Oakland, CA74.2
Oklahoma City, OK74.2
Olympia, WA74.2
Orlando, FL74.2
Peoria, IL72.4
Philadelphia, PA72.4
Phoenix, AZ72.4
Pittsburgh, PA72.4
Portland, ME72.4
Portland, OR72.4
Raleigh, NC72.4
Reno, NV72.4
Richmond, VA74.2
Rochester, NY74.2
Sacramento, CA74.2
Saint Louis, MO74.2
Saint Paul, MN74.2
Saint Petersburg, FL74.2
Salem, OR74.2
Salt Lake City, UT74.2
San Antonio, TX74.2
San Diego, CA74.2
San Francisco, CA74.2
San Jose, CA74.2
Santa Barbara, CA74.2
Santa Rosa, CA74.2
Seattle, WA74.2
Spokane, WA74.2
Springfield, MO74.2
Syracuse, NY74.2
Tacoma, WA74.2
Tallahassee, FL74.2
Tampa, FL74.2
Toledo, OH74.2
Tucson, AZ74.2
Tulsa, OK74.2
Vancouver, WA74.2
Virginia Beach, VA74.2
West Palm Beach, FL74.2
Wichita, KS74.2

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