Washington, D.C. is abuzz. Life on the Hill is spicy as ever and the restaurants are winning awards nationwide. Isn’t about time you got in on the action?

Whether it’s work for the federal government, MedStar Health, Marriott, Innova Health or one of the prestigious colleges in the Greater D.C. area, you’ll want to know how to budget your precious pennies before moving. Here we break down the real living costs for Washington, D.C. for three different professions and lifestyles.

Use this guide to see how much it costs to live in Washington. D.C. broken down by monthly expenses for apartments in D.C., dining, transportation, and leisure.


Martina, Lead Technical Analyst at a Multinational

Annual Salary: $114,000

Housing costs for a Luxury Apartment in D.C. ($3050): After accepting the job offer for a relocation from Texas to D.C., Martina knew that with this being her fifth time moving, that she wanted to do it without furniture. With a new pay raise, she settled for a one-bedroom apartment along the U Street Corridor. At $3050 per month, Martina’s rent for her Blueground apartment is steep but saves her the hassle of sinking her cash into new furniture and delays in setting up her internet and cable. In the long run, she may also choose to move to another Blueground apartment downtown when she develops a taste for Penn Quarter, for example.

real cost living dc apartment U street living room

Dining ($165.50): Martina may pull some long hours at the office but she enjoys coming home to cook a meal with her partner. To make things simple, she gets meal kits with pre-portioned ingredients delivered by Marley Spoon. Three dinners for two comes out to $61.50 per week. The other nights of the week, she substitutes a few odds and ends from Whole Foods for $64. On average, she’s out for a bite at one of DC’s hottest restaurants two nights of the week (whether that’s a ceviche and cocktail at Pisco y Nazca for $19 or a savory brunch and coffee at St. Anselm for $21). Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. Transportation ($467): Because her job takes her out to Maryland, Martina leases her Mini Cooper S Convertible for $400 per month and $67 in gas. Her Blueground rent includes a parking spot, so there are no added expenses there.

Leisure ($345): Martina goes to three Soul Cycle classes per month ($30 each) and pops into a free museum over weekends with her partner. Whether it’s a haircut or manicure, her beauty regiment averages out to another $64 per month. Between a consignment shop jacket, an impulse buy of fresh flowers and a new paperback, her purchases come to another $121. She has a monthly unlimited data plan ($70) to keep up with social media and work emails.

blueprint real cost of living dc cleaning eating avocado salad

Apartment: $3050

Dining: $165.50

Transportation: $467

Leisure: $345

Monthly Total: $4027.50


Hamid, Diplomat

Annual Salary: $92,000

Housing costs for a furnished apartment in D.C. ($2850): Hamid was sent with two months notice to DC for a two-year posting in a diplomatic role. He needed to find a place in a hurry while abroad. Blueground was the simplest solution as he could reserve a one-bedroom Mount Vernon apartment ($2850) online and have it ready-to-go on arrival. Best of all, he wouldn’t have to pay for his furniture to be sent from overseas and when his posting finishes, he won’t have to go about reselling it.

blueprint real cost of living dc Mount Vernon furnished apartment bedroom

Dining ($245): Hamid pulls long hours and opts for delivery most nights of the week ($154). He picks up groceries only every once in a while from the local Safeway ($43). Adapting to the habits of his temporary home, Hamid heads out for happy hour ($48) with other diplomats between three to four times a week (which sometimes leads them to the 11th-floor terrace bar at the W Hotel).

Transportation ($340): Hamid doesn’t drive in DC so he relies on at least two taxi or ride-hailing app rides per day. On weekends in DC, he’ll use the Metro or bus during the day to get around ($18) but almost always falls back on a taxi to get home.

Leisure ($337): As a new arrival in the city, Hamid’s free time is filled with explorations. He’s been taking on a different Smithsonian museum (free) every weekend but also has tried out rock climbing ($25) and an escape room with friends ($28). Hamid has had to invest in new clothes to supplement what he moved with, which includes three new dress shirts, slacks and a new jacket ($214). His monthly unlimited data plan ($70) covers his needs while in D.C. and allows him to use WhatsApp when calling back home.

blueprint real cost of living dc rock climbing gym

Apartment: $2850

Dining: $245

Transportation: $340

Leisure: $337

Monthly Total: $3372


Marc, Store Manager at a Cafe

Annual Salary: $53,000

Housing costs for a studio apartment in D.C. ($1050) – Marc rents a simple centrally-located unfurnished apartment for $850 per month by Dupont Circle. This basement unit suits his needs as a place to sleep at the end of the day while he prefers to invite friends out instead of entertaining at home. Marc chose this Dupont Circle studio because it keeps him walking distance to work and near area bars and restaurants. Furniture (a mix of Ikea and Craigslist finds), when split across twelve months, averages out to another $100 per month.

blueprint real cost of living dc historic building

Dining ($87) – Because he works at a cafe, Marc only has to pay for one meal per workday. He supplements these small meals with ratios of cereal bars and fruit from the local grocery store. Once a week, he meets up with friends or on a date over Pad See Ew at Thai Chef Street Kitchen ($12) or fish tacos at Kramer Books ($18).

Transportation ($55)  – Marc takes himself to work by foot but generally runs through $28 worth of SmarTrip Metro credit per month. For the odd ride back home after-hours, he’ll take a taxi or Uber which adds to $27 worth of rides each month.

Leisure ($335): Marc is a bit of a gym buff so he keeps a monthly membership to a Crossfit gym for $199. On top of that, he also buys new gym gadgets, clothes and protein powders throughout the month ($65). He has a Netflix subscription for his own downtime ($11) but when the weather’s good, he’ll go for a run through the National Mall. He stays up-to-date on the news and his Spotify running playlist ($10) thanks to his 3GB data plan ($50).

Apartment: $1050

Dining: $87

Transportation: $55

Leisure: $335

Monthly Total: $1527

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