Tues. Afternoon Rental Option and Help a Reader

Mt Pleasant St
Photo from PoPville flickr user ewilfong

“Dear PoP,

I live up in Montgomery County, and would love to move into DC this summer. But, so many of the rental options I see listed on your site and on Craigslist etc. are way out of my price range. Can you or your readers recommend any buildings or neighborhoods close to Metro where one can find clean, safe studios for under $1000? Can’t be picky when you’re on a budget, but the first step is to find any options at all!”

If you don’t mind living in a basement, I’d say this one bedroom in Mt. Pleasant for $950 could be a good deal.

But what do you guys think, what neighborhoods would you recommend for a single woman looking to spend under $1000?

50 Comment

  • That’s a great recommendation, PoP. The venerable Mt. Pleasant English basement always makes a great starter apartment in DC. Look around and you’ll probably find lots of 1BR basements for under $1,200/month. The biggest turn-offs with basements are lack of light and potential for flooding, but if you’re young and just moving into town, you probably aren’t going to spend a whole lot of time there, anyway.

  • I’m not sure such a rental exists.

    If you want to spend less than $1000 and live in DC, you would probably need to live in a group house.

    Best of luck.

  • Safe, clean and cheap are kind of mutually exclusive.

    It helps to get to know the neighborhoods (read the blogs, ask people) then spend a Saturday or Sunday driving around looking for “For Rent” signs on houses. Some of the older generation aren’t really transitioning over to the craigslist advertising model and so there are deals if you can spot them.

    You may have to open yourself up to having roommates, even temporarily, get yourself situated.

    • when Ragged dog said driving around, he meant biking around.

      Look around Ledroit Park.

      • Not really. If you want to see more than one neighborhood in a day drive. I don’t assume that this person could reasonably get a bike downtown from wherever she lives.

        You can ditch the car after you move….

  • Can you or your readers recommend any buildings or neighborhoods close to Metro where one can find clean, safe studios for under $1000?

    Hahahah! Hahah. Hah. Hm.

    Ahem. Well, that was good for a laugh.

    I think some buildings in Mount Pleasant offer studios in the $950-$1000 range…. specifically I’m thinking of this one building at the intersection of Mt. Pleasant and Park St NW.

    The studios at The Georgian in downtown silver spring also offer good deals on studio at $1000/month. I’ve heard that they entice you with the nice $900-$1000/month rent and then when your lease is up boost the price, counting on your inertia to stay put and eat the rent increase.

  • I would recommend that you stay in Montgomery County,we have too many people in DC.

  • check out novodev(dot com) I lived in one of their Brightwood apts for 2 years and was really pleased. They have several places for under or a bit over 1000 depending on the location.
    Walking to the metro from Brightwood is a hike, but a short busride to the Petworth station wouldn’t take long.

  • The “close to a metro” part is what makes this unrealistic. The closer you get to a station the more you are going to pay. So unless you define close as within 10 blocks you’re going to have to reset your expectations.

  • I agree with “Ragged Dog”…not all of the deals to be had are on Craigslist. I found my first DC apartment, a studio on the hill for $750/month in the Washington Post apartment ad section. It was no frills, but worth it for a year.
    Also, why not ask around at work or with friends, someone is sure to know someone looking for a roommate or who lived in a studio in DC at some point.

  • Um Petworth? Kinda a given no? 😉 Also does she have an aversion to group housing, it can be both economical and more safe for a single woman…

    • Petworth has less crime than Columbia Heights, or U Street, or Shaw…or a lot of other places you might be surprised about.

      See this article in the Washington Post, “Sense of Safety – Don’t Base Crime Perceptions on Hearsay — Study the Statistics”

      “For instance, many people consider Dupont Circle — with its pristine streets and million-dollar homes — to be among the safer neighborhoods in the District. A few miles to the northeast is Petworth, a lower-income neighborhood that can spook pedestrians with its empty storefronts and cracked sidewalks.

      However, in 2007 Dupont logged as much violent crime as Petworth and four times as much property crime, per capita. In fact, crime rates in tony Dupont beat those in much of the District, including some neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.”

  • I live in a really nice studio on 14th and Euclid for $900 a month. Great early 20th century details. Walk in closet, nice layout with a galley kitchen. There are occasional issues with bugs, but a can of Raid usually does the trick.

    I don’t think this is impossible. I would suggest looking at some of the smaller property management companies. If you look on Craigslist and see a prop mgmt company website, follow the link and they normally have a lot more properties listed.

  • I used to live in a large three bedroom condo in Southwest, across the street from the Waterfront metro. It was way less than $1000 for each of us. Many people forget to look at Southwest, but there are a lot of reasonably priced condo’s to rent down there.

  • I can sympathize with you, since I can’t afford paying anything over $1000 in DC. Finding a studio will be hard, and your best bets are areas not close to downtown. You have to be vigilant on Craigslist (I looked at least 2x a day, every day). An added suggestion–if you are looking for something as early as May, then you might want to consider canvassing some of the local universities posting boards and such–when I was in law school, there were always people looking to sublet their apartments during the summer, and I think grad students generally are going to be in less expensive housing.

    In this person’s defense–you can find studio or basement apartments in this range! You just have to be relentless, and open-minded! . . .

  • I had this same issue with my gf, we found it hard to find some place that was safe, cheap, and close to a metro, under 1000. The main criteria that was hard to satisfy was safe. You can definitely find, cheap and close to a metro. Safe depends on what you are comfortable with. I did not run across too much that fit all 3 criteria near a metro. The english basment route is probably your best bet, but I knew my girlfriend did not think living in a basement was the safest idea.

  • I am a single woman – I paid $844 a month (including utilities) for my 380 sq ft, 3rd floor, wood-floored studio in Adams Morgan up until I moved last year. It was older, but not gross or dangerous or in disrepair. 10 minute walk to Columbia Heights metro and a block to the Harris Teeter. The building was a small one on Mozart Place (between 16th & 17th, off Euclid) – the Regent, managed by Wyoming Properties.
    There are cheap apartments to be had on the back streets of Adams Morgan (Champlain, Kalorama, Fuller, Ontario), you just have to look hard & act quickly.

    • Isn’t the Regent in Dupont? I lived in a small place on Mozart for awhile and all i can say is: ROACHES.

  • The State House Apartments in Dupont Circle is $1100/month utilities included for a studio. Its 2 blocks from the metro. 24 hour security in the building.

  • Yes, Washington is expensive, but no need to mock the questioner. I am a single woman living in a clean, safe studio and paying around $1000.

    I found the place last year. It’s in Lanier Heights, so neither close nor far from the Metro, but a great place to live nonetheless.

  • Agreed. I pay $1000 for a similar situation (and if I had gotten in 2 years ago, it would have been more like your $844).

    Most of these older buildings don’t have web sites. Take a walk around the side streets of Adams Morgan and find buildings with a “now leasing” sign in front.

  • Try Bernstein Management properties– I have a 500 sq ft studio in Columbia Heights for $950, including most utilities. It’s clean, safe (inside the building anyway), 8 minutes walk from U St or C Heights metro. Good luck!

  • NWDC basements and Potomac Avenue, Brookland studios.

  • Thought I’d share this with you guys…

    I’ve been looking for a group house to get in on for weeks on craigslist. After looking for so long, I began to notice some basic categories all the adverts fall under: people describing themselves as “chill” (over 50%), vegans requiring vegan roommates (25%), and the “we work hard, party harder” category (25%).

    I was feeling kind of disillusioned until I came across this gem: http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/roo/1666239229.html.

    So I emailed the person…

    I’m very interested in renting one, perhaps two squares in your grid. The calming green sounds particularly appealing. I have a few questions though:

    1) How big is the TV? Do I have a say in what channels are shown and what the volume levels are?

    2) How many squares total are in the grid? Will other square-renters and I have any rights to organize?

    3) May I request a square close to the window? If I am not happy with my square, how much notice will you require if I wanted to switch to a different square?

    Thank you for your consideration.


    Hope that was worth a read.

  • how big is each square? will each person be required to shower daily? is there a shower on premesis? a toilet? are utilities included? that is one crazy post.

  • Also, if your brother is a licensed plumber I can rent you a basement apartment for $500.

  • I have to admit I was skeptical about basement living, but it has been good to me. I’m in my second year on my basement lease in Petworth and love it! I pay just over $1,000 and all my utilities are included.

    I would definitely take a look at basements in the area. Good luck in the search!

  • I am in a similar situation.. A 400 Sq.feet Studio in Mt. Pleasant, on the intersection of Mt. Pleasant St. and 17th St. (The northern end of Mt. Pleasant Street).

    Is going for $1300 including all utilities except electric/cable.

    The Studio has an in unit washer/dryer, dishwasher, stainless steel appliances, built in microwave etc…

    Is $1300 too much? It is in on the 2nd floor of a 4 storey apartment building renivated in 2006.

    • 400 sq. feet studio on Mt.Pleasant St. for $1,300 is nuts. I rent out a 550+ sq.ft. one bedroom (third floor) 1/2 block from CH metro for $1,100, and a 900 sq.ft. one bedroom nice, newish basement also 1/2 block for $1,500.

      Even if it is nicely appointed tiny studio, ask yourself what other options does a person have if they can pay $1,400.00 (factoring in the cost of cable & electric.)

  • Thanks everyone for the great suggestions and glimmer of hope (I am going to own up as the question-asker here). I’m definitely planning on ditching the car, but as you can guess, I don’t want to spend allll those saved pennies on housing. Group housing is definitely an option, but with a cat and a boyfriend, I know it’s not the ideal situation for many group houses. I’ll be checking out a lot of the links you guys provided, and I guess doing some legwork too. Thanks again all!

    • Having a boyfriend and a cat sounds like the norm for group houses to me, though you’ll have a bit of a harder time getting a place that allows pets. Try padmapper.com!

      You can live essentially anywhere in the city on that budget if you’re willing to live with others. Living in a group house can be amazing.

  • anon. gardener

    Check the John C Formant website ( http://www.johncformant.com )frequently. they often have under $1K studios available, mostly in the capitol hill area. lots of tiny basements, but if you’re young you can probably tolerate it, and as many here have said, you won’t spend much time at home anyway.

  • Brightwood! Brightwood! I live in a studio which is about a 20 minute walk to the metro, close to the georgia avenue and 16th street bus lines, right ON the 14th street bus line–$760/month, utilities included (not internet/cable). Quiet, family-friendly, I’ve never felt unsafe here. The Aspen Group apartments, give Terry or Pat a call at 202-726-0174! (I don’t work for them, I just really like my building/complex).

  • who said petworth was out of the question? was that for price? or safety?


    it’s a full 1br, and is super close to the yes organic and a 6 minute walk to metro.

  • Try all those buildings on Park Rd. between 16th & the 19th or so in MtP. Some have studios for around $1000.

  • Petworth, brookland, brightwood, east Capitol, h street, parkview, fort totten, etc.

    Washington Post or CityPaper. Craigslist is a waste of time. Definitely have a local friend walk a street for you looking for posters or signs.

    Clean & cheap = owner occupied (English basements, carriage houses, rooms for rent, etc.)

  • Takoma. I lived in an adorable jr 1 bedroom with a $550 rent (plus utils) for about a year right after grad school.

    • I’m looking for a place in the Takoma area – how did you find yours? Right now I don’t live anywhere near the area (I’m in Michigan) and I’m having a hard time finding deals – esp in Takoma Park. Thanks!

  • You can find lots of great options in Petworth – one studio within 4 blocks of the metro was featured here recently – only $695, one block from the new Yes Organic Market:

    I’m sure that apt is no longer available but there should be lots of other options.

  • I think there was a rental GDON in Brookland for a nice price recently. Nothing fancy, but nice low-crime neighborhood and attractive price. Some of the new construction around the Takoma or Fort Totten metros could also fit the bill. NE doesn’t have the greatest nightlife, but those areas are lower crime than say, Columbia Heights or Shaw, and significantly cheaper.

  • You don’t necessarily need to look for group housing, just a roommate or two. My immense 2 bedroom in SW at the Carrollsburg was across the street from the Waterfront Metro and included garage parking. $1700/month total. I signed the lease then craigslisted for a roommate, got one in a week, and we moved in two weeks later.

  • I have to echo all the Mount P love. I moved into the neighborhood in 2006 and paid WAY too much for a bedroom in a homeowner’s large, lovely old place ($950/month w utilities but no separate entrance) on Kenyon St NW. Since then I have lived in 2 other apartments–on Irving St NW and Harvard St NW. Every time I have moved my rent has gone down. Now I live with my girlfriend in a 1 br plus sun room. We pay $1500 but it is a big step up in quality and amenities. It was also the most expensive place in Mount P that we toured. It’s such a lovely neighborhood and remains mostly affordable to young, single professionals.

  • Tivoli Gardens
    1445 Ogden Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20010-1949
    (202) 462-7800‎

    4 blocks north of CoHeights metro, right off 14th. Not the prettiest block, but a lot of new businesses including Social on the corner will improve the area.

    Ignore bad reviews dating back to 2009, under new management and all efficiencies have been re-done. $900 a month got my sister a 650 ft^2, remodelled efficiency rent controlled

  • Do not listen to Hokie in the Hood!!! I lived in this building until last summer and it is crawling with bed bugs. Not to mention lots of good for nothing men hanging around the buildings harassing females.

    Whatever…it’s your summer.

  • Open up your options by looking not just for Metro trains but also Metro bus lines. Mt. Pleasant, for example, gives you access to the 42 line, which goes through Adams Morgan, into Dupont Circle, and down to some place downtown-schmowntown.

    If you look around where you work, there can be some great bus options, like the 16th Street S lines, and some of the new express bus lines.

  • You can find reasonable apartments under $1,000 in DC, you just have to ask the right questions. DC rent control says that you can’t raise rent a certain amount once a tenant leaves, therefore you can only raise it something like 20% and not up to market value. So if you look at buildings where there isn’t as much turnover (look for old people, not yuppies) you can get a good deal. Landlords won’t tell you this, you call and ask if there’s anything available and they’ll show you something at market rate. but if you press and ask for the cheapest in the building you can get a good deal. I’ve had a lot of luck in Van Ness in some of the older buildings.

    my two cents.

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