Dear PoP – What is a Realistic Price for a Room to Rent in a Safe Neighborhood?

Photo by PoPville flickr user jkrehely2002

“Dear PoP,

This fall, I will be taking courses at Johns Hopkins’ DC campus while interning on the Hill.

Currently I am looking for a room to rent, and was wondering if you might know of someone searching for a well-mannered roommate. I am trying to stay within a budget and don’t require much at all, but having a comfortable and safe living situation is important. I am unsure as to what I should be paying and where I should be living. Any leads or advice you may have would be most appreciated.”

What do you guys think the going rate is if you get a roomate? $700 – $1000? If this reader is going to be studying in Dupont but working on the Hill where should he focus his search – on the Hill or by Dupont?

27 Comment

  • The Hill’s probably going to be a little cheaper.

    Going rate, from what I’ve been able to ascertain, is about $900+, less if it’s bigger group house, but not by much.

  • Kinda tricky because you’re subletting rather than leasing, so that affects your search unless you find people willing to go month to month. Your best bet is probably a group house in Mt. Pleasant or Columbia Heights, maybe Bloomingdale. It’d be hard to find a place within that budget in the Hill or Dupont.

  • Some ideas…

    I would recommend posting on neighborhood forums (e.g. to search for available living situations. I don’t know how other neighborhoods do this, but it’s pretty common here in MtP.

    Does JH provide any services that can match students with similar housing situations?

    Also, I would add “proximity to Metro’s Red line” as a priority. You’ll increase your options to areas beyond the pricey Dupont or Cap Hill.

  • Group houses in Petworth usually have rooms from $550-800, so a bit cheaper. Your commute would be a bit longer but still reasonable. In the southern part of the neighborhood you would still be in walking distance from Columbia Heights, so would have a pretty wide selection of stores/restaurants in walking distance. I think Brookland would have similar prices as well.

  • Petworth would not be very convenient if working on the hill and studying in dupont. getting from petworth to dupont is a pain in the ass. As MtP mentioned above, “proximity to Metro’s Red line” should be your main criteria. Probably closer to $1000 than $700 in any case.

    • if you have a car it isn’t. western part of petworth -> dupont takes 10 minutes.

      • Or a bike. I live in Petworth and bike to work near Judiciary square on the red line – about 20 min there, 30 min coming home. Sure, I could be closer to my office but I love where I live and it’s really cheap 🙂

        • guys, driving and biking is a pain in the ass. mr. cheese remains uncorrected.

          • You must be kidding? I can walk out my door and bike or ride anywhere in and out of the city and get there quickly.

            Metro? First you have to walk to the station. Then the wait begins, which is ridiculous on the weekends. Then train ride time and stops. And finally, walk to destination. And if you need to transfer? It’s a damn day-trip expedition. It takes an hour+ to get from Bloomingdale to King St on a weekend/off peak.

            Driving usually takes a fraction of the time of metro, unless you’re talking about some very specific super-busy area like Foggy Bottom to Cap Hill, and even that isn’t bad at all outside rush hour.

            Basically, it sounds like you have never driven in the city.

  • What in God’s name are you guys talking about? You can find a room for 500 dollars if you’re patient and you know where to look. I live in my own apartment by myself 5 blocks from the Petworth metro for $595.

    Now, if you’re afraid of ethnic minorities in saggy pants, you might be paying something closer to a grand west of the river, but geez.

    • “Now, if you’re afraid of ethnic minorities in saggy pants, you might be paying something closer to a grand west of the river, but geez.”

      When was the last time you read a story of a group of yuppies beating up someone half to death in Gtown? Or robbing or shooting them?


      I think your budget is very realistic, especially for Cap Hill. Things will largely depend on the quality of housing at this point. If you want to live in an unrenovated roach infested dump on Cap Hill, you can find it for 500-600. If you want something clean and new, it will cost more.

  • Actually Petworth metro to Columbia Heights and then hop the circulator or S-bus down 16th makes that a convenient neighborhood to go to Hopkins. Then for work Petworth Metro up to the red line and down to Union Station. I think she has lots of options in that area.

  • If this is your first time living in DC, figure out which thing you are more likely to have trouble getting to on time – your classes at JH, which is basically a few steps west of Dupont, or your internship on the Hill – assuming Rayburn building or same such, and try and find a rental room near there. If it were me I would choose Dupont over the Hill. I lived in Clarendon in my intern days and it sucked.
    Don’t worry about all these naysayers, there are plenty of places available in both neighborhoods – try the Citypaper and Craigslist dc rooms and shares.
    You should also reach out to graduates, friends of friends & parents etc. to see who might open a room for you who might not necessarily advertise.

  • Also check out WMATA (bus, metro) website – there may be a busline that will get you close to the door of where you want to go. Also bring your worst bike and a really heavy lock, fall is nice in DC.

  • Bloomingdale? Petworth? BROOKLAND? This person is not familiar with DC and coming here for an internship. I did the same thing a two years back and lived in Adams Morgan right by Kalorama park and got a subletted bedroom in a 2 bdroom apt for $1000. If you are here for a short time, I would think you’d want to live a little bit more where the action is. Don’t get me wrong, I love Petworth and Bloomingdale now that I’ve been here and know the city and all, but if you’re just coming here cold they are not the first places I would recommend. Especially not Brookland. I would suggest looking in Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, U Street or Logan Circle. I have no idea about prices on the Hill, but I also think that would be a better choice than some of the things mentioned above. If you look for any length of time you will find something under $1k

  • This city is not large and really easy to navigate. Plus, if he/she is looking to stick within their budget, \where the action is\ makes that harder.

    Have some of you looked for apartments within the last 5 years? I’ve rarely found anything, even group houses, under $1000 in Dupont. Sure you can get a room for $500 but is it going to be semi-decent? Can the reader put up with 4-6 roommates?

  • You might be able to find a cheap room near Potomac Ave or Stadium/Armory, and that would be really convenient for getting to the Hill, and I don’t think the commute to Dupont would be too bad from there.

  • We rent out a duplex, 3BR to a group that splits the rent 3-ways. Roughly $800/per on a main street. From our pricing and their reports, this fairly typical for the Hill.

  • The International Student House is only 2 blocks from Dupont Circle. Rooms are $1000 – $1400, but that includes meals. Might be worth it to you if you’re busy studying / interning.

  • I am planning to rent my spare bedroom (1 block from U st Metro) for $950 starting in September.

  • How long will you be here? Crucial info. If only 6 months or so, work every connection – friends of friends of friends. Often people with an extra bedroom don’t rent it out regularly because they don’t really need or want the hassle of finding & vetting someone, but would be happy to have an extra $5-600.00 a month for someone nice just to fall into their lap.

    Post your own ad on CL – housing wanted – with as much reassuring info. about yourself as you can.

    Also look on – again, these are generally offered as short-term, but make your pitch and see what happens.

    Location? Capitol Hill people generally love it, but it is a bit of an island. Just that little bit more awkward transportation-wise from the AM-Dupont-U St.-CH-Rock Creek park world.

    • saf

      Agreeing with the first paragraph here. We’ve got someone living with us right now – a friend. I wouldn’t rent out the room generally, but we’ve had several medium-term roommates when friends needed a place to stay. It’s worked well for all of us.

  • Like someone else who posted above, I really like Adams Morgan or U for a young newcomer. But it may be hard for them to swing that if they’re in a rush and on a budget.

    Shaw would be ideal in the meantime. (How come no one ever mentions Shaw?) Close enough to metro for easy Hill access. You can bus to Dupont or even walk if so inclined (takes about 30 mins). U Street is close, so they can converge on the bars like other interns every weekend. The proximity to Logan is pretty sweet, too.

    • Agree with Shaw – I live in Shaw-ish (12th & Mass… I also live in downtown-ish… We’ll just call it ishville). I can get to Dupont easily by walking or biking, and I can take the metro at the convention center, gallery place, or mcpherson square. I’m paying $1225 for a nice studio, but I know of people in the area paying $800 with a roommate for a 2BR.

      When I came down to look at apartments, I ended up getting a realtor, which I imagine isn’t logical for a short term lease, but it was by far the best decision I made after seeing crappy apartment after crappy apartment.

  • Shaw would be a good idea for splitting the distance between the hill and dupont. Mt. Pleasant, too.

  • Okay I’ll pitch Shaw, particularly close to the 96 bus line and the G2 line. Only the renter can determine the safeness of the room and situation by scoping it out.
    The 96 gets you near the Capitol building and the G2 gets you into Dupont.
    Check out the bus lines, what get’s you close enough to both locations without switching buses, and look for a place based on that.

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