From the Forum – What does $3000 Per Month Rent Get You in the City?

What does $3000 Per Month Rent Get You in the City:

“My wife and I are hoping to move into dc sometime this spring. My wife will be taking a job in the U Street neighborhood and does not want to commute into the city (currently living in Clarendon). We’ve lived in DC before (NE on the west side of H Street about four years ago). Our budget is around $3,000 a month. I guess my question is … what does $3,000 get you in the city?

The Randolph Street town home listed on PoP earlier this month has everything we are looking for (yard large enough for our two dogs to run a bit, at least two bedrooms, walking distance to amenities and restaurants, renovated, close to her job and within 30 mins of my job on the Navy Yard) but I’m unsure about the area and the price seems high for the neighborhood. Is $3450 for a three bedroom in Petworth on point for the current market?

Any opinions on the listing? Any opinions on where we should be looking? I’ve been scouring craigslist and am just trying to get an idea of where the best values are in the city but it’s overwhelming.”

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64 Comment

  • I assume you are looking to rent, or I would hope you would poll a realtor instead of a message board. But at a budget of $3K a month, why not look into buying? Albeit having not ever been through the process, $3K seems like an adequate budget to cover a mortgage, even in the city. Homeowners in here surely could either confirm/deny.

    • 3k/month is plenty to afford a nice ~500k-600k condo, but that assumes that the OP has enough saved for a down payment + closing costs (which would realistically run you between $75k-150k).

    • We bought a house in the upper $500K range and our mortgage is $2400/month. Granted, we put 20% down and paid full closing costs (totaling around $130K), and we have a 3.5% rate on our mortgage. That amount might be pretty difficult for first-time homebuyers. I do agree if you’re willing to spend $3K on rent, it might be worth looking into buying even if it means lowering your total budget and putting less down.

  • Come to the Woodner. Very affordable. Mention me so I can receive a $200 deduction off my rent as well.

  • Wow, there are like 10 different questions in this post. If you want to find a place with the “best value” then I’d maybe consider somewhere in the northern part of Columbia Heights. This little enclave is close to the Metro (one stop from U St without the U St prices), Mt Pleasant, all the new development along 14th, as well as the up and coming spots on 11th St. It’s also walking or biking distance to Meridian Hill Park and Adams Morgan plus numerous bus lines running north south on 14th St and 16th St. You are also close to the trails on Rock Creek Park. And the rents are still pretty affordable. You could easily get a 2 bedroom in the very upscale apartments in the area (such as the Allegro) and probably larger in some of the mixed-family housing on the side streets.

  • Realtors also take on rental clients as well. And within that price range, we could find a SFH/rowhome in many different neighborhoods. If that’s something you’re interested in, feel free to contact me!

    • I absolutely will.

      We’ve been having a terribly hard time obtaining realtor responses for rentals listed on their websites. I have sent out a dozen emails (at least) to realtor sites asking to see a home or to request information on any homes they have under their management that might meet our list of wants … just one response and she’s been very tough to reach for a follow on conversation. I understand margins aren’t high for rentals but I thought I’d get some sort of response.

      This is a long way to say, do you have a website with contact information? Thanks.

  • I echo some of the other statements. A $3,000 a month budget and you’re looking to rent? I’m assuming the down payment is the issue. Even with FHA? My mortgage is slightly less than that and I own a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath townhome in Petworth. Look into buying or you’re just throwing that money out the window.

    • “Look into buying or you’re just throwing that money out the window.”

      That’s a common misperception. There are many reasons to rent and many reasons to own. On average and over the long term, the only reason owning is better than renting is due to the mortgage interest deduction on taxes. Without that, they’d be equal. The biggest reason you’re NOT throwing money out a window when renting is the time-value of money. Sure, every month you pay a mortgage part of that builds equity in your home. But if you’re a renter, you could instead put money into a market basket fund which tend to appreciate at a better rate than real estate. There are other downsides to owning such as the transaction costs of buying/selling, maintenance, taxes, etc.

      So, in the end, each person needs to evaluate which is better for them – renting or buying or somewhere along the spectrum between such as a co-op, or various condos. There is no one-size-fits-all.

    • “Look into buying or you’re just throwing that money out the window.”

      That’s a common misperception. There are many reasons to rent and many reasons to own. On average and over the long term, the only reason owning is better than renting is due to the mortgage interest deduction on taxes. Without that, they’d be equal. The biggest reason you’re NOT throwing money out a window when renting is the time-value of money. Sure, every month you pay a mortgage part of that builds equity in your home. But if you’re a renter, you could instead put money into a market basket fund which tend to appreciate at a better rate than real estate. There are other downsides to owning such as the transaction costs of buying/selling, maintenance, taxes, etc.

      So, in the end, each person needs to evaluate which is better for them – renting or buying or somewhere along the spectrum between such as a co-op, or various condos. There is no one-size-fits-all.

  • Hey, that’s my posting … thanks for mainsiting it!

    The problem we are running into is the yard … if we were looking for an apartment complex we would have a myriad of options pretty much anywhere in the city. The issue is a finding a home/townhome in a neighborhood within a 15 minute rush hour drive to the U Street metro station (the area my wife will be working) that allows dogs and has a yard large enough to allow our pups some running room (we’ve seen some so-called “large” yards in Craigslist ads and been less than impressed).

    My question had to do with the Petworth home on Randolph that is shown on the PoP real estate section, it hits all our needs but I was unsure about the price for the area. I know value is a very subjective thing but I wanted others’ opinions on that area of Petworth in general and, more specifically, the area compared north weat H Street/NOMA (where we lived before). Also, if $3400/month for a townhome is in line for area rents.


    • I’d say yes.

    • Perhaps what you need is a realtor who will be able to explain to you whether a home is priced too high or too low for a particular area. In Petworth homes often sell within a few percent of their asking price, so most likely whatever home you’re looking at online is priced accurately. There are a lot of homes within a 15 minute drive to U St that have a yard, such as in Park View of Petworth.


    • Would you consider h Street area again?

      • Yeah, I was going to say that the area you originally lived in would probably fit all the criteria. I live just south of there, and it’s a nice 20-minute walk to the Navy Yard (or one of the 90 buses will take you there). It’s also an easy drive down Florida Avenue to get to U Street (or catch the bus going in the opposite direction). And you should have no trouble getting a rowhouse for under $3k. The yard may not be huge, but there’s Lincoln Park and the Kingman Park dog park nearby. And it’s a very dog-friendly community in general!

        • Dog parks won’t work. We have a male pup (boxer and 9 months old) that has shown dominant tendencies. This makes him very unpopular with other dogs in dog parks. As such, my wife has put her foot down on visiting a dog park/doggy day care … too bad because that would solve all of our problems and open up a world of other options. So its find a yard large enough for them to run around in or take morning, noon and night walks and jogs (which is what we do now).

          No problem with H street but there are slim pickings in the townhome/rental market that hit our criteria. I was really just looking to see if $3400 for the townhome was in line with market rents and what type of area south petworth is compared to the west H street area. They seem comparable but I was not sure.

          • Hi! Sorry for the random dog tangent, but I have a 9 month old german shepherd pup who shows dominant tendencies, and I think doggie daycare and frequent (but well supervised) dog park visits have helped him a lot. At 9 months old, he still has the energy of a puppy but the muscles and jaws of an adult… The more he plays with older, more experienced dogs, the more he learns how to pick up on “I don’t want to play” signals and he moves on. Just my two cents. (I also live in Logan Circle in a two bedroom condo two blocks west of the Shaw Dog Park. You could find a sizeable condo for $3,000 a month here if Cujo calms down.)

    • I’d check out north Bloomingdale/Eckington/Stronghold, or even Brookland. They typically have very large lots and long yards (good for a dog run). Also walking distance to U st, if you’re okay with a 30 min walk.

      • Yeah, but not very convenient to Navy Yard is it?

        • gotryit

          Brookland is fairly convenient to Navy Yard by bike: Metropolitan Branch Trail to the 4th st bike lane.

        • What about Shaw? There are some decent yards depending on where you look, and a short green line trip to Navy Yard. Might not be enough yard space, though.

          • We are definitely considering Shaw (and Petworth and Columbia Heights and H street and Eastern Market area).

      • This. You should be able to find a nice 2-3br victorian in northern Bloomingdale with a huge lot for under 3k. That gets you a ~15 minute walk to U street, 10 minute walk to the Shaw metro that should get you to Navy Yard.

    • for $3400 in Petworth I’d expect a renovated townhouse in turn-key condition, close to metro. But I think the townhouse rental market is very subjective since apart from square footage, metro distance number of beds/baths, it’s tough to compare properties.

      • I always thought the phrase “turn-key condition’ was synonymous with “move-in ready.” Isn’t that what every renter should expect?

      • The Randolph Street location is renovated and within walking distance to the metro. So it appears it is priced pretty reasonably.

    • Don’t ignore Brookland. Lots of yards and about 15 minutes from U Street.

  • 3k will get you far in the city–Clarendon really is not any less expensive than DC.

    You can get a 1 bedroom in an apartment building in most areas of town with that budget, if not for less: doorman, gym, pool, parking, etc. You can easily find a two bedroom or 1br/den for that price in many apartment buildings, but maybe not as new of a place with as many amenities.

    If you head over east beyond 9th St-ish in NW or north beyond the alpha streets, you may start to be able to find 2br row houses with that budget. The further away you get from the “gentrified center” of town, lets say…Dupont, the less expensive stuff gets and the more you get for your dollar.

    That’s all my opinion.

  • And about the rent versus buy question. It’s twofold … we don’t have the money needed for a down payment (FHA nonwithstanding but insurance requirements for those types of loans makes that a less appealing) and we don’t know how long we will stay in one area (because of job requirements). That coupled with being maintenance challenged makes renting a much more appealing endeavor.

    It may just be that we are looking for a unicorn property and will need a hefty dose of patience or need to take a hard look at reality and reassess our priorities accordingly.

    • Yeah, that’s understandable. The big yard is the part you’re going to have trouble with, regardless of whether you’re renting or buying. That said, there’s no shortage of DC residents that have large dogs. Maybe some of them could weigh in on whether the lack of private outdoor space has been a problem.

      • Yeah, it really depends on what your definition of “big” is. I have two big dogs and a row house with a yard that I consider “big” for the city. It has two car parking and a swatch of grass and garden beds (lot is about 1900 sqft). That said, it is nowhere near the size you’d get in the suburbs or even a neighborhood like Brookland or Woodridge. However, it was more important to me to be closer in so I sacrificed lot size for convenience.
        Personally I would not live in an apartment where I did not have a private yard. Especially when you have two dogs it starts to get harder when they need a bathroom break in the middle of the night etc.

  • gotryit

    I recommend looking in the sixteenth street heights area. Your wife can take busses south to U street pretty conveniently along 16th street, 14th street, or Georgia Ave, and you can metro to Navy Yard on the green line. If you have to hop a bus to get to get to the metro, that will probably take you more like 45 minutes to get to the Navy Yard.

    I think $3000 should get you a reasonable 3BR place with a small yard, but you may have to look a little farther from the petworth metro station.

    • Thanks for the advice. That’s a little disheartening. $3,000 – $3500 and we can’t afford a townhome within walking distance to the Petworth metro? Whew … I know the market is super hot right now but … whew.

      Looks like we should jump on the Petworth townhome we were looking at before. How is Randolph Street in Petworth? Semi-safe? Let my wife walk around after dark safe?

      • The big yard requirement is the problem. There simply isn’t that kind of housing stock unless you get far outside of the core. What about Ward 8? I don’t know the neighborhoods that well, but some of them are beautiful with big suburban-style houses and yards. And many are convenient to the green line and probably very inexpensive.

        • Ward 8 is too far away from my wife’s job (U Street).

          • It’s 8 or 9 stops on the green line with no transfers and super convenient for you! it sound like your wife might need to readjust her 15 minute rule a little for the sake of the dogs.

      • A lot of your questions are about things that I view as being very subjective. Although I’m sure that folks will weigh in with information that will be useful to you, you might want to actually spend some time — at all hours of the day and night — in the neighborhood where you’re planning to move, to get a sense of what it feels like to you. My standards for walking around at night might be different from yours — and/or those of your wife. And my standards for walking with a large, protective dog at 6:30 in January might be very different from yours at 2 am on a hot weekend night in August. Drive around, walk around, stop by a few local business, chat up a few neighbors, and see what it feels like to you.

        • gotryit

          +1 to what CT said

        • Totally agree with your post and we plan on doing just that. But we still need a starting point. Once we have some viable options we would complete some on-site visits at night to see if we’d be comfortable. I can tell you we feel safe in north and south Arlington (pretty much anytime and anywhere) and did not feel as safe at night north of h street (west side) (away from the restaurants and bars) at night when we lived there.

      • Land is worth a lot in DC. So a house with a generously-sized yard is going to cost a tremendous amount because the lot alone is so valuable.

      • epric002

        agree with the other posters that the yard is your biggest issue, not your budget. i live on 13th b/n quincy and randolph, and we also have 2 dogs, and what most people would consider a tiny yard, but it’s pretty big for the city- the dogs can go outside and do their business/play a bit. so, yes, you can totally afford to rent in walking distance to the petworth metro, but finding a yard that you feel is big enough is going to be hard. what you may want to consider doing, if your dog(s) will cooperate, is take them running in rock creek park. you are super close to RCP in petworth- we take ours running almost every weekend. i know boxers need a lot of exercise, but would an excursion/run in the park a few times a week make a smaller yard more doable? b/c there are a lot of rowhomes here with at least small yards. also, yes, i feel safe here. i walk my dogs after dark by myself and have only had 1 bad experience in the 1.5 years we’ve lived here. i wouldn’t go wander aimlessly by myself late at night, but walking to/from the metro after dark, walking the dogs, etc. has not been a problem for me. good luck! this is a great neighborhood 🙂

      • Hi. First of all best of luck on your search. We lived in Columbia Heights before moving to Petworth. We rented at the Park Triangle and had the largest unit, 2BD/2BR and two parking spots and paid $3400 a month. We also have a pet.
        We bought in Petworth two years ago and are paying about the same for a renovated 4BD/3 1/2 BR, deck and backyard, and parking for two cars. We are considering renting this house and moving to upper NW. We are considering the price based on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and presuming that it will be a group house. It seems that we could get a group of three at about $1,200 each, so $3,600 plus utilities.
        We live on Taylor and I walk around the neighborhood in the morning and at night when I walk our dog. I’ve never had any trouble whatsoever. The streets are safe, but you must exercise all known precautions to walking in the city (no headphones, texting, chatting on the phone , being unaware of your surroundings.) Randolph is a great street and the upcoming building and Safeway will add vibrancy to the neighborhood.
        Best of luck!

      • saf

        Where on Randolph?

    • jim_ed

      This is a really good idea, especially if you look in areas close to bus stops for the 79, which is a limited stop express bus. You could probably get a big house with a lot of land for rent around Decatur or Kennedy for a reasonable rental price, and the bus flies to the green line petworth metro in 5-10 minutes.

  • Yeah – i think that price is pretty fair – I own a similarly sized row house (but w a small yard) in Park View, and this seems about right on for rental values. And that neighborhood is a good choice for looking for a decent commute plus a big yard in the city. Good luck!

  • You can get two blocks from the metro with a yard and a big park where the dogs can run for $2k near the Fort Totten Metro on the Riggs Park side. Three bedrooms. Finished basement. Not walking distance of restaurants, but definitely close enough to Brookland and Takoma park restaurants. Look into it!

    • Good value, decent housing stock, larger yards, great neighbors. Think outside the box and the “trendy” neighborhoods.

  • I agree with the folks recommending Crestwood/16th St. Heights. Many stand-alone houses there with larger yards. The 16th St. buses will get you to U St. as well.

  • check out 1408 Monroe Street NE – $3k for a 4 bed/2 bath (listed on Zillow) – just a few blocks from the Red Line and about a 10-15 minute drive to U Street.

  • How about Foundry Lofts next to the Navy Yard? It’s on the green line, so your wife can hop on the metro and be to U St in 15 minutes. The first floor units have fenced in private yards, but they are not large yards. But that’s okay because you’re right in the middle of a big park. And about 100 feet from a dog park. I have to agree with a previous poster. you really owe it to your dog and to every human it encounters to socialize it MORE, not less. Also, there are tons of dog walkers in the neighborhood and you’d be right next door — you could even run home for lunch. Good luck on your search. Hope you find the perfect spot.

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