Dear PoPville – Does a $900 Studio with off street parking in “downtown locations” still exist?

studio_rent_cost_dc
Photo by PoPville flickr user maria jpeg

“Dear PoPville,

Saw this go out on the Bloomingdale listserve and my first reaction was to laugh – but i have no idea if this is actually as unrealistic as I perceive it to be. Doesn’t off-street parking downtown go for $300-$400/month? Perhaps PoPville can weigh in?

Friend is seeking a studio apartment in downtown locations. Rent + utilities: $900 max. Must have off street parking. Studio should have air conditioning. Washer/dryer and dishwasher would be great. Close to public transportation.

111 Comment

  • This seems unrealistic

  • Binghamton has a downtown.

  • Scam or….no it’s a scam.

  • If it does exist, you wouldn’t want it. Air conditioning might mean “fan” and dishwasher might mean “sponge”. Off-street parking would probably mean “you can store your bike in the kitchen!”

  • I’ve feel like I’ve seen worse postings on my listserv. Like someone whose friend just got a job in DC and is looking for a 1-bedroom non-basement apartment for herself and two dogs in Capitol Hill for under $1000/month. I feel sorry for these people that experience sticker shock when they move here, but they need to realize that in most cases you don’t need all the space and/or amenities you think you do. I also think a lot of newcomers who were spending 20% of their income on housing feel like they should be doing the same here. I always tell them you need to relax the budget a little. Quality of life is important, and you end up spending less money on other stuff if you’re in a good area to begin with.

    • See, this is why people here in their late 20’s/early 30’s here are always complaining about how they want to buy but can’t come up with a down payment. People need to relax their need for “loft-style” rentals with granite countertops – not their budgets. I know so many people here who have spent the last 10 years living in new apartments in the hottest neighborhoods, and now that they’re thinking about having kids they realize that they don’t have the space, and they have basically no assets with which to obtain more space.

      • I share a 2-bedroom in a hip neighborhood with granite countertops, and I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go that’s cheaper. If I move to the suburbs, any reduction in rent I might find will be swallowed up by increased transportation costs.

        • And you’ll still have granite countertops.
          Granite countertops aren’t the problem. I think most renters would happily live without fancy finishes if it meant cheaper rent, but that isn’t a big factor in price.

          • Yeah, the countertops are nice, but I rent the apartment because the location is unbeatable and the price is bearable. I’d love to be paying a bit less, but three months of exhaustive searching convinced me there was nothing better to be found.

          • Besides, if I’m paying a couple hundred less a month, I’m only saving $2,000/year…multiply that by ten years, and I’ve got $20,000, which is something, but still not enough for a down payment on anything but a small studio or 1 bedroom. Considering as I’ll hopefully have a partner and child by then, a studio or 1 bedroom won’t cut it.

        • I had a part time job for 8 years when I was in my twenties and lived my life on a budget. Shortly after I purchased my first home with the deposit I saved.

          Did my homework, bought in an up-and-coming neighborhood, did most of the renovations myself, sold that at a profit, and started the same process over again.

          I bought here in Parkview and now my place is worth double in less than 7 years.

          Patience, devotion to your goal, hard work, and time – you will get there.

  • Short answer: nope

    Long answer: haaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahahahaha nope

  • Downtown Baltimore? sure

  • I’d imagine that the person seeking a studio downtown with those specs (A/C, off-street parking, no more than $900 for rent plus utilities) is coming from out of the area and is completely unfamiliar with D.C. rents. He/she is going to have some serious sticker shock — that budget is going to get him/her a room in a non-downtown group house, probably with no included parking.

    • Yeah, I recently advised a friend-of-a-friend on where to live (she was coming from Maine) and it was challenging. She wasn’t willing to relax her requirements or price point, and ended up renting in North Michigan Park (which might be fine for her, I barely know the person or the neighborhood so I can’t say) but those of us more familiar with the city would probably sacrifice space or dinners out in exchange for a more central location.

  • Unfortunately, $1300 with all the requested amenities in a studio would be impossible to find, not to mention that won’t include utilities. I suggest joining a group house for that price point.

    • They do exist….

      We share our house with a roommate. He pays $950 for the basement with his own entrance, full use of backyard garden and patio, new kitchen & bath, bedroom, dining and living room, all utilities, cable and wireless, and parking, etc…

      Not everyone out there is looking to profit wildly… Keep looking and be flexible.

      Good luck

      • Except it’s a basement. Where are there even basement units downtown?

        • Meets every request listed except downtown – Parkview here, 4 block to Metro, 1 block to bus line. 5 windows and 2 doors – lots of light.

          Not impossible, not naïve, not 1984

      • I’d kill for a deal like that. Unfortunately you’re apparently the exception that proves the rule.

  • Yes in Leesburg

  • Hahahahahahahahaha… nope!

    Pick two: Cheap, convenient, or safe

  • Could you share the bloomingdale listserv? I just moved to the area and would like to join it.

  • I came to DC with the same hope, but it’s not going to happen. I know of a few buildings in SW where there are $1200 studios and one which rents studios for $1k, but they don’t allow dogs. And good luck finding a place that will allow 2 dogs! I had enough trouble with one.

    • Yeah I get it. I rent out my basement apartment and I wish I could allow dogs. I have two dogs myself who don’t care for other dogs so it’s just too much of a safety issue being that the basement apartment shares the backyard with the main house. I would certainly allow it otherwise :-/

    • Why do so many young people have dogs? It’s a fascinating trend. Seemed to come from nowhere. Any theories?

      • They’re not ready for kids yet. And if they lived previously in a non-urban area it was probably not a huge burden housing-wise to have them. I’m glad I waited until after I bought a house to adopt dogs, but if I was living in a place where housing wasn’t so competitive maybe it would have made sense while renting.

      • I don’t know that dog ownership is necessarily a new “trend”, however I read an article that more people are either delaying having kids or choosing not to have them. Instead, they get pets.
        .
        I myself adopted my dogs in my early 20s because I just really loved dogs and always wanted to have one that was my own. In hindsight, it was probably a pretty irresponsible decision because it made it extremely difficult to find a rental that allowed dogs when I decided to move. I ended up buying a house instead, so it worked out well in the end (but I acknowledge that I was extremely lucky to have been in the position to afford a house at the time- otherwise it could have been very hard for me).

        • dumplingdreams

          Sounds like San Francisco. I was there on vacation a year ago and OMG I couldn’t believe how many people with dogs I saw. Young folks. A local told me that something like 85% of the SF adult population has dogs, and that there are SO many dogs that the parks had to be split into humans and dogs. Conversely, I think I literally saw 3 babies the entire week I was there. Folks just aren’t having babies…or else are having them very late and then only having one.

      • It’s not a trend. You’re just paying attention more.

        • the”trend” is simply more and more young people moving to the district. more young people = more young people with dogs.

      • Trusty companion / dissolution of large, close-knit family groups? Just a thought.

    • Where do they say they have 2 dogs? I have a friend who just moved here with two dogs and a very generous budget of $2000/month, and she wasn’t able to find anything except EOTR or the suburbs.

      • The person whose requirements were listed in the original post doesn’t have two dogs — another poster was saying that that post made him her/think of “someone whose friend just got a job in DC and is looking for a 1-bedroom non-basement apartment for herself and two dogs in Capitol Hill for under $1000/month.”

  • I think your first instinct to laugh was correct. It is definitely as unrealistic as you think and perhaps more.

  • Hahaha, I needed a laugh today.

    • I remember when you could get one for $900 without parking. Circa 2006.

      • Even then, it was difficult. I remember settling for a studio in Arlington that was $1100 a month in 2006. Even though it wasn’t in the city it was considered a good deal at the time!

        • A friend rents out a basement bedroom – just a bedroom, with a private bath & kitchen privileges – in her house in Arlington for $800.00 a month. Plenty of street parking – 1 mile from Balston Metro, ( or any kind of shops & restaurants.)

          • So do I. Alexandria. All utils incl. A bit under market however.

          • figby

            Ugh — “kitchen privileges.” I have lived in a few of those. Mostly a lot of huffing, glaring and checking the milk levels by the resentful homeowner, who really just wants you to heat your soup in the microwave and scuttle back downstairs.

  • I don’t think there’s any possible way to get even close to this. Rent+utilities+parking+AC+washer/dryer+dishwasher in a neighborhood near downtown? Going to be tough to find that for even $1,800. Afraid this person really needs to be looking for a group house situation.

    • The thing is, I’m not sure you could even find a room in a group house for this (if it’s in a desirable location). I know someone who pays $1100 to share one bathroom with two other people in NoMa. That struck me as ridiculous, but apparently it’s the going rate and they’ve never had trouble filling spots once a roommate leaves.

      • What?! You can definitely live in a group house for well under $900. I know people who have lived group houses in Columbia Heights and Petworth for around $600 a month. Granted you live with 5-6 other people, but it’s cheap!

  • That’s what I paid for a basement studio apt on the Hill that was prone to flooding in 2004. No parking though, and it was a good deal then.

  • It’s just not going to happen. You could probably find a group situation (2 bedrooms-ish) for at/under 900 though.

    • In Petworth or Brookland or SW Waterfront, probably. Maybe even in Columbia Heights or Bloomingdale. Not any closer to downtown than that.

  • I live in a (basement) studio in a convenient location for $900 with off-street parking! I think I just got really lucky, though…

  • If you are within the income range, check out Capitol Park Plaza. I think all utilities studios are under $1000. Pets allowed. Parking extra but gated and off-street.

    • Umm…I moved into a studio at Capitol Park Plaza three years ago and with the tax credit rate (yeah, educator’s salary!) I paid $1089 to start and now pay $1129/month. I love it here–pool, fitness center, laundry on site, but I think they are going way up. A girl moved into the 1-bedroom next to mine, who has a dog and got a parking spot (extra fees) pays more than $2000. It is a great area and I think one of the more affordable but you can’t get a studio under $1100 anymore.

  • novadancer

    hmm, somehow I missed this on the listserve and I read everyone that Scott sends out…

  • As someone who just finished a househunt with what I thought was a far more realistic budget and still wound up slightly above the top of my price range, I just have to laugh. They expect downtown rent, utilities AND parking for $900? I saw some 16th street/Mt P area studios that rent for that price range, but they were older buildings with sketchy management companies (according to Yelp.) For downtown studios, the floor seems to be $1500, not including parking or utilities. Good luck to this person, they are going to need it.

  • Yeah, this person is pretty much insane. $900 rent is absurd enough, but PLUS off-street parking AND a washer/dryer? I know people in the area that pay $2k a month and don’t have parking or a washer/dryer– and that’s for an apartment under 550 sq ft.

    • Probably not insane, just new to the area and clueless about prices. Shame on the friend, who must have known this was unattainable, for passing on the request though.

      • Some people who have owned for awhile (describes a good chunk of ppl in Bloomingdale) have NO concept of rental prices today.

    • Time machine — yes! I rented a very nice studio in Dupont for $500 a month, including utilities. Parking was $80 a month extra. Of course, this was 1984.

  • the Woodner has studios for a little over $1100. Utilities included, no dishwasher or any of that other stuff. that’s the best you are going to do.

  • What does “downtown locations” mean anyway? Those aren’t exactly residental areas. Reminds me of when my wife’s brother told his realtor we were looking for a house. When she asked what neighborhood, he said Farragut West because that’s where she works. The realtor laughed and asked if we were looking for an office building.

  • I found a studio in Dupont for $900. In 2004. No parking. 300 sq ft. View of a brick wall. Complete with steam explosion that ruined all my stuff. I hope this person has a time machine and rental insurance.

  • this is laughable

  • From 1994 to 1999 I rented a studio about 1 block from Union Station on Massachusetts Avenue for $500. My landlord never raised my rent because quiet female that caused no trouble was an easy tenant. When I moved out she raised it to $800. I would be stunned if she was renting it now for less than $1300.

  • pablo .raw

    $900ish? possible
    Downtown? No
    Washer/Dryer/Dishwasher? No
    Off Street parking? No
    Utilities included? No
    (Insert grumpy cat meme here)

  • I have a decently nice studio in Cap Hill by Stanton Park (so only about .5-.6 from red/blue/orange) for $900 with utilities included.

    It’s street parking and no w/d, dishwasher or central air though.

    And no, I’m never ever ever giving it up.

    • hold onto that like gollum.

    • When I was last searching (2011), I saw two studios on the Hill, one across from the Supreme Court and one a block from TCoast, that were about $1000. Shared laundry and def no dishwasher. I think one had central air, but it’s not like having a window unit would be a problem if you’re only cooling one room. They were teeny tiny boxes though, like cook from your bed tiny, and probably smaller than my current bedroom. Wouldn’t be terrible for someone who spent very little time in their apartment.

      • I have probably about 550-600-ish square feet for that price. Plus really high ceilings, tons of windows, well maintained original hardwood floors and a private porch. And not in a basement. My window unit struggles to cool the place in July/August but that’s literally my only complaint.

      • That reminds me of the opening scene in “An American in Paris” where Gene Kelly is living in about 200 sqare feet attic apt. – hauls the bed up on a pulley, flips a tiny table down etc.

  • nope! aint going to happen. bump up to a 1BR though for only a 50% increase and i think that’s reasonable. we rent our bloomingdale basement (w/ WD) (and lots of onstreet parking) for $1300.

  • The OP may be naive, but if the downtown thing gives and they’re willing to *gasp* consider metrobus “near transportation, upper Brookland and Michigan Park, along with Fort Totten are only really a 30 minute bus/walk+metro to downtown, and it’s doable at the prices listed(assuming no pets). The Rhode Island Ave corridor is in a similar boat, east of the metro prices are pretty reasonable with decent bus service to downtown.

  • I had a $960 1BR with washer/dryer, dishwasher, and some utilities included, in the middle of the city. Too poor to own a car, so I didn’t use the off-street parking that I might have been able to get with the place. That was 2002…

  • I haven’t seen that price in downtown DC ever in the past 5 years. Most off-street parking starts at $200/month. The cheapest I’ve seen a studio in downtown DC is about $1300, and I don’t think it included utilities. If the person will have a car, maybe he/she can live further away from public transportation, which will decrease the overall price of a unit.

  • It is possible! Our roommate pays less than $1,000 for his newly renovated 1 bedroom basement with separate entrance and parking, all utilities, Central AC, cable & internet, use of washer and dryer, his own kitchen and bath.

    Only three of us in the whole house. Are we in Downtown, no, but we are just 4 block from GA Metro.

    You will find it if you look hard and walk the streets. A lot of times people will only put up a sign versus list – serves or Craig’s list.

    We found our roommate on roommate.com – Good luck and don’t listen to the chorus of Sour Grapes…

  • I hear Park Morton has some sweet places available in that price range…

  • It’s doable east of the river, but even there only barely. The Express has some listings.

    https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/apa/4529748424.html isn’t downtown, but it’s a short walk to the Anacostia metro and on a lot of bus lines. $750 for a 1br includes all utilities but electric. Parking isn’t included but it’s not hard to find street parking there (and honestly no more car breakins than anywhere else…no matter where I lived in DC I’d never leave anything in the car and I’d opt for glass break coverage). I’m not the landlord, just looking on Craigslist.

    If the person’s willing to share https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/apa/4523832216.html is in a much more central location and has a washer-dryer. Still no parking but it’s not terrible to find street parking nearby with a Ward 6 permit, or to rent it for under $150 a month. And if you live 3 blocks from the metro and grocery store, you probably won’t need your car for commuting.

  • This might be possible, if he is willing to go East of the Anacostia River. If they are close to the Anacostia Metro Stop or Benning Rd. Metro stop they could be downtown in a 10-15 minute metro ride, if the poster wouldn’t mind ignoring the stigma against EotR. There is a crime risk there, but that is true anywhere else in the city.

    Otherwise, he’ll need to make a tradeoff somewhere. They could get a room in a group house for the price with off street parking and possibly accommodate those dogs, either that or prepare to pay a lot more.

  • I moved into a lovely but tiny basement studio in the Bloomingdale area about a year ago. Utilities aren’t included, but the building does have a few parking spots for the residents to share on a first-come, first-serve basis. I pay less than $1000 a month, and I consider myself very, very lucky. It is definitely possible to live in the District on a budget if you adjust your expectations!

    • dumplingdreams

      Exactly! You have the right idea. At the risk of sounding judgey, I really do often wonder if places are really hard to find … or if it’s just that a certain generation doesn’t know how to budget, cut corners, go out on a limb to ask prospective landlords to barter for services in exchange for cheaper rent, and/or basically live more simply.

  • Downtown is overpriced.

    A friend of mine just rented near Stadium Armory and she has a huge place for a third of what she was paying on 14th and U. She likes the neighborhood a lot. Nice people. She feels safe. Barracks Row is less than 10 minutes by bike, 5 minutes by Metro. You can also rent very large two bedrooms and share on Connecticut Avenue near north of Van Ness Metro. BreadFurst is there now, Politics and Prose, Little Red Fox Market, Comet. The prices are half of U Street. They are not super modern buildings but they are large large apartments and have charm..

  • The reference to be near a metro and fact it was posted on Bloomingdale leads me to conclusion that “downtown” refers to DC proper rather than burbs. Folks from other placed often distinguish the city from the burbs by referring to downtown.

  • dumplingdreams

    This request gave me a giggle. However, a few months ago I did move out of a $950 studio 2 blocks from the metro in a nice neighborhood. I don’t have a car though, so that was no issue. There ARE still good finds around town. I then moved to a studio 3 times the size of that one (really), still near a metro, and only a very little increase in the cash amount but I help with my landlords’ dog a couple times a week to defray the cost of rent. If folks are willing to work with their landlords, you can get good deals. You also have to be willing to give up things and live simply. This person’s request is not unrealistic in terms of cost and location — but rather in terms of what he/she WANTS for the cost. Seriously, a dishwasher? I don’t have a dishwasher! Child, buy some rubber gloves and wash your dishes yourself. I also don’t have AC. Fans are cheap and work fine. Acclimate your body to the weather so you can live more simply.

  • In 2008 I had a studio near Logan Circle w/ air-conditioning, swimming pool, laundry-in-building, front desk for $824/month. The building also had indoor parking (not sure price bc I didn’t need it). I got this deal bc the building was rent-controlled and previous tenants had been there awhile so the price had stayed low. Point is, it is possible, but these buildings don’t advertise on Craigslist, you have to find them. For my building, I called every apartment building in the downtown area to price compare and happened to call this building on the day it was first on the market and vacant, I saw it a couple hours later and made a deposit. Same with my current situation (I have a good deal), I found the building and called them; they don’t need to advertise.

    • I would second the recommendation to call buildings. The rent-controlled ones don’t usually advertise, and often have places available if you just ask. I found two undervalued apartments that way here (although neither even close to $900).

  • clevelanddave

    This is a great exmple of what I love/hate about the PoP respondents: 40 percent snark, 40 percent wrong, 10 percent confused (dogs? they also have a dog? why do so many people have dogs?) and 10 percent useful. The OP said near downtown and metro. Well, I rented a two bedroom apt with private parking in Pentagon City- five minutes from downtown by car, or three metro stops in 2010 for 950 three years ago. Lots of ones, splits, etc in private houses in Pentagon City/Crystal City/South Arlington. Others mentioned Trinidad, Anicostia, other areas- that are “near” downtown that can be had for under 1K a month, but aren’t the safest/nicest places. This might not be the typcial life of PoP’villers but it does exist… in fact is is where and how most people live.

    • Actually the original post said “in downtown locations” not “near downtown.” But I’m glad you didn’t let your inability to read get in the way of your desire to give a stern lecture.

  • Literally impossible to pay less than $1000 a month for a studio. Fair Market Rent for a studio in DC is $1176 a month. I pay fair market rent for a 1 bedroom in Columbia Heights, all utilities include with in apt washer/dryer, dishwasher, and central a/c. It has income restrictions and when you’re “over income” you pay 1/3 your monthly pay, at least that’s what I read. People should look for tax credit buildings if they are on low non-profit salary and want to live alone.

  • I paid $1,050for a 1 bedroom english basement with plenty of sunshine on Benning and 42nd NE (right across from 6D PD) when I moved back to DC in 2007. It had granite countertops, dishwasher, washer and dryer and was less than 1/2 mile from the Benning Road metro stop. I am sure many of you would not want to live in that area but it really wasn’t bad at all, never had an issue with anything. Only took minutes to get downtown via a car but it was also on a bus line right outside my door and as I said the metro was down the street as was a Giant. Sometimes you have to rethink up all of the “perceived notions” and do what you have to do.

    • I paid about $1050 for an apartment in Columbia heights around the same time. No parking, basement laundry, etc. I had a friend in a studio in Mt. Pleasant during 2008 for about $900. It had offstreet parking.
      This 2007/2008 though is an eternity ago. Both of these places now go for around $1200-$1500+

  • Looking for something similar myself, but I’m not quite so restricted — can deal with $1000 + utilities, and AC is not necessary, can supply my own.

  • Sadly, it’s not realistic. The District’s rent control laws allow property owners to double rents every 12-15 years. The annual increase formula in use is CPI + 2% which means that on average rents raise 5% a year. The increases compound so a 5% annual increase over 15 years doubles rents. The law was created in the 1980s and probably made allot of sense at the time but they need to be modernized to keep up with the fundamental changes our economy has undergone in the last 30 years. Additionally, a recent Zillow study shows that Washingtonians are spending 68.4% more of their monthly incomes on rent than they were in the 1985-2000 era (27.2% now; 16.2% then). See: http://www.zillow.com/research/rent-affordability-2013q4-6681/

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