Real Estate

DC Rents Still Aren’t Close to New York and San Francisco

Photograph by Flickr user Ryan McKnight

Anecdotal comparisons of DC to New York and San Francisco, those trusty standard-bearers of overpriced living, seem to be getting more frequent—and not without some justification. It costs a lot to live in Washington. That much is not in dispute. But while your friends back home may tease you for paying $2,200 for a studio micro-unit, things could still be worse.

CoStar Realty Information, which tracks commercial real-estate data nationwide, recently completed its second quarter rental market analyses for the year. According to the firm’s findings, the average rent in the San Francisco-metropolitan area is $3,226. In the New York-metro, it’s $2,893. And in the DC-metro, it’s $1,715.

It’s a lot easier to find an apartment here, too. Washington’s vacancy rate is 5.1%, while San Francisco’s is 3.8% and New York’s is just 2.9%.

The reports also delve into the underlying economic factors driving rents. CoStar says that with 25,000 new apartment units slated to hit the Washington market through 2018—and with developers continuing to break ground on new projects—our vacancy rate could climb significantly if job growth falters. The federal government will likely keep trimming its ranks in the coming years, but the good news is that other sectors are growing. The tech industry, in particular, is drawn to Washington’s highly educated workforce, reports CoStar. (More than half our residents hold an undergraduate degree or higher, by the way—another metric in which we beat San Francisco—though that may be of little comfort when temperatures hit triple digits this weekend and you curse yourself for living in a swamp.)

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She oversees the magazine’s real estate and home design coverage, and writes long-form feature stories. She was a 2020 Livingston Award finalist for her two-part investigation into a wrongful conviction stemming from a murder in rural Virginia.