Like I said earlier, living near the Metro will often cost a little more rent-wise but so will sitting in hours of traffic in total gas and car upkeep expenditures. When moving to the D.C. area, this is a decision many have to make: cheaper rent or convenience.
Cheap places can be found in the city, though often you’ll sacrafice any sort of yard, a washer and dryer, parking for a car and much less favorably, your safety. Living in Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda can sometimes be as expensive as the city but never underestimate the power of Craigslist.
The site will let you search Northern Virgina, Maryland and D.C. and I’ve used to to find both of my rentals in D.C.
When I first moved here, I was bound and determined to live in the city but my new roommate, who had lived in the D.C. area for over a year, explained to me how much more we could get for the money in Northern Virginia. In general, I now have to agree with her.
I’m only 4 miles from the city and without traffic, can get all the way to Dupont in a half hour. Living in Arlington, I still have access to great restaurants and bars for times when I don’t feel like going into the city but all of the city fun at my fingertips, all for only $550/month (I share a 3-bedroom house with two other roommates). How did I find this great deal? Craigslist! Give it a shot.
Being open-minded is essential to finding the right place for yourself in the D.C. area. Be willing to look at up to 10 places before deciding on one; you never know what kind of deal you might run across.