Cost of Living in Washington DC

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Washington DC is among the most expensive destinations in the USA, outranked only by a handful of cities. It is therefore important that expats moving to Washington negotiate a suitable employment package to offset their expenses. Here are some of the major costs expats can expect to encounter while living in Washington DC.

Cost of accommodation in Washington DC

Accommodation costs in Washington are generally quite high. The average one-bedroom apartment will cost around USD 1,800 per month. However, as the city is home to lots of young professionals and university students, there are also a number of cheaper accommodation options such as studio apartments and house shares on offer.

Cost of transport in Washington DC

Luckily, there isn’t much need for a car in Washington, especially if living close to the city centre. Most expats opt not to have a car and use public transport or cycle to work. Public transport is affordable in Washington and a weekly SmarTrip card can be purchased at a reasonable rate, which offers unlimited travel on the Metro, Metrobus and the DC Circulator.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Washington DC

There are lots of opportunities to enjoy nightlife, entertainment and eating out in Washington but prices are high and these leisure expenses do add up over time. However, for those on a budget or looking to save their hard-earned dollars, there are lots of free cultural activities available in Washington which can really enhance the quality of one's expat experience without breaking the bank.

Cost of education in Washington DC

Expats relocating to Washington with children will also need to factor in the cost of schooling. While expat children are eligible to attend public schools within zone boundaries, most expat parents choose to send their children to private or international school. Fees as these schools can be extremely pricey, so expat parents would be wise to double check that their budget can accommodate this cost.

Cost of living in Washington DC chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Washington in May 2018.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,100

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,700

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 4,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 2,800


Dozen eggs

USD 3.50

Milk (1 litre)


Rice (1 kg)

USD 4.80

Loaf of white bread

USD 3.20

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 12.60

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)


Eating out

Big Mac meal


Coca-Cola (330ml)



USD 4.50

Bottle of beer (local)

USD 5.50

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 70


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

USD 0.20

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month) 

USD 55

Basic utilities (includes electricity, water and refuse)

USD 200


Taxi rate/km

USD 1.35

Bus fare in the city centre 

USD 2.50

Gasoline/petrol (per litre)

USD 70

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