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Question by Sean: Where is a safe cheap place for a single guy to live near Washington DC?
I am looking for a place to stay in the DC area that will be cheap and also safe. I am preferably looking to live by myself and not have a roommate. I will need to be in the CNN building at around 6 am every day so the shorter the commute from there the better, but as I said price is a concern. The CNN building is located about half a mile NW of Union Station. I do have a car but don’t want to drive in everyday if I don’t have to.
Answer by joe.attaboy
Union Station is not a half-mile from CNN. It’s only about four blocks.
There is no such thing as “cheap” near DC. I work at the Pentagon. I rent a bedroom and bath in a private home, also occupied by the owner and his son. It’s about two miles from my job in Arlington County, and the rent is $ 850 per month. I love it, but it’s only my work home, as my actual home is out of state.
Most apartment complexes near here will run $ 1000-1500 minimum for a studio. If you find a studio or 1BR *below* $ 1000 per month, it’s either way out or a dump. If it’s anywhere near town, on either side of the city, and it’s not a share, it’s probably a rat hole.
You can get cheaper, especially if it’s a share, the further out you go, but there there’s the issue of the commute. And I can tell you this: I grew up in New York, near the Long Island Expressway, which has terrible rush hour traffic. The traffic in DC is worse, probably the worst I’ve ever seen anywhere. I-395, which cuts through the Northern Virginia region and goes directly into the city, is a parking lot in each direction during rush hour, and the Beltway and other roads aren’t any better. You really, REALLY don’t want to drive in and out of DC.
You can do it if you live way out and don’t mind an early commute (like leaving at 4:30-5:00 AM). I know people who live in the far-flung towns and counties and leave at the crack of dawn every day. But here at the Pentagon, you can get a parking permit for no charge. You can’t park anywhere in the city without paying for it.
The other option is the Metro. I take the bus daily (I brought my truck home at Christmas and left it there, I simply don’t need it). There are trains that service the suburbs to a certain distance. The city buses cover more area, and there are regional commuter buses and some rails (VRE in Virginia, MARC in Maryland) that bring you right into Union Station. Any nice neighborhood near the Metro are going to be more expensive to rent, as you might expect.
You do have some options. I would look at Craigslist for rentals. Also Google “northern virginia apartments” for some complexes. I would check any you look at out on apartmentratings.com to see what tenants have to say. Just to give you an example, there are two really nice complexes near me, the Halstead and the Penrose Square. Near shopping, buses lines to the Metro trains or into the city, lost of restaurants, lots of amenities, etc. A studio in either one probably goes for $ 1500-1600 per month.
You can also look on the Maryland side of the city (College Park, near the University of Maryland, also Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Springs, Chevy Chase, all along a train line). I’m not that familiar with that area.
Make sure you look at these sites for commuting:
http://www.wmata.com (The DC Metro system)
http://mta.maryland.gov/ (Maryland MTA)
There are links at these sites to other commuting options.
I’m not trying to discourage your choice in any way. I just want to be honest with you about the situation here. This is my place of work, and there is nothing I look forward to more than getting on a plane on Friday and flying my butt to Florida and my home. 😉
Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!