Living in the nation’s capital can be expensive, which is why many people want to live in more affordable cities near Washington, DC. From young professionals to people with families, the neighboring areas attract a variety of people. The cities near Washington D.C. offer lower home prices, an easy commute, and are a great place to live overall. There is still easy access to the culture, employment, and entertainment opportunities of Washington, DC.
Among the best places to live near the nation’s capital are those cities in Northern Virginia and several parts of Maryland. These communities not only provide more attractive housing and living expenses but also boast unique charms and conveniences for their residents. So, if you’re considering a move near Washington, DC, exploring these affordable cities is a great start.
Top Affordable Cities (From Most Expensive To Least)
This is a general guide as housing will also depend on the type of place you choose. Some of the apartments in a generally more expensive area may have a lower rent than some of the units in generally lesser expensive regions. Location close to a metro, or built in amenities like a gym, pool, or parking included can drastically increase rent prices.
Located in Maryland, Bethesda is a suburb within a short distance of Washington DC. Known for its diverse community and vibrant atmosphere, Bethesda offers a more affordable lifestyle than living in the District of Columbia. This is the most expensive of the affordable cities but relative to housing in Downtown DC or Dupont Circle, Bethesda offers more space and amenities for the same dollar amount.
Yes, Arlington, Virginia has a vibrant nightlife scene with many bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues to choose from. There are several neighborhoods in Arlington that are known for their nightlife, including Clarendon, Courthouse, and Ballston. These areas have a variety of bars and restaurants that cater to different tastes and preferences, and there are often events and live music performances happening throughout the week. Additionally, Arlington is located just across the river from Washington, D.C., so it is easy to go to if you want a change of scene.
Just across the Potomac River from DC, Alexandria offers a historic touch and a charming atmosphere. The Old Town district has an array of restaurants, boutiques, and cultural attractions. Despite its upscale attractions, Alexandria’s cost of living remains relatively affordable compared to living directly in Washington DC. Alexandria offers really easy access to Capitol Hill and has a great historic neighborhood itself with many local shops and great dining.
Tenleytown is a neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., so it is considered part of the city and is relatively close to other parts of the city. According to NeighborhoodScout’s analysis of rental data, the average rental price in Tenleytown as of April 2023 is $1,961 (source: NeighborhoodScout). Technically it is a part of DC but it is located very close to the Maryland border. It has close proximity to both American University and Georgetown University.
5. Silver Spring
Silver Spring is another affordable option located in Maryland. The lively downtown area has a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Silver Spring’s accessibility to Washington DC via public transportation makes it an attractive choice for those looking for affordability without sacrificing convenience.
6. Falls Church
Falls Church is another Virginia suburb that offers a lower cost of living while still being close to Washington DC. Rich in history and charm, Falls Church provides a suburban lifestyle with easy access to urban amenities via public transportation. This is one of the most affordable places to live in the DC area for families. It has great single-family homes and affordable neighborhoods and is the perfect place for a family.
7. Woodley Park
Woodley Park is a neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., located just north of Dupont Circle and west of the National Zoo. It is roughly bounded by Woodley Road to the north, Calvert Street to the south, Rock Creek Park to the east, and the National Zoo to the west. As of March 2023, the average apartment rent in Woodley Park is $1,885 for a studio, $2,374 for one bedroom, $4,162 for two bedrooms, and $9,061 for three bedrooms, according to Apartments.com (source: Apartments.com).
8. Cathedral Heights
Cathedral Heights is generally considered a good place to live in Washington, D.C. It is a quiet, residential neighborhood located in the northwest quadrant of the city, adjacent to the National Cathedral. The neighborhood is known for its tree-lined streets, historic architecture, and easy access to green spaces such as Glover Archbold Park and Battery Kemble Park. It also offers a variety of amenities, including shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. Cathedral Heights is well-served by public transportation, with several bus lines and a Metro station nearby. However, like any neighborhood, Cathedral Heights has its own unique set of pros and cons, and it may not be the best fit for everyone (source: Niche).
9. Pentagon City
In Virginia, Pentagon City provides an affordable and convenient option for those seeking proximity to the DC area. With numerous transportation options, including the Metro, Pentagon City enables residents to enjoy the perks of urban living without the high price tag.
10. North Bethesda
Another suburb in close proximity to Washington DC is North Bethesda. As a thriving suburban community, residents can enjoy access to local amenities and a balanced cost of living.
Affordable Suburbs With A Metro Stop
There are several cities near Washington, D.C. that have good public transportation options into the city. Some of these cities include:
Arlington, Virginia: Arlington is located just across the river from D.C. and is served by several Metro lines, as well as the ART bus system.
Alexandria, Virginia: Alexandria is located south of D.C. and is served by several Metro stations, as well as the DASH bus system.
Silver Spring, Maryland: Silver Spring is located north of D.C. and is served by several Metro stations, as well as the Ride On bus system.
Bethesda, Maryland: Bethesda is located northwest of D.C. and is served by several Metro stations, as well as the Ride On bus system.
College Park, Maryland: College Park is located northeast of D.C. and is served by several Metro stations, as well as the University of Maryland Shuttle and the Shuttle UM bus system.
All of these cities have good public transportation options that can make commuting into D.C. relatively easy and convenient.
Low Crime Rate
There are several suburbs of Washington, D.C. that are known for having relatively low crime rates. Some of the suburbs with the lowest crime rates in the D.C. area include:
- Vienna, Virginia
- Falls Church, Virginia
- Leesburg, Virginia
- Rockville, Maryland
- Gaithersburg, Maryland
It’s important to note that crime rates can vary within each of these suburbs, and that crime can occur anywhere. It’s always a good idea to take precautions to keep yourself and your property safe, such as locking doors and windows, being aware of your surroundings, and reporting any suspicious activity to the authorities (source: Niche). These are also cities where the cost per square foot will be cheaper than areas that are very close to DC like Bethesda, Arlington or Tenleytown.
Cost of Living Comparison
When considering affordable cities near Washington, DC, it’s essential to compare the cost of living in various suburbs to make an informed decision. Factors like housing, transportation, groceries, and healthcare can significantly impact an area’s affordability.
In this cost of living comparison, Alexandria, Downtown Bethesda and Arlington have a relatively higher cost of living, mainly due to more expensive housing options. North Bethesda, Falls Church, Mosaic and Silver Spring are more affordable than the first three mentioned
When searching for a budget-friendly place to live near Washington, DC, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of each suburb. While some areas may be more wallet-friendly, they might also require longer commutes or come with fewer amenities. Ultimately, personal preferences and requirements will determine the best fit for each individual or family.
Great Nightlife & Restaurants
There are several suburbs of Washington, D.C. that are known for having great restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. Some of these suburbs include:
Bethesda, Maryland: Bethesda is located northwest of D.C. and is known for its bustling downtown area, which is home to a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.
Arlington, Virginia: Arlington is located just across the river from D.C. and has several neighborhoods, such as Clarendon and Ballston, that are known for their lively nightlife scenes.
Silver Spring, Maryland: Silver Spring is located north of D.C. and has a diverse array of restaurants, bars, and music venues, as well as a popular farmers market.
Alexandria, Virginia: Alexandria is located south of D.C. and has a historic downtown area that is home to many restaurants, bars, and shops.
Most Affordable Washington DC Suburbs To Live In: Summary
There are several affordable and attractive cities near Washington, D.C. that offer a variety of amenities, housing options, and commutes to the nation’s capital. Some of the best options include Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Tenleytown, Falls Church, and Silver Spring. Living in parts of DC can be as expensive or even more expensive that parts of New York City. Luckily, the capital of the United States is a vibrant city with many suburbs that have affordable prices when it comes to housing. Some other places in the D.C. metro area to consider, aside from the ones mentioned above, are Congress Heights, Glover Park, Oxon HIll and Takoma Park. Whether you are moving for a new job or to be closer to family, DC is one of the major cities that has many options when it comes to affordable housing units.