Washington, D.C., is ranked the fourth-most expensive city for renters in the United States. and sixth globally, according to a study released last month by Nested, a London-based online realtor and property research service.
Nested compared the average price of renting per square foot of property across 72 cities worldwide in its annual rental affordability index. A single person renting in the District can expect to pay $1,397.90 per month on average, requiring an annual income of at least $57,670.76.
For a family of four, rental costs soar to $2,652.44 per month, and a combined income of at least $109,756.14 is required. The price per square foot of property was calculated based on the average market rate for apartments, condominiums and houses in each of the cities included in the study.
Nested conducts the survey each year to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing in cities worldwide.
“The comprehensive study was undertaken in order to understand the costs associated with renting as an individual and as a family, and to determine whether cities are becoming increasingly unaffordable,” the survey said.
According to the United States Social Security Administration’s most recent Average Wage Index, the average wage for Americans is $46,119.78. However, the SSA data show that about 67 percent of wage earners earned less than or equal to this number, making the District’s rental costs out of reach for most ordinary Americans.
The Georgetown Office of Neighborhood Life Director Cory Peterson said it is important for students to be aware of how to find affordable, safe housing that best meets their needs.
Peterson said the ONL has worked to get over 150 properties inspected and licensed with D.C.’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which sets health and safety laws for student housing.
“Over spring break this year, ONL sent postcards to all sophomores to make sure students considering living off campus are aware of all the resources available to them,” Peterson said. “ONL encourages students to consider their options carefully — to shop around, talk to the ONL team and know their rights as tenants.”
Georgetown students have expressed frustration with housing prices in the Georgetown and Burleith neighborhoods.
Bianca DiSanto (MSB ’17) said she decided to live in university housing during her senior year because she found it to be a cheaper housing option than living off campus. (Full disclosure: DiSanto was a columnist for The Hoya last semester.)
“While I initially planned to move off campus for senior year, as my housing group began looking at the options available it quickly became obvious that the average rent for west Georgetown townhouses was well above what it would cost to live on campus,” DiSanto said. “As a result, we decided to just take our chances in entering the university’s townhouse lottery, and luckily it worked out for us.”
Adriana Kranjac (NHS ’17) chose to move off campus and said she has struggled with the cost of living in Georgetown as well as interacting with her private landlord.
“My rent is ridiculously high; it’s like robbery,” Kranjac said.
However, Clare Kelly (COL ’17) lives in Burleith and said she believes living off campus presents a better value for money for students.
“My rent is actually still a little lower than on-campus housing prices through Georgetown. which is why I decided it was possible to live off campus,” Kelly said. “There are definitely a lot of interesting and challenging issues surrounding housing for people in the greater D.C. area because of the definition of affordable and who or what kinds of people are intended to be given access to such spaces.”
Tori Morgan (COL’17), who also lives in Burleith, agreed that it is an affordable option for students who want to live off campus.
“I calculated last year that living off campus for an academic year was about $250 cheaper than living on campus, which is not a huge difference in price,” Morgan said. “That said, the square footage that my rent buys me is strikingly more than what I could get on campus.”