A wide variety of housing is available throughout the Washington DC area. However, real estate in the metropolitan DC area can be costly. If cost is a key issue, remember that the farther away from the city, the less expensive the housing. If you rely on public transportation, keep in mind that living in the city requires less travel time. If you own a car, you should know that parking is generally a problem in the city, as street parking is scarce and garages often cost approximately $10 per day. Many interns prefer to live in Northwest DC, or in Virginia or Maryland, near a metro stop. Listed below are brief descriptions of some neighborhoods in and around metropolitan Washington, DC.
Northwest (NW): The largest area of the District, it is composed of several contrasting neighborhoods, including older areas and those being modernized and renovated. Most neighborhoods within Northwest, DC are served by both Metrobuses and the Metrorail system. As neighborhoods do vary within the city, visitors are well advised to visit the prospective home and investigate the neighborhood in order to assess the safety of the area. Commuting time varies throughout this area, but generally ranges from 10-40 minutes. The following are individual descriptions of neighborhoods in NW DC:
Adams Morgan: This is an urban area near Dupont Circle and Kalorama, centered around Columbia Roads & 18th St., NW. Adams Morgan20has a diverse population, both ethnic & economic - students, young families, diplomatic officials, recent immigrants & longtime residents of the District. The neighborhood is very culturally diverse with many international restaurants & markets, including the Latin Market on Sunday, plus many inexpensive shops & free festivals. Adams Morgan is also referred to as Washington Heights, Dupont Circle North or Mount Pleasant. Housing options and prices vary enormously. Adams Morgan is an easy walk from the Woodley Park stop on Metrorail's Red Line or the U Street-Cardozo stop on the Green Line.
Cleveland Park: Cleveland Park is a well-to-do historic neighborhood of single-family houses and large apartment buildings. While housing is relatively expensive, there are some large apartment buildings on Connecticut Avenue where summer sublets may be possible. The Cleveland Park Metro stop is conveniently located in an attractive area of small stores, restaurants, and a classic movie theater.
Dupont Circle: The Circle is actually the entire area around the intersection of Connecticut and Massachusetts Avenues, surrounded by Foggy Bottom to the south, and Adams Morgan to the north. Dupont Circle is a busy office and luxury shopping area, as well as an urban cultural center. The streets and avenues that radiate from Dupont Circle offer many types of accommodations at various prices, from older high-rises to smaller apartment buildings to basement apartments or private rooms in a home. The neighborhood is conveniently served by Metrorail's Dupont Circle stop on the Red Line.
Foggy Bottom: Foggy Bottom is George Washington University's campus and surrounding neighborhood. Housing is expensive and limited. Advantages to living in this area include a close proximity to the GW campus, The White House, The Kennedy Center, Watergate Hotel, Pennsylvania Avenue, museums, government agencies, and national associations. Housing options include high-rise apartments and townhouses. Dupont Circle West and the West End may also be considered part of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. Metrorail's Orange and Blue Lines stop at Foggy Bottom
Friendship Heights: The area located around upper Wisconsin Avenue, this neighborhood is located on the DC/Maryland border. This posh area contains luxury high-rises, elegant boutiques, lots of restaurants, and two large shopping malls. Some opportunities may exist for renting a room in a group house or a basement apartment in a private home, but rental rates on average are high. Friendship Heights surrounds Wisconsin Avenue, with regular bus service and a Metrorail station on the Red Line.
Georgetown: The Georgetown shopping area caters to tourists, students and young adults, but housing in this area is expensive and at a premium. Occasionally townhouses are available to rent by several visitors who share the cost. Families sometimes rent individual rooms, or basement apartments in their private homes. This area can be reached by any bus on Pennsylvania Avenue, but is not directly served by Metrorail.
Glover Park: This neighborhood is a quiet, secluded area located just above Georgetown within walking distance of American University and the National Cathedral. The population of Glover Park consists of students, young professionals and "thirty-something" families. Group houses abound in this area, along with smaller garden apartments at reasonable rates. There are many restaurants and shops, and metrobus transportation is available. Glover Park may also be referred to as Cathedral, Observatory, and Upper Georgetown. It is served by the Wisconsin Avenue bus, but is a good walk from the nearest Metrorail station, at Cleveland Park.
Logan Circle: The area around this Circle, north of downtown and east of Dupont Circle, consists mainly of Victorian mansions, many of which are currently being renovated and revitalized. Due to its proximity to downtown DC, this area has a mixture of accommodations, some considered safer than others. Prices are affordable, but visitors are advised to visit the neighborhood to decide upon their comfort level.
Penn Quarter: North of Pennsylvania Avenue, NW in the heart of Downtown, lies a revitalized community of eclectic art galleries, numerous new restaurants and engaging attractions including the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, National Building Museum, US Navy Memorial, Ford's Theatre, International Spy Museum and the Shakespeare Theatre. Prices are high, but many of DC’s attractions are within walking distance.
Woodley Park: Woodley Park is a comfortable neighborhood of town houses and large apartment buildings. It is north of Dupont Circle, south of Cleveland Park, and west of Adams-Morgan. Like Cleveland Park, housing is relatively expensive, but the convenience of the area may be worthy. Metrorail's Red Line station at Woodley Park is in the middle of a small but attractive shopping area.
Northeast (NE): This is the area around Catholic and Gallaudet Universities and Union Station, a large shopping and dining complex housing the Amtrak train terminal. Neighborhoods in NE do vary greatly and should be explored as an option. Housing is generally less expensive, if less luxurious. Metrobuses travel regularly through all major arteries within Northeast, and the Green and Red Lines of Metrorail service neighborhoods of this area.
Southeast (SE): The neighborhood most famous in this area is "Capitol Hill", location of the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress and many other major government offices. Southeast is a very historic area, consisting of important federal buildings and residences representing diverse architectural styles. Housing options and prices in Southeast vary greatly. Public transportation via metro buses and the Metrorail system are available on a frequent basis with Orange/Blue Line stations at Capitol South and Eastern Market.
Southwest (SW): This is the downtown area near the Smithsonian museums on the Mall and Washington's waterfront. Southwest includes a wide range of economic and ethnic groups and is the location of many federal office buildings. Housing may be available in apartment complexes in this area at reasonable rates. Public transportation exists in the way of metrobuses and the Metrorail system with a Green Line stop at Waterfront, Blue/Orange Line stops at Smithsonian, and Blue/Orange/Yellow/Green Line stops at L=Enfant Plaza.
Bethesda, Maryland: The downtown of Bethesda is rapidly being developed and has a very urban feeling. The Bethesda stop on Metro’s Red Line is centrally located on Wisconsin Avenue. There are many large, new apartment buildings, some of which are rental, but in general the rents in Bethesda will be higher than other neighborhoods in DC and Maryland. There are many restaurants in Bethesda, of all types and price ranges.
Silver Spring, Maryland: Located on the other end of the horseshoe loop of the Red Line on Metro from Bethesda, but not far geographically, Silver Spring is less developed and less upscale than its neighbors in Montgomery County: Chevy Chase and Bethesda. Several large apartment buildings are convenient to the shopping district on Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue. Metro’s Silver Spring stop is central to, and above it all here, where the subway is actually elevated.
Takoma Park, Maryland: Takoma Park is also on the Red Line of Metro, but farther to the east, across the border from the Northeast quadrant of DC. The Takoma Park Metro stop is near a small, low key central shopping area. Takoma Park, also known as the Peoples’ Republic of Takoma, prides itself on its liberal reputation as an environmentally conscious, politically liberal neighborhood of comfortable older single-family homes.
Alexandria, Virginia: Alexandria, an attractive historic city, offers a wide price range in housing and a wide variety in types of housing, although many landlords may not advertise in newspapers. Many visitors, young adults, and historic, established families live in Alexandria. The main thoroughfare from DC to Alexandria, Shirley Highway (Memorial and 14th St. Bridges) is very crowded during rush hour. A key attraction of Alexandria is Old Town, a restored colonial area with a wide array of shops, restaurants, and other attractions. The Yellow and Blue Lines on Metrorail make three stops in the Alexandria area.
North Arlington, Virginia: Arlington is an inner suburb of Washington, immediately across the Potomac in Northern Virginia. There are many types of relatively inexpensive housing in North Arlington including townhouses, garden apartments, large high-rises, luxury apartments, duplexes, and individual homes. Rents are typically lower in Virginia than in DC. North Arlington is served by several stops on Metrorail's Orange Line.
South Arlington, Virginia: There are many moderately priced accommodations in South Arlington. As in North Arlington, there are varied types of housing. Crystal City is a section of high-rises off of US Route 1 overlooking the Potomac River and accessible by Metrorail on the Blue Line. A new development of apartment complexes has been built at Pentagon City, adjacent to the Fashion Centre shopping mall and also accessible on the Blue Line.
Important features in looking for an apartment:
Location near a Metro stop A short-term lease Security Furnished (it’s easier to get something that’s already furnished, but you can lease furniture as well) Convenience to services important to you; grocery stores, laundromats, transportation services Maintenance within living area
One of the most convenient housing options is subletting from students who attend area universities. The down sides of subletting are that you may not have an official contract with a landlord and you will have to deal with issues such as separating phone bills. The positives are that you will have an automatic short-term lease, sublets are usually partial, if not fully furnished, and most are located in areas with other students or interns. The universities and their web sites listed below contain apartment listings and some have helpful search engines.