Washington DC is among the most expensive destinations in the USA, outranked only by a handful of cities. It's therefore important that those 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 high. That said, as the city is home to lots of young professionals and university students, there are several cheaper accommodation options such as studio apartments and house shares on offer for those on a budget.

Where new arrivals choose to live can also impact their rental costs. Living in a neighbourhood outside the city or even in a town on the border of a neighbouring state will hugely decrease their costs. Although they will have to commute to work, it may be worth it for the cheaper housing options outside of Washington DC.

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 residents opt not to have a car and use public transport or cycle to work instead. The cost of using public transport is based on the day, time and distance travelled, so those travelling long distances at peak travel hours will find themselves shelling out a fair amount to do so. To save on travel costs, it's a good idea to purchase a weekly or monthly travel card.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Washington DC

There are lots of opportunities to enjoy the nightlife, entertainment and eating out in Washington, but prices are high, and these leisure expenses add up over time. That said, for those on a budget or looking to save their hard-earned dollars, there are lots of free cultural attractions available in Washington which can enhance the quality of one's 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, many expat parents choose to send their children to a private or international school. Fees at these schools can be high, so 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 DC in January 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 4,900

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

USD 3,200

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 2,300

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

USD 1,880

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

USD 3.54

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1.18

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.47

Loaf of white bread

USD 3.32

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 16

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 11

Eating out

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

USD 83

Big Mac meal

USD 10

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 4.89


USD 3.43

Bottle of beer (local)

USD 2.44


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

USD 0.16

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 64

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

USD 194


Taxi rate/km

USD 1.34

City-centre public transport fare

USD 2.75

Gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.99