For people who are new to the area or even people who have lived in DC a long time, it can be tough to decide where to live in DC. Knowing where to live in DC is tough because the neighborAfter all, there are a ton of different neighborhoods across the District’s four quadrants, each with their unique atmospheres and eccentricities.
That’s why we put together a 2020 guide of some of the top choices for places to live in Washington DC. Some of these neighborhoods are long-standing recommendations that have held their value over the years — some are up-and-coming areas that are perfect for first-time home buyers or investors!
The Best of DC (For the Price)
Dupont Circle is part glamorous grand dame and part public park, and she is always on the go. In bouquiniste-fashion, Connecticut Avenue vendors sell trinkets and share sidewalk space with swanky chocolate shops like Chocolate House and Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, a claustrophobic but beloved bookstore and coffee shop Harry Potter would find familiar.
A densely-built region with little space to spare, there’s not much in Dupont that’s brand new. Homes in the area are a mix of brick row houses and mid-sized apartment buildings. The most common properties in the neighborhood are condos, most of which are in converted row houses that have been divided into two, three or four units. The larger multi-unit buildings of the neighborhood may offer cheaper condo alternatives than the rowhouse conversions, but because most were built in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, many have common spaces that reflect the time they were constructed and don’t share the charm of hundred-year-old row houses. Individual row houses—mostly built around the turn of the century, but since renovated or at least updated—do come up for sale, but with a million-plus price point that puts them out of reach for many buyers. Rentals are widely available in the area; most units are in buildings housing 20-60 units, but English basements are fairly common as well. The rent on a one-bedroom ranges from $1,700 to $2,500.
You might want to live in Dupont if…
You want to live in the action! You don’t mind noise or being near busy roadways.
Dupont Circle is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the DMV, rated at an 98 Walkscore. Any Dupont Circle resident can do all their daily tasks and errands by foot or using the easily-accessible public transit options.
If you want in the action, walkable to everything, amazing resturants, and retail everywhere Dupont Circle is the neighborhood for you!
Finding a suburban-esque neighborhood inside the city limits is practically unheard of unless prospective homeowners look in Friendship Heights, D.C. This unique neighborhood is full of retail shopping, restaurants and public transportation, making it an ideal neighborhood for both fun and convenience.
Residents can find nearly every type of housing in Friendship Heights, from apartments in high-rise buildings to traditional, single-family homes. Apartments range from sprawling four-bedroom affairs to smaller, compact studio apartments. Like the rest of D.C., Friendship Heights real estate also includes block after block of row houses. Subdivisions are common, so Friendship Heights townhomes may retain all of their original square footage or have separate entrances to accommodate multiple tenants. A quick walk through the neighborhood presents many housing options.
With all of the housing available, it’s no surprise that one of the big draws for the Friendship Heights neighborhood is the food and shopping. Friendship Heights restaurants range from quick and casual to elevated fare. Clyde’s is a neighborhood favorite, with train decor that’s unique to the Friendship Heights location. For shopping, residents can head to Wisconsin Avenue. With both the Mazza Gallerie and Chevy Chase Pavilion to choose from, locals have an abundance of retail therapy at their doorsteps. Shopping ranges from big box retail to high-end designer, with a little bit of everything in between.
You might want to live in Friendship Heights if…
You want to live in the city with a hint of the suburban life.
Frienship Heights despite its suburban feel is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the DMV, rated at an 91 walkscore.
It is almost impossible to find this perfect mesh of suburban quite life with the walkability and access to entertainment of the city. Friendship Heights is the perfect combination of both.
MY NEIGHBORHOOD! Located in the Northwest Quadrant of DC, Petworth is a tightly-knit community known for its unique atmosphere and convenient location. The neighborhood is currently undergoing evolution from an undiscovered (if a bit rough) gem into a truly blossoming area. We placed it on our list of the top 3 up and coming neighborhoods in dc and our interest in the area has only grown.
Petworth is a great neighborhood for home searchers for a vibrant place to live — residents have plenty of options for great dining and nightlife, as well as convenient transportation options to the rest of DC. Also, Petworth is famous for having plenty of community events. Many of these festivals, such as Celebrate Petworth, are centered around local arts. People who love to support local musicians, craftspeople, and artisans will adore the community atmosphere in Petworth.
The up-and-coming chic neighborhood is also a haven for bibliophiles who are trying to find where to live in DC. Many consider the Petworth Neighborhood Library to be one of the best libraries in DC, and spots like Loyalty Bookstore and Petworth Citizen & Reading Room are wonderful places to get cozy with your new favorite read.
Notably, Petworth has retained relatively low housing costs, though they are beginning to climb. That means that a home in Petworth is a great option for people interested in turning their house into an investment, or for those who are looking for where to live in DC on a budget. Most of the properties available for purchase in Petworth are either townhouses or single-family homes.
You might want to live in Petworth if…
You want to take advantage of low housing prices without sacrificing nightlife options. You don’t mind noise or being near busy roadways.
Petworth is one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the DMV, rated at an 85 Walkscore. Many Petworth residents can do all their daily tasks and errands by foot or using the easily-accessible public transit options.
One of the highest-rated schools near the Petworth neighborhood is E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, which received a Greatschools rating of 8. This award-winning public charter school was founded in honor of Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics. Dr. Haynes taught in the DC public school system for nearly 50 years and chaired the DCBoard of Education in 1966. Her dedication to accessible learning materials lives on in Petworth, both through the E.L. Haynes PCS and the neighborhood’s book-loving culture.
Though the Edgewood neighborhood (along with its neighbor, Brookland) is most famous for its grand Catholic churches and soaring architecture, it is also an epicenter of artistic expression and culinary excellence in DC. Edgewood is home to the Catholic University of America, originally founded in 1887, and the area around the school maintains a distinctly collegiate feel. The green spaces of CUA’s 193-acre campus mirror the tree-lined streets of Edgewood and Brookland. The Romanesque stone behemoths of Catholic University and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception nicely contrast with the modern beauty of the Monroe Street Market.
The Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market offers art lovers a chance to watch local artisans practice their craft, with all manner of hand-made arts and crafts for sale. If you prefer taking in performances, you can walk a few blocks over to Dance Place to catch one of their contemporary shows. Finish off the day by sampling a local brew at one of the many pubs that dot the neighborhood, such as Brookland Pint.
You might want to live in Edgewood (and Brookland) if…
You love beautiful, traditional architecture and want to be near the Basilica. You don’t mind being surrounded by a collegiate atmosphere and want to celebrate local artists and crafts.
This neighborhood is highly walkable and bikeable, with a 75 Walkscore and 74 Bikescore. Most daily tasks and errands are easy to accomplish by foot or bike, especially because of convenient access to public transit via the Brookland-CUA station of the Washington Metrorail system.
One of the top-rated public charter schools in DC, the DC Preparatory Academy, has campuses in Edgewood. The middle school campus was awarded an overall score of 8 by Greatschools, with particular praise for student test scores and their efforts to serve disadvantaged students.
For years, the H-Street Corridor was a site of sorrow for many Washingtonians. The area, which had once been a cultural center in Northeast DC, was heavily impacted by civil unrest during the late 1960s, particularly the riots that took the city in 1968. In the aftermath, H-Street was largely unaided by the District’s cultural rejuvenation, and many people avoided the neighborhood through the close of the 20th century.
In the last two decades, however, the H-Street Corridor has risen from the ashes to become a hotbed of cultural activity, community spirit, and small business growth. Historic artistic centers, such as the Atlas Theater (now the Atlas Performing Arts Center) and the Apollo Theater (now the site of the Apollo apartments) served as the anchors for this re-emergence.
The H-Street corridor is one of the hottest, most exciting areas for investors in the DC area, because of the amazing potential return.
You might want to live on H-Street NE if…
You are interested in turning your home into an investment opportunity, or you want to be in the center of a cultural revival in DC.
H-Street is an incredibly convenient neighborhood for pedestrian traffic, with a 93 Walkscore and 95 Bikescore — it is rated in the top 10 most walkable areas in all of Washington DC! This ease of foot transport, when combined with the accessibility of public transit options, means that residents of the area can easily accomplish all daily tasks without dealing with DC’s automotive traffic.
For most people outside of DC (and probably some of the District’s residents, too), Georgetown is most famous for the university of the same name. However, anyone who spends more than a few minutes in among the gorgeous architecture, cobblestone streets, and historic charm of the neighborhood will tell you that there is far more to Georgetown than educational excellence.
Located along the Potomac River, and conveniently close to the heart of DC and Arlington alike, Georgetown is a hot spot for commercial and cultural activity. Georgetown is a historic neighborhood that existed as an independent municipality before the creation of Washington DC. The area still maintains many wonderfully kept structures from the early republic, and the entire neighborhood was designated as a National Historic Landmark District in 1967. The selection committee gave Georgetown this laudable designation due to the large concentration of colonial and federal architecture.
As you might expect, given the numerous notable features of the neighborhood, Georgetown draws a lot of varied crowds. There’s something for everyone in the area, making it a popular place to live in DC.
You might want to live in Georgetown if…
You want to reside in a premium neighborhood with an amazing location and fantastic proximity to DC and Arlington.
Georgetown is conveniently accessible for pedestrians, with a Walkscore of 83 and a Bikescore of 71. There are relatively fewer public transit options in Georgetown than the above neighborhoods; Georgetown residents can access the Metro system via the stations in Foggy Bottom or Rosslyn , but there is no dedicated station in Georgetown itself.
One of DC’s highest-rated public schools, the School Without Walls High School, serves the Georgetown neighborhood. The School Without Walls was awarded an outstanding score of 10 by Greatschools, due to students’ college preparation levels and above-average test scores. This unique public magnet school is located on the campus of George Washington University, so students are surrounded by an atmosphere of academic success while attending the School Without Walls.
In the rapidly-developing Northeast quadrant of DC is the hip neighborhood of NoMa, named for its location North of Massachusetts Avenue NE. NoMa originally came to prominence due to its transportation options. There are two metro stations in NoMa — Union Station and NoMa-Gallaudet U — both of which service the Red Line. Union Station also sees 3 routes of the DC Circulator bus service, making it a breeze to travel to and from the NoMa neighborhood.
On the eastern edge of NoMa is Union Market, a food hall that is swiftly gaining a stellar reputation among DC’s gourmands. Unlike many other large-scale eateries, Union Market offers residents and visitors the opportunity to grab a quick bite and pick up specialized groceries to prepare unique dishes at home. The area around the market is a hot spot of activity, with several unique options for food and entertainment. If you are looking for where to live in DC, but don’t want to limit your access to the rest of the city, make sure to check out the NoMa neighborhood!
You might want to live in NoMa if…
You are a true foodie who is always looking to broaden your horizons or learn how to cook a new delicacy. You want to have plenty of transportation options so you can get anywhere else in DC with ease.
Just like the nearby H-Street, NoMa is an incredibly convenient neighborhood for pedestrian traffic, with a 93 Walkscore and 95 Bikescore. This ease of foot transport, when combined with the accessibility of public transit options, means that residents of the area can avoid being stuck in DC’s infamous car traffic while going about their daily tasks and completing errands.
NoMa residents praise the nearby Two Rivers Public Charter School, whose students rank well in test scores and year-by-year improvement. Two Rivers PCS encourages students to expand their critical reasoning abilities through open-ended problem solving and hands-on, interactive instruction opportunities.
Directly to the north of NoMa is Eckington, another one of our favorite up-and-coming neighborhoods to keep an eye on. Some people consider Eckington to be a subset of the NoMa neighborhood, but it has a unique atmosphere that is distinct from the more active NoMa area.
Eckington is a relatively quiet neighborhood, with beautiful elm trees lining the streets and beautiful, colorful row houses. Residents can enjoy the conveniences of downtown DC — thanks to the nearby NoMa-Gallaudet Metro Station — without sacrificing peace. The neighborhood is predominantly inhabited by young professionals, many of whom refer to Eckington as DC’s “Quiet Little Secret.”
Although Eckington is largely a residential neighborhood with relatively few options for dining and nightlife, residents can easily access restaurants and entertainment in nearby neighborhoods. In addition to the options provided by the Metro, Eckington has Capital Bikeshare stations. Eckingtonians can use these communally shared bikes, along with DC’s great cycling infrastructure, to easily get around the nearby communities.
If you are looking for a quiet, cozy neighborhood that won’t prevent you from enjoying the city life of DC, make sure to check out the Eckington neighborhood!
You might want to live in Eckington if…
You want to live in a quiet area, but don’t want to give up public transit options or convenient access to downtown DC. You aren’t necessarily looking to turn your home into a long-term investment.
Like nearby neighborhoods, Eckington is highly walkable, with a Walkscore of 84. However, the area shines for cyclists, bearing a Bikescore of 90 due to abundant bike lanes and relatively flat terrain.
The nearby Benjamin Banneker Academic High School is one of the top-rated educational institutions in DC, with a Greatschools rating of 10. The school consistently receives top marks for college preparedness, test scores, and measures to help disadvantaged students.