Thriving in the D.C. Area on a Budget
The cost of living in the nation’s capital is notoriously high. In part, this is due to the relatively high cost of rent in and around the city. There are several strategies that savvy savers can implement to ensure they are able to not only survive living in one of the most expensive cities in the country, but also thrive.
The first thing one must do to live in a place that is stylish and affordable is to seek out reliable roommates. Having one or two roommates can be the difference between a small studio apartment in an inconvenient location and more spacious living accommodations in a desirable neighborhood. Finding the right roommate can be a challenge, and it is best to start with a pool of friends, associates or coworkers. At the very least, someone who comes with a recommendation from someone trustworthy within your social or professional network.
A roommate doesn’t just help defray the cost of the actual apartment. They also help make utilities far more manageable. It can make it easier to afford the little things that feel essential, but may not have priority in a tight budget, such as DIRECTV packages. Having a roommate allows both people to have a greater sense of financial security and freedom.
One of the wonderful things about living in the D.C. area is the extraordinary number of free or low cost entertainment options. You could spend countless weekends exploring the local history and cultural opportunities. Each of the Smithsonian museums are entirely free. There are a total of 17 located in D.C. and of these, 11 are on the National Mall. This makes it remarkably easy to spend free time exploring art, history, science, international cultures and music with virtually no personal financial investment.
Bibliophiles could spend several months lost within the walls of the Library of Congress. Not only can visitors see the original Declaration of Independence, but there are also guided tours, exhibitions, concerts, lectures, reading rooms and a variety of seasonal events. Other well-known locations such as the Supreme Court, National Mall and local parks have free events almost every day. This makes it easy for those who are looking for love in the nation’s capital to have wildly romantic dates on a tight budget.
A robust public transportation system is one of the numerous benefits of living in the D.C. area. The Metro system offers an extensive system of rail and bus lines that make it easy to travel throughout the city without a personal car. This can offer substantial savings in annual transportation costs, especially if you use the system wisely.
Another way to reduce one’s personal need for a private vehicle is to take advantage of the thriving Uber network within the city. Even if you don’t live near a Metro line that will get you to work or your entertainment selection, it is remarkably easy to find an Uber or Lyft to take you directly to your destination or to the most convenient Metro stop.
The foodie scene in D.C. is exceptional. There are numerous upscale restaurants that are likely out of the question for anyone living on a tight budget, but there are also many smaller gems hidden throughout the city. No matter what type of cuisine you like, you will be able to find it in every price range. What is most surprising is how affordable the lesser known spots can be.
If you really want to take your taste buds on a culinary adventure, you absolutely must become acquainted with the food trucks of D.C. There are regular locations in all major areas around the city and the types of food offered reflect the global diversity of the city. Those who are willing to do a bit of research can find everything from Korean barbeque, Middle Eastern kabobs, vegan sweets and southern ribs waiting for them along the streets of the city.
The key to thriving in D.C. on a budget lies in flexibility and creativity. One must be willing to live with a roommate and often be flexible in the location of the neighborhood. Creativity is required in seeking out entertainment and amazing dining opportunities, but the variety available makes it a joy rather than a burden.
Article by Layla Davis