What D.C. Zip Codes are Paying the Most of Their Salaries in Rent?

We all know that residents of the nation’s capital pay some of the highest rent in the country. Across the entire D.C. area right now, renters are paying around $2,050 for a one bedroom on RadPad. However, we wanted to go a step further to see which residents in the D.C. metro area are paying the highest percentage of their salaries in rent each month.

To do this we examined thousands of active one-bedroom listings across zip codes in D.C. on our marketplace to get a median one-bedroom apartment price for each postal number. We then utilized 2015 U.S. Census Data with help from Income by Zip Code to get median household income numbers for each of the same zip codes. From there, we were able to calculate what percentage of monthly take home pay residents from each zip code (after taxes for a single filer) are spending on rent. Here’s a look at what we found:

radpad-dc-income-rentTweet Data/Graphic

As you can see from the graphic above, the highest percentage of take home income being spent on rent is largely in the zip codes and neighborhoods that make up the east side of the District of Columbia. This is especially noticeable in the southeast side of the city, in areas including:

20032 (53% of income on rent): Out of all the zip codes we looked at, the areas of Congress Heights and Washington Highlands, which make up the 20032 zip code on D.C.’s southern border with Maryland, had the lowest median household income ($34,060). In a city like Washington, D.C., that makes following the rule of thumb that you should be spending less than 30% of your take home pay on living costs pretty difficult. Although there are some signs (especially in Congress Heights) that the quality of life may be improving in the area, a large percentage of residents live in public and low-income apartment complexes.

However, even with the third cheapest one-bedroom rent of any zip code we looked at ($1,116/Mo), renters here are spending nearly 53% of their after tax income on living costs. Of course this issue isn’t isolated to D.C. alone for low-income renter households. Data released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University earlier this year illustrated that 60% of all renter households earn less than $50,000. Furthermore, a third of all renter households earn less than $25,000 a year.

20020 & 20019 (46%): Things aren’t much better as you move northeast into the 20020 and 20019 zip codes. Neighborhoods such as Southeast Washington, Woodland, Anacostia, Garfield Heights, Buena Vista, Greenway, Deanwood, Fort Dupont, Capitol View and Grant Park make up this area. Even though residents in these neighborhoods are paying the lowest on one-bedroom apartments in the entire city ($1,016/Mo & $1,005/Mo), they still are spending 46% of their income on living costs. This is because residents within these zip codes are making the second and third least in median household incomes across the city ($35K).

20018 (44%): As you move a bit further northwest into the areas of Brentwood, Woodridge and Gateway, things get slightly better. However, while median household income for residents in these neighborhoods jumps to $55,210, so does one-bedroom rent ($1,435/Mo). That means that folks here are still spending 44% of their take home income each month on rent.

20002 (43%): Just a bit south in the areas of  Northeast Washington, Stanton Park, Lincoln Park, and Carver/Langston, residents are paying even more on rent ($1,681/Mo). Despite having a bit more in household income ($68,924), that means residents are doing about the same as their neighbors to the north – spending 43% of take home income on rent.

The Hardest Hit in the Wallet By Rent

20010 (62%): Despite the living cost struggles for those on the east and southern sections of the city, there was actually one zip code that is markedly worse off than the others. That would be the 20010 zip code made up by Park View, Columbia Heights and Mt Pleasant. Located in central Washington, D.C., just north of Howard University, even the Washington Post has written stories on why you should live in Park View. However, growing demand in the area – and its proximity to gentrifying neighborhoods like Columbia Heights – is making it tough for its middle class residents to keep up with the rent bill on their wages. Those across the 20010 zip code are making $66,859 in median household income. While that is considerably more than those on the southeastern neighborhoods of D.C., it’s firmly in the middle income tier according to PEW’s middle class calculator for a single filer in the D.C. metro area. Problem is, rents in the area are skyrocketing with increased demand, becoming the second most expensive zip code for finding a one-bedroom apartment in the city ($2,356/Mo). All this leads to the 62% of take home income renters are spending to live here! New homeowners in the area aren’t doing much better either.

20005 (53%): One other zip code that’s allocating a lot of their monthly take-home pay to rent is the small area that makes up Downtown and Logan Circle. The latter, which is designated as a D.C. historic landmark, is the only area downtown that remains entirely residential. That, along with its row houses, makes it the most expensive zip code to currently rent within in the nation’s capital ($2,386/Mo).

Least Income Impacted by Rent

20016 (29%): Only three of the zip codes we looked at across D.C. made it below the 30% mark of take home income spent on rent. Not surprisingly, they’re also all in the top three of zip codes with the highest median incomes. The first was those living on the northwest section of the city in Palisades, Cathedral Heights and American University Park. Folks here are making median salaries of $122,087 per household. However, they’re also paying the sixth most in rent of any zip code in D.C. ($1,858/Mo). This brings them in right below the 30% barrier, paying 29% of their take home income on rent each month.

20015 (20%): Folks northeast of the 20016 are doing slightly better in the wallet. Residents in Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase are taking home the most median household income of any zip code across the D.C. metro area ($154,444). If they happen to not be buying in the affluent area and are renting that money will stretch a long way. That’s because it’s only the 13th most expensive zip code in the city to currently rent ($1,570/Mo).

20004 (20%): Finally, the centrally located 20004 zip code is primarily made up residentially by Penn Quarter. On the northwest side of the zip code is the commercial Metro Center Shopping District. Although folks here are making slightly less ($132,083) than their fellow residents in the Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase, they’re also paying less in rent (note: there isn’t a huge amount of supply in the area though). Current median one-bedrooms in the area are going for $1,356 — just the 18th most expensive in the DC area.

Trying to spend less on rent in D.C. today? Search current apartment listings on RadPad here!