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DC ranks among world’s most expensive rental markets

A London-based real estate firm Nested study found that the typical cost of renting an apartment in D.C. comes to $3.33 per square foot. That's the fourth highest in the United States, and the sixth most expensive rental cost worldwide. (AP File Photo/David Zalubowski)

WASHINGTON — A new study breaks down the absurd cost of renting every inch of an apartment. And whether renters make use of that space or not, they are definitely paying for it.

London-based real estate firm Nested completed the study and found that the typical cost of renting an apartment in D.C. comes to $3.33 per square foot. That’s the fourth highest in the United States, and the sixth most expensive rental cost worldwide.

So what do D.C. apartment dwellers get for that high cost per square foot? Not much.

A 420-square-foot apartment, roughly the size of many studio apartments and not much bigger than the “microunits” starting to pop up in the District, comes out to almost $1,400 a month.

For a family of four trying to squeeze into an 800-square-foot apartment, rent has climbed to more than $2,600 a month.

The small sizes of those apartments aren’t an arbitrary figure either. They’re the minimum living space recommended by the Greater London Authority’s housing standards.

Paying for those rents isn’t easy either. Basing it off an English university’s standard that says rent should eat up no more than 29 percent of income, renters would need to make more than $57,000 to live comfortably in that small D.C. apartment by themselves.

That hypothetical family of four would need to bring in nearly $110,000 to keep rent within the 29 percent threshold. The reality is that it’s not uncommon for rent to eat up a much greater percentage of someone’s salary however.

Nationwide, the study finds the cost per square foot to rent an apartment in D.C. is eclipsed by San Francisco, New York and Boston. After D.C., the next highest rents are found in Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. Worldwide, San Francisco and New York still top the list, with Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore rounding out the top five.

Find the full study results here.


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