From Columbia Heights to Navy Yard, Washington D.C. is full of up-and-coming neighborhoods known for great restaurants, parks, museums, monuments and more.
D.C.’s unique position as the center of political and government affairs makes it a great location to work. Still, the high cost of living (not to mention the traffic, noise and other common city problems) means that many people choose not to live in the city itself.
Luckily, several cities near Washington D.C. offer more bang for your buck. These cities all offer their own charms, with the added benefit of being only a quick drive or Metro ride to D.C.
- Arlington, VA
- Silver Spring, MD
- Hyattsville, MD
- Bethesda, MD
- Alexandria, VA
- McLean, VA
- Fairfax, VA
- Fort Washington, MD
- Rockville, MD
- Clarksburg, MD
- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 4.9 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $2,152 (down 7.1 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,918 (down 10.9 percent since last year)
If you want the excitement of city life without the high rent, Arlington is ideal. Just a short trip across the Potomac River from D.C., Arlington has both residential suburbs and high-rise apartment homes.
The neighborhoods of Crystal City and Pentagon City offer close access to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, while Rosslyn, Ballston, Clarendon and Courthouse are known for their nightlife and food scenes.
Arlington is home to significant locations such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the Army Navy Country Club. Nature lovers can enjoy plane-spotting at Gravelly Point Park or hiking at Theodore Roosevelt Island, a hidden island oasis only accessible from Arlington.
The Metro’s Blue, Yellow, Orange and Silver lines all run through different parts of Arlington, making it highly accessible from D.C., Maryland and other parts of Virginia. If you’re new to the D.C. Metro system, check out this beginner’s guide.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 6.4 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,625 (down 13.7 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,946 (down 16.0 percent since last year)
Named after a mica-flecked spring found there in 1840, Silver Spring is in Maryland just north of the D.C. border. Apartment prices in Silver Spring are much more affordable than in many nearby cities, so it’s a good choice for single adults and young families who are looking to get the most value for their money.
Silver Spring is a growing center for art and culture; it’s home to the American Film Institute Silver Theater and Cultural Center, which focuses on independent, foreign and classic films. In Downtown Silver Spring, the Fillmore music venue hosts more modern artists and bands, attracting a younger crowd.
Downtown Silver Spring, a walkable area full of restaurants, shops and attractions, offers a small taste of city life without the traffic and crowds that go with it. The neighborhood also has a Metro station for easy access to downtown D.C.
Silver Spring is quite a diverse city — ranking fifth in a study of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 6.8 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,703 (down 0.7 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,985 (up 4.1 percent since last year)
As a suburb of D.C., Hyattsville is a colorful yet quiet city located in Prince George’s County, MD. The city is part of the Gateway Arts District, a two-mile corridor of art and entertainment attractions that offers tax breaks for artists living within it.
The University of Maryland, College Park, is direct to the north of Hyattsville, making Hyattsville a popular day trip destination for college students. Some of the more popular spots include the Mall at Prince Georges, the Regal Hyattsville Royale and restaurants such as Olive Garden, Busboys and Poets and Franklins.
Hyattsville has two Metro Stations, West Hyattsville and Prince George’s Plaza, which offer easy access to College Park, MD., and downtown D.C.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 7.0 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $2,280 (down 10.6 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $3,059 (down 20.4 percent since last year)
Bethesda is an affluent area of Maryland, populated mainly by families and young professionals.
As part of Montgomery County, Bethesda boasts highly rated public schools like Walt Whitman High School and Walter Johnson High School, as well as several private schools.
It’s important to note that Bethesda is one of the more expensive cities in the area, so it’s not unusual to find higher rent prices than in some parts of D.C.
Downtown Bethesda is an urban center that is home to retail, dining and high-rise office buildings. Many government and military organizations operate in Bethesda, including the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 7.5 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $2,040 (down 11.3 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,526 (down 6.6 percent since last year)
This beautiful city is on the Potomac River, just south of Arlington. Alexandria is very family-friendly, with many parks and green spaces to enjoy.
One of the first historic districts designated in the U.S., Old Town Alexandria is the perfect fusion of art, culture and history. There, you can walk along cobblestone streets, visit quaint boutiques and sample local restaurants.
You can even catch a water taxi up the Potomac River to National Harbor in Maryland or The Wharf and Georgetown in D.C.
In terms of employment, Alexandria is home to Amazon’s HQ2, which has rapidly increased the opportunities available. With three Metro stations in Alexandria, you can also easily commute into D.C. and Southern Maryland or other parts of Virginia.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 10.6 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,994 (down 10.4 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,546 (down 10.1 percent since last year)
McLean is east of Washington D.C., directly across the Potomac River from Bethesda, MD. The city is relatively affluent, with many historic homes and mansions. With its growing diversity, it’s an ideal location for those who want a more suburban living experience while still being close to everything D.C. has to offer.
Nature lovers will be happy to hear that McLean is home to Great Falls Park, which offers beautiful hikes and waterfall views.
Nearby are two of the largest malls in the Washington area. Tysons Corner Center and Tysons Galleria are noteworthy shopping destinations offering luxury brands, swanky dining experiences and unique entertainment. They are also home to many consulting firms and technology companies, including Deloitte, Capital One, JLL and Ernst & Young. Commuting to Tysons Corner or D.C. is easy thanks to the McLean and Tysons Corner Metro stops.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 18.7 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,891 (down 0.8 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,242 (down 4.8 percent since last year)
The city of Fairfax is a suburban area located just outside the George Mason University campus. Named a 2016 Best College Town, it offers a diverse community and a small-town, residential feel that’s great for families. With over 250 acres of parks and recreational space, entertainment is endless.
Fairfax’s location makes it ideal for commuting into Washington D.C. or Northern Virginia. Though not a long drive into Arlington or downtown D.C., you can catch the Metro at the Vienna/Fairfax-GMU Metro stop if you want to avoid the hassle of driving.
Fairfax can also serve as the gateway to southern or central Virginia, making it perfect for day trips to Shenandoah National Park or downtown Charlottesville, VA.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 19.0 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,776 (up 18.3 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $1,579 (up 4.2 percent since last year)
Easily accessed from the beltway, Fort Washington is on the banks of the Potomac River. Made up of mostly families and older residents, it’s a quiet, family-friendly area where you can live at a fraction of the cost of living in Virginia or D.C.
Though it’s not accessible by Metro, retail, dining and entertainment are all just a short drive away. You can check out the numerous shops and restaurants at National Harbor, attend an event at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, try your luck at the MGM National Harbor Resort & Casino or spend the day shopping at the Tanger Outlets National Harbor.
If you want to enjoy the Potomac River views, you can do so at one of the many parks, bluffs or marinas in Fort Washington.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 22 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $1,881 (down 4.4 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,315 (down 4.1 percent since last year
Located northwest of Washington D.C., Rockville is a mixed urban and suburban city in Montgomery County. Like Bethesda, Rockville also has excellent public schools, including Richard Montgomery High School, Walter Johnson High School and Thomas S. Wootton High School, making it a very family-friendly place to live.
Rockville Town Square and Pike & Rose mall are Rockville’s hubs of retail, dining and entertainment. At Rockville Town Square, you can even find outdoor movies, concerts and a beautiful outdoor ice-skating rink. Rockville’s residents flock to these destinations for a night out or a fun weekend activity, but instead of feeling overly crowded, they offer a friendly community feel.
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- Distance from downtown Washington D.C.: 34.7 miles
- One-bedroom average rent: $2,000 (up 7.3 percent since last year)
- Two-bedroom average rent: $2,302 (down 3.4 percent since last year)
Clarksburg has recently exploded in growth and development and is now a top destination for young families. Though only an hour away from D.C., you couldn’t get farther from city life than Clarksburg. It’s clearly the next destination for those looking for an escape while still enjoying all the amenities of suburban living.
As Clarksburg is still growing, there’s tons of parks, outdoor spaces and farmland to experience. In fact, you can find a park or trail on almost every corner.
If you’re not a nature lover, you might like Clarksburg Premium Outlets or the nearby Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard.
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Make one of these cities near Washington D.C. your next home
Whether you’re looking for beautiful Potomac River views, a small-town feel or just an easy commute, you can find the perfect apartment in one of these Washington D.C. suburbs. Start your search today.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.