When I mentioned our low rent ($733/month for a 1-bedroom within .1 miles of DC), a number of people commented on the amazing rate. It’s true! That’s fantastic compared to a lot of things we saw.
The trade-off is that we live in an area we’ve affectionately nicknamed “the ghetto.” Our apartment complex is pretty decent and our apartment itself is great. However, the overall area isn’t that impressive. Lots of low-rent housing, fast-food joints, just a general look of poverty. It comes and goes, depending on which neighborhoods you drive through.
So living in the ghetto saves us money on rent. But it’s also pretty decent for other things as well.
For example, the closest gas stations (Exxon and Texaco) are currently selling for $0.31 cheaper than in the posh section of town where I work.
Our “ghetto Giant” (to distinguish it from the nice one a few miles further) sells groceries for much less than the Safeway by my old work in Arlington.
There really isn’t a disadvantage for the gas, except that you have to pay at the kiosk instead of at the pump.
The Giant is a little more annoying—products are often suspiciously close to their expiration date, fruit and veggies often seem like rejects, they don’t sell brown rice in bulk, and they’re less likely to have whole-grain breads. But a little perseverance and a few trips to other grocery stores (as well as a sharp eye for expiration dates) have kept us well-fed and happy. And the payoff is slightly lower prices, which is good for our budget too.
We’re not in the worst parts of DC by any means. Technically, we’re actually in MD. And we like the area, so I’m not trying to be down on it. However, I’ve realized over the last few months how much lower our cost of living is than across town. Sure, it’s not as pretty and it can be scary after dark (though where in DC isn’t?). But it helps us save money, which is a big plus in my book.