Help a Reader: Estimating Monthly Living Expenses Before a Move Across Country

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Happy Sunday everyone!

On Friday, I received the following question/message from a reader:

I was wondering what you think is a safe estimate for monthly living expenses for a 26 year old moving to Washington DC? 

This boggles me due to living expenses beings higher in that area. In college in the Kentucky, I could live on $1,000 per month in living expenses, making next to nothing in income. I am currently in Saint Louis and have $2,000 per month for expenses, making $62,000 total per year in income.

Reader Financial Details:

  • Reader will be splitting rent, utilities, and other household expenses with their significant other. The price range of the places he is looking at is $2,150 total per month (includes parking fees and utilities).
  • Has no kids. 
  • Has about $15,000 in student loan debt and will be attending graduate school in January part-time, getting a very low student loan interest rate.

How would you advise this reader to proceed with estimating living expenses for the Washington DC area? 
Please share your insight by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of


    1. Hey I might be able to help you! Problem is the “Washington DC area” is very diverse. I used to live in Fairfax County Virginia right near Falls Church right inside the 495 beltway… Do you literally mean living in DC or living in a suburb?

      Cars are more expensive to own in Virginia due to Ad Valorem personal property tax (meaning they tax based on value every year) and you have to get a $10 a year car inspection and if you live in northern Virignia you'll likely have to have your car pass emission stanadards as well.

      Rent/Mortgage is normally the biggest cost followed by parking and the metro if you'll be commuting via it. The biggest shocker will be commuting time as traffic is horrible anywhere from 5-10 in the morning and 1-7 at night (especially on Fridays!)

      There are also some toll roads and HOV only areas… get in touch with me if you have specific questions 🙂 Jacob should be able to get you my email address or head over to my blog and fill out the contact form.
      My recent post Random Thoughts, Round Up and Carnivals #16

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