Overall 51%
Goods & Services 23%
Housing 135%
Date & Last Updated: This data reflects 2020 and was released from C2ER in January, 2021; this is the most current data available.
The cost of living index is based on a national average of 100. For example, if the cost of living is 90, then it is 10% lower than average. If the cost of living is 110, then it is 10% higher than average. The breakdown for each index is as follows: goods & services (33%), groceries (13%), health care (5%), housing (30%), transportation (9%) and utilities (10%). If the cost of living data was unavailable for this city, estimates based upon nearby cities were used.
IndexWashingtonDistrict of ColumbiaNational
Cost of living151151100
Goods & Services123123100
Health care9191100

Key findings

  • The cost of living in Washington is equal to the District of Columbia average
  • The cost of living in Washington is 51% higher than the national average
  • Washington housing is 135% higher than the national average
  • District of Columbia general sales tax is 13% higher than the national average
  • District of Columbia state income tax is 62% higher than the national average

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      Groceries index
      Health care index
      Housing index
      Transportation index
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      Median Income & Debt-To-Income Ratio

      Median IncomePer YearPer MonthMax Budget (28% DTI)Max Budget (36% DTI)
      The affordability of the housing market in Washington, DC as well as the overall cost of living can be predicted by what percent of the monthly income is spent on housing related costs. This is konwn as the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). The overall rule of thumb is that no more than 28% of your gross income should be spent on the overall costs related to housing and no more than 36% of gross income on all expenses and debts. Among Washington homeowners, the median income is $118,203. This indicates that a monthly maximum of $2,758 should be spent by homeowners on all housing related costs. Renters have a median income of $49,113. This indicates that renters would have a maximum of $1,146 for their rent related monthly costs.

      District of Columbia Sales Tax

      StateGeneral Sales TaxWith Max Surtax
      District of Columbia5.75%5.75%

      District of Columbia Income Tax

      StateIncome Tax (Low)Income Tax (High)
      District of Columbia4%8.95%

      Goods & Services

      ItemWashingtonNational avg.Difference
      Haircut $47.39$20.27133.8%
      Beauty Salon $78.94$40.3995.4%
      Toothpaste $2.31$2.361.9%
      Shampoo $1.11$1.082.8%
      Movie $14.12$10.9928.5%
      Bowling $20.63$15.4933.2%


      ItemWashingtonNational avg.Difference
      Ground Beef $4.07$4.305.2%
      Fried Chicken $1.68$1.4020.3%
      Milk $2.91$2.2032.0%
      Potatoes $3.99$3.2223.9%
      Pizza $11.99$10.7411.6%
      Beer $10.16$9.605.8%

      Health Care

      ItemWashingtonNational avg.Difference
      Optometrist $79.25$109.7327.8%
      Doctor $109.41$118.347.5%
      Dentist $94.40$100.946.5%
      Ibuprofen $10.29$9.933.6%
      Lipitor $402.41$469.5314.3%


      ItemWashingtonNational avg.Difference
      Home Price $506,100.00$184,700.00174.0%
      Avg. Mortgage Payment $3,264.54$1,229.62165.5%
      Apartment Rent $1,362.00$949.0043.5%


      ItemWashingtonNational avg.Difference
      Gasoline $2.81$2.713.7%
      Tire Balancing $53.69$51.863.5%


      ItemWashingtonNational avg.Difference
      All Electricity$199.51$170.8416.8%
      Phone $188.30$187.180.6%
      Although the cost of living data is updated regularly, this cost of living information is to be used as estimates only as prices can change on an ongoing basis.

      Nearby cities with low cost of living

      City, StatePopulationCost of Living IndexNational Avg.
      Rose Hill CDP (Lee County), VA70890-10%
      Woodlawn CDP (Carroll County), VA2,24792-8%
      Wakefield town, VA81096-4%
      Belle Haven town, VA5621000%
      Cottage City, MD1,2091088%
      Washington, DC659,00915151%

      Cities with similar population

      City, StatePopulationCost of Living IndexNational Avg.
      Boston, MA658,27914646%
      Memphis, TN655,85781-19%
      Denver, CO663,30311616%
      Seattle, WA668,84915757%
      Nashville, TN643,77196-4%
      Washington, DC659,00915151%
      Source: The Washington, DC cost of living data displayed above is derived from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) for 2020.