Rising Rents: How Rent Prices Effect DC Collegiate Population

April 10, 2016

With countless internship opportunities, 19+ Smithsonian museums, 40+ performing arts venues, and being the nation’s capital, it’s easy to see why thousands of students every year choose to attend one of D.C.’s 19 colleges and universities. Not only is D.C. an amazing location to attend college, it has a perk of an easy transition for recent grads. D.C. was recently ranked third on a list of best cities for recent college graduates when accounting for things such as median earnings and rent costs. We were surprised to see that rent costs were a favorable factor given the fact that millennials understandably continue to say that DC is too expensive.


Interestingly, the rankings say that despite DC’s “pricier costs of living” … “they made the list partly because median earnings offset steep rents.” The District Ninja team wanted to get a better idea of just how expensive it is to rent an apartment while going to college in D.C. Unlike millennials, college students are generally not working a full time job that they can leverage towards paying their rent. So, we set out to see what the average rent was for an apartment in the surrounding areas near D.C.’s eight primary universities and colleges.


First, we wanted to map them out to get a better idea of how D.C.’s major colleges and universities are spread out across D.C. If you drag your mouse over each of the colored polygons, you can see information about each university such as campus size, acceptance rate, tuition + room/board costs, and a breakdown of the undergraduate population. As you can see, there are some really interesting trends that immediately stick out.



For example, one would think that room and board will almost always cost less than the tuition price, often costing far less. At George Washington, American, and Georgetown, the room/board costs are roughly 1/3 or 1/4th the price of the tuition. However, at UDC, which is less than 2 miles from American, the price of room and board is double  the price of tuition. Gallaudet has a similarly unique ratio for tuition and room/board as the cost of tuition barely exceeds the cost of room/board.


We were also interested to see the considerable differences in general tuition room/board costs. For example, Howard's total costs for room/board plus tuition are less than just the cost of tuition at GW, American, and Georgetown. Similarly, the  combined cost for room/board + tuition at GW ($62, 485) is only a few thousand dollars less than the total cost for room/board and tuition at  Gallaudet, Trinity, and UDC, combined! ($67,335).  Once we had a general idea of the tuition and living costs for each university, we wanted to see what the renters market was like within a close distance of each university.



The following visual breaks down the renter's market for each university by number of bedrooms. If you drag your mouse over the bar's for each school, you can find information such as average monthly rent, average year the unit was built, average days on the market, and the number of listings, so you can appreciate the context of the data.


When it comes to the most expensive university to rent near, George Washington is the clear winner. It contains the highest monthly rent rates for 3 bedroom, 2 bedroom, and 1 bedroom apartments. Not only is it the most expensive to rent near, you get the least amount of space for your money. The cost of renting a 3 bedroom near GW ($4,411) is greater than the cost of a 3 bedroom apartment near American, Howard , Gallaudet, Trinity, Catholic, and UDC.


We also wanted to see which universities may require you to act faster when it comes to looking for a place to live. Among the top four schools with the most number of listings, 1 bedroom apartments near Howard seem to go the fastest averaging 28 days on the market. As for 2 bedrooms, apartments near American (60) days and Howard (63) spend the shortest amount of time on the market.


Finally, we wanted to give you a quick snap shot of the average rent cost for an apartment near each of the universities and colleges. Red indicates the most expensive option and green the least expensive.



We hope you enjoyed this piece on the ins and outs of rentals near D.C.’s major universities/colleges.


Ninja Notes


To build our map, we used Open Data DC’s University and College Campuses data set. The data set contains 30 colleges and universities, however, we narrowed it down to DC’s 8 largest universities for the purposes for this article. All data displayed in the map hover windows that was not from Open Data DC, was acquired from the College Data website.


Data sampled for DC rentals was pulled from MRIS listings for all rentals that were rented within .65 miles of each university/college from January 1-March 31st 2016. Special thanks to Valerie Greene for always helping with real estate data!

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