Cost of Living Forum

ArlingtonResident22 @arlingtonresident22
Joined: 2 years ago

Cost of Living in Arlington – How Does it Stack Up?

Hi everyone, I’ve been living in Arlington for the past few years and I’m curious to hear from others about their experiences with the cost of living here. As someone renting a 2-bedroom apartment and living a relatively modest lifestyle, I find some expenses like housing to be quite high, while other costs like groceries and utilities seem more reasonable. I’m wondering how Arlington compares to other areas, and what factors like family size, housing situation, and lifestyle might impact the overall affordability.

I’d love to hear your honest opinions and any tips you might have for managing expenses in Arlington. How do the major costs like housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment stack up based on your personal situation? And are there any particular areas where you find costs to be higher or lower than expected? I’m looking forward to getting a well-rounded perspective from others who have lived here for a while!

Posts: 13

10 Replies

FrugalFoodie @frugalfoodie
Joined: 7 months ago

For a single person or couple without kids, I think the cost of living in Arlington is manageable if you’re smart about your spending. Housing is definitely pricey, but the food costs aren’t too bad compared to some other cities I’ve lived in. I cook most of my meals at home, and basic groceries like produce, grains, and proteins are pretty affordable if you shop at places like Aldi or ethnic markets. Eating out isn’t cheap though – a casual meal for two can easily run $40-50 after drinks and tip.

Transportation is also quite reasonable if you don’t mind taking public transit or biking when possible. The metro and bus system is decent, and a monthly pass is under $100. Parking and gas are expensive though, so having a car isn’t always worth it depending on where you live and work.

Overall, I’d say Arlington is a bit pricey for housing but more moderate for other living expenses if you have a middle-class income and are diligent about saving. It’s definitely more affordable than some other major cities nearby.

Posts: 17
FamilyMan757 @familyman757
Joined: 2 years ago

Cost of living in Arlington really adds up quickly for families, especially with housing and childcare expenses. We have two young kids, and our 3-bedroom apartment outside the city center runs us $2700 per month, not including utilities. Full-time daycare for both kids is another $2500 per month at least.

Groceries for a family of four aren’t cheap either – we probably spend $800+ per month on food even with me cooking most nights. Dining out is a luxury we can’t really afford often. Healthcare is also a major expense, as our family insurance premiums eat up a huge chunk of our income.

On the plus side, we don’t have car payments since we Drive older vehicles. But the costs for gas, maintenance, registrations etc. still add up. We rarely do paid entertainment like movies or activities since they’re so pricey for a family.

My advice would be to have a solid dual income before starting a family in Arlington. The costs are very high for housing, childcare, healthcare and just about everything family-related. It’s an expensive area for sure when you have multiple dependents.

Posts: 15
CarolinaTransplant @carolinatransplant
Joined: 2 years ago

Coming from a much lower cost of living area, I was pretty shocked at the expenses in Arlington when I first moved here for work. Housing costs are just insane – I pay $2600 for a modest 1-bed apartment near the metro, and that was one of the more affordable options I could find. My rent back home was literally 1/3 of that!

Utilities like electricity also seem quite high, probably because of heating and cooling costs. And I wasn’t prepared for how expensive parking would be – I pay $200/month just to have a space at my building.

That said, some everyday costs like groceries haven’t been as bad as I expected. There are lots of budget-friendly ethnic markets and grocery stores if you know where to look. And getting around via public transit is relatively inexpensive with a monthly pass.

My biggest sticker shock has been the costs for recreation and entertainment. Even just grabbing a casual meal or drinks can get very expensive. Forget about splurges like concerts or pro sports games – those ticket prices are outrageous!

Overall, I’ve had to be really diligent about budgeting and have cut out some luxuries. But the high salary I earn here makes it worthwhile, at least for now while I’m young and child-free. I can’t imagine how families with kids make it work though!

Posts: 24
MixxedIncome @mixxedincome
Joined: 2 years ago

I have a somewhat unique perspective as someone who grew up fairly poor in Arlington, but now has a solid middle-class income as an adult. The cost of living was definitely a struggle for my parents raising three kids here – we always lived in older, more affordable townhomes and drove used cars to get by. But nowadays, even those types of housing options are getting increasingly expensive.

On the other hand, some living costs don’t seem as outrageous to me since I’m used to being frugal. I buy most of my groceries at places like Aldi and stock up when things are on sale. Public transit is still quite affordable if you can’t afford a car payment and insurance, at least compared to other expenses.

Now that I’m making around $80k as an engineer, I can manage renting a decent 1-bedroom for $2000 and putting some money away for retirement and other savings. But I still drive a 10-year-old sedan and don’t splurge much on going out or entertainment. That’s just the reality for a single person in Arlington.

Healthcare is one area that still concerns me though. My company’s insurance plan isn’t cheap, and I worry about costs if I have a major medical issue or need to start a family someday. The childcare expenses alone would likely be impossible on just my income.

Posts: 5
WealthyEmpty-Nester @wealthyempty-nester
Joined: 2 years ago

My spouse and I are financially comfortable these days as empty-nesters in our 50s, but I’ll be honest – the cost of living in Arlington while raising our kids was brutal at times. We had to sacrifice a lot and be extremely disciplined with budgeting.

Back then, our biggest expenses by far were housing and childcare/education costs. We paid through the nose for a decent 3-bedroom home in a good school district. And private school tuition was just outrageous – easily $25k+ per kid per year.

Day-to-day costs for things like groceries, utilities, gas and such weren’t as crazy though. We just had to be smart about meal planning, energy usage, and limiting how much we drove. Date nights and leisure activities were an infrequent luxury for many years.

These days, our costs are more manageable with the mortgage paid off and no tuition bills. We can actually enjoy small indulgences like dining out occasionally. My advice would be to live frugally during your child-rearing years if you want to stay in Arlington long-term. Trim expenses wherever possible, save aggressively, and you’ll eventually get some breathing room again once your kids are grown.

Posts: 24
SingleInTheCity @singleinthecity
Joined: 2 years ago

As a single urban professional, I find the costs in Arlington to be pretty reasonable overall – at least for just supporting myself. Don’t get me wrong, rent isn’t cheap by any means. But my 1-bed apartment close to the metro runs me $2100 per month, which is manageable on my $95k salary.

Groceries and going out aren’t too bad either, at least if you take advantage of happy hours, meal prepping, and more affordable ethnic restaurant options. I probably spend $600 per month on food, with maybe $200-300 of that going towards dining and drinking out.

My biggest expenses are probably transportation and leisure/entertainment. I pay around $300 per month for parking, car insurance, and a metro pass since I use a combination of driving and public transit. And I definitely splurge on gym memberships, concerts, sports tickets and the occasional weekend trips.

Healthcare is also a significant cost at $400+ per month for premiums, though that’s factored into my compensation package. I have a generous HSA contribution that helps offset medical expenses.

All in all, I’m able to max out my retirement contributions while still enjoying an active social life. Could I save more living somewhere cheaper? For sure. But I don’t mind paying a premium to live in a walkable urban area with plenty of amenities.

Posts: 4
DualIncomeNoKids @dualincomenokids
Joined: 2 years ago

My wife and I are both attorneys, so our household income is solid. Even so, the costs in Arlington can be pretty eye-watering at times as a childless couple in our 30s.

Housing is just ridiculous – we pay $3800 for a relatively basic 2-bed, 2-bath condo in an decent neighborhood. But anything bigger or in a trendier area was way out of our budget. Paying nearly $4k per month just in rent is painful.

At least some other costs aren’t as crazy. We spend $600-800 on groceries by taking advantage of places like Aldi and Lidl. Dining out we’ll do maybe 1-2 times per week at $60-100 per meal. Thankfully our jobs cover very good healthcare, so we just pay $200 per month combined for premiums.

Our biggest non-housing expenses are probably cars and leisure activities. We both drive fairly new leased vehicles since we need reliable transportation. And we spend a decent amount on gym memberships, concert tickets, weekend trips and hobbies to maintain our DINK lifestyle.

Even with our income, there’s not a ton of money left over each month after maxing out retirement accounts and paying all the mandatory expenses. I can’t even imagine how families with kids get by here without extremely high dual incomes.

Posts: 9
CarFreeMillennial @carfreemillennial
Joined: 2 years ago

I know I have a somewhat unique perspective as someone who has been car-free in Arlington for the past 5 years, but it’s made a huge difference in my cost of living. Not having a car payment, insurance, gas, maintenance, parking fees etc. probably saves me at least $500-600 per month compared to friends who drive.

Instead, I get around using a combination of metro, buses, biking and very occasional ride-shares. My monthly transit pass is under $100 and I bike as much as possible to save even more.

Of course, housing still isn’t cheap – I pay $2000 for a basic 1-bed apartment near a metro stop so I can maximize my transit options. But not having to budget for a car helps a ton. Groceries and other basics are pretty reasonable if you shop smart.

My biggest indulgences are probably dining out, streaming subscriptions, and weekend trips. But I’m able to save a decent amount each month for retirement and other goals while still maintaining an active social life.

I know going car-free isn’t an option for everyone, especially families. But for single people or couples willing to live in more walkable areas, it can make a big difference in your transportation costs and overall expenses.

Posts: 2
RetiredInArlington @retiredinarlington
Joined: 12 months ago

My husband and I are both retired now after long careers in government and private sector jobs. Looking back, the cost of living in Arlington was definitely a challenge at times – especially when our kids were young and we were paying for childcare, summer camps, extracurriculars, etc. on top of housing costs.

I remember our monthly budget being stretched very thin between the mortgage, daycare, groceries, healthcare premiums and other basics. We rarely dined out and took modest vacations in those years. Entertainment was mostly free community events and parks.

These days, our expenses are much more manageable with no childcare costs, paid off mortgage, and Medicare instead of pricey family insurance premiums. Our current budget is fairly comfortable between my pension, my husband’s 401k/Social Security income, and modest investment income.

That said, some costs have definitely crept up over the years – housing taxes, utility bills, Medicare supplements and prescription drugs all take a good chunk out of our fixed income each month. We definitely couldn’t maintain our current lifestyle if we were still paying a mortgage or had dependents.

My advice would be to live lean when you’re young and raising a family here so you can save diligently. Having a decent nest egg makes retired life in Arlington much more affordable if you want to stay in the area long-term.

Posts: 10
BudgetMindset @budgetmindset
Joined: 2 years ago

As a young professional in my late 20s, I find that living in Arlington requires a pretty diligent budget mindset and spending discipline. The rent alone for my basic 550 sq ft studio is $1800 per month, which already eats up a huge portion of my $65k salary.

Other costs like groceries, utilities, gas, insurance etc. aren’t super expensive if I’m careful where I shop and cut unnecessary expenses. I bring my lunch to work most days and do a lot of meal prepping. Getting around by metro and occasional Uber is more economical than owning a car.

That said, it’s the costs of dining out, social activities, travel etc. that can really add up if I’m not watchful. Even just meeting friends for drinks can easily run $40-50 with tax/tip. Paid entertainment like concerts or sports is usually out of my budget.

My biggest struggles are dealing with periodic costs like parking tickets, repairs, medical bills etc. Those unexpected hits can really throw off my budget for months at a time since I have minimal savings built up so far.

Overall, I get by okay for now with smart spending habits. But I’m already looking ahead to when I’ll need to find more affordable housing or move somewhere with a lower cost of living if my salary doesn’t increase substantially. Arlington can fee like a real grind on an entry-level income.

Posts: 1

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 20.00 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 60.00 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 10.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 6.00 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 6.00 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 4.59 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.31 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 1.84 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 0.74 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 2.52 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 4.71 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 2.52 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 13.89 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 10.77 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 15.72 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 5.87 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.41 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 4.54 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 4.97 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 1.98 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 2.20 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 1.91 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 1.50 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 15.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 2.13 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 3.99 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 7.00 $
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) – 3.50 $
  • Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) – 1.55 $
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) – 40.00 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.85 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 35,000.00 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 24,763.66 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 190.25 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 42.22 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 63.29 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 12.00 $
  • Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child – 1,166.67 $
  • International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child – 23,800.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 52.73 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 46.67 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 79.18 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 111.12 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – 2,600.00 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre – 2,000.00 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre – 3,800.00 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre – 2,700.00 $
  • Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) – 6,000.00 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.48
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