Cost of Living Forum

OldTownResident @oldtownresident
Joined: 10 months ago

Help! Moving to Alexandria – What are the typical living costs?

Hi everyone, I am considering a job opportunity that would require relocating to Alexandria, Virginia. As a long-time resident here, I’m very familiar with the cost of living in my current city, but I don’t know much about Alexandria. Can anyone who lives there (or has lived there recently) give me a breakdown of typical expenses for things like housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment? I’d really appreciate getting a sense of how far my paycheck will go. I’m a single professional in my early 30s if that context helps. Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide!

Posts: 8

10 Replies

AlexandriaLocal @alexandrialocal
Joined: 4 months ago

Hey there! As someone who has lived in Alexandria for the past 5 years, I can give you a general overview of the costs. Housing is definitely one of the biggest expenses – a decent 1-bedroom apartment in the city center can easily run you $2,400-2,500 per month, and even going a little further out, you’re still looking at around $2,000 for a 1-bedroom. Utilities like electricity, water, and internet will probably add another $250-300 to your monthly expenses.

On the plus side, Alexandria has great public transportation with buses and the metro, so you may be able to get by without a car and its associated costs (gas, insurance, maintenance). A monthly metro pass is around $60. Groceries are relatively affordable – you can do your basics at places like Aldi or Lidl for $300-400 per month for one person. Eating out can get pricey though, with a casual meal for one person costing $15-20 on average.

Healthcare costs really depend on your insurance situation, but expect to pay $100+ per month for a decent plan, plus co-pays and deductibles. As for entertainment, there are plenty of options in Alexandria and DC, but things like movies, concerts, and nights out can add up quickly. Let me know if you need any other specifics!

Posts: 24
DCSuburbanite @dcsuburbanite
Joined: 2 years ago

I used to live in Alexandria and have a bit of a different perspective. While the previous response gave a decent overview, I always found the cost of living to be quite high compared to my current suburban location. A few things to consider:

Housing is indeed very expensive, especially if you want to live closer to Old Town or any of the trendier areas. Prepare for sticker shock on rent/mortgage unless you have a very high income. Groceries from places like Harris Teeter or Trader Joe’s can easily run $500+ per month for one person if you include any extras beyond basic staples.

Utilities tend to be higher in Alexandria as well due to older housing stock and higher rates. Budget at least $300-400 for a 1-bedroom including electricity, gas, water, internet, etc. And if you need to park, tack on another $100-200 for a parking spot or garage rental.

The upside is that Metro access is great, so you can avoid car costs if you don’t mind the commute. But even with Metro, the pass adds up over time. Don’t forget to factor in higher costs for things like going out to restaurants, bars, movies, etc. It’s an expensive area for entertainment.

Just my two cents – while Alexandria is wonderful, be prepared for the high cost of living, especially for housing and transportation. Having a solid financial cushion makes it much more enjoyable.

Posts: 21
VATechGrad @vatechgrad
Joined: 2 months ago

As a recent grad who moved to Alexandria for my first job out of college, I can offer the perspective of someone on an entry-level salary. The cost of living has definitely been an adjustment!

I knew going in that housing would be my biggest expense, but I was still a bit shocked at just how little you get for your money, even renting. I ended up getting a roommate situation to keep costs down – my portion of rent for a 2-bedroom apartment just outside the city center is around $1,100 per month all in. Not cheap, but more manageable than trying to afford a 1-bedroom on my own.

Groceries have been less expensive than I feared, probably averaging $250-300 per month by sticking to budget stores and buying mostly ingredients to cook at home. Dining out is a luxury I have to limit to 1-2 times per week.

The real strain has been all the other little costs that add up – utilities, metro pass, streaming services, cell phone plan, etc. I budget around $750 per month for all those recurring bills beyond just rent. And that’s without paying for any kind of healthcare plan through my job yet.

Entertainment is also a struggle on an entry-level income. There’s so much to do in the D.C. area, but most of it costs money. I try to take advantage of free festivals, parks, and community events as much as possible.

All that said, I really do love living in Alexandria. The neighborhood vibe, proximity to D.C., and opportunities for young professionals make the high prices worth it (for now). Just be prepared for most of your paycheck to go towards rent and living expenses when you’re first starting out.

Posts: 20
FamilyOf4 @familyof4
Joined: 2 years ago

Offering the perspective of someone with a family, the costs in Alexandria can really add up quickly! We’re a household with 2 working parents and 2 school-age kids.

The biggest drain is undoubtedly housing costs. We wanted enough space for the family, so we opted for a 3-bedroom apartment just outside the city center. That’ll run you around $2,800-3,000 per month in this area. Utilities (electric, gas, internet, etc.) for a place that size are another $300-400 per month.

With 2 kids, groceries are easily $800-1,000 per month even doing a lot of our shopping at budget stores like Aldi. We cook at home frequently, but also build in one reasonably-priced restaurant meal per week as a treat. Speaking of treats, don’t underestimate costs for kid activities like sports, music lessons, summer camps, etc. We spend at least $300 per month on afterschool stuff.

We’ve been able to get by with just one car between my spouse and I by using public transit. But the Metro passes for a family of 4 still add up to about $150 per month. Thankfully we have good healthcare coverage through my job, so those monthly premiums aren’t too outrageous.

What I will say is that Alexandria does have a lot of great free and low-cost entertainment options for kids with all the museums, parks, libraries, etc. in the area. And the public schools here are excellent as long as you’re zoned for the right district.

All in all, while Alexandria is a fantastic place to raise a family, the costs are just very high across the board for a bigger household. We make it work on two solid incomes, but money is still pretty darn tight most months.

Posts: 18
BunGlowWorker @bunglowworker
Joined: 6 months ago

I’ve been living and working in Alexandria for a few years now, and I think it really just comes down to what your priorities and lifestyle are. This area can be as affordable or as expensive as you make it.

On the more frugal side, I’ve been able to keep my expenses pretty reasonable by:
– Living with roommates in a decent 3-bedroom rental ($900 for my portion of rent)
– Cooking most of my meals at home and brown-bagging lunch to work
– Using my bike to commute as much as possible (though I did have to shell out $1,200 upfront for a good bike and gear)
– Taking advantage of the low-cost gyms in the area (around $30 per month)
– Seeking out free/cheap entertainment like community events, trivia nights, hiking trails, etc.

That lets me keep my monthly living costs in the $1,500-1,800 range all-in for rent, utilities, groceries, transit pass, etc. Definitely tight, but very doable on my modest income.

However, Alexandria also has SO many opportunities to live it up and spend bigger if that’s your preference. From fancy apartments to high-end dining, nightlife, shopping, concert venues – you can easily blow through $3,000+ per month without trying too hard.

My advice is to make a realistic budget that aligns with your expected income and priorities. If you’re smart about housing, transit, and groceries, Alexandria doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. But there’s also a premium baked in for the urban amenities and proximity to D.C. It’s all about finding that middle ground that works for your lifestyle and financial situation.

Posts: 17
RetiredInVA @retiredinva
Joined: 6 months ago

As a retiree who has lived in the Alexandria area for many years, I can offer the perspective of someone on a fixed income. The costs here have certainly crept up over time, but overall I’ve found Alexandria to be a very livable place even in retirement if you plan accordingly.

My biggest expense by far is my mortgage payment, which is approximately $1,500 per month for my 3-bedroom condo in a quieter area outside the city center. Of course, that’s a sunk cost from purchasing the place years ago – I can’t even imagine trying to buy property in this area at today’s prices!

Other than that, most of my monthly recurring costs are quite reasonable for one person:
– Utilities (electric, gas, internet): $150
– Groceries: $300
– Car expenses (insurance, maintenance, etc): $250
– Healthcare: $200 for supplemental medical/drug coverage

I try to stick to a pretty frugal lifestyle these days, so entertainment is relatively low-cost for me. Taking advantage of museum memberships, community centers, libraries, and cheap matinee movies. Though I do allow myself a few nicer restaurant meals per month as a treat.

Overall, I’d say a single retiree could get by quite comfortably on around $3,000 per month of income in the Alexandria area. Probably $3,500-4,000 if you want a bit more financial breathing room. And the proximity to D.C. without being right in the thick of things is great at this stage of life.

Of course, the elephant in the room is the crazy housing market and costs for incoming buyers/renters. That alone makes Alexandria really tough for anyone without significant savings or a very high income. But for long-term residents, it remains a delightful place to call home even in retirement if you manage your finances wisely.

Posts: 17
SavvyMillennial @savvymillennial
Joined: 2 years ago

Offering the perspective of a young professional who is pretty frugal and cost-conscious, but still wants to take advantage of the amenities Alexandria has to offer:

Housing will be your biggest expense, no way around it. I currently split a decent 2-bedroom apartment ($1,700 for my half of rent/utilities) in a residential area just outside Old Town. Not the trendiest location, but an easy commute and fairly affordable compared to renting solo. I could have found a cheaper roommate situation further out, but didn’t want an excessive commute.

My grocery spending is around $250 per month by sticking to budget stores like Lidl and Aldi. I meal prep lunches for the week and go out for affordable dinners 2-3 times per week, which runs me $150-200. Friday night drinks/entertainment is probably another $100 or so.

Getting around without a car payment and just taking public transit (monthly metro pass = $60) is a huge money-saver in my book. Though I did have to fork over $1,800 upfront for a used car to have the flexibility of getting out of the city occasionally.

Other regular costs that add up quickly:
– Internet/streaming: $70
– Cell phone plan: $60
– Gym membership: $40
– Healthcare premium: $220
– Retirement savings: $300

All in all, it comes out to around $3,200 per month for rent, transportation, food, entertainment, bills, etc. It’s not cheap by any means, but I make it work on an $80k salary by being pretty diligent about sticking to my budget. Though I do have to be more frugal than my friends in other cities to maintain my current lifestyle in Alexandria. Definitely a bit of a premium to live in such a desirable area.

Posts: 11
PetParentStruggles @petparentstruggles
Joined: 6 months ago

Let me offer the pet owner’s perspective on the cost of living in Alexandria, because that’s an often overlooked expense!

In addition to all the standard housing, utilities, transportation, etc. costs people have mentioned (which are indeed very high here), having pets adds a whole extra layer of recurring costs:

For example, I have two dogs – a monthly budget of around $150 just for their food, preventative meds, litter, etc. Then there are recurring costs like the dog walker ($300/month since I work long hours), pet insurance ($60/month for both dogs) and routine vet visits/meds ($500-$600 per year even without major issues).

And don’t get me started on trying to find pet-friendly housing! I easily pay a $300 monthly premium for my 1-bedroom apartment that doesn’t have obnoxious pet fees or restrictions. Though I did have to put down a hefty pet deposit up front when I moved in.

If I’m being honest, the pet costs combined with Alexandria’s generally high price tag is what’s causing me to consider moving out of the area eventually. As a single income, it’s becoming really difficult to keep up with the $2,000+ per month for rent, utilities, pet costs, transit, etc. all added up.

Of course, I made the choice to have furry companions and wouldn’t give them up for anything. But it’s just something important to factor in for the overall cost calculation if you’re a pet parent. Plan to tack on at least $500 per month if not quite a bit more depending on your pets.

Posts: 8
OldTownFoodie @oldtownfoodie
Joined: 12 months ago

As someone who loves the dining scene in Alexandria and values amazing food, my perspective may be a bit skewed compared to others! I view the higher food costs as an investment in an unbeatable culinary experience.

Sure, you can do basic groceries for one person on a budget around $400 per month if you really work at it. But I probably spend closer to $600-800 per month stocking up on all the high-quality ingredients, craft beers, wines, and miscellaneous specialty items I crave.

Where it really adds up though is eating out. I’ve arguably gotten my money’s worth from the incredible restaurants in Old Town, Del Ray, and the surrounding areas. Between date nights, business dinners, and casual outings with friends, I easily drop $500-600 per month on meals out.

Nightlife and entertainment costs are similar. There are so many amazing bars, lounges, comedy clubs and event venues to explore – but it requires budgeting accordingly. I probably spend $200+ per month just on social outings and drinks with friends.

Now, to be fair, all that eating and drinking is very much a lifestyle choice that’s core to my priorities. I’ve made sacrifices in other areas, like living in a relatively modest 1-bedroom apartment ($2,100) with an affordable used car to offset those costs.

But if you’re a serious foodie like me, I’d argue it’s worth the premium to live in a place like Alexandria surrounded by such an amazing culinary scene. As long as you’re financially comfortable allocating a big chunk of your budget towards dining out and entertainment, it can absolutely be done! Just a matter of priorities.

Posts: 2
SingleParentLife @singleparentlife
Joined: 10 months ago

As a single parent raising a child in Alexandria, I have a very different perspective on managing the cost of living here:

The absolute biggest expense, by far, is childcare and education. I pay a whopping $2,000 per month for full-time daycare for my preschool-aged son. Once he starts elementary school, I’ll have some relief for a few years until we have to start budgeting for private school tuitions that can run $25,000 per year or higher.

On top of that, we’re looking at $1,500 per month for a decent 2-bedroom apartment located in a good school district. Other standard expenses like utilities, groceries, healthcare, etc. likely run $1,000+ per month for the two of us.

I’m fortunate to have family support occasionally, but work long hours to make this single income situation possible. Which also means paying for a nanny some days ($600 per month) and maybe $200 per month for regular food deliveries since cooking is tough with my schedule.

Entertainment is largely limited to low-cost, kid-friendly activities like parks, libraries, and community events. Though I do try to budget $100 per month for a babysitter occasionally so I can get out for self-care activities like yoga classes or a meal with friends.

All told, the costs are pretty brutal in the $5,000+ per month range as a single parent in this area. I honestly don’t know how single moms survive here without alternating care from family or a very high-paying job. It’s a constant financial juggling act.

I love raising my son in Alexandria and exposing him to all the amazing opportunities here. But it requires pretty extreme budgeting and leaving little room for other extras or savings. The cost of giving your child access to the great schools and amenities in Alexandria is just through the roof.

Posts: 6

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 30.00 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 77.50 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 13.50 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 6.00 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 6.50 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 4.83 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.80 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.17 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 0.92 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 2.85 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 3.53 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 4.39 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 18.74 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 10.24 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 16.50 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 8.27 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.52 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 5.14 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 6.61 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 3.20 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 2.89 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 2.00 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 2.26 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 20.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 1.73 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 3.00 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 8.00 $
  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport) – 2.50 $
  • Monthly Pass (Regular Price) – 57.50 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.90 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 30,981.99 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 22,092.76 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 183.33 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 43.00 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 70.00 $
  • Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult – 48.33 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 15.00 $
  • Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child – 1,500.00 $
  • International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child – 24,000.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 36.67 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 40.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 111.67 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 126.33 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – 2,450.00 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre – 2,012.50 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre – 3,550.00 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre – 2,850.00 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre – 3,337.00 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre – 3,337.00 $
  • Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) – 6,475.00 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.63
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