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Alexandria, Virginia, continues to show up on reader’s choice lists as one of the best cities in the U.S. to call home. It was most recently ranked as the third-best small city in the country, according to Conde Nast Traveler, October 2021.
While it’s awesome news to know the city checks so many desirability boxes, the popularity strains housing availability and affordability, which is why so many who want to relocate to Alexandria look to apartments for a housing solution.
The apartment living lifestyle in Alexandria offers many convenience factors, such as the ability to live near Washington, D.C. and have a car-free commute. Apartments within walking distance to any of the Metro stops always draw apartment seekers.
Add in the traditional benefits of maintenance-free living and perks like high-end gyms and pet washing stations, and apartment life becomes even more appealing.
Apartment Styles Found in Alexandria
Renters looking for apartments in Alexandria in both Fairfax County and the City of Alexandria have plenty of home-style options to consider, from relatively affordable units to luxury options.
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Apartments in Alexandria, Fairfax County
In Fairfax County, you can tour dozens of apartment complexes, including the traditional spread-out configuration in addition to high-rise apartment buildings. There’s also a subcategory of apartments catering to single professionals living in Alexandria temporarily. They’re commonly found in lower levels of single-family homes, with the owner living above.
Apartments in the City of Alexandria
The City of Alexandria’s apartment options usually feature the traditional look of a high-rise tower or smaller complexes. However, you’ll also find separated multi-family units within large, (probably older style) row houses.
If you’re interested in the perks of luxury apartment living, Old Town has the answers, but it’s a competitive and expensive market especially for Potomac River access. Renters like the choices in the city because of the walkability and access to shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Why Rent in Alexandria Varies
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For a rental budget reference, Apartmentlist.com reports in 2021, the average rent in Alexandria is $1,763, with a range of $1,556 at the low end or as much as $2,235, depending on the location, amenities, and the size of the apartment.
It’s not unusual for rent to reach far above these averages, however. Amenities such as parking spaces, pet-friendly properties, and proximity to Metro bus and train access affect monthly rental prices.
Take a look at Understanding Alexandria, Virginia Zip Codes and Borders: How to Research Where You'll Live, Shop, and Play in Alexandria as you explore housing options.
The Pros and Cons of Apartment Living in Alexandria, VA
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The high quality of life factor in Alexandria perpetually draws newcomers. Many parts of the city are walkable, and every kind of amenity is available. Cultural attractions, including museums, art festivals, concerts, and historical events, are just the beginning of things to do. You’ll always find a new restaurant to try, although you’ll have to reserve weeks in advance for the most coveted spots.
If you’re looking for easy access to public transportation, Alexandria has a solution, whether it’s a train, bus, or shuttle. But most commonly, it’s a walkable Metro train station apartment dwellers prefer. There are five Alexandria metro stations: King Street Station, Van Dorn Street, Eisenhower Avenue, Huntington, and Braddock Road Station. A new station, Potomac Yard, is slated to open in the fall of 2022.
The greater Washington, D.C., real estate market is one of the most expensive in the country and Alexandria’s real estate and cost of living mimics these prices. You’ll pay more for gas, groceries, entertainment, and everyday shopping.
Keep in mind that apartments don’t necessarily have parking assigned to the unit. Renters may need to apply for residential parking to avoid tickets while parking on the street.
In-home apartment renters in all parts of the city, take note: some “apartments” are little more than a room with a mini-fridge and a microwave, while other in-home apartments occupy entire floors or basements outfitted with one or two bedrooms with access to a private entrance. These basement-style apartments have multiple types of renters competing for access in Alexandria. Students and single government workers will go head to head competing for affordable rentals.
Tips for Choosing an Apartment in Alexandria
1. If this is your first time living in Alexandria, it’s crucial to understand the differences between Alexandria, Fairfax County, and the City of Alexandria.
Each has its own government and school system. Confusion sets in if you aren’t positive about the address location of your rental when it comes time to register your vehicle or enroll in public school.
2. Because Alexandria is so large and diverse, the apartment search can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t choose a general location within the two different parts of the city.
Commuters often narrow down apartments in relation to their work destination.
For example, apartment searchers are sometimes enticed by lower rental prices but later realize the commute into Washington, D.C. becomes difficult without easy access to a Metro stop. Or, the apartment rental savings are eaten by parking fees each month.
3. In general, the closer housing is to the Potomac River, the more expensive the rent is.
However, if you look at the West End, it’s the City of Alexandria’s largest and fastest-growing area. New construction, more space, and up-and-coming live, work, play communities are in various stages of development. It’s also close to I-395 and I-95 if your commute takes you into D.C., Maryland, or other parts of Virginia.
Popular Apartments in Alexandria
If you research the most popular apartments in Alexandria, it becomes obvious; the most sought-after apartments sit in the luxury category. This reflects the higher than the national average incomes and the significant presence of government entity payrolls.
The good news is everyone has their version of what “luxury” actually really entails, whether it’s on-site parking, high-end finishes in the interior, the availability of shared amenities, and many other descriptors. Depending on your version of luxury, the pricing structure varies.
Take a look at some of the most popular apartment complexes or towers in Alexandria.
- The Elms at Kingstowne
- Parc Meridian at Eisenhower Station
- The Asher
- The Alexander
- Carlyle Place Apartments
- Gables Old Town North
- The Thorton
- Huntington Gateway
- Seminary Towers
- Del Ray Tower
Amazon's H2Q Effect on Apartment Rentals in Alexandria
Amazon’s decision to locate their second headquarters to the Crystal City/Arlington (collectively known as National Landing) area directly affects the nearby City of Alexandria neighborhoods of Del Ray, Arlandia, and Potomac Yards.
Apartments there have seen increased rent well before Amazon entirely moves in, and the climb will continue. Hopefully, relieving some of the housing scarcity, National Landing will feature luxury apartments for incoming employees. Plans for and construction of almost 7,500 residential units are currently in the works.
Investors are also jumping in, buying up apartments and single-family homes to makeover and rent to incoming Amazon employees who will flow in over the next ten years. As a result, many Alexandria real estate experts expect to see additional impacts on rental prices that trickle further into Alexandria’s western and southern portions.
The Pandemic's Effect on Alexandria Apartments
Pre-pandemic, Alexandria apartment availability was on par with average vacancy. During the pandemic, renters fled the tight quarters and looked for more space. As we reach the end of the pandemic, the pendulum has swung back to full occupancy in many of the most sought-after apartments.
The continued national housing shortage crisis has pushed would-be home buyers (especially priced out first-time buyers) back into rentals, elevating rents higher and higher. Apartment.com says as of October 2021, the average apartment rent in Alexandria is $1,549 for a studio, $1,833 for one-bedroom, $2,093 for two bedrooms, and $2,261 for three bedrooms. These prices reflect a 25.3% increase in rent in just one year.
There are definitely dozens of solid reasons to rent an apartment in Alexandria, even with a few downsides. To find your ideal apartment, take into account your budget, the most logical part of the city for your lifestyle, and whether or not you prefer a traditional apartment complex and tower life or living in a space within an owner’s single-family home.
Both Alexandria, Fairfax County, and the City of Alexandria have options for various types of apartment living, so don’t be discouraged while looking for the perfect fit. Click below to see all the MilitaryByOwner listings in Alexandria!