Analyzing the Cost of Office Space in Washington DC

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Washington DC is one of the largest US office space markets by square footage, which means local businesses are never short of options when it comes to finding a suitable office unit in the nation’s capital. For anyone interested in setting up an office or relocating to the city, we have created an overview of the costs involved in doing so.

The business environment in Washington DC

Washington DC has a thriving business ecosystem boasting excellent tech infrastructure, unparalleled access by road, sea, railway, and air, with three major airports, and office space options that can accommodate anything from large headquarters to micro-enterprises.

In addition, local companies enjoy access to a highly educated workforce, the presence of influential industry players in various industries, and several incentives to lessen the financial impact of running a business in the city.

Office space market trends in Washington DC

Washington DC is one of the largest and most resilient office markets in the United States, although recent changes in office use have had repercussions on the costs of leasing office space.

For example, a reduction in office footprints in favor of units with better-quality amenities has released into the market a high volume of large, less amenitized offices at more affordable rates.

Sustained demand for short-term office space and flexible arrangements are behind the city’s competitive flexible office market, even after some major operators reduced the number of locations. More competition between providers means a wider range of prices, leading to a notable divide in costs between conventional, private offices and shared office space. In Washington DC, the latter can be more than 50% cheaper than conventional office space.

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Prime office locations & costs in Washington DC

The most desirable office locations in the city are:

– Downtown DC or the CBD, has more than 200 office buildings and average asking rates of $55 per square foot and $63 per square foot for Class A space.

Capitol Hill, which has higher demand due to its proximity to government offices, historical landmarks, and major roads, without incurring significantly higher asking rates than the CBD. Average rental rates are under $55 / sq ft, even for Class A offices.

– Capitol Riverfront / Navy Yard, home to many mixed-use developments and an abundance of relatively new office buildings, with average asking rates around $60 / sq ft. 

Other locations that appeal to office-based businesses include:

– East End, the largest sub-market by square footage. This area comprises the historical center, with older offices around Penn Quarter and better-equipped options between Judiciary Square, Union Station, and Capitol Hill. Average rates for all classes are $56 / sq ft and $64 / sq ft for Class A.

– Georgetown / West End, including the Dupont Circle area, a Business Improvement District offering proximity to downtown and mid-range asking rates of $50 / sq ft for all classes and $57 / sq ft for Class A.

– Uptown, a smaller sub-market in terms of office space, although covering a large area northwest of the city center, is home to some of the most affordable office spaces in the metro area at $45 / sq ft for all classes and $49 / sq ft for Class A.

– Other affordable options with base asking rent along the same lines as Uptown are SE Washington and up and coming neighborhood, NoMa, which is named so because it is north of Massachusetts Avenue. 

Office costs by building class

The all-class average in the Washington DC metro area for office space is under $60 / sq ft.

Trophy space comes at $85 / sq ft and above. 

Class A office space in Washington DC commands average rates of $60 / sq ft. But those with the best location and amenities can fetch more than $70 / sq ft to rent office space.

Class B and Class C office space average rates are short of $50 / sq ft.

Asking rates are generally stable with minimal rent increases over the years, except for trophy space, whose prices climbed sharply after mid 2022, reaching records of more than $95 / sq ft.

A view across the Washington DC skyline at daytime. The Washington Monument rises in the distance above many-hued buildings towards a blue sky streaked with white clouds. Image at

Suburban offices

Office space in Maryland is a popular alternative given the easy commute to and from Washington DC and the significantly lower costs. In some cases, for example Class A offices, per square foot costs can be 50% lower than in the most central DC locations. 

In the most in-demand sub-markets (those closest to Washington), such as Capital Heights and Bethesda, asking rates are in the low to mid $30s. Comparatively low rates and high availability make this suburban area a tenant-favorable market where it’s possible to negotiate rates ever further. 


For several years, concessions in DC have been some of the highest in the US, benefiting tenants able to commit to long-term leases.

Outside of best-in-class assets, landlords are pressured to secure long-term leases for their office space, so incentives in the form of concessions are part of the lease package. The most generous offers can be up to 3 years’ free rent and tenant improvement allowances of $160-$170 / sq ft.

Other costs

Beyond square footage rates, tenants must consider additional costs, mainly operating expenses. In this respect, Washington DC is among the most expensive markets in the US, with OpEx of nearly $15 / sq ft.

Cost-effective alternatives

Coworking in Washington DC is substantially more cost-effective than conventional office space leases, at least for small teams. Average monthly membership fees in Washington DC are $200 for hot desking solutions, and $300 to $400 for dedicated desk space. 

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Washington DC boasts a diverse range of office spaces catering to various needs and preferences, from prime locations in Capitol Hill and Navy Yard to out-of-town districts and shared office space options offering more affordable alternatives. 

You can explore the range of office accommodation options in Washington DC here.

Further Insights

Do you want to learn more about office space costs in other major U.S. markets? Or are you looking to learn about trends in commercial real estate in the United States? You can view more of our most recent stories below.

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