Thinking about moving to Washington, D.C.?
Presidents, senators, lobbyists, lawyers and consultants—anyone and everyone looking to enter the political scene can be found in Washington, D.C., but don’t despair if you are not politically minded. There are plenty of people living and working outside of politics in the DMV (what locals call the DC metro area consisting of DC, Maryland and Virginia).
Just under 700,000 people actually live inside the District, with over 42 percent living in apartments in neighborhoods as diverse as the political leanings of the country. Millennials head to neighborhoods like Columbia Heights for (barely) cheaper rents, and the NoMa/ H Street Corridor is quickly on the rise with shops and restaurants drawing in new buyers and renters. Not sure which neighborhood is right for you? Read our guide on top Washington, D.C. neighborhoods and a list of the best realtors that can take the guess work out of where to buy or rent.
The Beltway has long been a term that makes the average DC resident shutter, as well as everyone commuting into the city from Maryland and Virginia. The highway that rings around DC, I-495, can be a beast to tackle on the best of days during rush hour, but one accident can bring all traffic to a standstill. Getting to know the side roads of DC and multiple routes home is your best strategy to beat the traffic. If you can drive outside of rush hour, you may be O.K. A reverse commute (heading south when everyone is headed north) can also be a lifesaver.
DC also has a decent metro train and bus system that can get you from point A to point B without ever starting your car. Homes near metro stations are prime real estate, and are worth their weight in gold if you don’t have to pay to ride the metro and park your car at the metro lot.
Beat the commute tips: Apps like Waze and Google Maps can give you decent alternatives when traffic slows down in the city, but even these apps can’t beat your own knowledge of the back roads. Use both to get home quick. When in doubt, take the metro. Although there have been issues in the past, and subway lines can go down without notice, if you are a regular commuter you can read your book and still get to work on time.
Washington, D.C. is a four-season city, no matter how far below the Mason-Dixon line it is located. Fall and spring are short, but spectacular. Summers are balmy thanks to the swamp D.C. was built on. Average temperatures are misleading, especially when the humidity isn’t factored in. Expect thunderstorms to blow through regularly, and use extra care when dressing, as layers are often needed. Offices crank up the A/C in the summer, but don’t blast the heat in colder months. Winters are generally mild, but thanks to climate changes, more snow has been hitting the city, and blizzards have been known to close government offices for a few days while city employees dig out.
Summer average (June – Aug): 89 ℉ high, 71 ℉ low
Winter average (Dec – Feb): 43 ℉ high, 29 ℉ low
Washington, D.C. has a transient work population thanks to numerous government employees in the area. Military personnel come and go, and politicians move in and out of office, along with all of their staff. This is good news for anyone not working in the government and looking to settle down, as spring and summer flood the housing market with every size and shape of home you could want.
The largest employer in the area is the government, but tech, communication and even hotel empires are based in the DC-area. Hilton Worldwide (Virginia), Discovery Communications (Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, etc. in Maryland) and National Geographic (DC) are just a few of the companies creating jobs outside of government agencies.
Unemployment rate: 7.5% (as of April 2015)
Average monthly wages (after taxes) for all industries: $3838.79 (via numbeo.com, June 2016)