Moving to Washington, D.C.

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.

Washington, D.C. Essential Resources

The District of Columbia website…


Moving to Washington, D.C. Checklist

Use our easy-to-follow moving checklist…


Traffic

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.

Weather

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

Economy

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)

Washington, D.C. Arts and Entertainment

Raku

Raku, Wisconsin Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C., DC, United States

Peregrine Espresso

Peregrine Espresso, 14th Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

La Columbe

La Colombe Coffee Roasters, 6th Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Thunder Burger

Thunder Burger & Bar, M Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Rose's Luxury

Rose's Luxury, 8th Street Southeast, Washington, DC, United States

Keren Restaurant

Keren Restaurant & Coffee Shop, Florida Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

&pizza

&pizza, E Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Fiola Mare

Fiola Mare, K Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Ambar

Ambar, 8th Street Southeast, Washington, DC, United States

Rasika

Rasika, D Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Restaurants
Raku
Peregrine Espresso
La Columbe
Thunder Burger
Rose's Luxury
Keren Restaurant
&pizza
Fiola Mare
Ambar
Rasika

Smithsonian Institute

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, United States

National Museum of Natural History

National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, United States

National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History, Washington, DC, United States

National Gallery of Art

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, United States

National Geographic Museum

National Geographic Museum, 17th Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Avenue Southwest, Washington, DC, United States

National Arboretum

National Arboretum, New York Avenue Northeast, D.C., DC, United States

President Lincoln's Cottage

President Lincoln's Cottage, Rock Creek Church Road Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum, F Street Northwest, Washington, DC, United States

Museums
Smithsonian Institute
National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of American History
National Gallery of Art
National Geographic Museum
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
National Arboretum
President Lincoln's Cottage
International Spy Museum

DC War Memorial

DC War Memorial, Independence Avenue Southwest, Washington, DC, United States

FDR Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, DC, United States

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC, United States

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC, United States

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Independence Avenue Southwest, Washington, DC, United States

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, Washington, DC, United States

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC, United States

Washington Monument

Washington Monument, Washington, DC, United States

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial, 17th Street Southwest, Washington, DC, United States

Memorials
DC War Memorial
FDR Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial
Ulysses S. Grant Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington Monument
World War II Memorial
Nightlife

Washington, D.C. is a rather compact city, with most of the nightlife happening in the neighborhoods, where locals like to gather after work for a drink and to talk over the day’s events. Georgetown boasts one of the best rooftop bars with a view at The Graham, while beer lovers can flock to H Street and DuPont Circle for some of the best brews in town. Adams Morgan is known for its late night party scene, while music lovers will want to head to the U Street Corridor.

Food

For far too long Washington, D.C. has been relegated to steak houses, French bistros and stuffy politicians, but as new blood moves in, so does a food movement making D.C. a food-lovers destination. Great coffee arrived when Peregrine Espresso opened up and La Columbe expanded outside of its native Philadelphia. Food trucks can be found around the city, but don’t discount the hipster markets (Union Market and Eastern Market) where you can support new restaurateurs perfecting dishes like gourmet waffles and Korean tacos. Raku is keeping in fresh when it comes to sushi in Cathedral Heights, while the chef behind Thunder Burger is showing Georgetown that there is more to a burger than just ground beef.

Sports

The Capitals, Nationals, Redskins, Wizards, and D.C. United all like to call Washington, D.C. home. There are also enough college sports to keep you entertained all season, whether you want to stick to the District schools, or root for your Maryland and Virginia alma maters, including the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia, all of which have a solid base of alumni-supporters across the DMV.

Events

The National Cherry Blossom Festival may be what Washington, D.C. is known for in terms of events, but the city offers a lot more than the annual blooms to entice people to visit and explore. Passport DC celebrates the city’s diplomatic community with street festivals, workshops, and the Around the World Embassy Tour in early May when dozens of embassies open their doors to greet all who are interested in their country and culture. The H Street Festival is a massive block party with live bands, beer tents, loads of food, and artist selling DC-centric merchandise. The year wraps up with the National Christmas Tree Lighting on the grounds of the White House.

Culture

Inside and out of Washington, D.C. you will find a wide range of cultures and ethnicities. More than half of the city’s population is Black (D.C. has the largest Ethiopian population outside of Addis Ababa) or African American, just under 40 percent is white, while the rest of the population consists of Hispanics, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, native Hwaiian Pacific Islanders and other from across the globe.

Here are some stats from Washington.org

  • 16% of DC residents speak a language other than English at home
  • 14% of DC residents are foreign-born
  • The Greater Washington region is home more than 180 embassies and international cultural centers.
  • 47% male and 53% female
  • Greater Washington has one of the best educated workforces in the U.S. 53% of Washington, DC residents hold a Bachelor’s Degree or higher (compared to 29% of US of population).
  • 18% of the Washington, DC population is under the age of 18.

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