Locals Reveal 10 Insider Tips for Moving to D.C.
March 10, 2023 @ 5:00pm
If you are considering making the District your home, here is some expert advice on how to get acquainted with our city.
Are you thinking about moving to Washington, D.C.? The District of Columbia may be known for the city’s rich history and iconic landmarks. However, there’s so much more to the city.
The bustling city of D.C. is full of vibrant culture, international flavors and historic neighborhoods to explore – such as Georgetown and Cleveland Park. It’s no surprise D.C. is an appealing place to settle down. If you’re thinking about moving here you’re most likely interested in hearing what D.C. residents have to say about the city. From the locals themselves, here are 10 tips for moving to the nation’s capital.
Embrace the political culture
“Everyone here is up-to-date on politics,” District Fray’s assistant editor Nicole Schaller shares. “It is the city’s favorite pastime, and we sometimes treat it like a playoff game or championship. I have been to bars to watch U.S. Presidential debates and hearings. It is not uncommon to enter a rideshare and the driver wants to discuss the breaking news story of the day as NPR plays in the background. The best part of living here is that the District is an international hub, with so many different cultures coming together to learn and grow from one another.”
If you’re new to the city, Schaller also has a few local spots she recommends checking out: Emissary Cafe in Dupont Circle (great for remote working if you don’t have WiFi when you first move), Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park (great for runs, walks and biking), Gypsy Kitchen‘s rooftop in Logan Circle (great for when family is visiting and you need a last minute reservation), Renwick Gallery near Downtown, and Dew Drop Inn near Brookland
Take advantage of endless arts and culture opportunities D.C. has to offer
Courtney Whittington, founder of DC Area Moms explains, “This beautiful city has so much to offer residents with cultural events and world-class museums.” It’s home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, with a wide range of opportunities for visitors and residents to engage with the arts.
The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex, offers a wealth of art, history and science exhibits, as well as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Portrait Gallery. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is another major cultural destination, offering performances of theater, dance and music. Additionally, the city is home to several smaller theaters and performance spaces, as well as galleries and art museums such as the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Phillips Collection, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Washington, D.C. also hosts many annual festivals and events that celebrate the arts and culture, such as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the DC Jazz Festival.
Purchase a WMATA SmarTrip pass to explore your new city
“Washington, D.C. is a city rich in history that is easy (and often free) to explore,” states D.C.-based content creator, Kaylannk. “I recommend you purchase a WMATA SmarTrip pass and start your exploration.
The WMATA SmarTrip card is a rechargeable fare card used for public transportation in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area, including the Metro subway system, buses, and select regional trains. With SmarTrip, riders can save money with off-peak fares and transfer discounts, making it a convenient and cost-effective option for transportation in the D.C. area.
“Your first stop on the metro should be Foggy Bottom,” Kaylannk continues. “There you can spend the day in Georgetown and spend the night at the Kennedy Center for a show. You can spend the day in Georgetown shopping, viewing historical landmarks, walking along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, or my favorite dining along the waterfront at Sequoia DC. You can end the day of leisure by taking the Kennedy Center shuttle bus to your night show.”
Visit D.C. before making the move
Travel blog Lady Out of the Office suggests visiting D.C. before making the official move.
Exploring Washington, D.C. prior to your move can prove advantageous. You can gain insight into the city’s diverse neighborhoods and communities, immerse yourself in its culture and leisure activities, utilize public transportation, and get to know the locals. With this valuable knowledge, you can determine the most suitable area to live in and have an idea of what to expect once you relocate to the nation’s capital.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay during your visit, ”Check out Sofitel DC Hotel, a luxurious and French-inspired family-friendly stay in the heart of D.C.,” Lady Out of the Office says. “The hotel is two blocks or about 6 minutes from the White House, about a mile from the National Mall, and two miles from the United States Capitol.”
Live in a walkable neighborhood
“Pick a neighborhood that you can walk around in,” recommends D.C.-based creative director, stylist, and wedding planner Elizabeth Carberry. “One that you can find everything you need within a few blocks of a brisk walk. It’s the best way to take in the city from Capitol Hill to the Mall, to Tenleytown. Finding a neighborhood to have your local coffee shop, grocery store, hardware store, gym or kids’ playground in walking distance will make all the difference.
Carberry shares her experience living in D.C., “I’m partial to Logan Circle, as I was a resident for more than 10 years of that neighborhood. In our early twenties, we went to Stoney’s for Sunday football games, Whole Foods, and Flow Yoga for a sweat. As we grew older we had Slipstream for breakfast and coffee, Batch 13 for a bottle, Le Diplomate for a bite and then Garrison Elementary School playground, all within walking distance.”
Take advantage of the city’s abundance of nature
“The city is very walkable and bike-friendly,” local blogger Jessica Folmar of Diamond in the District says. “There are tons of national parks (the most of any city per capita) and walking, biking and hiking trails that are easily accessible from most residential neighborhoods.”
She goes on to share, “In addition to the walking trails near the monuments, there are a number of public golf courses that are open to the public with great views. Rock Creek Park and Teddy Roosevelt island offers hiking trails that offer an escape from city life. Lastly, the water views of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers can be enjoyed from many rooftop bars or nature trails.”
Live like a local, but explore like a tourist
“If you’re thinking of moving to Washington D.C., my best tip is to make the most of your move by experiencing as much of the city’s culture as possible,” recommends Trever Faden, CEO of property management company Atlas Lane. “Enjoy a thriving ethnic food scene, from Afghan cuisine at Lapis in Adams Morgan to Los Hermanos in Columbia Heights for Dominican bites. Plus, the Smithsonian offers free admission to all of their D.C. museums.”
Be prepared for the cost of living
The cost of living in Washington, D.C. is generally higher than the national average. Housing is one of the biggest expenses, with the median sale price in the city being $630,000 which is significantly higher than the national average of $388,100. Rent prices are also high, with the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. being around $2,452 per month.
However, the city does offer many free or low-cost activities such as visiting the Smithsonian Museums, attending events on the National Mall and many local parks. Overall, D.C. may have a high cost of living, yet its cultural and professional opportunities make it an appealing place to live and work for those who yearn for a cosmopolitan city.
Enjoy the city’s wide variety of delicious food
One of the most notable aspects of the D.C. food scene is the variety of cuisine available. “With over 175 foreign embassies and international residences, you can find just about any food you’d like from Thai and Ethiopian, to Salvadorian and Italian, and everything in between,” says Monica Barnett, a local wardrobe stylist and lifestyle blogger of Blueprint for Style “There’s over 20 Michelin-star restaurants you have to check out, but start with a visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street for a famous half-smoke and go from there.”
Learn about the history that surrounds you
Take the time to learn about the history of your new house and neighborhood. There is so much to uncover about D.C. beyond its national significance. As you put down roots, you will feel a deeper connection to your new home by knowing more about its vibrant culture and history. Places like the DC History Center and the DC Public Library are great avenues for this type of discovery.
“From the monuments and memorials that line the National Mall to the inspiring speeches and debates that take place on Capitol Hill, the city is filled with reminders of the sacrifices and achievements of those who have shaped our nation,” explains Jeff Lockard, senior vice president of Lockard + Smith. “The world-class museums, galleries, and music venues make our city an ideal place to explore and gain new perspectives on history, art, science and much more. Life is stimulating and fulfilling in our nation’s capital city.”
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