Moving to DC

So, you've decided to make the exciting leap and move to Washington, DC? Fabulous choice! Our nation's capital is teeming with history, bustling with energy, and bursting with opportunities. But, like most big cities, it can be tough to navigate the ins and outs of relocating your life to this dynamic metropolis. That's why we've crafted this comprehensive DC relocation guide, designed to ease the transition and acquaint you with everything you need to know about living in this vibrant city. So, sit back, relax, and allow us to make your move to DC feel like a piece of cherry pie, just like our founding fathers would have wanted!

Moving to DC landscape image

What to Know Before Moving to DC

1. Embrace the freebies of the city

Moving to DC means you're about to be surrounded by an abundance of free activities, attractions, and museums. You won't need to spend a dime to explore the Smithsonian Institution, which is home to 19 museums and galleries (including the National Zoo!). Additionally, the city boasts several historic monuments and sites that won't cost you a thing to admire. Embrace these free experiences that give you the opportunity to learn, explore, and appreciate everything the city has to offer.

2. Get used to sharing your city with thousands of tourists

As the nation's capital, DC attracts millions of tourists each year. While sometimes it can feel a bit overwhelming, remember that these tourists are present because of the city's rich history, culture, and countless sights to see. If you're looking for a more local experience, make an effort to explore the lesser-known pockets of the city or take advantage of tourist lulls when school is back in session and summer heat mellows.

3. Take public transportation, like the Metro

With limited parking and often congested streets, you'll quickly find that driving in DC might not be the most efficient way to get around. Instead, take advantage of the city's well-connected public transportation options, like the Metrorail and Metrobus system. Familiarize yourself with the Metro system and get a SmarTrip card, which is a rechargeable card that can be used for both rail and bus fares, making your commute more seamless and wallet-friendly. Plus, you'll feel like a true local while navigating the city without a car!

4. Exploring the food truck culture

DC boasts a thriving food truck scene with over 150 trucks roaming the streets, serving up delicious eats inspired by cuisines from all over the world. It's worth embracing and venturing out during your lunch break to track down a new favorite food truck, as you might find gems like piping hot empanadas, unique international bites, or mouthwatering sandwiches. The food truck community in DC is vast and ever-changing, offering unique and often more affordable meal options compared to some sit-down restaurants.

5. Take advantage of the mild weather to explore on foot or by bike

When moving to DC, be prepared for a generally mild climate (especially compared to the harsh winters in the North, or the sweltering summers of the South). This makes the city ideal for exploring on foot or by bicycle. Bike sharing is popular through apps like Capital Bikeshare and even the famed electric scooter services that have taken the city by storm. As a pedestrian-friendly city, DC has plenty of sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails, and you'll often find locals enjoying the outside, from relaxing in the National Mall to navigating the charming streets of Georgetown.

6. Get ready to dance and dine in the overlooked art of Ethiopian cuisine and culture

One of the most unique and treasured aspects of DC is its vibrant Ethiopian community, which has greatly influenced the city's culinary and cultural scene. As home to the largest Ethiopian population outside of Ethiopia itself, DC offers an unparalleled variety of Ethiopian restaurants, cafés, and marketplaces. Dive into this rich culinary experience by visiting establishments like Zenebech, Chercher, or Keren, where you'll have the chance to savor traditional Ethiopian fare like injera, tibs, and doro wat. Embark on a cultural adventure as you join the locals at the weekly "Ethiopian Night" events, which highlight live music, dance performances, and of course, delicious food.

See the 10 Best Movers Nearest You
(Unbiased) Ranking of the top movers in every city.

Pros and Cons of Living in DC

Pros of Living in DC

Historical and Cultural Sites

Washington, DC is home to many famous historical and cultural attractions, including the National Mall, Smithsonian Institution museums, and numerous monuments and memorials. This provides a unique opportunity for residents to regularly explore and immerse themselves in the nation's history, arts, and culture.

Public Transportation

DC offers excellent public transportation options through its Metro system, which is considered one of the best in the country. This allows residents to easily commute to work, as well as explore nearby neighborhoods, without relying on a personal vehicle, reducing traffic congestion and contributing to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Job Opportunities

The District of Columbia is home to various governmental, non-profit, and private organizations, making it a hub for diverse job opportunities. Additionally, the city is a center for international diplomacy, attracting renowned NGOs, think tanks, and embassies, which create numerous job prospects for various professionals.

Diverse Dining Scene

Washington, DC boasts a diverse and thriving dining scene, ranging from traditional American fare to diverse ethnic cuisine. The city is also home to numerous popular food festivals and farmers' markets, offering a variety of options for food lovers to sample and enjoy.

Outdoor Recreation

DC offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation, with numerous parks and green spaces scattered throughout the city. Rock Creek Park, the largest urban park in the area, provides miles of trails for hiking and biking, as well as sports fields and picnic areas. The Potomac and Anacostia rivers offer additional recreational options, such as kayaking and paddleboarding.

Cons of Living in DC

High Cost of Living

The cost of living in Washington, DC is considerably higher than the national average, especially when it comes to housing. Rent and home prices are typically quite steep, which may pose financial challenges for some residents, especially those moving from more affordable locations.

Traffic and Parking

Heavy traffic is a common issue in DC, and finding parking can be a challenge, particularly in busy areas and during peak hours. Although public transportation is widely available, residents who rely on personal vehicles may find navigating the city to be frustrating and time-consuming.

Crime Rates

As with any major city, crime rates in Washington, DC can vary widely depending on the neighborhood. While some areas of the city boast relatively low crime rates, others may have higher instances of property and violent crimes. Prospective residents should research local safety information when choosing a neighborhood.

Tourism Crowds

As the nation's capital, DC attracts millions of tourists each year, which can lead to crowded streets, public transportation, and attractions. During peak tourist seasons, residents may find themselves inconvenienced by throngs of visitors flocking to popular sites and attractions around the city.

Weather and Climate

Washington, DC experiences a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year, including hot and humid summers, snowy winters, and the possibility of natural disasters such as hurricanes and blizzards. Residents may find adjusting to the area's variable climate to be a challenge, particularly for those moving from milder climates.

Nighttime picture of DC highlighting pros and cons of living in DC

Is DC a Good State to Live In?

DC is a great place to live because of its rich history, cultural diversity, and thriving job market. Residents also enjoy an expansive public transportation system and a vast array of museums, restaurants, and entertainment options.

What Is DC Famous For?

The National Mall

This iconic green space is the heart of Washington, DC, and hosts some of the most famous landmarks and attractions in the city. Stretching from the United States Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall is home to renowned museums, towering monuments, and historical sites that pay tribute to our nation's history and culture.

The Smithsonian Institution

As the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, the Smithsonian Institution is an essential stop for any visitor to Washington, DC. With 19 museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoo, the Smithsonian offers an incredible range of exhibits and attractions that cater to all interests, whether you're a fan of art, history, science, or just about anything else!

Cherry Blossom Festival

Each spring, Washington, DC explodes in a burst of pink and white as the city's thousands of cherry trees bloom to life. The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates this beautiful event with a variety of activities and special events throughout the city, attracting visitors from around the country and around the world for weeks of fun and festivities.

Diverse Food Scene

Washington, DC might be best known for its historic landmarks, but it's also becoming a major foodie destination. From traditional American fare to delicacies from around the globe, the city's diverse and burgeoning food scene is a treat for all types of taste buds. Foodies can explore local farmer's markets, food trucks, and award-winning restaurants all around town.

Capital building of DC in artistic rendering

Overview of Tax Rates

Property Tax

As of 2023, the property tax rate for residents of Washington, DC is 0.85% of assessed property value. This rate is lower than the national average property tax rate which is around 1.07%.

Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in Washington, DC in 2023 is 6% on most goods and services, with an increased rate of 10% on alcohol served at restaurants and a reduced rate of 5.3% on groceries. Compared to other states, this sales tax rate is relatively moderate.

Income Tax

Income tax rates in Washington, DC for 2023 range from 4% (for incomes below $10,000) to 8.95% (for incomes over $1 million). These rates are generally higher than most U.S. states, but lower than states with the highest income tax rates such as California and New York.

Housing Market

The housing market in Washington DC showcases a unique blend of characteristics compared to other states. With a median home value of around $673,000 and an average rent of $2,200, it ranks among the higher-priced markets in the nation. Although the area experienced a 6.1% increase in home values during 2021, there has been a recent surge in inventory, showing potential signs of cooling. Highly-valued properties and strict zoning laws have also contributed significantly to the fluctuating market conditions. Prospective homebuyers and renters are advised to closely monitor market trends and stay updated on DC's housing market developments.

Housing market analysis of DC

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Washington D.C. is relatively high compared to other states in the United States. As the nation's capital, it experiences increased prices in housing, transportation, and overall living expenses. Among all U.S. states, the District of Columbia ranks as one of the least affordable places to live due to its high housing prices, high income taxes, and high overall cost of living. While the average salary in D.C. is also higher than the national average, residents often still feel the financial strain due to the significant disparity in the cost index.

Weather & Natural Disasters

Washington D.C., the capital of the United States, experiences a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are hot and humid, with average temperatures around 30°C (86°F). Frequent thunderstorms bring substantial rainfall, which can lead to occasional flash flooding. Winters tend to be mild to moderately cold, with average temperatures ranging from 0-10°C (32-50°F) and occasional snowfall. Spring and fall provide pleasant, moderate temperatures and colorful foliage.

Natural disasters in the D.C. area include hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms. Hurricanes and severe thunderstorms can cause heavy rainfall, strong winds, and flash flooding, especially during the Atlantic hurricane season from June to November. Tornadoes are less common but can still cause localized damage. Winter storms, with their snow, ice, and freezing rain, can disrupt transportation and lead to power outages. Overall, the D.C. area experiences a diverse range of weather phenomena and potential natural hazards, requiring residents and visitors to stay vigilant and prepared.

Economy & Job Market

Government and Politics

Professional and Business Services

Education and Health Services

Leisure and Hospitality

Construction and Real Estate

Washington D.C., the nation's capital, has historically been dominated by government and politics, giving it the nickname "Fed City." With the presence of federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, think tanks, and lobbying firms, the city offers a melting pot of career opportunities that cater to the politically-savvy. However, in recent years, D.C.'s economy has diversified heavily, with professional and business services, education and health services, leisure and hospitality, and construction and real estate emerging as strong contributors to the job market. These industries have attracted industry experts and professionals, providing more opportunities for career growth and a vibrant, diverse working community.

If you're planning a move to Washington D.C. and looking for a job, it's important to know that this bustling city has an unemployment rate that generally hovers around the national average. This means that job opportunities can be quite competitive, especially in highly coveted sectors, such as government and international relations. However, with the growth in other industries, particularly in technology and hospitality, career options may expand beyond the traditional beltway jobs. The best areas to look for jobs include downtown D.C., Arlington, VA, Alexandria, VA, and the Maryland suburbs, as these areas are home to the majority of businesses and government agencies in the district. So, polish up that résumé, practice your networking skills, and get ready to dive into the thriving D.C. job market!

Traffic and Transportation

Oh, how we utterly adore Big City Life, with its bright lights and never-ending bustle! But one significant (not-so-glamorous) aspect every city dweller has to navigate around is transportation and traffic. Take DC, the land of power and politics, for instance. Average commute times in big cities like DC extend beyond a whopping 30 minutes! (We could've probably caught up on the latest GOT episodes during that time).

But fear not, dear urbanites! Big cities are well-equipped with an abundance of public transportation options: hop on the Metro, flirt with buses, or perhaps try cozying up to a streetcar! Your heroic public transit partners will swoop in to save you from city traffic.

And let's not forget about our sky-bound adventures. DC houses two major airports, and in no time, you can channel your inner Amelia Earhart, defying gravity and soaring through the skies. So, strap yourself in and always be ready to jet set, because in DC, our bustling transportation hub has got your back!

What is the traffic like in DC?

Things to Do

So, you're moving to the magnificent capital of the United States, Washington, D.C.! Get ready to explore the history, immerse yourself in the culture, and experience everything that only D.C. can offer. With so much to see and do, you'll become a true insider in no time. Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the top seven things to do in D.C. for newcomers like you. Some you may have heard of, but we've sprinkled in a couple of hidden gems too!

1. Get Nostalgic at the National Mall

Home to some of the most iconic monuments and memorials, the National Mall is an experience you can't miss. You'll be in awe of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, among others. Plus, the picturesque Reflecting Pool is the perfect backdrop for a selfie or two.

2. Dive Into History at the Smithsonian Institute

Art, history and science fans, rejoice! The Smithsonian Institute is a collection of 19 museums, galleries, and a zoo, all free to the public. You can visit the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, or the National Museum of American History, among others. You'll learn so much without breaking the bank!

3. Mix Politics and Parks at Capitol Hill

Come for the politics, stay for the parks! First, explore the magnificent U.S. Capitol building, where the House of Representatives and the Senate meet. Then, take a walk to explore nearby Union Station, the Capitol Building's picturesque sibling. Finally, stroll through Capitol Hill's peaceful parks including Stanton Park, Lincoln Park, and Eastern Market.

4. Coladas and Cobblestones at Historic Georgetown

Escape the hustle and bustle in favor of the picturesque charm of Georgetown. Its cobblestone streets, lined with historic homes and beautiful gardens, are begging to be explored. Take a relaxing walk along Georgetown Waterfront Park, and indulge in delicious Cuban food at Colada Shop, one of DC's best-kept secrets!

5. Find Fascination at the International Spy Museum

Put on your best trench coat and fedora for this one! At the International Spy Museum, you'll discover the thrilling world of espionage. Dive into the history of spying, learn about intelligence agencies from around the world, and uncover the stories of the unsung heroes. Think you have what it takes to be a spy? Test your skills with the museum's interactive experience, Operation Spy.

6. Be a Kid at Dupont Underground

Experience one of DC's lesser-known gems, Dupont Underground. It's a unique art space and cultural destination located in the historic trolley tunnels beneath Dupont Circle. Once you've explored the underground world of art, pop up to street level and peruse the bookstores, art galleries, and cafes that give Dupont Circle its unique character.

7. Skate the Day Away at The Wharf

The Wharf is a vibrant waterfront community with incredible views of the Potomac River, trendy boutiques, and top-notch dining options. While you're there, why not strap on some rollerblades or hop on a bike? As a newcomer, there's no better way to explore The Wharf and its surroundings. For a special treat, grab an authentic gelato from Dolcezza, a locally owned shop with a cult-like following.

With all these distinct and exciting experiences that only D.C. can provide, you'll quickly become a true local. Whether you're exploring the National Mall or discovering hidden restaurants, we're sure these seven things to do in D.C. will make your move even more unforgettable. Enjoy your magnificent journey!

Things to do in DC?

Find Movers for Your DC Relocation

Now that you've discovered the many benefits and opportunities of relocating to the nation's capital, it's time to make your move as smooth as possible. Allow Great Guys Moving to connect you with reputable, licensed, and insured moving companies tailored to your specific needs and budget. Seize the opportunity for a hassle-free transition and experience the vibrancy of Washington DC with confidence. Don't wait another moment; request a free, no-obligation moving quote through Great Guys Moving today and begin your exciting new journey in DC.

Movers for moving to DC

See The Best Movers For Moving To DC From...

City Moving Guides in DC

Find out how much your move costs!