(Closed) Living in DC?

posted 8 years ago in Washington, D.C.
Post # 3
442 posts
Helper bee

SO and I were thinking the exact same thing so we visited this past weekend.  We did not like it.  Its a beautiful city but there are many homeless people and we even saw one woman vomiting in the middle of a sidewalk.


It may just be us though!  Good luck.:)

Post # 4
32 posts
  • Wedding: June 2011

I’ve been here for about 5 years and love it.  It’s still an expensive city, but because so many people are in gov’t or non-profit jobs, there’s not a lot of social pressure to spend a lot of money going out or on a fancy apartment/car/clothes etc.  Most of my friends who live in one bedrooms as couples pay $1500-$2k in rent, and under $3k for two bedrooms (this is for people who live in DC, VA pricing is a lot lower).  And it’s so walkable/bikeable/public transportation-friendly!  The weather’s not as nice as LA…winter is pretty mild (although I’m from New England, so take that with a grain of salt) and the summers are brutally hot and humid, but we have gorgeous and long falls and springs. 

Also, because there’s a lot of turnover with people leaving for foreign rotations, grad school, etc., everyone is always looking for new friends and therefore very friendly.  All in all, I’d highly recommend!

Post # 6
659 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

I’ve lived here since 2005 and bought my condo (in between Dupont Circle and U Street) in 2008.  I work for the federal government and have since I came here (first Capitol Hill and then agencies).  I like living here mainly because I have a job. 

DC is, I think, the third most expensive city in the US to live in, and traffic is horrible if you ever drive anywhere no matter what day or tme (seriously, I don’t get it…why?!?!?!) 

There’s always something going on here, it’s a very young city, but also a city that people don’t stay in forever so it’s somewhat difficult to make lasting relationships.  In fact, I think it’s generally hard to meet quality people here because people are often networking.  However, people here tend to be very smart, very hardworking, and for the most part working towards a great good (for the most part!).  The cultural experience in DC is second to none because of the foreign residents and embassies.  DC is also very real – it’s a city with the same problems as every other major urban center and it makes you want to do something about the problems, so there are a TON of ways to volunteer including an annual servathon. 

If I had to recommend a neighborhood for any new transplant that might be just outside the city (cost, safety) it would be Friendship Heights.  I lived there for a long time and loved it – just over the border, lots of stuff right there, and a 10 minute metro ride to downtown.  My old building was fantastic and reasonable with great management (all rentals) and I can totally recommend them by name if needed. 

For my opinion’s reference, I grew up in Philly, went to college in Pittsburgh and grad school in western Mass.  So I’ve lived in different types of places if that matters!

Good luck!  It’s a great city…but a city with flaws and perks.

Post # 7
381 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I lived there for 6 years, had 3 meaningful jobs (a sales person in a high end linen shop, a paid intern at a political advertising firm and an executive assistant at a cable channel)  but was quite young at the time 18-24, so bear that in mind when reading the rest of my post. 

I’ve heard of a quote that DC has northern charm and southern efficiency, which I agree with to a certain extent. Expect to be asked what you do for a living anytime you’re in a social situation, it’s how people break the ice in DC, and how they size you up. 

It’s not the cleanest city, but it’s not the dirtiest either. The public transportation is what I miss most. I didn’t appreciate it enough when I lived there.

There is always something to do in DC. It’s such an amazing city in terms of events and things to learn about. People of DC are smart and motivated. There’s a good amount of competition in the job field, but in my experience, it didn’t stop people above me from helping me out in my career. There is a lot to getting to know the right people getting you places in your own career. 

I left DC because I became overwhelmed and burnt out. I had gone to undergrad and grad school and needed a more relaxed pace of life, so I moved out west. Now that I’m older, and a little wiser, and have a steady relationship, I would return if the job was right. 

The summer is pretty brutal but you really do get all 4 seasons. That’s my personal opinion, I’m sure others will disagree with me to some extent.

Post # 8
7975 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I spent 5 years living in northern LA county (near Pasadena) and am on month 5 in DC. I like it all right – it’s definitely a totally different feeling city than LA.

The thing that has struck me most is how career driven everyone is here. I’ve been around people who value and enjoy their jobs before, but here, what you do for a living seems to define people, and it bleeds into so much more of their lives! It’s like life is centered around work. I saw some of that in LA, but it seemed a lot more concentrated in certain careers (mostly the film and music industries) – here it seems to be EVERYONE. Well, maybe not the blue collar working class, but I don’t really know anyone in that socio economic circle, so it’s hard for me to say.

Night life is great, public transit is great, a lot of perks of big city life, but without the big city. We get by without a car (we do Zipcar) and love it – I couldn’t have imagined living without my car in LA. In that regard, it’s cheaper here. We actually pay more in rent for a comparable apartment here than what I ever paid in Pasadena, but I know rent closer to LA proper was more expensive than what I paid at the time too.

DC is also a very Green city, lots of environmental efforts to be found if you want to find them. Not granola green though, more window-cling-proud green, if that makes sense. I hope that’s not an offensive statement. I am a little bit of an environmentalist, but not like a lot of people I know here, only shopping at farmers markets and buying local, organic produce and telling others why they should do the same… although one friend did tell me in confidence that she sometimes goes to the supermarket near their house but her husband is so ashamed of it that he gets upset if anyone finds out.

I like it here, but it’s a fairly substantial adjustment from LA! Have you lived on the east coast before? DC is very much an east coast city, haha. LA is downright laidback in comparison (at least in my experiences).

Oh, and as for homeless people, I feel as though there are waaaaaay fewer here than I was used to seeing in LA.

Post # 9
659 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

Everyone is mentioning people and their jobs.  I think a lot of that is that people come here, for the most part, specifically for work.  They come here when it’s OK to earn pennies for a ton of work and meet other young people.  Political campainers, Hill staffers, non-profit workers tend to make nothing.  I worked two jobs when I worked on Capitol Hill (but oddly, I miss it – I’d love to go back to work on Capitol Hill…but only when the good people are in charge so I might have to wait a while ๐Ÿ˜‰  ) 

Work is what motivates people to come here, and I think it connects people in this very small city. 

Post # 11
128 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I’ve lived in the DC area since college (back in 2001) and have loved it since! 

I would also like to clarify what I mean by DC area.  the DC area (or the DMV) consists of DC itself and surrounding areas in both Maryland and Virginia.  Traffic mainly flows in (morning) and out (afternoon) to the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia.  We also have what we call the “beltway” which is a highway that circles around DC and parts of Maryland and Virginia.  If you happen to find suitable housing within the beltway, you’ll find that 1) there’s really not that much traffic, and 2) you can take advantage of the metro system here which is awesome.

The metro system is clean (no eating or drinking allowed) and really easy to follow.  The word “clean” to me is also relative.  I’m comparing it to another large city like NYC and the subway system there is really gross to me.

Anyway, if I were to recommend a place to live in the area, I would actually recomment either Arlington, VA or Alexandria, VA.  Both have plenty of access to a metro and are both inside the “beltway” (at most a 15 min drive into the city).  Both have great access to running/biking trails and lots of other activities and nightlife.  I’ve also lived in the Maryland side before and found that it’s much more crowded there.

Lastly, what I love most about the area is it’s diversity…both of the people that live here and the types of food that you’ll find to eat. 

Oh, one more thing…I’m not sure I agree with the statement that this is a transient area.  I’ve met so many people that have lived here for at least 10 years.

Post # 12
11325 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2011

I only lived there for a few months so I don’t know as much as a lot of other posters… but I took an internship there to try it out because I was thinking about moving there and it convinced me not to go. Although my reasons were mostly due to the cost, the cockroaches, and being so far from my family. 

As a city I LOVE DC. There is so much to do, and free stuff to do all the time. I love Friday night jazz on the lawn on the mall, the free smithsonians, etc etc. It is a very young city and really a very small city (especially compared to LA). The whole thing is 10 miles square I believe. Everyone is really friendly and its a really fun place to be if you’re political at all because everyone seems to be working for whatever their version of the greater good is. 

What I did not love about about DC is the price. I paid $900/month to share a 2 bedroom condo in a really bad area where i couldn’t even walk to the bus stop after dark. I’m from Ohio– this was a big shock to me. Also the cockroaches. I’m not a city girl so they FREAKED ME OUT. Cockroaches on the street, in our apartment, and in my friends’ apartments! They are freakin everywhere. I can’t handle it lol. (My roommate in DC was from NYC and she thought I was nuts btw). 

Post # 13
3575 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I can’t say enough wonderful things about Washington DC.  I lived in N. VA for 6 years and at times regret my decision to leave.  It is expensive but just as other bees posted, there is always something going on and a lot of things on the Mall are free!  What a great way to spend a weekend!

Nightlife is great and you can always discover something new and fun or something old and historical.

Post # 14
322 posts
Helper bee

I absolutely love it! I live outside of DC though, and I’m not sure that I personally would love living in the city. I like having it close but also like being able to drive. I also think that people exaggerate just a bit about the cost and traffic. Well,  maybe not exaggerate but maybe they are just not handling it right. The cost is not astronomical and you can find economical options for pretty much everything. As for the traffic, if you take the metro (I do not) you don’t have to worry about that period. If you drive, you just have to be smart about where you live in relation to where you work. If you work in the city and live 20 miles away in the suburbs and have to take a major highway to get there, then yes, you are going to hit traffic every day if you are driving during rush hour. The traffic can be annoying but it’s to be expected and I don’t think it is as bad as everyone says. I love living here because I feel like there are so many things to do and there are so many people who are similar to me and in similar situations. I don’t know that I would love it as much when I have a family, I would probably be fine in the further out suburbs though. Hope that helps a little bit!

Post # 15
459 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

I’ve lived in DC for a year and half now and I really enjoy it. There are some negatives that others already mentioned—namely, the horrendous traffic and the cost of living. Since I live in and work in the city, however, I get around mostly by taking public transportation and rarely need to drive.

We pay about $1700 a month to share a 1-bedroom near Dupont/Logan circles. There are cheaper things to be found in many other lively neighborhoods, or in places just outside the city such as Arlington.

Post # 16
84 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: March 2018 - Still Looking!

Sorry I can’t compare to LA, but here’s my (long!) story if it’s any help:

When I first graduated from law school, I sat down and made a list of pros and cons for various possible cities.  DC won, mostly for job opportunities but also points like cost of living (I was comparing to even more expensive places like NYC & SF) and weather (warm but not unbearable).  But then at the last minute I freaked out, decided my DC interviews had felt socially awkward, remembered I hate politics, and fled to the only firm I interviewed with in NYC.

Five years later, I got a job with a government agency and made a belated move to DC.  While I would never wish away my time in NYC, I freely admit that I completely underestimated DC.  Love it here!  There’s always something going on (thanks to government, international community, museums, multiple universities), but the lifestyle is much less stressful than NYC.  NYC types always grumble that there’s less activity here, but I consider the lower stress MORE than enough trade-off.  DC has a clean Metro with good coverage, and it’s experimenting with even more public transportation options like streetcars and public rental bikes.  I have lived in 3 very different areas, and found my neighbors both diverse and friendly in each place.  If you’re a nature fan, you don’t have to go far for some surprisingly pretty areas to walk/run/bike.  The schools were once a nightmare, but there have been real innovations in charter schools and some neighborhood publics, so we were pleasantly surprised that we won’t have to move to the suburbs when our baby hits preschool.

Not to say there aren’t downsides.  DC occupies a unique political situation, being somewhat at the mercy of Congress.  And its local politicians have a long and proud history of cronyism and corruption.  Between those two, public services are chronically underfunded and the bureaucracy can be a nightmare.  Restaurants and stores close too early for my taste.  The restaurants strike me as overpriced for the mediocre quality most deliver.  There are plenty of homeless around — most just go about their lives, but we are subject to the occasional panhandling and/or crazy-angry interactions.  Our neighborhood has the occasional crime wave — bothers some people more than others, but a really big deal if you’re in the “bothered” category.  Good housing is expensive.  Everything Meg said is true re “southern efficiency” and the questions about your job.  And don’t get me started on the drivers!

Of course, much of the above doesn’t apply if you live in the suburbs.  We live on Capitol Hill right now and love being in the center of things.  But I have also lived in Alexandria (VA) and Takoma Park (MD) and loved those too — the benefits of being outside the city, while still being Metro-accessible, diverse, and walkable.  Personally, I wouldn’t recommend anywhere that requires a difficult commute — not worth the road rage — but there ARE a few great close-in suburban options.

Good luck!

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