Washington, DC is consistently ranked as one of the top cities for young professionals, and the entire region has seen its population surge as young families and career-focused individuals alike decide to call the area home. Of course, while there are plenty of great reasons to move to DC, having a better idea of what to expect will help you make a smooth transition. Here are six important things you should know about living in Washington, DC.
1. There Are Plenty of Job Opportunities
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One reason why so many millennials have decided to call Washington, DC home is that the city is host to an incredible range of job opportunities — especially for college graduates. A 2017 study found that 52% of millennials have a bachelor’s degree, a direct result of the high demand for educated workers. Better still, the average salary sits at over $65,000 a year — nearly 40% higher than the national average.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the federal government is one of the area’s biggest job providers. However, working for the government is far from your only available option.
Several other major employers are also headquartered within Washington DC or in the surrounding area, including Verizon Communications, Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton and Marriott International. Tech-oriented individuals in particular should have no trouble finding a great job.
2. Be Prepared for a Higher Cost of Living
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Higher salaries and a competitive job market also translate to a somewhat higher cost of living for area residents — especially if you want to live in the downtown area. Though the cost of living in Washington, DC isn’t as high as New York City or other metropolitan areas, it can still be a bit much if you aren’t prepared for it.
On average, even two-bedroom homes cost nearly $600,000 in the city, which is why most up-and-coming professionals choose to rent, instead. Still, rent isn’t exactly cheap, either, with the city’s average rent coming in at over $2,000 a month.
Because of this, many choose to downsize so they can move into a smaller apartment, while others live outside the downtown area so they can find more affordable housing.
3. DC Has a Vibrant Nightlife
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Of course, living in Washington, DC offers plenty of advantages you won’t find if you live outside the city — especially when it comes to the nightlife. DC is home to a wide mix of restaurants, clubs, and more, providing plenty of opportunities for singles to mix and mingle.
Some of the more popular locations in DC include the Eighteenth Street Lounge, a townhouse that has been converted into a casual bar, and Black Cat, which frequently hosts alternative music shows. Music aficionados also can’t miss The 9:30 Club, one of the country’s top music venues.
Whether you’re looking for a place to dance the night away or a location with more laid-back vibes, there’s something for everyone in downtown Washington, DC.
4. It’s Easy to Find Things to Do for Families
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Washington, DC doesn’t just provide an active nightlife for singles — it also has plenty of fun options for young families. The National Mall is the perfect place to take in the country’s history. You can check out the Lincoln Memorial, take a tour at the United States Capitol or explore the latest exhibits at the many Smithsonian Institution museums — all for free!
The area also hosts several family-friendly festivals throughout the year. The National Cherry Blossom Festival draws thousands of visitors each spring. Food and music rule the summer with events like the Giant National Capital Barbecue, the 17th Street Festival and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
Even winter offers fun events like the National Christmas Tree Lighting. No matter what time of year it is, there’s always something to do.
5. Public Transportation Is Everywhere
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Getting around town during rush hour isn’t easy, especially since some streets only allow one-way traffic during rush hour and two-way traffic during other times. Because of this, many individuals living in Washington, DC prefer to take advantage of the region’s impressive public transportation network.
Washington DC’s Metro service provides rail lines and buses that take riders throughout the city and beyond. Trains arrive every few minutes, and the rail lines operate as late as 1 AM on Friday and Saturday nights. No matter where you are in the city, you’re never far from a train station or bus stop, making it easy to get around without worrying about traffic or finding a place to park.
Washington, DC is also taking steps to become a more bike-friendly city, giving you even more options for getting around town. The district’s parks boast over 60 miles of bike trails, while bike lanes have been implemented on most streets.
6. Unique Quirks
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Living in Washington, DC also has a few unique quirks that are worth remembering when you move to the area. For one thing, the city’s monuments and historic sites make it a major tourist destination — 22 million tourists visited the city in 2016 alone. You may wish to adjust your commute and weekend plans during the summer, when the crowds are at their largest.
While Washington, DC rarely gets the level of snowfall seen in places like Boston or Philadelphia, even a few inches of snow can bring the city to a halt. Seriously. If snow is in the forecast, it’s worth turning on the news or checking in with work to see if your office has been closed for the day — getting a snow day is much easier than you’d expect.
Finally, be prepared to talk politics. It’s inevitable, living so close to the White House. But don’t worry — with a plethora of sports teams based out of Washington, DC and nearby Baltimore, Maryland, it isn’t too hard to find less controversial topics of conversation.
Are You Ready to Call DC Home?
Whether you want to experience the city’s history or simply live in an area with a vibrant nightlife, Washington, DC has a bit of something for everyone. No matter how you feel about politics, one thing is certain: the DC area is a great place to live while building your career.
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