Relocating to any city can be difficult, but Washington, D.C. presents a unique set of challenges. It is the country’s seat of government, after all. Here are a few things you need to know that will make moving to D.C. far less stressful.


The government isn’t the only employer

a street in downtown dc with buildings and cars waiting at a traffic light

Being the seat of government means many people think that finding a job that is not in the administration or connected to it in some way is impossible. That’s not true, though.

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Washington, D.C. has a growing knowledge economy that’s attracting people from all over the world. The private sector is pretty robust too, so working for the government isn’t the only option. Some of the largest employers in D.C., besides the federal government, include:

  • MedStar Health
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Verizon Communications
  • Mitre
  • Capital One Financial
  • Lockheed Martin Corp.
  • Deloitte


Living in Washington is expensive

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the cost of living in Washington is high, at 39% above the national average. What should probably be a surprise is that it isn’t the most expensive city in the United States, seeing as in most other countries, the national capital tends to be the most expensive.

So, it’s a good idea to have some savings on hand when moving to D.C., even if you do have a job lined up. It will take a few weeks for you to see your first paycheck, and with Washington’s high cost of living, you’ll need some cash to survive.


Deciding where to live

a table and chairs near a window in a dining area in a Blueground apartment in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. offers a large number of neighborhoods with varying rental costs attached. For example, Eastern Market and Capitol Hill are great areas for anyone working at the Hill because it will allow you easily bike or walk to work. However, they’re pretty expensive.

If the commute doesn’t worry you, then you might be interested in looking further out, at the suburbs.

Regardless of where you decide to live, finding a place to rent can be a challenge. One great way to avoid the hassle of dealing with realtors and wasting time on house hunting is to rent from a company like Blueground.

Blueground has beautiful apartments in some of the best locations in Washington, D.C. They are all furnished, fully equipped, and serviced, which will definitely make your life easier. Plus, you can rent your apartment before you even get to Washington by using their website.


The metro will become your best friend

Though it’s a good idea to have a car, especially for those moments where you want to visit places outside of Washington, you’ll find yourself using the metro far more frequently.

Traffic in Washington may not be quite as crazy as New York City, but it’s still a pain, which is why many people use the metro. The metro in Washington is clean, safe, and will get you to where you want to go quickly.

Keep in mind, though, that parking costs in Washington are pretty high, which is why you might consider a self-storage unit in relatively close proximity to where you live for your car.  


The local taxation system is complicated

Taxes in Washington, D.C. are pretty complicated. For example, sales tax is usually 5.75%, but it changes for alcohol, coming in at 10%. Eating out and renting a car also comes with a premium as the tax is also 10%. And parking? Well, be prepared to pay a 19% tax because Washington is awesome like that.

On the other hand, utilities, groceries, and medication are completely exempt from the sales tax, which is nice.


Washington is a haven for museum lovers

air and space museum in Washington, D.C.

If you love museums, then Washington D.C. is perfect for you. Yes, you might be paying a lot of money in sales taxes, but, on the flip side, you get to visit some of the most amazing museums in the world for free. Of course, not every museum is free, but the majority are.

And even if you’re not passionate about visiting museums, it’s still worth keeping an eye on them because many host free talks, film screenings, and receptions. They’re a great source of cheap or free entertainment and definitely shouldn’t be overlooked.


It’s a great place to meet people

Washington D.C. has a large population of transients. It’s full of people who are always moving around, throughout the country and even the world, like politicians, diplomats, military personnel, lobbyists, consultants and so on.

Due to the transient nature of the city, meeting people is relatively easy because many of them will be new, just like you. So, when moving to D.C., you definitely won’t have to worry about being alone for long. There are also plenty of amazing coworking spaces where you can further expand your community.


Metro etiquette is important

two trains and lots of commuters standing around in a Washington, D.C. metro station

In a city where everyone’s rushing around all the time, learning metro etiquette is important. At first, you might not get the point, but once you’ve been living in Washington for a while, you’ll find tourists who don’t get it just as annoying.

So, what’s metro etiquette all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Stand on the right of the escalator so people can rush past you if they’re late for their train. When you get off the escalator, always walk to the left.

Yes, that’s it. But you’ll be surprised how many people don’t follow these simple rules, and just how annoying it can be. So, when moving to D.C., start acting like a local from the moment you get there by standing right and walking left.


Hire a moving company

You might be tempted to do it all on your own, but you’re probably going to find moving to D.C. far easier if you hire a moving company. The terrible traffic can make moving your stuff really problematic, which is where an experienced mover comes in.

It might cost more than if you did it yourself, but it will save you so much time and aggravation that it’s definitely worth the additional cost.

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