The U.S. capital, Washington, D.C., attracts more than just politicians and government staff. It’s a vibrant city full of culture and history that appeals to Americans and international visitors alike. Although the city is known for tourism, many people call it home, and even more in recent years. If you’re among the many people thinking about moving to D.C. here are a few things you should know before settling in our nation’s capital.
1. D.C. is Known for its Patchwork of Neighborhoods
The first important thing you’ll need to decide is where you’ll live. The D.C. area offers many kinds of neighborhoods with varying housing costs. Capitol Hill and Eastern Market, for example, are more residential neighborhoods especially convenient if you’ve landed a job at the Hill. If you’re interested in a hipper neighborhood, you might look into Logan Circle, with its Victorian-style houses dating all the way back to 1870.
2. D.C. is in Prime Weekend Getaway Territory
Even if you fall in love with Washington, D.C. after moving there you’ll probably want to get away now and again. And, you have plenty of options for short trips outside of the capital. For a city break, try Baltimore, Annapolis or Richmond. Or you can check out wineries in Virginia, go hiking and leaf-peeping in West Virginia or head to the beach in Delaware.
3. D.C. is Known for Serious Traffic
If you have a car in Washington, D.C. you should be prepared for serious traffic. The good news is like many big cities, D.C. residents do well without a car and rely on the Metro, buses, the streetcar, Uber (or similar services) and taxis.
4. The Cost of Living is High in D.C.
D.C. is one of the most expensive cities according to GoBankingRates.com. Their list defines living “comfortably” by a 50-30-20 rule — 50% of income for necessities, 30% for discretionary spending and 20% toward savings. By that measure, a person in D.C. needs to earn $80,273 a year to live comfortably — ranking third-highest in the U.S.
5. Taxes Work Differently in D.C.
Another factor that adds to the high cost of living in Washington, D.C. is the taxation system. The sales tax in the city is 5.75%, but certain purchases are taxed at a higher rate. For example, alcohol that you buy and consume off-premises is taxed at 10%, as are restaurant meals and takeout orders. There’s a hotel tax of 14.5%. Want to park your car in a garage? That’s taxed at a rate of 18%.
6. D.C. is Home to Outstanding, Free Museums
While you might pay a lot in sales tax over your years in D.C. you don’t need to pay a dime to visit world-class museums. Not all of the city’s museums are free, but most are. It’s a benefit of living in D.C. that’s worth taking advantage of, and not just visitors are in town. In addition to regular exhibitions, many museums host free talks, receptions and film screenings, too.
7. History is All Around You in D.C.
If you love history, you’ll love living in D.C. And the history in D.C. isn’t just about presidents and senators. The city also played a key role in civil rights history, the labor movement and the women’s suffrage movement. There’s a reason so many middle school Social Studies classes take field trips to Washington, D.C.
8. D.C. Can’t Build Up
D.C. has height limits that prevent developers from building tall buildings which contributes to its airy, low skyline. This also constrains the supply of new housing, contributing to the District’s high housing costs. Another factor that could influence whether you rent or buy.
9. D.C.’s Food Scene is Hot
The food and bar scene has exploded in D.C>. Whether you want to enjoy the warm weather with cocktails and light bites at one of the many restaurants with rooftops or splurge on one of the city’s numerous Michelin-starred fine dining venues — the nation’s capital has it all.
10. You’ll Be Fit in D.C.
With its varied architecture and low skyline, D.C. is a gorgeous, sunny place to spend time outside — and offers a multitude of outdoor spaces in which you can get fit. In spring, with Cherry Blossoms abound, you’ll enjoy taking in the breathtaking views while running along the Potomac River. DC even ranked a respectable second place in Forbes’ “America’s Top Healthiest Cities.”
The U.S. capital, Washington, D.C., attracts more than just politicians and government staff. It’s a great place to live with a variety of choices for work, recreation and lifestyles. It’s a vibrant city full of life, culture and history, just waiting for you to become a part of it. Contact our team of D.C. experts to find your dream home today.
Sources: CubeSmart, SmartAsset and GoBankingRates. com