Moving to DC PROS and CONS 2023
Thinking about moving to DC and wondering about the pros and cons? The last time I did a Pros and Cons video it was just at the dawn of this thing called Covid. It’s been the most-watched video on my channel, but things change and we need to talk about it.
- A Plethora of Job Opportunities – You know the federal government is here. But you may not know there is a very diverse job market in DC. World Bank, Med Star, Amazon, Google, tons of government contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Marriott. All these companies also support business travel to the area which means the hospitality industry is also thriving. There are also several job centers, so it’s not just everyone commuting to downtown DC. Tysons Corner in Virginia, the 270 Corridor in Maryland and parts of Arlington are some of the other commercial areas where people commute to.
- International and Diverse – DC is a melting pot for sure. Some people come for a few years and leave and others stay and put down roots. I feel like my kids have really thrived learning about their classmates and other cultures. Also, another pro that is connected to our diverse population leads us into the next item.
- Food Variety – DC is a city of foodies, and there are plenty of restaurants from that hole-in-the-wall with great food all the way to Michelin starred restaurants of which DC has 24. You can get mostly any ethic food you want here, and I personally give DC 5 stars for the awesome Ethiopian restaurants.
- Convenient Location in the Country – You can get to the beach in two to three hours, and you can also go skiing in a couple hours. This makes DC a great place for day trips. If you want to stay overnight, New York is just 4 hours away by train and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are 4 to 5 hours away. We also have 3 airports which serve the metro area and traveling overseas is a breeze. (See what I did there?) And something of a secret is that you can get the auto train to Florida where you can load your car on and sit back and relax on the trip to the Sunshine State.
- Weather – Weather can be a pro and a con depending on what you like, and depending on the day, but it’s mostly a pro. It gets muggy and humid here but year-round I would say we fare pretty well. We have 4 seasons, we usually only have a few days in winter when it’s single digit temperatures, and a few days in summer when it’s triple digits. Some winters we get snow but not all winters. But if you want snow, don’t forget that skiing and cabins are just a couple hours away.
- Free Museums – Enjoy seeing your tax dollars at work – many of the museums in the Smithsonian are free. This means there’s a fun and educational outing just down the street. There are also a bunch of other museums, some which pop up for a while and some which may become permanent. These typically do have an entrance fee, but they are always super interesting and worth the day to explore.
- Traffic – Because we don’t have one central area where all the businesses are, there is traffic in many different directions. There’s no such thing as “against traffic” here because the city has some roads that go one way for rush hour and then reverse for the commute back out of the city. There are a lot of cars on the road here and while the metro has added lines to service areas like Dulles, people are still pretty car-reliant in the area.
- Navigating the Schools is a cluster – In DC, there are public schools and charter schools. The lottery that governs the system in DC can be really difficult to navigate for people, especially people coming from a place where it’s a choice of either your neighborhood public school or going to a private school. It’s no secret that Covid really did a number on the education system, teachers and our kids. DC was on the upswing of improving schools but then suffered during the pandemic. Finding programs for special needs or advanced learners is tougher as it seems like there’s a “teach to the middle” theme that became more prevalent after that year of home schooling. It’s slightly more straightforward in Maryland and Virginia, with schools being run by the county or in the case of Virginia, the city within which they reside.
- Taxes – There is so much to know about taxes here. I have separate videos on taxes that you can check out for a deeper dive. If you live in DC, your license plate may say “Taxation Without Representation.” Why is this? Because we get taxed in the city and have no real representation in Congress. You know how people say to call your Senator? Well in DC you don’t have any! And in the House there is a Representative, but they can’t vote on bills being considered. Up in Maryland, you’ll be taxed by the state and also the county, which really cranks up the income tax you pay. Virginia only taxes you at either the county or the city level, as cities in Virginia stand on their own and not inside any county and Virginia pretty much has a flat tax of 5.75%. While that may sound great, Virginia also has a personal property tax on vehicles, boats, RV’s.
- Speed Cameras & Other Big Brother Nonsense – I’m friends with some Realtor Moms in other cities and when they heard we had speed cameras they were blown away. It’s a pain, especially when it feels like you’re on a road with no other traffic. I was also sitting at a red light once and looked at the GPS on my phone and a Secret Service Police Officer yelled at me through my window to put my phone down. Uh, okay dude. It felt like I was yelled at by Mall Cop. Someone is always watching you here.
- Cost of Living – I have in depth videos on the cost of living for DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland. The cost of living here is high and there is a huge range in salaries for people who come to work in the city. For those in the non-profit sector or on the lower end of the government pay grades, making ends meet can often be a challenge.
- Politics – You won’t survive in this city if you hate politics unless you’re me, who turns a blind eye to all of it. It is hard to do though, as you are going to have friends who are in the chaotic world of the government and you’ll feel both in-the-know when you hear their work stories and also enraged when you hear about government incompetence and waste. My friend’s agency had to spend their budget or they wouldn’t get more money the following year – they were buying him computers that just sat in his office in boxes. That’s our money and for someone who works hard like I do, it’s maddening. You may not mind though. Also, people’s careers and friendships can be made or broken based on political affiliations. It’s tough here.
We could go on about pros and cons forever, but those sum up what living in DC and the surrounding area is like. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me!