relocating to dc

Relocating to DC

You got a great job and it requires moving to Washington DC! You’re totally overwhelmed, wondering where am I going to start?

I started this YouTube channel over five years ago for people just like you. I do these videos for you every week and break down living in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia. I’ve lived here over 20 years and I know these areas. I go deeper than anybody. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss the new videos.

DC is a really complicated area to figure out. DC has a very broad meaning when it comes to geography. People who live an hour outside the city will still tell their friends who don’t live here, “I live in DC.”

Where should you start? And what’s one thing you MUST DO before finalizing your move? We’re going to cover it all.

Learn the Options

You either know your U.S. Geography well or you checked out a map and saw that next to DC on one side is Maryland and on the other is Virginia. There is a lot of choice here when it comes to housing location. Thankfully, my channel will help you. I cover so much about the metro area in my other videos. But let’s talk about the things you will need to figure out first.

First, where is your job? Most people have an idea of how long and far they want to commute to work. They also have a priority for public transportation or vehicle. If you need to make a few morning stops like dropping a spouse at work and kids at school then you may plan to drive. If you don’t have those morning commitments or you don’t like driving then proximity to public transportation will be important.

Second, are schools important? For some, commute will take priority and for others the schools will. In Maryland, Montgomery County which covers most of the Maryland area directly north of DC offers school choice and consortiums where you have preference for a group of high schools. In Virginia, you have several different school districts to consider. There’s Arlington County which has their own school system, Fairfax County, the City of Alexandria and Falls Church City – all of which have their own school systems.

What kind of lifestyle do you want? Do you want a true city experience, or something more urban where you can walk to shops and restaurants? Or are the suburbs right for you?

How tolerant are you of various taxes? DC’s income taxes are the highest. Once you make $60,000, you will be taxed 8.25% all the way to an income of $250,000. In the next bracket of $250,000 to $500,000, the income tax is 9.25%. Compare that with Maryland which charges 4.75% to 5.5% for the same income brackets. But in Maryland, don’t forget you’re in a state which has multiple taxing authorities. DC is just DC. But Maryland also has a county income tax which adds 3.2%.

Virginia has the lowest of the income taxes because the Commonwealth of Virginia does not give the counties much taxing authority. Virginia has basically a flat tax of 5.75% unless you make below $17,000.

Before you call Virginia the winner, just know they charge personal property taxes on cars, boats, RV’s and planes should you have one.

Another consideration is your tolerance for crime. Some areas are a little more prone to crime than others. Mostly I’m looking at you, DC.

Prioritize Your Must-Have List for Your New Home

Duh Melissa. I know. But once we have this list tightened up we can figure out if the focus of your search will be DC, Maryland or Virginia. Some things to consider, and things I love to ask: What is your lifestyle like now? Do you like that or do you want a change? I met with a few different people living in New York City. They are all tired of the rat race and the hours it takes to commute to work, being on the trains and subways in a post-covid world, the prices and the crime.

What if you don’t come from a hectic place like New York though, and it’s not as clear cut what you’re looking for? This will probably require a visit. You will need to know your options and seeing that in person is really going to be best. For many people, the move to DC is a step up from what they had before. I have had clients who were shunned for being a same sex couple where they lived and felt like moving here was a breath of fresh air.

For other clients though, they are giving up a lot to move here. I’ve had clients who have an amazing swimming pool they could use 9 months out of the year. While you can find homes with pools here, it’s not super common. And you will only be swimming outdoors three months here.

Contact Movers and Discuss the Option to Store Your Stuff

Guys and gals – Moyer and Sons. They are a Maryland based moving company and they handle long distance moves and storage. They don’t even know who I am so I’m not getting a kickback here. I saw one of their trucks in the Carolinas once. After some research, I learned they are a family run company and have really great reviews. Clients who I’ve referred them to have raved about them.

Another option is Town and Country Movers.

Similar to Moyer & Sons, they handle long distance moves and storage.

Consider a Short Term Rental

Uh, Melissa, aren’t you a Realtor and don’t you SELL property? Yes, I do. And I have not even a pinky toe in the short-term rental pool. But I hate to see someone come here and buy a home in an area that isn’t right for them. It’s better to get into a six month rental so you can get your boots on the ground and experience the different areas. Actually living here and seeing it with your own eyes, on an extended time period is much easier than trying to sum it up in a weekend visit.

I advise people to live as close to work as possible to minimize their commute, with the least expensive rent they can find. Then use the time in their rental to learn about the other areas and options available to them. Use this time to live somewhere fun like in the city or in Arlington or Bethesda. If you have kids, living for a few months in a condo could be a nice change of pace. You can store the majority of your stuff an hour or two outside the city where storage rates are less expensive, and enjoy an urban lifestyle before you find the DC Dream Home!

Immerse Yourself in the Nation’s Capital

No matter where you are coming from, you’re going to see downsides here. Unless you move from San Francisco, New York or New Jersey where you’re so tired of high rent, high property taxes or miniscule living spaces that this seems like a dream. Or maybe you’re in Florida and trying to escape their insurance crisis.

Just know that here you will find that the traffic is bad, there are really bad drivers, the cost of living is high, and people discuss politics incessantly.

But, there’s so much more to life in DC than the government and there’s so much good stuff here too. Many museums are free, Marylanders may not know how to drive but they do know their seafood, and the weekend getaways within 2-3 hours of DC are the best of anywhere I’ve ever lived.

At the beginning of the video I told you that there’s one thing you have to do before you finalize the move and it’s this. Double, triple, quadruple check that the salary offered will satisfy your requirements. The high cost of living here is a shock to people when they move here. You want this move to make your family better off, not worse, right? Something like going from $85,000 to $110,000 might seem like a home run. But I talk to people all the time who get sticker shock once they start pricing out their DC lifestyle. Fight hard for those coins, you are going to need them!

I hope my take on how to relocate here was at least a little helpful. I’ve got a Relocation Guide that includes a lot more information that I’m happy to share. Please shoot me an email at and I will be happy to send that over.