Moving to Washington D.C.

Washington Dc

Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 3 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 3 out of 5

  • Property affordability 5 out of 5

  • Climate 5 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

You can find any type of vibe or environment you’re looking for in Washington D.C.; there are parks, sports leagues, hiking trails for the outdoorsy. There is an incredible restaurant scene for the foodies. The city is loaded with entertainment venues as well, such as Nationals Park and the Verizon Centre.

The city is known for its deep historical roots and for being the capital of the United States. One trip to the National Mall (note: not an actual mall) and you will see the buildings where laws are made and bills are discussed.

You can immerse yourself in American history and by taking tours of the Capitol building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and dozens of free Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo.

Since it is a tourist location, the busiest time of the year is in April and May, during the Cherry Blossom Festival. It’s a gorgeous time of year, with temperatures in the upper 60s and low 70s. The streets and Tidal Basin are overflowing with beautiful cherry blossom trees.

It’s a unique experience to live somewhere that others vacation to. There is a communal sigh of relief when tourist season is over and locals can reclaim their city.

The job market

You’re not required to work in the government sector after moving to D.C., there are lots of other options for recent graduates and experienced professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington D.C. has an unemployment rate of 7.8%, which is higher than the country average of 5.5%.

Select the size of your move to get free quotes

The most popular career fields in the city are analyst positions (research, management), information technology, contractors, and lawyers. You’ll want to seek out these large corporations during your job hunt: Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrup Grumman, and Inova Health Systems.

If you decide to work for the government, be prepared to wait. Most jobs require extensive background checks, polygraphs, fingerprints, and special access badges. However, your student loans will be forgiven in most cases, which is a reason to wait.

English is the main language of the city; however being bilingual can be a huge advantage. There are 176 foreign embassies located in the district’s center, called Embassy Row. Contracting agencies need employees who can communicate to the embassy employees in their native language.

Living costs

The cost of living in Washington D.C. is one of the most expensive in the United States. According to, in 2013, Washington D.C. was listed as the 6th most expensive city in the United States. Even though it’s an expensive area, it is cheaper than living in New York City.

Dining out, enjoying your morning latte, and buying groceries in Washington D.C. is comparable to New York City. However, there is almost no comparison when it comes to real estate. Renting in New York City is 34% more expensive than D.C.

Washingtonians do pay more for public transportation and utilities. Both locations offer Wi-Fi hotspots that allow users to use their Internet services on their personal devices throughout the city at no extra cost.

Property TypeWashington D.C.New York City
Apartment (1bdr) City center$1,941$3,017
Apartment (1bdr) Outside city$1,495$1,850
Apartment (3bdr) City center$4,020$6,585
Apartment (3bdr) Outside city$2,535$3,426

Property information

The district is split on who owns and who rents. Renters flock to the core of D.C. where students can live close to campus and there is abundant access to public transportation. The reason there is such a high percentage of renters in the core of the city, roughly 94%, is because there are virtually no houses to be purchased.

Residents are forced to rent if they want to be in the heartbeat of the city. However, renters may also choose to live along the southeastern outskirts of town where rent is a tad cheaper.

The northeast and northwest areas have the largest percentage of homeowners, with 73% of the population residing in a house. The median sales price of a house in D.C. is $495,000, up 5.3% from last year.

At half a million dollars, you might think you are getting all of the “bells and whistles” accompanied with a small mansion. Quite the contrary, these houses typically come with street parking, a very small backyard, and you may even share walls with neighbors.


Family friendly: Located in the coveted Northwest quadrant of the district is Chevy Chase. This walkable section of D.C. has a close-knit, small town feel, but still has the amenities of a large city. There aren’t as many metro stops compared to the other areas, but there are enough to get you into the city’s center.

Upmarket: Georgetown has been home to many famous faces, including Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and Elizabeth Taylor. Homeowners should be prepared to spend $1M or more on a house. You’ll find designer storefronts from Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren, and high-end bakeries where you can spend $5 on one cupcake. Unlike other D.C. neighborhoods, there are no metro stations in Georgetown. This neighborhood’s residents have put in the effort to maintain the exclusivity of this well-loved section of the city.

Hip & Trendy: The energy surrounding Chinatown during a Capitals hockey game is palpable. Through the sea of red jerseys you’ll find bars, restaurants, and retail stores filling up the historic row house buildings along the main streets. Seven metro stops in a three-mile radius make getting in and out easy. You’ll want to explore the vast culinary scene here that surprisingly doesn’t include many Chinese restaurants. Just to name a few: Luke’s Lobster, Italian eatery Graffiato, Asian-Mexican fusion Zengo, and Dangerously Delicious Pie shop.

Up & Coming: The best up and coming neighborhood in D.C. is the Navy Yard. What was once a rough patch of Southwest territory is now being overhauled to become a gem filled with new, highly rated restaurants, access to parks with riverfront views, a small metro station, and a close proximity to the business districts of D.C. Since the beginning of 2015, rental prices have risen drastically by 62%. Now is the time to invest in a home in this area. Compared to other neighborhoods in the district, this is one of the cheapest, with an average home price is between $600-700k.

Cost of moving

The following are price estimates for shipping a 20-foot container to Washington D.C. A typical 20-foot container will comfortably fit the belongings of a 1,200 square foot apartment. You’ll also want to factor in flights, ground transportation, any apartment deposits.

Hong Kong£3,000
Cape Town£6,300

Schools and education

Like all US cities where your child goes to public school is determined by their residence. If you’d prefer to have your children in a specific public school, keep that in mind, otherwise private schooling is always an option. There are 238 elementary and secondary schools for you to consider.

The top 9 D.C. public schools have average test scores above 90% and a student/teacher ratio of 15 or less. Many schools are now offering an International Program that embraces the rarity of having 176 embassies in their backyard.

Universities in DC

D.C. is home to some of the most elite and oldest colleges in the country. With so many options, you’ll be able to find one that meets tuition requirements and fits your preferred degree program. If you’re pursuing a degree, you’ll fit right in this smart city. Almost half of the adult population has at least a Bachelor’s degree.

The following are popular college picks:

Howard University: a historically black college that is ranked 145 in the USA.

Georgetown University: ranked 21 in the USA, and 258 worldwide. This university has a strong Roman Catholic religious affiliation. Specialties include Government, Finance, and International Politics.

The George Washington University: ranked 54 in the USA, and 281 worldwide. Specialties include International Affairs, Political Science

Ranking against the world

You’d be hard pressed to find a city that is as diverse and historic as Washington D.C. There are plenty of friendly organizations that welcome people from any part of the country. Whether you’re from Germany, Spain, China, Egypt, or Australia you will find a group that reminds you of home.

If you’re still contemplating if you should move to D.C., consider this: in 2014 Forbes named Washington D.C. the “coolest” city in the country. They factored in entertainment, things to do on a Saturday night, cultural diversity, and population growth to determine the winner.

A day in the life

Imagine living in arguably the most powerful city in the United States. Strong senators, busy businessmen, and sophisticated students pass each other on sidewalks and metro platforms. Going in and out of bustling government buildings, you might think this city is a concrete jungle. Washington D.C. is one of the most beautifully green places in the country.

This city is for the type of people who want to work hard and play hard. They throw themselves into the Monday through Friday workweek, but know how to relax and regroup on the weekends. There is never a shortage of food and music festivals, marathons, concerts, and sporting events to keep you entertained.