Washington, D.C.City Guide

Known for politics, iconic monuments, and legions of sharks in suits, this center of world power also ranks high on lists of healthiest cities and places for recent graduates to find work. House staffers, bike messengers, and beltway consultants alike will tell you: This town buzzes with ambition.

Local Perspectives

Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live in D.C., as told by locals.

Local Perspectives

archetype Angel Rich

CEO of The Wealth Factory, a tech start-up focused on financial education for kids

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City guide: Moving to Washington, D.C. - Angel RichTime spent in D.C.

Four years. I’m a fourth-generation Washingtonian, so I lived here my whole life until college. I moved back four years ago because there was a great entrepreneurial movement starting in D.C.

Why D.C.?

D.C. is a very inclusive city. There’s not a lot of judging — whether you’re from a small town or you have a quirky personality, you can fit in here. D.C. residents are also really humble compared with other places. A lot of people here are very educated and have economic means, but they’re not bragging about it — they’re pretty down to earth and tend to be more giving and socially conscious.

Best neighborhood, IMO

I would check out the Great Streets Initiative. The city has identified eight “Great Streets” that they’re investing in — building more neighborhood amenities and making more economically viable. It’s like the Mission District in San Francisco, but there are eight of them. By buying a house in a redevelopment area, you can get into a decent neighborhood for a reasonable price, and you’re sure to see your property value rise.

Only in D.C. to-do list

Chicken wings with mumbo sauce — you can only get that combo in D.C. Go-go music, an offshoot of funk, was created in D.C. and is still going strong.

Surprises about D.C.

I’m surprised by how creative D.C. is becoming. It lacked that for decades but over the past two to three years, I’m seeing more art galleries, more music, more public art in the streets. Before, D.C. just used to be a city with a lot of government buildings, but now, the arts scene is adding color to the neighborhoods.

City guide: Moving to Washington, D.C. - Haims point

Public art in Hains Point in Washington, D.C.

After work to-do list

On weekends, I love to go fishing in the Georgetown canal. You can rent a kayak or a boat and just spend time on the water. For nightlife, Chinatown is on the rise for its fun bar scene — it’s Washington’s take on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. A cheaper thing to do that’s still fun is to go to Hains Point and watch the airplanes take off from Reagan International Airport.

The commute is easy — on the Metro

It’s one of the best things about D.C. — it’s so easy to get around on the Metro. You can go from Baltimore, Maryland, to northern Virginia on the Metro — that’s a 1,500-square-mile service area. The Metro runs regularly, schedules are always accurate, and there are lots of apps and tools that let you navigate easily. It’s so easy, even members of Congress commute on it!

The political scene

Politics is what segregates D.C. It’s not race, class, or sexual orientation — it’s politics. For example, the Democrats have their own Chamber of Commerce, while the Republicans have a separate Chamber. It’s always either Democrats or Republicans in the room — they just don’t mingle. So you don’t have to worry about screaming matches about politics, because the different parties just don’t talk to each other!

Local Perspectives

archetype Tim Rivera

Programs Officer at the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S.

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City guide: Moving to Washington, D.C. - Tim RiveraTime spent in D.C.

Four years. I grew up in the D.C. metro area and always wanted to work in international affairs, so Washington just seemed like the natural place to be.

Best neighborhoods, IMO

Some top choices are NoMa, Columbia Heights, H Street, the Navy Yard/Waterfront, Dupont Circle, and Logan Circle. I chose Logan Circle for its walkable distance to everything I need — Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and great bars and restaurants on the 14th Street corridor. The great thing about D.C. is there are plenty of options to meet your budget and preferences — some neighborhoods have brand-new apartment buildings and others have row houses from the early 20th century that are being renovated.

City guide: Moving to Washington, D.C. - Dupont circle

Colorful homes in Dupont Circle

Only in D.C. to-do list

I have two favorites. The Annual Halloween Drag Race attracts thousands of people to 17th Street in Dupont Circle every year on the Tuesday before Halloween. Hundreds of men “race” down the street in drag and high heels with everyone cheering them on. The other is the EU Open House when all the embassies of the 28 European Union countries open their doors to the general public for a Saturday in early May — you can’t really get that experience anywhere else in the U.S.

You’re not a local if …

You get excited about a motorcade. They’re nothing but a traffic nuisance.

Why D.C.?

Lots of other Millennials! D.C. has had so many younger people move here in the last 10 years that it now caters much more to their interests. For example, there were no bike lanes in D.C. a decade ago, but now we have dedicated bike lanes and a pretty efficient bike-share system.

The job scene

D.C. has a pretty wide-ranging jobs scene beyond government. The health care, IT, defense, and hospitality industries are all big here; and lots of Fortune 500 companies — like Capitol One, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, and Fannie Mae — are based in the D.C. area.

The dating scene

It’s a mixed blessing. You have a sizeable population of young, well-educated, and ambitious people who like to play as hard as they work, so lots of choices are available. It’s also a transient city, where people tend to stay for three or four years before moving somewhere else, but that’s changing. The LGBT dating scene is almost completely dominated by the “G” — D.C. is a very well-known destination for gay men.

Favorite day trip

In a day you can easily go to Colonial Williamsburg, Baltimore, Shenandoah National Park, Mount Vernon, Harper’s Ferry, Annapolis, or wine tasting at vineyards in Maryland or Virginia. But, except for Baltimore, all these trips definitely require a car.