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A Guide to Washington, DC, The Nation’s Capital

Washington, DC is the capital city of the United States and sits on land carved out of two other states to create the District of Columbia. As the nation’s capital and home to the President and Congress, DC has a reputation for being a government town, but it is so much more than that. A stable job market, cultural amenities, and a high quality of life for many make the District a great place to be.

What to Know before Moving to Washington, DC

Washington, DC is a major world city with something for everyone. It is home to some of the country’s best museums, a thriving cultural scene, plentiful outdoor activities, and world-renowned sports teams – the Capitols won the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Mystics won the WNBA title in 2019, and the Nationals won the World Series in 2019. Before you move to Washington, DC, and before you choose a neighborhood there, check out our guide to the District.

What’s Great about Washington, DC?

Washington, DC is a collection of neighborhoods, each with its own unique feel. Navy Yard has new residential towers and the Nationals Stadium, whereas Palisades has a distinctly different vibe with its single-family homes. Residents of both neighborhoods enjoy going to professional sporting events, the Kennedy Center, and the unparalleled Smithsonian group of museums. Not every city in the country can boast that you can walk into a building and see a vehicle that drove on the moon – for free, every day of the week.

Transportation

DC is one of the few places in the United States where people choose to go car-free or be car-lite households. This is made possible by DC’s very good transit system, network of bike lanes, and walkable street grid. Nearly every DC neighborhood ranks high in walkability scores. WMATA, more commonly known as Metro, operates six train lines and 325 bus routes. The DC Department of Transportation has a 2.4-mile streetcar line in the H Street neighborhood that supports Metrorail. These rail and bus lines are complemented by two commuter rail lines – MARC serving Maryland and VRE serving Virginia.

Schools

DC is a city with more than 700,000 people, broken into four quadrants – Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest. DC’s best high schools are located in the Northwest quadrant, where housing is traditionally more expensive. The District has three school systems – public, public charter, and charter. Highly-rated elementary schools can be found across these school systems and spread throughout all four quadrants.

What’s DC Famous For?

You might know DC as a government town, and it can be hard to escape the presence of the federal authorities – the Capitol and White House loom large. But as the nation’s capital, it has other distinguishing features not found anywhere else. For example, the National Mall is miles of museums and monuments, such as the National Gallery of Art, American History Museum, Washington Monument, and Lincoln Memorial. The Tidal Basin, just off the National Mall, is transformed for two weeks every spring when the cherry blossoms bloom, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world.

Why Move to Washington, DC?

DC tends to attract young people, recent college graduates and ‘hyper type A’ personalities drawn to the idea of working in politics or a federal agency. But it is also a good place to raise a family and enjoy a stable job market as career interests change. Roughly a third of the District’s jobs are in the government sector, and about a quarter are considered to be professional services – law and business fit into this category. The rest of the jobs are split across the education, hospitality, finance, trade, and health sectors.

What Does the Moving Process to Washington, DC Involve?

Moving to DC – either after finding that perfect job or in the hopes of finding it – requires a lot of decisions. It is best to start by identifying how you will get to work every day, and then you will need to find the best apartment for your budget.

If you plan to use transit, it is best to rent along the same transit line as your office. This eliminates the need to transfer, which adds complications to your commute. Let’s say you take a job in Federal Triangle – the location of several government agencies—which is on the Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines, and so some good locations to rent in would be Capitol Hill, Chinatown, Dupont Circle, or Arlington, VA. Average rents range from $2,386 to $2,739 in these neighborhoods.

What Are the Costs of Moving to Washington, DC?

Moving into and around DC can be quite easy. If you move without a car – quite a common thing to do – you can ship your items or carry them on a plane. U-Haul’s U-Boxes are a frequent sight, and hiring a moving company is always an option too. Moving from another city on the east coast, like Miami, a U-Box or a moving truck will cost at least $1,500 and potentially a lot more if someone is hired to do the driving. You can hire movers in DC to help with unloading. Expect to pay at least $300 for the first three hours. Something to note: DC requires moving containers and trucks to reserve parking spots at a cost of $50.

What Are the Storage Options in Washington, DC?

Finding the right apartment for your needs might require several moves within the district. While you are searching for that perfect place to live, DC has plenty of self-storage options. Most storage facilities are located in the Northeast part of the District, an area with more of an industrial past than the rest of DC. A 25-square-foot storage unit near Galladut University in the NoMa neighborhood starts at $30 a month. For a 150-square-foot unit, you can expect to pay about $200 a month. To find the right storage space for you, visit rentcafe.com and search for a unit that matches your requirements.

Looking for a self-storage unit to rent in Washington? Browse 15 storage facilities in Washington, DC, that offer clean, dry and secure self-storage units.

Self-storage unit prices in Washington start as low as $30 per month. Reserve your self-storage unit today!