Washington isn't a city, it's an abstraction. -Dylan Thomas
The Best Thing About D.C.?
We get that looking backwards doesn’t fit our go-go culture but it is impossible when you drive into DC not to have your breath taken away by the historical buildings constantly within your view. There is more history here, in one small city, than most of the rest combined. New York’s skyline is impressive, and San Francisco’s views are stunning but between the obvious historical buildings: the Capitol, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, and the less obvious: The Basilica, the National Cathedral, the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress, there is nothing like it and it makes one proud to live here.
**Here's a transplanter on what they like about DC: **
At least in my case, it was VERY important to be near the seat of power. Many of the things I did had national or even global effect. It was quite satisfying to know that I had such impact.
It’s a well maintained compared to many cities. Lots of parks, flowers along the highways, monuments big and small dot the landscape making it attractive to look at. Many attractions. Many are “free” because we pay for them in taxes, but you pay the same amount whether to live in DC or Alaska. Whatever…the city is filled with things to do that have no admission charge. And then there all of the ones that DO charge admission. You’d better like history and museums, however.
For more reviews of what living in D.C. is like from locals check out: The Buzz
The Worst Thing About D.C.?
If you didn’t know, D.C. used to be a swamp. Which means it is stupidly humid and when summer hits you will be unhappy. It gets cold in the winter by southern standards although there’s very little snow. D.C. is notoriously amateurish at dealing with the light dustings of powder that fall in January and schools will close for even an inch of snow.
Here's a transplanters view of the weather here:
Oddly enough, I find the dreariest time of year to actually be the summer here given the haze and humidity that can set in and dull the sky for days at a time. Winter is pretty nice here unless you really like snow (we don't get much of it), spring can be cloudy/rainy but is usually nice otherwise after a couple days of gloom, and fall usually brings sunny days for long stretches.
LIfestyle In D.C.
The lifestyle in D.C. can be deeply intertwined with the workstyle. People seriously work hard here and they often mix work with socializing. Going out for a quick drink after a long day of grind is a pretty common night in D.C. for young (and older) professionals.
Setting aside the work/play intertwining culture, there are a few really powerful lifestyle influences in D.C. The first is free access to the most amazing museum/cultural attractions on the planet. If you’re into museum/culture experiences D.C. is going to be your city. The second most powerful influence is the diversity of the population that may or may not affect your social circle, but which absolutely drives the multitudes of ethnic foods/restaurants available throughout the city.
Overall the vibe of D.C. tends to just be how much there is to do, at ALL TIMES. Galleries, museums, tons of sports team, speeches (political/social/environmental etc.), cultural events, parties, restaurant openings, outdoor concerts, it seriously never feels like it ends in this city. That social energy combined with the sheer political energy, means it just feels like this is where the action is.
Worklife in D.C.
Not terribly surprising, but the work culture in the city is dominated by the government. That can make the city feel incredibly transient, given some of the people coming in for government work may only last two years. However, there are also plenty of “lifers” who are lifetime government workers or who work in cottage industries of politics, like lobbying or research etc. So some of your neighbors may be around for good.
One nice thing if you move here and work in the city is an excellent public transport system. Perhaps not on NYC’s level but still the Metro gets most people around so you don’t have to drive if you live here. The intensity of political/government work + the potential for that work to be temporary means there is frantic nature to the workstyle culture in D.C. People are not here to screw around. They work hard, they work for long hours, and they are smart and intense about delivering while they are here. If that intensity sounds exciting then D.C. might be your city.
Why You Should Move Here Now?
For most cities we focus on what’s happening right now for this recommendation - great economy, or cheap housing, etc. Washington D.C. is different. It’s timeless and one of those places that if you can find a way to live here you should. There’s lots we could say about funky neighborhoods or how cool it is to be on the east coast near other great cities, but in the end the reason to move here is because it is our nation’s capital. You will constantly see and feel that importance if you choose to move here and that’s important.