Washington D.C. is an interesting place to live. You won’t find many people who are native to the area and those who make D.C. home are constantly moving to and from the city.
There’s a good reason for that.
Washington D.C. is the epicenter for security clearance and national security jobs in the United States, and that’s why many of us make the move. But for many of us, life will also cause us to say goodbye to the nation’s capital, whether it’s finding an exciting new role or moving away for personal reasons.
For me, I decided to leave after four years in the district for a new gig in North Carolina. While I’m thrilled for a change of scenery, there are some things that I’m going to miss about D.C. and other things I’m ready to leave behind.
WHAT I WILL MISS ABOUT D.C.
Melting Pot of People
Living in Washington D.C. will give you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and backgrounds. This city brings so many people together and exposes you to various cultures. In fact, you can walk to any block and experience something new. I know different cultures exist in other cities but you’ll most likely not come across a melting pot like D.C.
If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll cry a little on the inside knowing that you’re leaving behind delicious cuisine. There are so many great restaurants in the city that you’ll never get to experience them all. Still, I will definitely think fondly of what l am missing (I’m thinking of you Old Ebbitt Grill and Le Diplomate). R.I.P. to all the good food that I was destined to eat in the district.
Springtime in the District
If you live in Washington D.C., you know there’s nothing quite like springtime. The city literally comes alive with greenery and people celebrating winter’s departure. However, the greatest draw to springtime in D.C. are the cherry blossoms. Donated as a gift by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912, these trees attract thousands of tourists every year to see the blossoms. Although it can be packed at times, it’s always a marvelous sight to see these trees beside the Jefferson Monument.
Feeling the Nation’s Heartbeat
Across the country, Washington D.C. is on the forefront on everyone’s minds. In fact, most of the important decisions that impact our lives are being discussed, debated, and made every day in the district. However, these feelings are intensified when you live in the nation’s capital. You feel it when a march takes place on the National Mall, when a foreign leader visits the White House, or when a highly contested vote is taking place in the Senate chambers. You may not be directly involved in these events but there’s something special about having the national news be your local news.
WHAT I CAN LIVE WITHOUT
Let’s get one thing out of the way that we can all agree on: D.C. traffic is the worst. There’s nothing more deflating from a great day at work than knowing that you’re going to be sitting in stand-still traffic. On top of that, D.C. traffic exists beyond normal rush hour rules. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Tuesday morning or a Saturday afternoon, you’re forced to plan your day around D.C. traffic. There are options to try and alleviate this stress like public transportation, businesses offering flex work hours, or carpooling, but at the end of the day, you just have to accept that you will be stuck behind the wheel.
Speaking of transportation…
I’m a strong supporter of public transportation. It’s convenient, it helps improve the environment, and it tends to be reliable…unless you live in D.C. and must use the metro. Over the last several years, D.C.’s metro system has taken a nosedive in quality. Trains are often delayed or broken and can experience the occasional fire (yes – it tends to be that common). People have taken note of these grievances. Ridership has sharply decreased over the last ten years with no signs of stopping, myself included. I’d rather walk the extra fifteen minutes than worry about my safety.
Lack of community
D.C.’s draw for many of us is that it’s a place to get stuff done, whether you work for the government, a military contractor, or a large corporation. However, this mentality comes with unintentional consequences. People have places to go. And if you don’t already have friends living in the city, you’ll be hard pressed to meet new people, build a community, or find your soulmate. Let me be clear: it’s not impossible to find these people in D.C. However, you will have to work extra hard.
Cost of living
Over the last fifty years, D.C.’s cost of living has skyrocketed. A home that is valued at $300,000 in most cities will be priced for one million dollars. Looking to rent? Good luck with that, as well. It’s not uncommon to find tiny studio apartments priced at $2,000 a month. Even when you take away home expenses, you’ll still have to budget to the penny as restaurants and groceries will cost far more here than other areas.
Washington D.C. can be a polarizing place to live. Taking away the politics of it, living in the area has its frustrations. Yet, at the end of the day, I’ll miss living in the nation’s capital and will cherish my time spent for many years to come.