What Are The Pros And Cons Of Living In Washington, D.C.?

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Washington, D.C. is our nation’s capital, not to mention one of the largest cities in the country. It’s a place where history happens on a regular basis, and also boasts a ton of businesses. With all the action that happens within city limits, it’s easy to see why people love going to DC. But, is it actually a good place to live?

Washington, D.C. has excellent restaurants, incredible museums, good diversity, and a world-class public transportation system. Also, D.C. offers great scenery, jobs, and low taxes. However, nightmarish traffic, high crime, political instability, and a very high cost of living can make it a daunting place to be for those unused to it.

Overall, it is the United States of America’s capital and pick of President George Washington to hold its own. Like any other part of the country, Washington, D.C. is a place that is a great place to live for the right individual. If you’re thinking about moving here, it’s smart to know what you’ll get.

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The Pros Of Living In Washington, D.C.

If you want to make the most of living in a high-population area frequented by elites, it’s hard not to see the benefits of DC. These perks below are particularly popular.

1. High Society

While there is a lot of poverty in the Washington DC area, it’s impossible to ignore the perks of getting to live here if you’re trying to mingle. There are a lot of politicians, entrepreneurs, and millionaires within the city limits. If you know where to go, it’s possible to mingle and get into their good graces.

Due to the high number of political workers, this is also a good place to live if you practice law or want to run for office. It’s easier to get into that scene in DC than anywhere else.

2. Incredible Culture

There’s no other way to describe the sheer amount of arts, museums, and restaurants. Whether you are a fan of the Smithsonian Museums, want to grab a bite at one of the many Zagat-rated restaurants, or check out some of the live shows at the National Mall doesn’t matter. What matters is that everything is a quick ride or train away.

It makes sense, really. DC is the nation’s capital, so one would only hope that you get world-class culture access here.

3. The Scenery is Like No Other

There is no way one person can soak up everything there is to see in DC. The monuments, museums, gardens, and buildings are breathtaking. Knowing the history and the battles fought in DC, and the surrounding areas can bring our nation’s story to life.

4. Diversity

Much like many parts of the United States, Washington, D.C. is a melting pot. You will be able to find people from all walks of life here, and that means that it’s hard to feel like you stick out like a sore thumb. Even when it comes to tourists, you’ll usually find people from every nation passing through the area.

RacePercentage Of Population
Black/African American45.4

5. Mellow Weather

While you do get all four seasons in DC, it’s not an area that gets extremely cold or high heats by any means of the word. Everything tends to be moderate, including high heat and snowfall. If you want to live in a place that has a climate that isn’t too demanding, then you might like this city quite a bit.

6. Tons Of Attractions

Arts and food aside, there is always something to do in the DC area. Whether it’s going for a walk down by the mall, checking historical museums, or even spending time in the Library of Congress, you are bound to find something that lines up with your personal interests. Moreover, there are also plenty of meetups for hobbies of all types, so you’ll also be able to find new friends that dig your hobbies too.

7. Plenty Of Jobs

One of the big reasons people move to Washington, D.C. (or the suburbs near it) is because of the economic opportunities it offers. Along with the obvious political jobs you can snag, you also can get healthcare jobs, military-based jobs, service jobs, as well as jobs relating to research. Multiple major military groups have establishments in and around Washington DC. This makes it a great place to live for veterans.

While the public sector tends to be the one which most people associate with economic opportunities, the truth is that the private sector is also booming here. The overall unemployment rate in the Washington metro area fluctuates between 5.1 to 8.1 percent, which is still below the national average.

8. Lower Taxes in Certain Areas

Washington DC ranks eighth lowest in property taxes. Some would say they make up for it in the sales taxes. It is not that bad with income tax, sales, and property taxes together on average.

Other taxes are along the same lines because one may be lower, and the others will make up the difference. For example, inheritance and estate taxes have been dropped, but personal and real property taxes have four different classes. Another good thing is there are no taxes on groceries, prescriptions, and non-prescription drugs.

Other Pros to Consider

DC is Full of Government Jobs

It is only logical that our nation’s capital would have more government jobs than any other place in the country. The problem is now with the pandemic and all that is going on in DC; there are not many jobs available. This is only temporary due to the drama with the Covid-19 pandemic and the drama in politics.

Most jobs were cut back to cut spending, but there are still plenty of jobs to go around Washington DC. Many people go for government jobs due to the pensions and benefits. It follows them once they put in 20 or 30 years of service.

Plenty of Happy People Walking the Streets of DC

The majority of the people who walk the streets of Washington DC are friendly. They are happy people who are delighted to be a part of the nation’s capital. The spirit of our forefathers is present along with the multitude of history that surrounds the city.

There is a sense of pride that everyone walks with because we are Americans. Perhaps that is enough to explain it. Residents know it because they live there, and the visitors are in awe because it is a great experience.

Washington DC has a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and cultures. There are different religions, nationalities, and economic levels of people. With such diversity, there are many exciting stories and people to meet.

Pitfalls Of Living In Washington, D.C.

Though Washington, D.C. has a lot to offer the right families, but it’s not a perfect city. There are problems here, too. These issues below are particularly bad.

1. High Crime Rate

There is no way to mince words about this. Washington, D.C. has a crime problem, especially when it comes to violent crime. This city has a serious violent crime issue. Your chances of becoming a violent crime victim is 1 in 95 annually. When it comes to property crime, the chances skyrocket to 1 in 23.

There are a lot of reasons for the high crime rate, including political unrest and gang activity. To curb your chances of being a victim, it’s best to stay in a good neighborhood.

2. High Cost Of Living

The price of living here is high, especially when it comes to rent and real estate. On average, you will pay 150 percent more than average for just about everything in Washington, D.C. In terms of home prices, a median home price is around $565,500—so you better be a millionaire if you want to live in a house you own here.

Rent isn’t a walk in the park, either. As a result of the ultra-high rents, you might find yourself dealing with a hard time making ends meet. The prices are almost twice the national average.

Apartment SizeRent
1 BR$1551
2 BR$1569
3 BR$1874

3. Bad Public Schools

Washington, D.C. might have great libraries and museums, but their public school system is notoriously terrible. With only 66 percent of all high schoolers graduating and some of the worst test scores in the nation, the DC public school system has a lot of problems. While there are charter schools and private schools that won awards, you may still need to pay for entry into this.

The only regions to have lower scores than Washington, D.C. are Louisiana and New Mexico. So if you want to get a quality public education, it’s not going to be here.

4. Traffic

Traffic in Washington, D.C. is infamous…or rather, notorious. The gridlock is pretty terrible, with typical days requiring a wait time of at least 30 minutes for a commute, if not far more. The worst parts of it are around the Beltway, though much of I-95 can get backed up if you don’t go there at the right time.

Parking, too, can be pretty difficult. Much of Washington, D.C. was built before the era of cars, which means that streets are narrow and parking can be tough. With that said, it’s still not as bad as Manhattan.

5. Political Unrest

There aren’t very many cities that have as many protests and political issues as DC. This is an area that often finds traffic stopped by the sheer number of protesters in the street. Depending on how bad it can get, some protests actually turn violent. It’s possible to end up with a damaged home as a result of the political upheaval currently going on.

While unrest is usually not that extreme, it’s still something to take into account.

6. Underrepresentation

States all have senators and representatives that are recognized by Congress. Washington, D.C. does, too, but there is a snag in the rules that leaves many locals feeling underrepresented in Congress. While there are senators and representatives in Congress, they technically are not “official” in terms of recognition and power.

The senators and reps do have power, but they are often called “shadow representatives” because they don’t quite have enough power to use their full clout. With that said, there is now a very serious push to make Washington, D.C. a state. Should this occur, then the statehood will eliminate this issue in future elections. In fact, DC might become one of the best-repped “states” in all of the USA.

7. Relatively High Crime Rate

There are safe cities in Washington DC like Foxhall Village, Hawthorne, and Palisades. Like night and day, there are gang-filled cities like Anacostia where the crime rate is exceptionally high. Though the numbers were higher in the 1990s, they still hover around 200 homicides per year.

The recent polls showed the crime rate dropped significantly, probably due to Covid 19. On average, it fell between 50 to 60 percent but is back on the rise again with the city’s unrest. Violent crimes reported in 2020 were around 990, and property crimes were over 4,000.

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Related Questions

Is Washington DC safe to visit at night?

While robberies are very common in Washington, D.C., the truth is that most areas are not going to require a bodyguard for a night out. If you want to stay on the safe side, stick to parts of DC that are known for being tourist-friendly. Good places to go include Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, and Georgetown.When in doubt, stick to areas that are known for upscale restaurants and fun attractions. These are the safest and also have the best police patrol schedules.

What are the bad parts of Washington, D.C.?

There are several that are considered to be dangerous areas. When it comes to the sheer crime rates, neighborhoods like Deanwood, Brentwood, and Anacostia top the charts when it comes to the most dangerous areas. Areas that are less notorious but still not entirely safe include the U Street Corridor and South West.If you are not sure whether or not an area is safe to live in, ask your real estate agent and look at recent ratings. Most online databases will show you the details about the most recent legal issues and arrests that may impact your life there.

What would be considered a good salary in Washington, D.C.?

It’s going to be high. A typical single individual would need to make $85,000 in order to be comfortable and not entirely live paycheck to paycheck. If you are a family with two kids, the baseline for a comfortable income starts around $130,000 for a middle-class lifestyle.With that said, you shouldn’t let that stop you from moving. Plenty of people live in Washington, D.C. without making that kind of money, so it’s still possible to live in the area without that income.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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