Moving to Washington D.C. Guide: 10 Things to Expect When Relocating

10 Things to Expect When Relocating to Washington D. C.

Every year thousands of people relocate to Washington, D.C. For many it’s a work decision, for others it’s the allure of living in the U.S. capitol where there’s always something going on. It’s definitely a different type of lifestyle that you won’t find anywhere else. People always have an idea of what Washington, D.C. is like, but once they move here they find it isn’t quite what they thought.

Here are 10 things everyone can expect when they’re moving to Washington, D.C.

#1 – The Cost of Living Will Be High

Washington, D.C. is known for being one of the most expensive places to live in the country. It’s not as costly as Manhattan or Honolulu, but D.C. is the 5th most expensive city in the U.S. Income is much higher than the average in Washington, D.C., which is necessary given that the cost of living is 58.8% higher than average. Housing is the biggest reason for the high cost of living.

#2 – Your Healthcare Costs May Go Down

More Americans are paying attention to their health these days, and residents of Washington, D.C. are at an advantage. You never know when you or a family member will have medical needs so it’s good to know that in D.C. you can get quality healthcare for slightly less than what others pay  on average around the nation.

#3 – Parking Will Be Tighter

Few cities have as limited parking as Washington, D.C. Parking is so slim the city charges a 19% tax on parking fees (more on taxes in a bit). Some residents choose to store their car as a way of having a guaranteed spot in the city, and it can end up being cheaper.

#4 – Next Level Public Transit

If you’re moving to D.C. you may want to consider ditching the car and bypassing the parking issues altogether. The city has an impressive public transit city that can get you almost anywhere. The Circulator bus is a popular option because it can get you to many major attractions and hot spots for just $1.

There’s also the Metrorail system with 91 stops/stations. The six train lines go all across Washington, D.C., the immediate surrounding area, Virginia and Maryland.

#5 – Taxes Will Be Very Different

Taxes aren’t the first thing that come to mind when someone moves, but they should be. Taxes are different in every municipality, and they have a huge impact on your spending power as well as local government spending.

Washington, D.C. has a very unique taxation system. Basically, there are a lot of different tax rates depending on what you buy.

  • Sales tax is 5.95% for most goods.
  • Sales tax is 10% for alcohol.
  • You’ll pay 10% tax on gas and at restaurants.
  • Utilities, groceries and medications are exempt from sales tax.
  • Property taxes are $0.85 for every $100 of assessed value.

There’s also income tax that ranges from 4% to 8.95% depending on how much you make in the year.

#6 – You’ll Never Be Bored

It may be expensive to own or rent a home in Washington, D.C., but at least there are a lot of things to do for free around the city. There are dozens of museums, landmarks and parks that are open to the public. Amazingly, The Smithsonian Museums are part of those free attractions. There are even free tours of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. There’s also a robust Meetup community in the D.C. area that gives you a way to meet new people and find things to do.

If you do have funds in your entertainment budget it won’t be hard to find a way to spend it. There are performances throughout the year from some of the biggest entertainers in the world. On any given night in D.C. you can take in the ambiance of the active nightlife. The city is home to hotspots that appeal to anyone, from gamers at Board Room to the extremely upscale barmini.

#7 –  People Dress More Professionally

Given that it’s the capital of the country, it isn’t too surprising that people tend to dress more professionally in the Washington, D.C. metro. There’s a high concentration of white collar jobs, and thousands of people visit for business purposes every day.

#8 – You’ll Come Across New Cuisines and Culinary Delights

Washington, D.C. is a truly international city. In fact, the city has the second highest international migration rate in the country. No matter where you’re from originally, you’ll be able to find a restaurant or boutique grocery store that sells the type of cuisine you’re familiar with. That also means you’ll come across new types of cuisine that you’ve never seen, smelled or tasted before. For foodies, Washington, D.C. is the perfect hometown.

#9 – The Population Isn’t Shrinking Across the Entire Washington, D.C. Metro

If you’re expecting fewer people in the D.C. area than years past, you may be surprised. Not even a year ago there were a lot of news stories about D.C.’s population decline. After a decade with a population growth rate of 15%, in 2021 Washington, D.C. had the largest drop in population in the country. The estimate is a loss of 2.9%, but that’s only part of the population picture.

The D.C. metro area population actually increased by 0.46% in 2021. If you plan to move to Frederick County or Stafford County you may run into other people who are new to the area. While other areas around the metro and the rest of the country saw population declines, these two counties grew by more than 2% and the trend is expected to continue.

#10 – Energy Expenses Could Be Lower

It’s a good thing that utilities are exempt from sales tax in Washington, D.C. because it helps lower the overall cost of housing. Unlike other major metros, D.C. actually has pretty good utility rates. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Washingtonians pay slightly higher natural gas rates ($20.15 /thousand cu ft – $17.55 average), and slightly lower electricity rates (14.76 cents/kWh – 14.92 cents/kWh average).

Another upside is you’ll probably use less electricity than you are now. Only the state of Vermont has a lower energy consumption rate. D.C. has set a goal of having 100% of the electricity come from renewables by 2032, which could help keep utility costs in check.

Another way to save on your utility costs in Washington, D.C. is to compare energy plans. Washingtonians have the ability to shop around and choose a retail energy supplier that meets their needs and budget. At Major Energy our rates aren’t just competitive. We offer fixed-rate energy plans that give you assurance your utility costs won’t go up unexpectedly.

Find and compare energy plans in Washington, D.C. in minutes.

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