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Living in United States > Washington DC > Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on: Jan 09, 2020

Anyone moving to Washington, D.C. is bound to have a lot of questions about what it's like to live in the capital of the United States. Cost of living, healthcare, transportation and much more is covered in this introductory article.

Living in the USA - Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. is an excellent place for expats. There are seemingly endless things to do, many of which are free, and the city itself has a wide-range of neighborhoods to meet a wide variety of preferences. All of this does come at a price. Overall, the city is a very expensive place to live.

What is Living in Washington, D.C. Like?

While the greater Washington, D.C. Metro Area extends well into southern Maryland and northern Virginia, this article is about living within the District of Columbia. To be sure, if you live within the city itself, you will undoubtedly have to, or want to, find your way to Maryland and Virginia. Public transportation can certainly get you there.

Is living in Washington, DC Expensive?

Washington, DC is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. As the capital, there are an enormous number of government contractors that live in and around the city. Real estate prices also reflect that reality. Add in lobbyist firms for every significant special-interest group and large corporate interests, and you begin to understand why Washington, DC evolved into such an expensive place to live.

What Salary Do You Need to Live in Washington, DC?

How much money you need to live in Washington, DC is a very subjective question. It depends on the standard of living to which you are accustomed, and certainly single people will require less than families will.

That being said, a Google search will produce opinions that range between $80,000 dollars to $150,000 in order to live somewhere between "modestly" and "well."

Washington, D.C. Home Values on Zillow.com provides a lot of excellent historical context on the direction of the D.C. housing market.

Also read the article "Despite more demand than supply, D.C. home prices are relatively stable," which also provides more context in terms of what salary you will need to live a lifestyle you are comfortable living.

Here is a good breakdown on the cost of living in Washington, D.C..

What is Expat Healthcare like in Washington D.C.?

In general, healthcare in the Washington, D.C. metro area is excellent.

As noted in the above article, "Washington, D.C. is a national center for patient care and medical research. There is currently a total of 16 medical centers and hospitals located within the District of Columbia.[1] There are also numerous medical research centers in the Washington area, most notably the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland."

Here is healthcare information for British expats living in the United States

Expats living in United States interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Get a Quote

Expats living in United States interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

Is There Good Public Transportation in Washington, D.C.?

The major public transportation system in Washington, DC is operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and is widely used throughout the city.

With that being said, there has been a decline in the use of the DC tr

The DC "Metro" is a rail system that includes subway and above ground trains.

There is also a Bus System operated by the WMTA, and it also manages a fleet of bikes and a lot of parking options to enable commuters to park and ride.

The Metrorail system has six color-coded rail lines: Red, Orange, Silver, Blue, Yellow, and Green.

Here is a list of the Metrorail Stations where you can find information about each one.

The WMTA website also has maps, current fares and much, much more. Check out their montly pass information.

The WMATA also maintains Facebook and Twitter pages.

ALSO ON TWITTER: Service updates (Monitored 7a-7p, Monday-Friday) for rail and bus lines:

Metrorail Service Updates
Metrobus Service Updates

Is Washington, D.C. a Good Place to Live?

Washington, DC is an excellent place to live. There are so many options to consider in terms of the neighborhoods available to you, and there are plenty of things to do in DC. Here's a great primer on the Best Neighborhoods to Live in Washington, DC.

It's a different story if you're scraping by financially. Unless you have been offered an opportunity that is a clear springboard for your career, it's not advisable to move to D.C. from another country and live with little to no resources to rely upon.

Is Washington, DC a Fun Place to Live?

Washington, DC is what you make of it! As we've noted... there are a lot of free things to do in the city. There are also some things to do that are NOT cheap.

There are all kinds of opportunities for kids in athletics.

There are even adult sports leagues for adults, such as those offered by organizations such as Volo City DC, D.C. Fray, and Zogsports. Sports and games included: Basketball, Soccer, Flag Football, Softball, Bar Olympics, Corn Hole and much more.

expat health insurance from CIGNA

Choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision. Get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. With Cigna Global Health Options, you can create an international health insurance plan that's perfectly tailored for the needs of you and your family.

Learn More Get a Quote

Is Washington, DC a Safe Place to Live?

As is the case with all other big cities, there is certainly Crime in Washinton, DC. However, the city has made excellent strides over the course of the last few decades. Learning how to safely navigate the city requires learning basic common sense guidlines to avoid high-risk areas and situations, especially at night.

The Washington D.C. government maintains Crime Statistics and Data information on its website.

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More about Washington DC

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Expats exploring where to live in Washington, DC have a wide variety of options, and you'll have to research them carefully to find the best place for you. Here are some of the best neighborhoods to consider.

Healthcare in Washington DC

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Expats in Washington, D.C. have access to excellent healthcare. As with other parts of the United States, it's imperative to know your coverage before you access any kind of care or purchase prescription medication. Lists of D.C. hospitals and pharmacies included.

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Expats in Washington, D.C. find themselves not just in the U.S. capital, but also a growing tech sector with increasing importance.

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Expats in Washington D.C. have access to a number of well known private and public international schools, an extensive Metro system, embassies, year round cultural activities and events, museums, restaurants and a diverse population of people from all over the world.

Culture Shock in Northern Virginia

Be as open and as friendly as you can be. You may find friends that are a different age or nationality from those you had at home. Treat yourself to the odd magazine or candy from your home country and skype.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Updated On: Jan 09, 2020

First Published: Jan 09, 2020

Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance in United States from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Guide to Living in Washington DCGuide to Living in Washington DC

Anyone moving to Washington, D.C. is bound to have a lot of questions about what it's like to live in the capital of the United States. Cost of living, healthcare, transportation and much more is covered in this introductory article.

Healthcare in Washington DCHealthcare in Washington DC

Expats in Washington, D.C. have access to excellent healthcare. As with other parts of the United States, it's imperative to know your coverage before you access any kind of care or purchase prescription medication. Lists of D.C. hospitals and pharmacies included.

Best Places to Live in Washington DCBest Places to Live in Washington DC

Expats exploring where to live in Washington, DC have a wide variety of options, and you'll have to research them carefully to find the best place for you. Here are some of the best neighborhoods to consider.

Restaurants in Washington DCRestaurants in Washington DC

Support your favorite restaurants in Washington DC as they recover from the pandemic. Submit a free listing for them on Expat Exchange to help spread the word about them to the expat community.

5-Tips-For-Tech-Jobs-in-Washington-DC5 Tips For Tech Jobs in Washington DC

Expats in Washington, D.C. find themselves not just in the U.S. capital, but also a growing tech sector with increasing importance.

Expats in Washington, D.C. find themselves not just in the U.S. capital, but also a growing tech sector with increasing importance....

11 Tips for Living in Washington DC11 Tips for Living in Washington DC in Washington DC

Expats in Washington D.C. have access to a number of well known private and public international schools, an extensive Metro system, embassies, year round cultural activities and events, museums, restaurants and a diverse population of people from all over the world.

Culture Shock in Northern Virginia

Be as open and as friendly as you can be. You may find friends that are a different age or nationality from those you had at home. Treat yourself to the odd magazine or candy from your home country and skype.

2020-Expat-Exchange-Survey2020 Expat Exchange Survey

If you've lived abroad within the last 3 years, please share your insights in our 2020 Expat Exchange Survey. You'll be entered to win (1 of 10) $50 Amazon giftcards. We need YOUR input... Take the Survey Now!

Healthcare-in-the-USHealthcare in the US

Expats in the United States have to navigate one of the most expensive health systems in the world. However, when properly navigated, the quality of care is excellent when compared to the rest of the world.

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