11 Tips for Living in Washington DC
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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.
Expat Life in Washington DC
As the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. attracts lots of foreigners. They typically move to the D.C. area to work at embassies, non-profit organizations, international organizations, trade unions and universities. Many international students also come to D.C. to study at universities like George Washington University, Georgetown, American University, Howard University and Catholic University.
Cost of Living in Washington DC, US
The Washington D.C. metropolitan area also includes parts of Virginia and Maryland. Many people live in places like Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, which are right across the Potomac River from D.C. Towns like Chevy Chase and Bethesda, Maryland are very close to downtown as well.
In the Logan Circle neighborhood, a cozy 1 bedroom is currently listed for $449,000, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath in the same neighborhood is listed at $895,000. Rentals in the same neighborhood range from about $2,500 to $4,500 for a 1 bedroom to $3,300 to $7,500 for a 2 bedroom. Buildings with doormen, pools, fitness rooms are in the higher range. In Alexandria, Virginia, expats can rent a 1 bedroom apartment from about $1,200 to $2,500 depending upon amenities and location. And, a 2 bedroom in Alexandria ranges from $1,600 to $3,500. If you're buying in Alexandria, a 1 bedroom ranges from $250,000 to $400,000 and a 2 bedroom ranges from $350,000 to $600,000.
Dining out at a sit-down restaurant in D.C. can cost you anywhere from $20 per person to hundreds. Typically, the bill for a burger with fries and a beer is $25-30.
Local Clubs and Organizations
D.C. Expats Meetup, Expat Canadians Meetup, Foggy Bottom German Meetup, French Expats in D.C. Meetup are just a few local meetup groups.
Embassies host numerous events throughout D.C. Alliance Francaise hosts French classes for adults and kids, camps and cultural events. Goethe Institute offers German classes and cultural activities.
O Sullivans Irish Pub in Arlington hosts a Canadian Thanksgiving celebration every year. The Queen Vic British Pub is a popular British expat hangout where you can find British favorites like bangars and mash, shepherds pie, fish and chips and Welsh rarebit. The Biergarten Haus on Capitol Hill hosts an Oktoberfest celebration.
International Schools in Washington DC
Washington International School is a pre-K-12 international school with intensive Spanish and French language programs. The pre-K through 5 students are at a campus in Georgetown. Grades 6-12 go to a campus in Cleveland Park near the zoo. The British International School of Washington D.C. is located in Georgetown and welcomes students from nursery through Year 13.
Rochambeau French International School welcomes students from pre-school through 12th grade to 3 different campuses in Bethesda, Maryland. The Maret School is a French school located in Woodley Park (D.C.) that welcomes students from K-12. The French Maternal School welcomes nursery through Kindergarten students and has 2 locations in Georgetown, which serve different aged children.
The German International School is located in Potomac, Maryland. It welcomes students from pre-school through 12th grade.
Early Steps Bilingual Pre School (Spanish / English) has 4 locations: Georgetown, Arlington, Springfield and Vienna. Oyster-Adams Bi-lingual School (Spanish / English) is a pre-K through 8, public, bi-lingual school with two campuses in NW Washington D.C.
There are a number of public charter schools that offer bi-lingual and international programs. The District of Colombia International School is a public charter school for students from 6th through 12th grade. Washington Yu Ying is a public, charter elementary school that offers Chinese immersion for its youngest pre-K students and bi-lingual Chinese / English education for other students. It is located in NE Washington not far from Rock Creek Park. Mundo Verde is a public, charter elementary school that offers pre-K and Kindergarten students a fully immersive Spanish education and older students a bi-lingual Spanish / English program. Find more schools like this here: bi-lingual charter schools in D.C..
Shopping in Washington DC
Groceries can be pricey depending upon where you shop. If you stick to Whole Foods, you'll be spending a lot each week. But, there is a Costco in Pentagon City (Arlington, Va) and another in Washington D.C.. Other grocery stores in the D.C. area include: Safeway, Trader Joe's, Giant Food, Harris Teeter, Market Basket and many others.
D.C. has a great public transportation system by US standards. The Metro offers rail service around D.C. and out to Maryland and Virginia. They also offer Metrobus service in and around the D.C. metropolitan area, including Prince George County, Montgomery County and Virginia.
In addition to having a great public transportation system withing the DC metropolitan area, Amtrak has several major routes that run through DC. It's 3 - 3.5 hours to NYC, 7 - 8.5 hours to Boston and 1.5 - 2 hours to Philadelphia. These Amtrak routes are a great alternative to driving as there can be a lot of traffic on these routes.
Washington D.C. has a temperate climate with mild winters (lows typically in the 30s) and extremely humid, hot summer days. Spring and fall weather in D.C. is beautiful.
Restaurants and Nightlife
You can find every type of ethnic restaurant in the D.C. area. On Capitol Hill you'll find everything from Belga Cafe (Belgian) to Cafe Berlin (German) to Joselito: Casa de Comitas (Spanish) to Aatish on the Hill (Indian). You'll find the same eclectic mix throughout the D.C. area.
Health Care Facilities in Washington DC, US
The most well known hospitals in the D.C. area are: George Washington University Hospital, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Children's National Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital Center , Mary Washington Hospital (Fredricksburg, Va.), Inova Fairfax Hospital (Fairfax, Va.) and Virginia Hospital Center (Arlington, Va.). A little over an hour away is Johns Hopkins, which ranks as one of the best hospitals in the United States.
Expat Health Insurance
Choosing an expat health insurance provider is an important decision for expats in US. Take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA. Sponsored by CIGNA.
Recreational Activities in Washington DC
Capital Rowing Club and Washington Canoe Club are two of the numerous rowing clubs in the D.C. area.
For golfers, country clubs include Belle Haven Country Club (Alexandria, Va.), Mount Vernon Country Club (Alexandria, Va.), Washington Golf & Country Club (Arlington, Va.) and The Chevy Chase Club (Chevy Chase, Md.). Many of those also have tennis and swimming. There are many others in the D.C. area.
D.C. Fray (formerly known as United Social Sports) hosts recreational sporting events (bocce, flag football, basketball, yoga, cornhole, tennis, soccer, softball and many others) plus speed-dating events, parties and more. D.C. Hashing is a drinking / running club popular among expats worldwide.
Crime in Washington DC, US
With a population of close to 700,000, Washington, D.C., D.C. has its share of crime. The homeless population is reportedly close to 7,000. Property crimes (auto theft, burglary, theft from auto, etc.) were most common crimes in 2018. Robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon declined slightly from 2017 to 2018, but homicide was up 43% during that same period. Like most cities in the United States, certain neighborhoods are more dangerous than others.