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Readers Respond: What Do You Love or Hate About Living in the Washington, DC Metro Area?

Responses: 46


What's it like to live near the nation's capital? Tell others why the Washington, DC metro area is a great place to live and/or share some of the challenges that you cope with every day. Share Your Experience

Love Cheap Culture in Washington DC

The article is spot on with the pros and cons of living in Washington DC. My favorite thing is the variety of free/cheap cultural opportunities. We take my kids to all the Smithsonian museums, many of which have free kids performances. The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. The Sculpture Garden jazz series. There's always something free and interesting to do.

It's a Fascinating City

There's always so much going on in DC. It's a great place to be if you like to be busy and immersed in cultural activities. I've lived here for 5 years and am always amazed by things that I haven't yet discovered. It's an expensive place to live but you can always find free things to do. It's pretty easy to get around by Metro but parking a car is pain. You have to plan extra time to get just about everywhere because you never know when you will be delayed by traffic.
—Guest Sonya

Vibrant, but not for young families

DC has a lot to offer, but starting a family here is nearly impossible. Childcare, housing, and other cost of living issues make it very difficult to make ends meet. A great commute will cost you, but could be worth it. A support network for childcare is the way other young families make it happen. With two kids, it's no longer sensible for both parents to work and that's if you have one salary that can support the family. Generally people are less friendly here, but you can find friendly people if you try. Families and young professionals won't have problems there.
—Guest Texas expat

Hated It...Moved Out

Came to Alexandria 2007. Ran out of space. Moved to Annandale for more space, cars got broken into repeatedly so much so I had to store it elsewhere and drive a beater (Which still had the cat convertor taken off). Moved back to Alexandria into substandard housing to avoid the crime. Average commute time between my husband and I was ~12-15 hours a week for five years across multiple contract jobs. We spent most of our time stressed and exhausted from commuting, congestion and extremely high cost of living. It was great for our careers but horrible for our sanity and our wallets. The upsides were the restaurants, although after a few years you are so worn out from being in traffic all the time the thought of fighting it again to get to a restaurant is even unbearable. I've lived in Chicago and Singapore and if you want a big city feel then this won't provide that, while also not giving off a suburban feel either.
—Guest Meghan

DC is okay for some

I think that DC is a good city for single, young professionals just starting out. However, it is very expensive and traffic can be very bad. It also doesn't have that 'big city' feel that other major cities like NYC, Boston, Philly, or Chicago have. In those cities there is a sense of unified community and an energy/vibe that DC just doesn't have. Maybe it's the lack of skyscrapers, or all of the government jobs, or all of the new buildings that look the same, but the city just feels like it's missing something. People do also tend to be less social than you normally see in big cities. People rarely just spark up conversation. But the city is really clean, and the suburbs (Fairfax/Montgomery) are very nice. Very diverse area as well. All in all, it is a fine area for a stable career, but if you are looking for a traditional big-city experience, DC is not the place.
—Guest Guest

Hated it

As a Southerner who grew up on the beach, I disliked the DC area. The people were unfriendly and very hard to socialize with. Traffic sucks. The rent is high. Crime is rampant. The one plus I give DC is the transit system. The Metro trains are clean and very well maintained. I moved back home (Savannah, GA) five years ago and couldn't be happier. You can make a decent living in DC, but be prepared to sacrifice your social life. I currently don't make the money I made while in DC, but I'll take the trade off to live in a friendly and beautiful place. Good luck if you're considering DC. Prepare yourself
—Guest Marc

Born here. Still here. Love it here

I think this article is pretty spot on besides the part about stress and long work hours and no socialization. Wrong wrong wrong. I have lived in Chevy Chase DC my whole life (right on MD border but still DC) and my neighborhood is one of the happiest places to live. Everyone knows and is friendly to everyone, young families move in every year and the parents drink wine and chat on the porches while the little kids play in the lawns or driveways. Sure, there is some stress, but any job comes with stress. I know my parents love their jobs. The metro is awesome, except for the people that stand in the left side of the escalator. I went to high school right in the city, literally a two minute walk from the capital and I loved it. All the buildings around it were astonishing if I really think about it (I didn't then): NPR Headquarters, Union Station, the monuments and museums.
—Guest Dylan

District of Change

I'm 67, retired, just here a year, from Ohio. I've been around. DC is becoming a world-class city before my eyes. The influx of young people, and I hope, people like me who feel young, gives this place an energy that I've never experienced before. It's Paris, with more trees and wider sidewalks! When I drive, which is rarely, I get honked at a lot, which I find hilarious! And it's easy to ignore the politicos. Love it here.
—Guest Djery

DC's great

I've lived within a half-hour's drive to DC my entire life. It's great to be here, and I always attend the annual cherry blossom festival. I grew up in one of the better parts of Maryland, Montgomery County. The school system is excellent, and it is easy to catch up on schoolwork. There are many high-quality teachers, though some may seem strict and demanding at times, as I remember of my 6th grade math teacher.
—Guest Jessica

Moved here from Texas and love DC!!

We recently moved here from San Antonio, Texas, which is a great place. I was really worried. I saw so many negative posts. I expected rude, unfriendly people, a crazy pace, snobbishness, and horrible drivers. None of this has been true! People have been every bit as friendly and kind as in San Antonio, it has been very laid back and artsy. You will never be bored here with plenty of activities like outdoor concerts, festivals, museums and movies, and an amazing park system! It reminds me of Austin, TX or Portland, Oregon. There are lots of healthy food options, it is extremely family friendly, and the drivers are mostly very polite. I am a wimp about driving, and I am not at all afraid here, even downtown. Of course, San Antonio drivers were horrible (sorry SA, I love you, but hated driving there!). Traffic is bad and housing is ridiculous, but I love it here!!!
—Guest Mom of two

Changes Required

Here is my proposal. DC is way too over populated. Stop letting people move into dc metro area. Then turn the apartments and condos into parking. Make dc PRO business and tax those businesses. The parking would make a killing. Put the money toward better transportation into and out of DC. Make DC smaller and give the rest to MD and VA. Especially across the river. Then they would pay tax and be represented. Big headache, gone. Businesses would love to be in DC, so only let them. No overnight hotels or housing, everyone goes to MD and VA at night. IMPROVE metro and bus services to all areas of MD and VA. Make high speed shuttles. It can be done.
—Guest Anonymous

I Don't Love It

D.C. is like Hollywood: it's a one industry kind of town. Yes, there are other industries. But the job sector is not at all diverse. Most jobs are government, law firm, lobby firm or the lobby shop of a large corporation, gov't contractor, or non-profit. If you're looking for industry variety, D.C. is terrible for that. It's a pretty city, very pretty. Very green, very clean. But parts of it completely die on the weekends because it's all office buildings and not mixed-use. How can such a big city actually have entire dead areas on Saturday and Sunday? It's bad for city life and bad for local business. If you're a big city lover, D.C. may not be for you. It's really not a big city in the same way that Boston, Chicago, NYC, and San Francisco are big cities. It's lacks a lot, including character. But for those who like a small city, this is that kind of place. There are a lot of free cultural events to enjoy. There is mass transit. It's a city for non-city people.

Personally... I like it here

I have lived in DC, near DC (I live in McLean now), in San Francisco, near Sacramento, in Beijing, and in College towns... and i have liked all of them to various degrees. I now either bike or metro to work, so traffic hasn't been a problem. The schools (in McLean) are great. I really like my neighbors. I work near metro center, and enjoy the area, and my job, and my co-workers...... the amount of whining and angst in the post responses i have read here really perplex me! moist of the negatives relate to the cost of housing and to traffic (which arise because so many people want to live here, right?) .... i like it here!
—Guest not whining

Stress for families!!

Have a family in the Baltimore/DC Metro area, both parents working fulltime. It is very competitive, traffic is bad, schools are good but very fast paced and my kids are stressed. Also it gets COLD and VERY WINDY in winter. Unless you are a TYPE A personality, I would recommend finding someplace else to settle down.
—Guest Guest E

Lived in DC my whole life

I was born and raised in DC I once I started to have children I had to move. The cost of living is ridiculously HIGH and there is a lot of crime. I wanted my children to be able to go out and play and be kids. Another thing, if you want to live in a good neighborhood the only place in PG County you should live is Bowie. Do Not live anywhere else in PG county MD, its best if you can afford it to move to Montgomery County...Gaithersburg or Germantown or anywhere in that area. Just simply because they are good neighborhoods for kids up that way. But like I said if your not family oriented person then the DC metro area is perfect. I mean don't get me wrong, I've lived in the area my whole life. And it a beautiful place to live, very diverse and lots to do. But you have to work very hard to have a good life.
—Guest guest DS

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What Do You Love or Hate About Living in the Washington, DC Metro Area?

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