Are you planning to move to Washington D.C.? Well, you are not alone. The capital city of America is among the fastest-growing populations in the country, with an expected 13,000 new residents each year. The Washington D.C. area is a hotspot and attracts new residents each year. D.C. is predicted to see an increase of 47% by 2045.
The capital offers great opportunities in terms of employment, a better lifestyle, and countless possibilities. However, the densely packed city inviting more and more people each year presents its challenges. In a real estate market with more demands than housing options, it is essential to find reliable real estate professionals who can help find you the perfect house and guide you through the process.
So, why are people moving to Washington D.C.? Some of the reasons why so many people are making a move to the capital area are:
Buying real estate in the bustling capital city of Washington, D.C., can be an intimidating process. Our library for buyers will help you prepare!
What makes D.C. special? Well, being the capital of one of the world’s most powerful countries should be considered 'special' enough. But the Washington D.C. metropolis has so much more to offer.
For starters, some of the most politically and historically significant landmarks can be found in downtown Washington. From the White House and the Capitol Building to Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Jefferson Pier. The National Mall lies in the center of the cluster of these noteworthy structures, and the Tidal Basin, lying to the south of the mall, features a beautiful display of Japanese Cherry Blossom trees.
D.C. is also a center of the arts, with countless museums preserving the rich culture and history of not just the city or state but also the whole nation, as well as several performing arts institutes. The city is also home to as many as 4 major professional men's sports and one major professional women's team.
The D.C. area enjoys four seasons year-round, with not-so-hot summers and not-too-cold winters. While offering all urban amenities, it still manages to create a blend of a small-town feel and a cosmopolitan one.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis places Washington–Arlington–Alexandria (DC–VA–MD–WV) sixth when it comes to ranking the largest U.S. metro areas by their GDP with $471,584 (in millions of dollars, 2014)
Washington D.C. is a thriving economy that keeps expanding each year. This can be attributed to several factors, the first probably being the city being the nation’s capital. Naturally, this translates into a strong presence of government offices and organizations hiring for federal positions.
Apart from the government jobs, D.C. is home to some of the biggest companies and multinationals in the country, headquarters or major branches. In 2020, eleven companies centered in D.C. were named as Fortune 500 companies, including the 2nd on the list, Amazon, as well as Costco Wholesale and Fannie Mae. The city caters to 400 international associations and 1,000 internationally owned companies.
Washington’s economy is becoming more and more diversified each year. While it successfully brought in financial powerhouses in the past, now D.C.’s market has expanded into IT firms, the hospitality sectors, distributions, and many other areas. Some of the top employers to work for are:
The strong political and government presence has also attracted engineering and defense giants like General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and the Computer Sciences Corporation, as well as technology firms like The Advisory Board and Blackboard.
D.C. is a thriving marketplace of ideas, innovation, creativity, and invention. Among the nation’s metropolitan areas, D.C. has the highest percentage of college graduates, thanks to the presence of some of the highest-rated schools and higher education institutions. More than a hundred academic institutions operate in and around the city, which draws and helps retain talented professionals.
Great opportunities and a burgeoning economy lead to a population boom and a surge in demand for real estate in the D.C. area. On the other hand, zoning restrictions, high land prices, and other factors have caused a lag in supply. On top of that, as discussed above, D.C. offers some of the best well-paying jobs in the country, which also contributes to driving up the prices.
D.C. has been notorious when it comes to housing costs with a steadily increasing trend. According to PayScale, housing costs in D.C. are 148% higher than the national average. In July 2019, the median sales price was more than $592,000, an unimaginable amount for many longtime residents and first-time homebuyers. In April 2022, D.C. home prices were up by about 8 percent compared to the previous year and selling at a median price of $705K.
The median home price in D.C. has increased roughly by 20 percent, or nearly $100,000, since 2013. However, a sharp decrease was seen during the pandemic months, although the median rent was still higher than the national average of $1,114 for a two-bedroom. Rents for a one-bedroom apartment can easily exceed $2,000 a month, especially if it’s close to a public commute.
D.C. housing is expensive, but housing nearby D.C., not so much. Considering the population boom and the exorbitant living costs, cities and suburbs near D.C. and Virginia have been attracting movers for some time now. Easy local commute and public transit have also made things more convenient and practical to cinder housing options in Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, and Alexandria in Virginia as well as Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Prince Georges in Maryland.
Three major airports serve the metro area of D.C. Dulles Airport in Virginia is an hour’s drive west of the city and also operates international flights. The Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, is just a few minutes away from downtown D.C., over the Potomac River. Thirdly, there is Baltimore International Airport or BWI. BWI is often a less expensive alternative to Dulles and serves more international flights.
The beaches are only two or three hours away. D.C. metro residents can head out to the Delaware and Maryland beaches, Rehoboth Beach or Ocean City. The outer banks in North Carolina are four to five hours away.
D.C. was established in a straightforward street grid plan. The district ranks high in the list of walkable urban areas. Living in Washington D.C. gives access to public transport that is convenient and ranked as one of the best in the country, second only to New York City. It is also the third-best city to travel on your bike with.
The dense population can make rush hours traffic-heavy, but some of the world’s safest, cleanest, and most-efficient transit systems, the Metrorail and Metrobus, come to the rescue. Since the Metro only runs till midnight, taxis are the next best way for late-night travel. Thankfully, D.C. has a high taxi-to-citizen ratio, which means that more than 6,000 taxis are running in the city.
Another option is the D.C. Circulator, a free bus traveling along six specific routes at a 10-minute interval. This bus can take you to neighborhoods like Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, National Mall, U Street, and Woodley Park
One thing is for sure. You can never get bored in Washington D.C. The city is a central hub for so many activities and supports countless recreational facilities. It offers a little something to suit all your interests, from sporting and adventure to roaming the museums and walking down memory lane.
Washington provides plenty of opportunities to reflect on the history of the United States. The Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Washington is a national center for arts, history, and culture.
There are some significant Smithsonian institutions, roughly 20 museums and galleries, each an architectural wonder of its own. The National Museum of Natural History on the National Mall, the National Air and Space Museum; the National Museum of African Art; the National Museum of American History; the National Museum of the American Indian; the Sackler and Freer galleries, which both focus on Asian art and culture- are just a few from the long list of museums to visit in the city.
Smithsonian museums mostly reside along the National Mall, a parkway between the U.S. Capitol building and the Washington monument. All are some of the most popular destinations in the world, with the Air and Space Museum particularly holding records for visitorship. Sometimes jokingly called "the nation's attic," the Smithsonian collectively is a place where you can see dinosaurs, Dorothy's ruby slippers, the Wright Brother's first airplane near the lunar lander, and artifacts from all of the major conflicts the country has been involved in.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, the Washington Ballet, and hosts Broadway shows. The Marine Barracks, the country's oldest professional musical organization, can also be found in D.C. The Lincoln Theatre, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Studio Theatre are also among other notable venues.
The only United States National Zoo is located in D.C. Spanning 163 acres of land and forming a part of the Rock Creek Park, the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park is home to roughly 2,700 animals of more than 390 species. This includes Giant and Red pandas; Asian elephants; Ref-Fronted, Red-Ruffed, and Ring-Tailed lemurs; alpacas; all manners of reptiles, insects, and fishes. The annual ZooLights light up in the winters and brighten the park with 500,000 LED lights.
The music scene does not disappoint either. While being the home of “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown and “Prince of Motown” Marvin Gaye, D.C. also has several live-music venues, from the Black Cat and the 9:30 Club to the Anthem and Capital One Arena. The city hosts its annual Jazz Festival, which brings together tens of thousands of visitors.
While those remain permanent homes for music, the region's arenas and stadiums ensure a regular schedule of major concerts throughtout the year.
According to a study from the Trust for Public Land named D.C. No. 1 among the urban park systems in the U.S., 98 percent of the city’s residents live within a 10-minute walk of one or the other park. Almost a fifth of the District area has been dedicated to park space, and the average park size is about 1.4 acres. Most of these are managed by the National Park Service. Rock Creek Park is probably the most remarkable of them all, being more than twice the size of New York City’s Central Park and the oldest urban park in the country.
In a city full of excitement, how could the food scene fall pale in comparison? Well, it can’t! Washington D.C could as well be food the capital of the United States, offering all sorts of cuisines and concepts from all across the world.
If you are a fan of professional sports, the Washington D.C. metro area is a paradise. The area boasts major league franchises in football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and soccer.
In the NFL, the metro area hosts the Washington Commanders, one of the leagues oldest running franchises. The team plays at Fed Ex Field in Prince Georges County Maryland (as of this writing).
Downtown D.C. hosts three big league teams.
The Washington Capitals won the National Hockey League Stanley Cup in 2018 and play downtown at the Capital One Arena.
They share that arena with the Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association. Both teams are affordable nights out in a part of town that has been revitalized and reenergized by the relatively recent development of the arena complex. The arena sits on a major Metro subway transit station, providing easy access from around the region.
Not far away, in the city, the Washington Nationals play major league baseball at the stunning Nationals Park, built in 2019 near the Anacostia River. The Nationals are the former Montreal Expos and play in the NL East division.
One of the most successful big league teams in the region is the D.C. United club in Major League Soccer. The team is tied as being the most successful club in U.S. soccer- having won four MLS Cup national championships in the 1990s and several international contests. The club has been rebuilding as of late and looks to recapture its glory days. D.C. United plays Audi Field in downtown near where the Anacostia and Potomac rivers intersect.
The metro area is also just a short drive from Baltimore, Maryland - where the NFL franchise Ravens play - and Richmond, Virginia, which boasts a track on the NASCAR circuit- Richmond Raceway.
Washington, D.C. is located on the northern shore of the Potomac River at the river’s navigation head or the transshipment point. D.C. is neighbored by the state of Maryland to the north, east, and west, and the state of Virginia borders the District on the southern shore of the Potomac River.
The Washington metropolitan area, also referred to as the National Capital Region, expands over 4,000 square miles. It forms a part of the larger Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. The area includes 10 counties- five from Maryland and five from Virginia. Washington–Arlington–Alexandria, DC–VA–MD–WV is defined by the counties of:
The three largest cities in the region are the federal city of Washington D.C., Arlington County, and the independent city of Alexandria.
Since the metro area is so expansive in its sheer range and includes ten counties, this gives movers a wide variety of options to pick and choose from in terms of housing, affordability, distance from their workplace, etc. Each of the counties is unique in its way and offers something different to its residents. Here’s a brief overview of what’s it like living in the Washington D.C. area.
Montgomery County is by far the most populous county in Maryland, with an estimated 1,062,061 in 2020. It is conveniently located just north of Washington D.C. and one of only two bordering counties that you don't need a river crossing to access.
Montgomery is one of the most affluent counties not just in the metropolitan area of Washington but across the United States. Naturally, this has attracted loads of people, and so the county has the highest percentage, almost 29.2%, of residents over 25 years of age with a post-graduate. The prominent educational institutes and well-paying jobs can also be contributing factors. In any case, this has made Montgomery county one of the wealthiest in the United States.
The area houses many significant U.S. government offices, scientific research and learning centers, and business campuses. It is also a major employer boasting the National Institutes of Health, the famous Walter Reed Hospital, and major corporate homes for Marriot International, Lockheed Martin, AstraZeneca, and Hughes network systems, among others.
The Montgomery County school system is ranked high on the list of both state and national schools. It has four of the top five ranked high schools in the state of Maryland. It also has two of the top 100 high schools nationwide.
The median home value in Montgomery is $484,900 (National $217,500) while the median home rent is $1,768 (National $1,062). This is managed by the higher median household income of $108,820 (National $62,843)
The county is divided into main cities and smaller towns and villages. The three major cities are Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Takoma Park. Some towns are Barnesville, Brookeville, Chevy Chase, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, and Kensington. The top places to live in Montgomery county are North Potomac, South Kensington, and North Bethesda.
Prince George's County, or PG County, in short, is located in Maryland and borders the eastern portion of Washington, D.C. The population was recorded as 967,201 by the 2020 census, making it the second-most populous county in Maryland after Montgomery County.
PG county is the largest and most affluent African American-majority county in the United States. It is home to many federal government facilities, including Joint Base Andrews and the United States Census Bureau headquarters.
Prince George’s County is situated in the Atlantic coastal plain. It neighbors Montgomery County, Adelphi, Calverton, and West Laure, while the Patuxent River forms the eastern border along with Howard, Anne Arundel, Charles, and Calvert counties. The county area encompasses 499 square miles, of which 483 square miles are land, and 16 square miles are made of water.
The county can be informally divided into its five key regions- North County, Central County, the Rural Tier, the Inner Beltway, and South County. In broader terms, the county is roughly separated into North County and South County by U.S. Route 50.
Anne Arundel County, also known as AA or A.A. County, is Maryland’s fourth most populous county, with a population of 588,261. Situated to the south of Baltimore city, the county stretches over 588 sq mi (1,520 km2).
The county is nestled between the western shore of Chesapeake Bay to its east, and several tidal tributaries of the bay encroach the shoreline.
Anne Arundel County is the home of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, commonly referred to as BWI. BWI serves as the main airport for greater Baltimore. It is also an increasingly popular alternative airport for residents of the Washington, D.C., area.
Anne Arundel boasts a challenging and rewarding school system, successfully creating a unique experience for each student. The AACPS is the fourth largest school system in Maryland and ranks among the 40 largest school systems in the country. It has 18 National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, and 21 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, demonstrating its educational excellence.
The county, with its expansive shoreline, offers countless fun activities and recreational facilities, including boating, fishing, crabbing, water skiing, sailing, and swimming. The two-state parks and over 120 county parks are the perfect places for nature lovers, offering a green escape.
The home prices are still on the higher side when compared to the national average. However, Anne Arundel County is still affordable for people working in the D.C. metro area. The median home value is about $361,200, while the median rent is $1,663.
Fairfax County has several well known local jurisdictions, including the City of Fairfax, also known as Old Town Fairfax. Fairfax forms a part of the Washington metropolitan area as well as Northern Virginia. The city has seen a rise in population from 22,565 to 24,146 between 2010 and 2020. Fairfax lies 17 miles west of Washington D.C. and has a total area of 6.3 square miles.
In the past decade or so, Fairfax, Virginia, has become a people's favorite place to live, especially among the working population employed in the D.C. metro area. D.C. is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, but the densely packed city toppled with high housing costs makes it slightly less desirable. This is why people have been turning to Fairfax instead.
It is easy to move in and around the metropolitan area with the convenient public transportation system. The Washington Metro's Orange Line serves Fairfax via Vienna station, which lies just a mile northeast of the city limits. CUE Bus and Metrobus run in Fairfax as well. The Virginia Railway Express's Burke Centre station is less than three miles southeast of the city's outskirts.
Some of Virginia’s best educational institutes can be found in Fairfax County, and over 35,189 students are enrolled in the largest organization, George Mason University.
Business owners would know that Fairfax is the place to start a new venture in the country. The city combines the best in and out-of-city real estate while cultivating skilled professionals. The job opportunities are also as bright as the Washington D.C.
The city offers a mixed suburban feel for raising a family and an urban and metro-air feel, so you don’t feel left behind either. Fairfax hosts several annual events and festivals to keep its residents entertained. Some of these are:
Loudoun County is located in the northern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The 2020 census recorded a population of 420,959, making Loudoun the third-most populous county in the state.
The county is divided between it's predominantly rural western and northern areas and heavily developed eastern rim bordering Fairfax County. Loudoun is known to have a high median household income. As of 2020, an average household earns $147,111. Since 2008, Loudoun has been listed first in the U.S. when it comes to median household income among jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or more.
The county is spread over an area of 521 square miles, of which 6 square miles is water. Loudoun is nestled by the Potomac River in the north. Across the river lie the Maryland counties of Frederick, Washington, and Montgomery. Loudoun is bounded by Prince William and Fauquier to its south and the drainage of Blue Ridge Mountain to its west. The Bull Run Mountains and Catoctin Mountains divide the county.
The county seat is the rapidly growing Leesburg, centrally located in the county. To the east of Leesburg lie corporate office parks, country clubs and Washington Dulles International Airport. The airport is a major hub for United Airlines, making the county a popular home for United employees. Dulles is the next largest international hub behind New York airports.
Loudoun is an IT hub and home to the world headquarters of several internet-related high-tech companies, including Verizon Business, Telos Corporation, Orbital Sciences Corporation, and Paxfire.
While the county has seen quite a bit of transition as the Washington metro area grows, it continues to have a strong and storied rural economy. In addition to typcial Virginia agriculture, the county is home to a large equine industry, which generates a revenue of $78 million annually- mostly in popular racing. It is home to the Morven Park International Equestrian Center. The wine industry has been steadily growing in the past few years and produces several internationally recognized wines. The real estate market has been growing strong and offers several options with a median listing home price of $715K.
Arlington County is located in Northern Virginia, lying on the southwestern bank of the Potomac River directly across from the District of Columbia. It originally was a part of Alexandria County.
The 2020 census recorded a population of 238,643, making Arlington the sixth-largest county in Virginia by population. The county has a total land area of 26 square miles and is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S.
Arlington is the home base of the Pentagon and is home to Reagan National Airport and Arlington National Cemetery. The county also holdsMarymount University, George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, the administrative office's buildings and graduate programs for the Schar School of Policy and Government and the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, and the satellite campuses of the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. Soon, Arlington will also house Amazon HQ2, the co-headquarters of Amazon.
The residential turnover rates in the county have remained quite high in the past couple of years primarily because of the easy access it provides to the D.C. metro area, which is convenient for people working in the presidential administration. However, many residents also choose to settle down in Arlington because of the lower housing rates, better options to choose from, and the quieter and more suburban lifestyle all the while being near the capital.
Alexandria is an independent city situated in the northern region of Virginia. It is found on the banks of the Potomac River. Nearby Washington D.C. Alexandria is about 7 miles south of downtown Washington, giving it easy accessibility to the capital.
As of 2020, the population of Alexandria is recorded to be 159,467, experiencing a growth of 1% percent per annum since 2010 (on average).
Like most of the areas in the Washington D.C. metro area, including Northern Virginia and Central Maryland, Alexandria’s residents and culture are heavily influenced by the capital. Most professionals housing in Alexandria work in the federal civil service and the U.S. military. The others are employed by one of the many private companies based in Alexandria.
The historic center of the county is known as Old Town and is aligned with many boutiques, restaurants, antique shops, and theaters.
If you’re looking to move to Washington D.C. or its metropolitan area, you will probably consider one of the above-mentioned options.
The first step to making your move to D.C. is narrowing down the area you want to live in and start looking at houses. After all, you can’t move without having a place to move into.
This is where PrimeStreet can help.
Our team at PrimeStreet of trusted real estate agents working in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area can help find you the perfect home with their years of experience in the field.
When you fill out the form (linked below) or give us a call at 855-531-5347, our team will ask you a few questions about where you want to move, what's the anticipated budget, and the preferred timeline. Then the algorithm will connect you to an experienced professional who is informed and knowledgeable in the local housing market.
PrimeStreet will also assist you in finding a lender. All you have to do is call our team or visit our website.
With the whole process set into motion, it is time to assess how well this move will go. Remember, the key to a seamless move is finding the right professional help.