Washington, DC

Population: 659,009

Key findings

  • Washington has a Livability Score of 56/100, which is considered poor
  • Washington crime rates are 2% lower than the District of Columbia average
  • Cost of living in Washington is equal to the District of Columbia average
  • Washington real estate prices are equal to the District of Columbia average
  • Rental prices in Washington are equal to the District of Columbia average

Best Places to Live in and Around Washington

See all the best places to live around Washington

Compare Washington, DC Livability


      Washington Real estate & Rental prices

      See Washington real estate or rentals

      Washington, DC

      The nation's capital is one of the most walkable cities in America, and there is a reason that Presidents, Senators, and many famous individuals choose to call it home. While the traffic in the area is notorious for causing hour long delays, those who live and commute in the area know that there are some tricks to avoiding traffic jams, like slugging or traveling by the city's large subway system. Washington DC has a number of rivers that flow through the downtown area that are full of rowers during the summer months.

      If you are new to DC, one of the first things that should determine where you choose to live is your commute. As indicated, living as close as possible to the city may not be the best option if you will be stuck in traffic for hours each morning on your way into work. Many people choose to live near a commuter lot or a subway station in order to gain access to the freeway express lanes or its underground tunnels.

      Prices in the area are higher than the rest of the country, and they are also high for the states that make up the DMV - DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Homes in NoVa, Northern Virginia, will likely be the most expensive, although Annapolis and Anne Arundel County in Maryland can also provide homeowners sticker shock. Cheaper options are available in Maryland's Prince Georges Country and as you move further south or east in Virginia. Those who choose to purchase a home in Maryland should also remember that property taxes are quite high. While there is housing available for purchase in DC, most of the housing is geared towards those without large families since it is a lot of apartments and condos.

      Washington DC has endless entertainment options thanks to the Smithsonian and its vast collection of free museums. DC is also home to some of the country's most famous national monuments. A quick stroll on the Mall can take you from the Capitol Building to the Washington Monument in less than an hour. As you walk the route, you will pass many famous government buildings and museums. The city is also home to professional sports franchises. The NBA's Wizards, the MLB's Nationals, the NFL's Redskins, and the NHL's Capitals are just a handful of the teams that call the District home.

      While Washington is an expensive place to live, the cost of living can be offset thanks to free museums and a relatively affordable selection of high-quality restaurants. Those looking to save money can choose to live further out in the suburbs or rely on MARTA's public transit system for the majority of their day-to-day commuting.

      Top Rated Schools in Washington

      See all Washington schools

      Washington Reviews

      Write a review about Washington Tell people what you like or don't like about Washington…
      Maximum 3 words
      West side is great, east side is rough. Southeast is the most dangerous area followed by northeast. north west has hoods but it has more good areas such as georgetown and kalorama and barnarby woods. Atttractions: Wsh Monument NW, Union station NE, White house Nw, Thomas Jefferson, National mall, SW. Big chair Se, Chinatown NW, And Smithsonian National Museum NW.

      Nightlife is average but for some areas (all in se) are criminal hotspots. Not uncommon to hear shots during the night.

      community: Most people here are rude and DC has hoods and they killed 200 people this year.

      Dining, good food.

      Shopping isnt bad, matter fact, its above average.
      0 -1
      Painfully average for a city of this size
      Washington, DC for generations was referred as the "Chocolate City" and used to feature a heavy black population. However, the majority of the city has gone the wrong way. With the exception of Upper Northwest DC which has always essentially been a Maryland suburb, all of the culture that DC once had to offer has disappeared. If you set aside the National Mall, the actual fabric of DC lacks substance.

      Crime is at an all time high. I think for a city of this size to have the murder rate that it does is unacceptable. I'm the only one of my friends not to have had my car broken into in the last two years. Recently, a mass shooting at a Nationals game. The homeless population is absolutely through the roof and the mayor does little to nothing about it. Walking through Georgetown, half of the storefronts are vacant with homeless people living in them. Driving through Foggy Bottom, near George Washington U, you will see large homeless encampments that seem to double in size every year. Very recently, in Northeast DC, a pedestrian bridge collapsed onto a highway nearly killing a number of people because much of the infrastructure isn't sound.

      Another issue with DC's government is their lack of regulation on the construction of new apartments. This past summer, a building collapsed due to poor construction. City sponsored housing in Southeast was just condemned and residents evicted because it was falling apart. If the housing isn't falling apart, the walls are paper thin. I've had the displeasure of living in and visiting many of these new build apartments and they'll offer a rooftop and a nice pool but, on the inside you're stuck with laminate cabinets, vinyl flooring, and a ridiculously small square footage. There are many buildings billing themselves as "luxury" that lack everything that actually makes a building enjoyable to live in.

      The vast majority of people in DC work for the government or in government adjacent jobs. Sadly, most of these people end up living paycheck to paycheck. Without regulation on construction, everything being built in the city is a rental. I would say nearly 80% of people here are renting and probably 60% of people are new to DC and from the Midwest or the South. DC votes overwhelmingly blue but, I believe this is only due to the fact that many of the out-of-staters keep their Republican voter registration in their home states. There are a lot more Republicans here than residents like to pretend.

      This isn't to discount the entire metro area of DC. The surrounding areas are boding much better due to governments actually putting citizens before profit. Montgomery County, MD is developing incredibly with Marriott and Lockheed Martin HQ. National Harbor, MD is blowing up with development. Arlington, VA and Alexandria, VA are booming with Deloitte, The Washington Post, and soon Amazon. The issue isn't the area as a whole, it is specifically in DC.
      3 0
      Great place to be
      I loved the attractions and going out to the mall. Everything was so green and everyone seemed to fit. 10/10 I would go again if I could
      2 -9
      DC Drivers civility definciant
      I am strictly reviewing drivers in DC.....i have never seen such rude, impatient reckless drivers in all the years I have been driving and the city's I've lived, granted i wasn't familiar with the city, but I drove safely and drove a reasonable speed and I had car horns blowing behind me every 30 minutes......you shouldn't speed in the areas where the Monuments are because there are pedestrians and bicyclists everywhere and these people will walk or ride out in front of your car without giving it a second thought....but back to the driver's in DC......they speed and wherever they are going they must get there as fast as possible and god forbid you impede their speed for you will hear the horns and see the angry faces in the rearview mirror........just remember there are people walking everywhere, looking down at their gadgets instead of approaching cars and drivers that must get to where they are going as fast as possible without thought of safety......otherwise, I had great time!
      6 -2
      Very Unhappy Visitor
      If you like to be talked down to in front of your children and other equals, Washington DC is the place for you. My for children and I took a day trip to what I mistakingly, thought would have been a wonderful time. It all started out with the Vienna Metro attendant, guard, boss, god. (We come from a small town with obviously no experience riding the metro.) I walk over to politely ask for assistance with the "ticket" machine. The lady who I was seeking assistance from never once looked up at me and steadily dug in her bookbag. When she finally decided to assist us she looked at me and said, "Your not the one I was speaking to." Um, maybe if she would have looked at me when I was asking for help she would have known who she was speaking to. Metro lingo, apparently another oops! The attendant asked where were we going and I mistakingly said I wanted to get on the orange train. (I was already anxious about being in a big city.) Her come back was, "I didn't ask what color train", I said, "where are you going?" I tried to explain that we have never ridden the Metro which obviously didn't compute in her brain. After I escaped the clutches of her belittlement we finally got on the Metro and headed to our destination. The very first museum we visited was the National Museum of American History. This experience was no better than the Metro. As We approached the check point, my children went through one line and I went through another. The guard said to me, "How many?" I pointed to my children who were next to me in another line and said very politely, "they're with me." He in return replied, "I said how many?" I angrily said, "5!!" The great city of DC was not so great!! I unwillingly stayed so my children could visit other museums. The time finally came to head back to Vienna from Federal Triangle which meant we had to get back on that god forsaken Metro! As I approached the gate I couldn't find my card so I went to go and purchase another one and again couldn't figure out the system. An attendant named Logan at Federal Triangle was an angel in disguise. He asked if I needed help, imagine that, asking if I needed help! He issued me a pass to get through the gate at Vienna. When we got back to Vienna's gate, guess who was there? Thinking we would walk through the gate and head home...Nope!! My children's Metro card would not allow them to pass through the gate. So the attendant that wasn't kind at the beginning of our trip was neither kind at the end. She waved me to her "office" and proceeded to get hostile with me. She asked, "WHERE ALL DID YOU GO?" I explained to her angrily that we stopped at Federal Triangle and walked all day!! By looking on the computer it was proven that my children unknowingly tapped their card more then once at the gate which made it seem like they rode more. Don't ever underestimate going that extra mile and kindly helping when needed!! What ever happened to being kind? Whatever happened to character? Whatever happened to integrity? I'm sure there are some good qualities to DC, I didn't experience them!
      9 -6
      Washington, DC - Great For Young Professionals
      I love Washington DC. It is the city I spent the first few years of my life in before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah with my family. I was lucky enough that my parents took me back to Washington DC a bunch of times so that I could become familiar with the city. I knew about the monuments, the amazing shopping in DC, and the great history that was around every turn. I loved my trips to Washington DC so much.

      When I was finishing up college at Brigham Young University I met a girl who I hit it of with really well. We started spending everyday together and we were pretty inseparable. It was a pretty big shock when I found out that she had just landed a job with a Senators office in Washington DC. We talked about it a bit, and we decided that I would move with her. I packed up my bags and moved to Washington DC from Salt Lake City, Utah.

      She flew out earlier, and I met up with her a few months later. I flew into Baltimore and then took the train to Washington DC. The first thing I remembered was how amazing Union Station was. This wasn't just a train stop. This was a place where you could shop, read new books, hang out with friends, and have a great time.

      Living in Washington DC as an adult gave me a whole new perspective. One of the things I loved was the music scene. I am really into music, and some of my favorite bands came through Washington DC and not Salt Lake, so I was in luck. The Echostage was my mainstay when it came to live music. I love that venue.

      Living in Washington DC is great for a time, but I don't really thing I would want to raise a family there. Simple things like parking at the store can be really difficult. If you don't have a sweet job set up, it can be pretty tough to pay for things too. Overall, the city is amazing for a great nightlife and if you like history. I loved my time living in Washington DC, and I really learned a lot. There are certain areas of the city you need to be careful of though. You must remember that.
      3 -6
      Washington D.C. - Represent!
      I have lived in Washington D.C. since my freshman year at university and I have loved every minute of it! D.C. can be an expensive city, but it is full of history and good times. Stick to Georgetown if you want to see the creme de la creme of D.C. society. You have the best restaurants, cafes and shopping all along M street. Adam's Morgan is where the young professionals (and interns) go to party and have a good time. You can also stay along Capital Hill near the Senate office buildings for some good local bars and taverns.

      If you head outside of D.C. such the surrounding neighborhoods in Montgomery County and Old Town, Alexandria, then you find areas full of great restaurants and shopping. Tyson's Corner in Virginia is one of the best and biggest malls in the country. If you do not feel like heading out of the District, then you can enjoy many shopping areas around the downtown areas from boutique to designer. The nation's capital also has some pretty awesome museums that include free entrance to all of the Smithsonian's on the National Mall. D.C. is one place you do not want to miss out.

      Just like any big city, crime can be bad in certain areas like Anacostia and by Catholic University. It is best to avoid these areas if you are alone. Despite sketchy areas, D.C. feels pretty safe. I have never had any problem coming home by myself on the metro late at night. If you are looking to relocate here, I suggest bringing a car because D.C. is bigger then it looks. You will love living in the nation's capital even if you do not have representation!
      1 -6
      Great metro system and new bike lanes makes a great pedestrian city
      I love the metro system! its fast, comfortable and runs till 3am on weekends. The new public bikes system is the same as the one in Montreal and works great and will only get better as they add stations. Very impressed with the bike lanes (some separated from cars). The weather is mild compared to Boston or Montreal (summers a bit hot) which makes it easy to commute without a car. Nightlife: I dont find a very energized nightlife because it seems to be spread out among monolithic buildings and wide streets with a very empty street life feeling, Compared to the multitude of shops, cafes, bars, clubs, markets that fill the streets of Montreal 24 hours a day, Washington seems to have big gaps of emptiness with very little or no mom and pop establishments. Its like a 9am-9pm outdoor shopping mall with only bars open after the "mall" closed. Im not a fancy restaurant diner, i like mom and pop places with big affordable portions. I haven't found any favorite places here in 5 years. Very good examples of smart growth developments are popping up and I hope they are used in all developments around the country. One example is the Columbia Heights Metro station with 5 big box stores in one block, tons of cool housing, super market, bunch of chain food establishments, vegan bakery, tea cafe etc.... all in a 4 block radius. It might not have the warmth and character of the mom and pops of Montreal, but it pedestrianizes classic American sprawl chains making it more convenient and enjoyable. Across the river in Arlington is my favorite smart growth community, Clarendon with more trees and tranquil streets but much for the pedestrian who lives there. Pentagon City is a hotspot for shopping. I like the public pool on Nst and 21st, interesting international crowd, close to trader joes and flanked by tress from park. has large deep end too. The Mall is a great place to bike when it isnt too full of tourists. full of fountains, trees, monuments and museums. Housing is major expensive. The people I see in the city are mostly military, politicians, patriotic tourists, and low wage workers. I think its a pretty transient city with a lot of temporary job assignments. Seems like it should be easy to run into anyone from anywhere. I havent though. Train station is nice with good service, The best airport in the country (DCA) is an easy, quick metro ride from the city or you can ride a bike or walk to it through a park from Arlington. Only problem it has been majorly handicapped by not allowing transcon flights (with very few exceptions) forcing anyone going to the west coast or internationally to Dulles airport in Sterling VA with very limited public transit options (until the metro is finished in 2015 (45 years after it was requested)) its a $70 taxi ride... or you can head to BWI for $100 taxi or take the MARC train unless you are flying on a weekend when it doesnt run. This is a very nice comfortable city best suited for those who make above $100k a year and have a solid social network. Im sure I missed a lot of stuff in my 5 years here that others will sure to add in another review.
      1 -5
      Living History in Washington, D.C.
      If you have an interest in history, politics or science, Washington D.C. is one of the best vacation destinations in the United States. Obviously the Smithsonian museums (there's more than a dozen and include the National Zoo), the National Mall and the Library of Congress are all must-dos when visiting the capital but the Newseum (history of news) and the U Street Corridor are attractions of note.

      For such a metropolitan city, Washington, D.C. has a surprising amount of trees and parks. The district does have some of the worst traffic in the country but the streets are easy to navigate and both residents and visitors can spend most of their time walking to their destinations, or taking the Metrorail or Metrobus. There's even a streetcar system to connect the various neighborhoods.

      Washington restaurants are only slightly better than average but one is worth a stop. Komi is a Mediterranean Washington restaurant that allows visitors to be adventurous diners with the chef's tasting menu which is entirely chef's choice. Definitely a fun way to eat!
      1 -4
      Source: The Washington, DC data and statistics displayed above are derived from the 2016 United States Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS).