6 Things to Know When You Move to Washington DC

By Thursday, February 09, 2017

Well, here I am, still living in Washington DC and almost exactly one month into my new job here. Life has been full, to say the least! Work is always busy and as with any new stage, it’s a process to figure out a balance between all the things you need to do and want to do. But I’m still loving it here and am truly thankful for this city, great coworkers, new friends, a wonderful church, and satisfying work. 

So, since I’m obviously now an expert after having lived here five months, I thought I’d impart my treasure trove of knowledge. Just kidding. But there are a few things I’ve picked up on since moving here that I know I’d share with a person in their first week of living here. And some of these could be useful for someone who’s just visiting as well. Take them for what they’re worth and let me know what you think! 

1. Get the metro app 
While the metro system isn’t overly difficult, it can be overwhelming at first for someone who hasn’t lived with public transportation before. Luckily, I’d had practice with the Boston and London underground systems before moving to DC back in the fall, so it was an overall seamless transition. But even so, that metro app is a great safety net. Just type in the station you’re starting at and where you want to go, and voila! It’ll tell you exactly which lines to take and where to change and get off!

2. Have a range of coats that vary in thickness 
This is something I’m still working on. There are several degrees of cold here and I’m pretty sure there has to be the perfect coat for each one, so I remain on the lookout. It was during the first major cold snap in December that I realized what I had thought sufficed as a winter coat was actually not at all sufficient. Let’s just say it’s a pretty rude awakening to that fact for an Alabama native when it feels like nine degrees and the wind is cutting into your face.
I have gotten to see sights like this a few times though, which has been pretty neat.

3. Have multiple pairs of comfortable walking shoes 
If you feel called to live in DC, you’re probably also called to lots of walking. I’ve loved having so much built-in exercise every day, and several pairs of sturdy shoes for many kinds of weather have definitely made that transition easier. They’re essentials to living here without a doubt. 

4. Be prepared for grocery trips to be an ordeal 
Related to the subject of frequent walking is grocery shopping. I went to the store last week and was sort of laughing at myself as I got ready to go. It kind of felt like I was preparing to go into a war zone – pile on the layers, cinch up the tennis shoes, grab the list and the bags…it was a process. I say often that the main times I wish I had a car here are when I go to the store. A 10-minute walk isn’t much, but it gets much longer when you’re lugging groceries on the return trip. I think I’ve about mastered the system by now, but it’s still a process every time. 

5. Queue up those audiobooks and podcasts 
Also on the subject of frequent walking – podcasts and audiobooks are your friends in DC! One of the greatest things about walking to and from work every day and pretty much anywhere else is that those walks are some of the best times to get lost in a great story on audio or to catch up on a favorite podcast. So pick your favorites and get listening. 

6. Remember where you are 
I’m doing my best to remember this these days. Familiarity naturally makes wonder fade, so I’ve been trying to do a lot of mental “stepping back” to take in my surroundings. Since I walk by the Capitol every single day, it’d be easy to pass it by without a second glance now. But I’ve been staring at it purposely a lot lately. Not many people get to be up close to this much history for long, so remember it when you come. And aside from that, DC is brimming with culture and fun things to do. I’m doing my best to not let it all pass me by! 

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  1. So fun to read about your adventures in D.C.! Every time I go somewhere where it's mainly public transportation, my first thought is always grocery shopping - ha! :)