Are you moving to Washington DC soon because you just landed a job with the federal government? Maybe you’re relocating to the capital in search of love, a fresh start, new challenges? Whatever the case is, right now, you may be wondering what the best places to live in Washington DC are? And it’s a reasonable question, given that there are 131 districts in the city with more or less defined boundaries, organized into eight wards. Some of the communities offer all the bustle of urban living downtown, while others will provide you with a quiet life in the suburbs.
Young people like DC for the lively atmosphere in the urban parts, packed with restaurants and bars, entertainment and cultural venues. On the other hand, middle-aged and older folks appreciate the safe and clean suburbs and community events joining them together. Let’s go through some of the prime DC residential areas that we sorted into specific categories to help you make the right choice.
If you want to be surrounded by nature, then you can choose many of the Washington DC neighborhoods that are located near some of the countless parks in the city.
Situated between Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, a 12-acre Meridian Hill Park is an old urban area designed in a neoclassical style and declared a National Historic Landmark. It features two parts, the lower with a cascading waterfall and upper that is mostly wooded. The district is also decorated with many sculptures, including the one dedicated to the famous Italian writer Dante Alighieri.
A Northeast Washington place, National Arboretum stretches across several blocks that can be explored on foot or by bike/car. With free admission, you can see one of the largest collections of bonsai trees.
The National Mall, spanning from Capitol Hill to Potomac River, is so famous that it is mostly occupied by tourists. In contrast, locals tend to enjoy its greenery to a lesser extent. North of the National Mall, in the Potomac River, there lies Theodore Roosevelt Island, a genuine wooded island with swampy parts.
If you find yourself in the Southwest part of DC, it is worth visiting East Potomac Park, situated between the Potomac River, the Anacostia River, and the Washington Channel. Golfers will appreciate this place for the 18-hole East Potomac Golf Course, but there are also tennis courts and picnic facilities.
Although urban living has its perks, it is not necessarily the best option for everyday life. Apart from busy areas, DC has a lot of greenery, which offers a nice break from the daily bustle.
An uptown neighborhood, Woodley Park is known, amongst other things, for the main entrance to a 2,100-acre Rock Creek Park, which spans across several blocks all the way to the Maryland border. Besides enjoying the outdoor activities and observing some native species in their natural habitat, you can also observe some historical structures, such as Pierce Mill, which was once a functioning mill, and Fort Stevens, which dates back to the Civil War.
Located in the Northeast neighborhood, Dumbarton Oaks is a 40-acre green oasis in Georgetown, comprising several small gardens that will shelter you from the urban bustle. Specific plants define each garden, and the best visiting time is spring when the flowers are in full bloom.
Along the Anacostia River, you can enjoy Anacostia Park – one of the largest recreational spaces in DC. The national historic Chesapeake & Ohio Canal originating from the 18th century stretches along the Potomac River, from Georgetown to Cumberland. It is a great recreational spot for outdoor activities such as biking, boating, fishing, etc.
|Neighborhood||Walk Score||Transit Score||Bike Score|
|Foggy Bottom - GWU - West End||95||90||90|
|Logan Circle - Shaw||97||100||88|
|Mount Vernon Square||97||85||93|
The family-friendly neighborhoods have to include good schools and enough outdoor space for kids, all within the budget limits.
Georgetown is the oldest neighborhood featuring cobblestone streets and 18th-century row houses, which may not be spacious enough for families with children. Still, their history is captivating, and the view of Potomac River is unparalleled. Education options are favorable due to useful links between some of the best DC public schools and universities.
The Palisades is a quiet community with little traffic, suitable for families that do not fancy urban living too much, and Chevy Chase is a highly-ranked tranquil and green area. Families with middle income should opt for Friendship Heights, a beautiful neighborhood with good commute options.
Capitol Hill may not seem like a family-friendly area, but it is actually very diverse and vibrant. However, parking is difficult to find, and real estate is expensive.
American University Park displays lined houses and front lawns, typical for families with kids. Education meets high-quality standards, and the commute is decent. The same applies to Spring Valley, a neighborhood of oak-tree-lined streets with a suburban feel, from where three former presidents originate.
Located in Northwest Washington, Glover Park is experiencing a rise in popularity amongst families with children. It nurtures close suburban community ties but also offers commercial potentials and excellent schools such as Benjamin Stoddert Elementary School and Woodrow Wilson High School.
Its residents are mostly federal government employees, but there are also a lot of students and recent graduates due to the nearby Georgetown University. And, most importantly, it is a safe neighborhood. It does have one disadvantage – there is no metro station here.
Due to the DEA, Pentagon, and FBI facilities situated in the area, Pentagon City is naturally one of the top neighborhoods when it comes to safety. The residents here are mostly government officials, which adds up to the peace and quiet this area offers, but it is still close to the downtown area where all the action is. Other beautiful parts of this city that count as rather safe include Brookland, Adams Morgan, Cathedral Heights, Alexandria, Bethesda, and others.
While it can be challenging to figure out how to move, it’s also important to stay safe after you move to your new home. General safety precautions include staying away from problematic areas with higher crime levels and late-night strolling down the shady alleys. You should also keep an eye on personal belongings, especially in crowded areas, to reduce the possibility of getting mugged. Even safe neighborhoods cannot protect you if you do not apply the basic protection measures, such as locking the door and not leaving valuable things in plain sight.
Living in urban jungles allows you access to the latest cultural events and good education, but it has its downsides, too, starting from higher property prices, to the lack of space and parking options. Even though certain suburban areas are becoming very popular and the prices accordingly higher, they are still much more favorable if you compare the cost with the advantages they offer. If you’re moving with children, then you might afford a much better life in one of the suburbs than you would downtown.
If you decided to make a new home and raise a family in some of the top suburbs in DC area, here’s a couple of suggestions:
After moving to the capital, your first instinct is to explore what the city has to offer. One of the things to do in Washington DC is to enjoy great meals at some of the best restaurants in Washington DC.
A picture is worth a thousand words, says an old proverb. To experience how any town breathes, you have to be there. If you like an urban feeling, but still want to keep your peace and quiet, then DC is your place. You just have to make up your mind and find a district of your dreams before you go on to call DC movers to relocate your stuff to a new home.