Although most people associate our nation’s capital with politics, Washington DC is a vibrant city with plenty to offer to people of all walks of life. Whether you’re moving there for school, work or just a change of pace, relocating to Washington DC can be the first step to an exciting new chapter in your life.
No matter how excited you are to start a new chapter, moving can still be stressful. This guide will provide some resources and information that can help make the process smoother. By knowing the best times to travel, how to avoid the worst traffic and where to pick up your household necessities, you can get settled into your new home in DC painlessly.
When to Move to Washington DC
Washington DC generally has mild weather, so you don’t need to worry too much about the conditions no matter what time of year you decide to travel. The winters rarely drop far below freezing, and the occasional snow storm doesn’t have a lasting impact. The summer, however, can be very hot and humid. If you’re not prepared to move your belongings in 90-degree damp heat, you may wish to move in the spring or fall instead.
The spring is when Washington DC gets the most visitors. This is in part because of the beauty of the blossoming cherry trees that draw visitors from around the country. As spring moves into early summer, college students may begin flocking to the city to begin internships. You may wish to avoid some of the bigger crowds by skipping this season and moving earlier or later in the year. On the other hand, you will be missing some of the most stunning sights of the DC area if you wait until spring has passed to move.
Tips for Traffic
Traffic in Washington DC is quite difficult to navigate, and many locals choose to avoid driving altogether in favor of the public transportation system. If you’re moving by car, especially if you’re hauling your belongings with you in a truck or trailer, you’ll want to avoid some of the most congested areas if at all possible.
The main roads, like the Beltway, usually get a lot of traffic; opting for an alternate route will usually get you to your destination faster. Also beware of driving through any areas that are frequented by tourists, such as those passing by major landmarks.
Before entering the area, you can check Traffic.com from a computer or smart phone to see what traffic looks like at your destination. It will let you know about potential traffic jams, accidents on the road and more, and you can plan your route from there.
Avoiding traffic is easier for people in some neighborhoods than others. If you must drive through a congested neighborhood to get home, be sure to time your travel to avoid major rush-hour times in the morning, mid-day and evening. If you’re comfortable driving at night, you may find that driving late in the evening provides you with the most traffic-free way to access your neighborhood.
Alternatively, you could plan to skip the traffic problems altogether. If you’re undecided whether to use a moving company or haul your own items, this may be a deciding factor for you. You could easily opt to have your items shipped to your new apartment or house while you fly there by yourself. It’s up to you to decide whether the convenience of this particular method is worth the expense.
How to Find the Things You Need for Your New Home
No matter how careful you are about packing, you’re bound to need something as soon as you reach your destination. Whether you’re low on toilet paper or need to purchase new fixtures for your house, you will probably spend your first few days at the new residence running to the store. Finding the nearest source of household items will become a top priority as soon as you arrive.
Every neighborhood in Washington DC will have its own shopping centers to get acquainted with, and there are too many to list in detail here. Your best resource for finding nearby stores is to check online or get hold of a local phone book as soon as you move in. If you have a favorite store, you can usually use an online store locator by plugging in your postal code.
While you work on unpacking your kitchen, you may find yourself needing to eat out more than usual. Fortunately, DC has plenty of take-out and delivery options that can prevent you from getting lost while looking for an easy meal. You can check with a local site like GrubHub for free online ordering from local restaurants.
Once you’ve arrived in the DC area, there are a few things you’ll want to be sure to do:
- Move over your driver’s license and auto insurance. There are several DMVs to choose from depending on your neighborhood.
- Purchase your Metro pass so you can take advantage of the area’s buses and trains.
- Find a new doctor for you and your family. You might want to check with your insurance company for a list of preferred providers. You can also consult a list like the one at WebMD to find someone near you.
- Join the local library and find the nearest branch to your home. Libraries are a great source of local information, and they provide free entertainment to families who may be on a tight budget after a big move.
- Explore some of the many museums and cultural opportunities. The nation’s capital has some of the best museums and historical landmarks, and many of them are free. If you’re looking for a way to get familiarized with your new home or want somewhere to take the kids for a quiet afternoon, be sure to check some of the free and cheap things to do in the city.
As you start to explore your neighborhood, you will undoubtedly begin to develop favorite destinations. Discovering a new restaurant, pub or bookstore is part of the excitement of moving to a new city. If you haven’t discovered your favorite haunts yet, though, there are a few resources for helping you find what you’re looking for. One of the most obvious resources is Yelp, which offers user reviews on everything from restaurants and bars to hotels and doctors.
A more guided list of top-notch eateries in the DC area is provided by the Travel Channel, which highlights several of the best and trendiest restaurants in the city. If you’re looking for somewhere special to celebrate your new move or take your special someone for a date in the city, any of these restaurants would be a fine choice.
Moving is always stressful, but being well-prepared can help relieve many of the problems you may encounter while relocating. By planning your route and knowing where to go to get some of your necessities taken care of, you can let yourself relax and enjoy the scenery around your new home. Once you have a strategy in place for completing the move, you can begin to look forward to the most enjoyable part of the process: Exploring your new city.
Are you planning to relocate to DC? If you have any questions we haven’t covered, let us know in the comments.