Moving to Washington DC
Washington, District of Columbia (DC), is the capital of the United States of America and is often called the ‘Capital of the Free World’.
Fortunate to have exceptional schools, world-class sports and entertainment and excellent public transport, Washington DC (commonly called DC or The District) will prove itself an ideal place to live. It combines the features of country and city to create the perfect atmosphere for both families and single professionals. Here you'll find lots of historical sites and cultural activities; the city offers many famous sights, free attractions, an endless calendar of special events, and some of the most famous museums you'll find in the United States.
The city's skyline remains low and sprawling because of Thomas Jefferson’s desire to make Washington an ‘American Paris’ with ‘low and convenient’ buildings on ‘light and airy’ streets. The numerous art galleries and museums add to the Parisian feel in the city.
Summers tend to be hot and humid, with July and August temperatures averaging in the high-80s Fahrenheit (about 30°C). The heat and humidity of the summer months brings frequent thunderstorms, some of which occasionally produce tornadoes in the area. While hurricanes (or their remnants) occasionally track through the area in late summer and fall (autumn), they'll weaken dramatically before reaching Washington, because of its location inland.
Living in the city
Typically, newcomers are amazed by all that there is to do and see here, but with the many government buildings, embassies and businesses located directly in the centre of the city some people can find it a little intimidating. Once you’re settled in and get the chance to explore the different neighbourhoods you’ll discover that it is a very friendly city with something new around every corner.
The city is full of historic homes, colourful and diverse neighbourhoods, hip boutiques and galleries, urban parks and spectacular gardens: something for everyone. You'll get the best of all four seasons; warm weather during summer from April to October and a relatively short winter with more rain than snow.
Many expatriates choose to live just outside the city and commute to their jobs in DC. Some of the preferred locations for expatriates are Bethesda and Chevy Chase in Maryland and McLean, Alexandria and Arlington in Virginia.
French-born architect, engineer, and city planner, Pierre Charles L'Enfant, did a masterful job designing the city. It's divided into four (unequal) quadrants: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southeast (SE), and Southwest (SW). All road names include the quadrant abbreviation and for most of the city, the streets are set in a grid pattern with east to west streets named with letters (e.g. C Street SW) and north to south streets with numbers (e.g. 4th Street NW).
The avenues are primarily named after other states in the U.S., and all 50 states are represented, as well as Puerto Rico and the District itself. Some streets are particularly noteworthy, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, which connects the White House with the U.S. Capitol; and K Street, which houses the offices of many lobbying groups. An embassy for almost every country in the world can be found in Washington and 58 of them are located on one section of Massachusetts Avenue, which everyone refers to as Embassy Row. This should minimise your chances of getting lost in the city.
DC is said to have some of the country’s worst traffic and congestion. However, many Washington commuters take public transport to work and, for that, the city scores the second-highest rate in the country. The rapid transit system in the district is run by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and is called the Metro and Metrobus.
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