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Author Topic: Mixed thoughts on DC  (Read 2569 times)

Logic

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Mixed thoughts on DC
« on: April 21, 2006, 11:33:59 AM »
Ok so I've been getting a lot of conflicted information about Washington DC.  I'm looking for people out there that have actually lived in the city for a few years to give me the straight dope on the place.  I'm most curious as to your thoughts on....

-- living in the city as opposed to VA/MD (is the fact that the metro stops at 11:30 on weekends really that big a deal?)
-- the general "safety" of the NW section
-- how "nice" your typical DC resident is
-- the ease with which to meet new people at bars/clubs
-- any other advice (good or bad) that you wish someone had told you before you moved there!

Thanks in advance!  :D
GW Class of '09

nukelaw

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2006, 11:57:57 AM »
I've been around DC for about four years and have lived in MD, VA, and DC. Of the three, DC may be ideal for you as a student if: 1) you have no income to get taxed; 2) you have no need for parking a vehicle; and 3) you don't mind the absence of strong representation in Congress. For GW, ideally I'd live in the West End between Dupont and Foggy Bottom. You might also find some bargains along the orange line (Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston) in Northern Virginia if you look at group housing not on top of the metro.

As for safety, I went to school in some rough neighborhoods in Philadelphia, so this entire city seems like Disneyland for the most part. Southeast is still the roughest, but virtually all of Northwest has been gentrified into yuppie housing with federal cops out 24-7 looking for terrorists.

Nice? Not very. This town is cut-throat. You'll make friends with mutual interests, but strangers avoid eye contact and silence is the norm on metros. Tourists are treated like vermin typically.

Meeting new people? Again, probably not the best city for it at a bar or club. That socializing usually takes place more at house parties and private events.

Advice? Choose your career wisely and plan for the long-term. DC has now surpassed San Fran for cost of living and is second only to NYC in the US. While salaries are high and the largest employer is stable (government), starting a family in this area is virtually impossible without some additional source of funding or fighting a lengthy and traffic-ridden commute into work each day. If you just plan on going to school here, that's fine, but make sure you make your in-roads in your other market of choice while in DC.

theprocrastinator

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2006, 12:29:19 PM »
I've been around DC for about four years and have lived in MD, VA, and DC. Of the three, DC may be ideal for you as a student if: 1) you have no income to get taxed; 2) you have no need for parking a vehicle; and 3) you don't mind the absence of strong representation in Congress. For GW, ideally I'd live in the West End between Dupont and Foggy Bottom. You might also find some bargains along the orange line (Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Virginia Square, and Ballston) in Northern Virginia if you look at group housing not on top of the metro.

As for safety, I went to school in some rough neighborhoods in Philadelphia, so this entire city seems like Disneyland for the most part. Southeast is still the roughest, but virtually all of Northwest has been gentrified into yuppie housing with federal cops out 24-7 looking for terrorists.

Nice? Not very. This town is cut-throat. You'll make friends with mutual interests, but strangers avoid eye contact and silence is the norm on metros. Tourists are treated like vermin typically.

Meeting new people? Again, probably not the best city for it at a bar or club. That socializing usually takes place more at house parties and private events.

Advice? Choose your career wisely and plan for the long-term. DC has now surpassed San Fran for cost of living and is second only to NYC in the US. While salaries are high and the largest employer is stable (government), starting a family in this area is virtually impossible without some additional source of funding or fighting a lengthy and traffic-ridden commute into work each day. If you just plan on going to school here, that's fine, but make sure you make your in-roads in your other market of choice while in DC.

I've never lived in the DC city limits, but I grew up in Alexandria and spent most of my life within minutes of one metro stop or another.

I don't know about Disneyland. Keep in mind that DC consistently ranks higher in violent crime than Philadelphia. I think Philly probably seems more dangerous just because the seedy neighborhoods are bigger since the entire city is bigger in general. DC is just slightly more dangerous than Philly statistically in most categories, but has twice the murder rate. That being said, yeah, just don't go to SE and use some common sense.

As far as it not being a friendly city, I don't really see it that way. Then again, its all I know so I wouldn't take my word for it if I were you.

The Spanish Teacher

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2006, 01:01:01 PM »
I lived for in DC for four years as an undergrad and thought it was great.  I would agree with nukelaw's assessment of the city. 

i imagine most of your friends will come from your law school class unless you already have friends that live there. 

safety in northwest dc is just fine.  like any other big city, you just have to be mindful of where you go and at what time you go there. 

foggy bottom is in a pretty good part of town and its location is convenient to the rest of the city. living in the city is fun, but expensive.  i've never lived in northern virginia, but i've heard that it's nice as far as housing goes, especially ballston where there is a younger crowd. 

as far as friendliness - i don't think it's particularly friendly, but it's not notoriously rude like nyc.  and nukelaw was definitely right about people avoiding eye contact (but that seems to be prevalent all over the east coast).

it's a great town with a lot to offer.  the city has something for everyone.  and gw is a large enough school that you'll find your niche.
Attending GULC in Fall '06

theprocrastinator

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2006, 01:12:47 PM »
"Meeting new people? Again, probably not the best city for it at a bar or club. That socializing usually takes place more at house parties and private events."

This is BS too. It is not hard to meet new people in DC at all. At any given time the city is filled with people from all different parts of the world and the country who just moved there and don't know anybody and are therefore eager to make new friends. There tons of bars in NW, Adams Morgan, Georgetown, Arlington, etc... that are filled with these people. Regardless of all this, you're going to make plenty of friends in law school anyway because everybody else will be in the same situation.

As far as strangers avoiding eye contact on the street and silence being the norm on the metro, thats the same in any big city.

I'll concede that tourists are treated like vermin, but thats just when they get in the way. When you're on the metro hungover at 8 am on your way to work and some loud jackass with 5 American flags pasted on his body and a hipbag is explaining to his 5 squeeling children why Ronald Reagan was the greatest US President or arguing with his wife about whether the Pentagon is in DC or Virginia and then asks you what line he needs to get on to see the white house, sometimes you just can't help but say "Green towards Branch Ave."

....Okay, maybe that was a little mean, but you get my drift. Being a tourist doesn't mean you have to be a jackass. The two are not mutually exclusive, and I think most people are willing to help the ones who act like normal people.

Illusion18

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2006, 02:13:35 PM »
OK, this may be a little off topic, but in regards to meeting new people, I think DC is more difficult than other cities.  I feel like you meet a lot of people and get to know them superficially, but it's really hard to make good friends.  And because the population is so transient, it's always difficult to continue friendships/relationships.

And if you live in NOVA, it's a pain to get in and out of the city.  It obviously depends on where you are going to school, but on a weekend, from GULC to Ballston it takes me up to an hour.

And I agree that tourists are a pain.  I think it comes from the fact that tourists forget that DC is not just a tourist attraction.  People stop and take pictures, etc. without realizing that some people actually work.  This is especially true in places like the Capitol.  My advice if you are coming to DC, remember to stand on the right and walk on the left of the escalator.  People are really mean about that, and I learned the hard way when I first got out here.

lawnecon

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2006, 02:26:36 PM »
I went to school in DC for four years, and currently live/work in NoVA, so here's my take for what it's worth...

-- living in the city as opposed to VA/MD

*** It's more convenient but costs quite a bit more to live in any decent section of the city. If you don't have a car, it's worth it. If you want to have a car, parking in the city is a pain.

(is the fact that the metro stops at 11:30 on weekends really that big a deal?)

*** I'm not really out that late, but I think the Metro runs until about 2 or 3 on Fridays and Saturdays these days. It's definitely earlier on the weekdays, though (midnight maybe)

-- the general "safety" of the NW section

*** It's still the city, so you need to be cautious, but NW is the nicest part of DC. The area close to American University and near Maryland is very residential. Though I've heard of people being mugged or attacked in some of the more affluent sections but that's rare - It's very expensive, however.

-- how "nice" your typical DC resident is

***I'm originally from Boston, so I still think the average DC resident is a tad nicer than his New England counterpart, but it's not an especially friendly city. The further you go out (at least in the VA), the nicer the people tend to be.

-- the ease with which to meet new people at bars/clubs

***Not really my scense - sorry

-- any other advice (good or bad) that you wish someone had told you before you moved there!

* Traffice is egregious
* The COL is very high
* Others may disagree, but I think the cuisine is below par
* The aura of being in the nation's capital quickly wears off (if it was ever there to begin with) - Unless you work in downtown DC near the sites that traditionally represent Washington, it will be like living in any other city

I know this reply seems pretty negative, but I actually do like the area; though, I think it's starting wear a bit thin on me
Villanova Law School Class of '09

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Roxy

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2006, 02:32:19 PM »
I have lived in the DC area a huge chunk of my life, and I have mixed feelings about it, too.

One thing is that the metro runs much later on the weekends than the OP said, I think until about 2am, but don't quote me on that... it is later than 11:30, tho! The metro system in general is a bit of a pain, unless you plan your living situation just right, but it can be nice for getting through the city and into the close MD/VA suburbs. Otherwise getting around can be a challenge without a car.

I agree with a lot of what has been said on here, it's a very transient city and so making good, long-term friends is hard. The good thing is that people do seem to realize this fact and there are a good number of young professionals groups and activities for people to get involved in to meet people, I've gone to a few such activities and people are more friendly than they were in many other places I've lived-- might be something w/the political nature of the city, people have to be outgoing to survive, so they are in social situations, too. Of course, that means that it can be a little superficial from time to time, too.

The city is odd b/c it is so small, and for people expecting things like SF, NYC, LA, Boston, etc. might be disappointed by the size and array of activities. However, with a car, the area has a ton to offer (or by using flexcar, I have friends who use it and love it, they don't have to deal with parking in the city and they can get away when they want.) VA and MD both have beautiful places w/in one-two hours and that can be very nice when the city is too insular.

I am not a big city person and so for me it is a nice-sized city with a lot to offer. There are sketchy neighborhoods, but some nice places--and of course the history and such, museums, etc., are really great things to have!

If you don't mind a little commute, the VA and MD suburbs are both really nice, Alexandria and Arlington, and then Bethesda and Silver Spring have really revitalized recently with some great restaurants, bars, etc.

I hate the traffic and the congestion and the obnoxious attitudes I encounter from people who work on the hill and think that means they run the world--but those kinds of people are everywhere (you might just meet more of them here)--and I spent a lot of my life trying to sever all ties to the area.

But, once I moved back I realized that it does have a lot to offer and I love the beauty of the surrounds. I hope I don't live here forever, but if I did, I can think of worse things.

that's really repetitive with other posters' comments, but maybe there's a kernel in there that might help. Feel free to ask me any other ??, I have lived or have friends who have lived in at least 25 different areas w/in 30 min of the city (and in the city), so I have a good feel of a lot of the areas!

good luck!

UVA '09

swedishjellyfish

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2006, 03:40:32 PM »
I've lived and worked in the DC area for about 3 years now and I really love this area.  Here's my 2 cents:

- The Metro runs until 3 AM on weekends (Fri/Sat) and until midnight on weeknights.  Since most bars close around 2 AM, that's usually plenty of time to take the Metro home on weekends, even if you're partying late.  If you're out later than that, most of the nightlife-heavy neighborhoods are teeming with cabs so it's easy to get home.  (If you're looking for other info on the metro, try http://www.wmata.com).

- I've lived in Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights (both DC neighborhoods) and I live in Bethesda right now (MD suburb) and I really recommend living in DC if you're looking to go out and meet new people.  Most places in NW or Capitol Hill are pretty safe, but like all cities you have to be street-smart.  Lots of DC neighborhoods have really gentrified rapidly in the last several years. 

- If you're planning on living in DC proper, I wouldn't really recommend bringing a car.  I had one and always managed to park it on the street even living in Adams Morgan, but it was probably more trouble than it was worth.

- I've always found it really easy to meet new people in bars, clubs, etc -- there's a constant influx of young people who move here after college and are looking to make friends.  In general, I feel like DC is a pretty friendly city.  Since the population and the geographic boundaries of the District really aren't that large compared to other major cities, you constantly run into people you know on the street and discover mutual friends with new acquaintances. 

- Personally, I think DC is a pretty great balance between "big city with lots of stuff to do" and "small town where you see the same people over and over".  But if you're a fan of huge cities like NYC or LA, you might find this place kind of provincial (especially if you're really into the music or arts scene or something similar).  Also, no matter where you're meeting people, most of them probably work on (a) the Hill (b) a nonprofit/NGO or (c) the federal government -- DC is basically an industry town in that way, which I love, but it can seem sometimes like people are always talking politics or policy.   

boohoo

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Re: Mixed thoughts on DC
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2006, 03:53:30 PM »
Hi There,
  I went to undergrad in DC and have lived here and worked for fours years now since I've graduated.  I agree with most of the comments on this thread, the city is great, for a while, but the charm does wear thin.  Meeting people is not particularly easy, most of your friends are typically classmates or coworkers.  Live in the city if you can, the metro can be a huge hassle on the weekends and often runs slow at night as well.  I've lived in the Columbia Heights area for three years and found it to be relatively safe and affordable, although most of the NW area is going to be very expensive.  All the schools in DC will provide you with a great legal educattion put as others have said raising a family in this area is almost financially impossible.  The nightlife is good for the most part, the ciusine is lacking however.  For three years it will be a great experience, but for not much longer after that.