It would be an understatement to say that the nation’s capital is a unique place. The centrally located National Mall is an urban planning gem, with excellent open spaces, walking paths, and major monuments in a classic architectural style. Lining the mall is the Smithsonian museum complex, probably the best set of museums in the world in a single location. In reality, the whole mall setup is a museum in and of itself and a major destination for locals and visitors alike. Numerous government offices and first class hospitality venues surround the mall.
For most prospective residents, the real story of the D.C. area is the array of residential and commercial corridors surrounding the city on all sides.
The super-suburbs are all very large and mostly new residential suburbs with extensive commercial, residential, and corporate developments. Employment in the greater DC area is strong in general and particularly strong in this zone. Many do commute to the DC area proper but more often commute to other places in the suburbs.
The outlying northern Virginia suburbs in most ways meet the definition of “exurbs,” where people benefit economically from the city and may use its airport, but have little daily connection with it.
The dominance of the U.S. Government and its impact on the local economy and culture cannot be overstated. Not surprisingly, the area has a high percentage of well-educated citizens. Arts, entertainment and cultural assets in total are among the best. The Cost of Living Index is high but not exorbitant for this type of area. Housing options and costs have escalated in recent years, but there are signs of softening. Public transportation works well.
Bottom line - Washington, D.C. and its Virginia suburbs stand alone as a U.S. city and metro area with unique beauty, plenty to see and do, an active and intellectually stimulating lifestyle, and a wide variety of employment and living options. The D.C. area isn’t for everyone, but most who live there are glad they do.
Washington lies at the western edge of the mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, about 50 miles east of the Blue Ridge Mountains and 35 miles west of Chesapeake Bay. The immediate area is flat with rolling hills starting just outside the city to the northwest and southwest. The climate is coastal continental with a subtropical influence. Summers are warm and humid with occasional hot, sticky spells and thunderstorms. Because of the inland location, summer heat and humidity aren’t offset by sea breezes. Winters are cold but not severe. Precipitation is uniformly distributed throughout the year. Potomac floods can result from heavy rains, sometimes augmented by snowmelt and high tides.