I moved to DC for the first time earlier this year. There’s so much I wish I knew before I came to the District. Whether you’ve going to DC for an internship or a new job in or out of politics, here’s what you need to know about living in the nation’s capital.

1) Most places aren’t as close as they seem

When I first moved to DC, I assumed I could walk everywhere. I do my fair share of walking, but more often than not, I Uber or metro where I need to go. My office is only 4 miles from my apartment, but it is a 45-minute commute. Between walking to the metro, waiting on the platform, and transferring lines it takes quite some time to get from point A to point B. Meeting up with friends is also a task, especially when you don’t live in the same neighborhoods.

2) Grocery shopping is a process

Since I don’t have a car, grocery shopping is a serious commitment. Being only one person, it’s hard to grab everything you need, carry it onto the metro, and carry it up the steps to my apartment. Delivery has become my best friend. Once a month, I order a grocery delivery from Peapod. They deliver my food right to my door for a very low price.

3) Your boss won’t accept you being late because of your commute

The metro isn’t always reliable. If there are track problems, an emergency, or general overcrowding, it makes it harder to get from one place to another. Your boss most likely won’t want to hear “the metro was slow this morning” as an excuse. Plan ahead. If there’s a significant event happening in the city that day, you’re going to have to leave earlier to make it to work on time. Have a backup plan in case your normal route is delayed. I usually take yellow to red to get to work. If something is wrong with those lines, I can take blue and I just add an extra 15 minutes to my walk.

4) There is always something going on

There is always something happening in the city. Whether it’s a wine festival or a chaotic rally, you will never be bored again. There will be dozens of possible networking events happening any given week. The days of coming home right after work and relaxing on your couch watching Netflix will be be sparingly.

5) Networking will be your new favorite hobby

Since moving to DC, I have met literally hundreds of people who come from all different backgrounds and careers. I have stayed in touch with quite a bit of them. They have even helped me when I was looking for a new job.

6) You’ll run through business cards like there’s no tomorrow

At CPAC alone, I probably dished out 250 business cards. If you plan on living here, get ready to spend some coin on ordering some nice business cards. It’s worth it and it’ll help you in the long run.

7) The city is a lot smaller than you think

Everybody knows everybody, especially if you work in politics. Keeping up your reputation is important. Word gets around quickly and chances are you will not be able to avoid it.

8) Unless you make a conscious effort to be a tourist, you probably won’t see all the stuff DC has to offer

I’ve lived here 9 months and I’ve been to the museums twice. With all the other things going on, it often doesn’t even cross my mind that I live a mile away from all the sights and attractions at the National Mall. These are free activities that I often forget about.

9) The dress code is business

Most employers strictly enforce this dress code, especially if you work on the Hill and Congress is in session. I wish I stocked up on some more suits before my move, because I had to scramble to buy a few pairs after I arrived.

10) Invest in a nice and secure coffee mug

I need 18 cups of coffee to function in the morning and I don’t have a decent coffee place once I get off my metro to walk to work. I bought a good coffee mug to keep my coffee warm on my commute. This is a great, often underrated, investment.

Stephanie F
FFL Cabinet Member