The end of August marked one full year of living in Washington, D.C. permanently. It’s a politicos dream to live in DC, the room where it happens. Kids dream of working on Capitol Hill, of walking the monuments at night, of frequenting Trump International. Well, after a year of being that politically-minded girl who no longer works in politics, I can tell you that Washington, D.C. isn’t all roses ,but it’s also not all thorns. I love D.C. and can absolutely see myself spending years and years here but at the same time, I think young women in particular looking to move to D.C., to work in politics or not, should know a few things before they make the leap to move here. 

Finding a job isn’t that hard

When I moved to DC, I had a journalism fellowship lined up. Then, I moved into a full-time journalism job, all while completing my masters degree to be a librarian. A library job materialized faster than I anticipated, so I left my full-time job as a reporter after about six months. This point isn’t about me though, it’s about the crazy turnover I saw within my own turnover time! At both papers I worked for, there were lots of people coming and going. Heck, in six months, I saw someone leave one paper and then come back. Because of that high turnover, finding a job once you’re in DC isn’t that difficult. It’s a lot easier to find a job once you’re here though. I have several friends who simply took a leap of faith, moved out here, and then found a job, which is risky, but it paid off for them. With so many agencies, papers, non-profits, and the like, it’s not that hard to find a good job in DC if you haven’t burnt any bridges. Lean on your fellow conservatives and they’ll help you out. 

Not having a car is not the end of the world

I’ll be honest. I don’t know how to drive. Or at least, I’m not licensed by the government to drive. And in some cities, that would suck. Not in DC. In DC, not driving or having a car here doesn’t spell doom. In fact, most of my friends who can drive don’t have cars in DC. The metro is accessible, Uber is always there, and paying for parking can be a huge hassle. I even have a friend who originally came to DC with her car and chose to get rid of it once moving here because it was worth more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re going to live in Maryland or Virginia or commute a lot, a car might be worth it, but if you’re in downtown DC, it may only hold you back. Plus, think of all the money you’ll save. 

The Metro is a savior and a curse

On the topic of transportation, the WMATA metro system is surprisingly good, but also alarmingly bad at times. I take the metro to work every single day, including a transfer, and I probably only have an issue twice a month. But when those issues arrive, wow. There’s also a bus system that a lot of people rely on. Living close to a metro will up your rent, but save you a lot of travel time. I also end up planning a lot of my evenings around when the metro closes, how long I’ll have to wait between trains, etc. But at the end of the day, I’m grateful for the metro, even when it’s single-tracking, and I recognize how lucky I am to be able to rely upon it instead of a car or my own two feet. I get some great reading in during my commute and can just “zone off” while I zip to my destination. Learning metro etiquette, especially for the escalators, is also a big must for us who live here full-time. 

Go off the tourist-beaten track

Politicos love to move to DC and pretend they’re going to run along the mall and visit the historical museums every weekend, but I’m here to tell you it gets old, quick. Sure, it’s entertaining the first time, but eventually, you get tired of dealing with tourists. Also, there’s so much more to DC than what is on Capitol Hill. Each neighborhood has things that make it special. There are small museums and churches. There’s a great theatre scene downtown and in the surrounding area. There are so many things to do that will enrich you as a human that aren’t staring up at the Lincoln Memorial, I promise. Devote maybe one day a month to doing “tourist” things but on those other days, step outside your comfort zone, try new places, take a trip outside the beltway, et cetera. You’ll be better for it, I promise.  

Take advantage of the public library

This is a shameless plug because I am a librarian, but I loved the DC public library before then. Living in DC is expensive, so why not take advantage of what is free? As someone who reads a lot, I’d be broke as a joke if I had to spend my entire salary on rent & books. Thank God for the public library, where I can take out up to 50 books and 10 DVDs at a time. There are 26 branches of the DC public library, so you’ll never be far from one. They have great digital resources you can access online as well as crazy programming at every location–from story-time for kids to ASL classes to job and career workshops to pop-up dance performances.  Also, they offer free printing (20 sheets a day) so you don’t have to panic when the DMV wants you to print something but you threw away your printer after college. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member