Author Topic: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?  (Read 8035 times)

Lance Hiruma

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Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« on: July 11, 2017, 11:55:52 AM »
We want to use it as a home base for at least 5 years, and we will travel quite a bit after FIRE.
There are 3 cities that score high on our criteria list, DC is 1 of them.
DC area has a lot to offer and we don't need to be in DC itself.
We visited DC a few times, love the diversity, culture, foods, museums, parks, good airport, etc.
Housing is quite expensive, our initial research shows that Rockville maybe a good choice, not exorbitantly expensive, low crime, etc.d
Any suggestion as far as neighborhood goes?
Or anything we need to about the drawbacks, etc?
Appreciate it much.

dcheesi

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 12:17:26 PM »
Part of me thinks that there has to be some cheaper metro that could meet your needs. But maybe that's just my perspective bias; I recently moved to the DC area from a much cheaper location, and the sticker-shock hasn't entirely worn off yet. At the same time, I probably haven't yet taken full advantage of everything this new area has to offer.

Rockville seems nice enough as far as localities in this area. If you're willing to drive/bus/uber to the nearest Metro station, you can save yourself some bucks, as housing prices in Metro-accessible locations are quite a bit higher than in equivalent areas just a little further away.

Not sure if it matters to you, but just realize that the Potomac acts as a significant barrier between MD and No.VA locations. It doesn't look that far, and some times/days it isn't; but if you're going at the wrong time of day, getting to, say, Dulles from Rockville puts you through the very worst of the local commuter nightmare and can add hours(!) to your trip.

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 01:26:57 PM »
Thank you dcheesi for the great info.
Dulles does look close to Rockville on the map.

Yep I think DC is one of the most expensive cities and we originally wanted to avoid. I think most expensive cities are highly sought after because of what they can offer. I am sure we will have sticker shock as well, we plan to visit soon but this time not as tourists but as potential residences to glean more info.

NE of DC housing seems much cheaper than Rockville...not sure it is truly more dangerous.

We assume DC has a lot of free entertainment (For example, our libraries here are great, and there are many free events). How about people? From the research, it is a more progressive city.


Mr Griz

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 03:17:45 PM »
My daughter lives in a Takoma Park, just outside the NE side of DC. It's a nice diverse bedroom community. She's about a half mile from a metro stop (red line). She really enjoys D.C. for the same reasons you gave.

mozar

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 04:44:54 PM »
So there's going to be a metro to dulles eventually
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 01:57:22 PM by mozar »

Ocinfo

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 04:50:42 PM »
I've lived in DC for nearly 8 years with a household income above $200k for a good chunk of time and no kids. This is not a place to live unless you have family or a career reason for being here. It is not a bad place but is way too expensive for what it is. DC wants to be NYC or Boston but it just isn't. Several months each year are miserable, 90+ temps with dew points above 70. The free museums are great for a bit. Food scene is decent on the high end but rarely do you find a place that has reasonable price, good food, and good service. 2 out of 3 is about as good as it gets. There are precious few small, hometown type places to eat. Taxes are higher than average. Traffic and mass transit are bad such that if you live outside of D.C. it won't take long until you have no interest in trekking into town for a show/dinner. I'm planning on being here another 3 years until I semi-FIRE (part time remote work) to a nicer and maybe lower cost place. I'm a pretty positive person but 8 years of D.C. have worn me out.

What other cities are you considering?


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MsPeacock

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 04:52:56 PM »
Form Rockville, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and other points north - it is easier to get to BWI than to Dulles. I avoid going to VA or Dulles if at all possible.  It is so frickin' expensive here. Traffic is bad almost ALL the time. I have encountered unbelievable and inexplicable traffic jams at odd hours - like 11pm or 6am.  I plan to FIRE or FIR at least NOT in the DC area.

That said, I like Silver Spring and Takoma park a lot better than Rockville. Both Takoma Park and Silver Spring at least have identifiable downtowns. Rockville feels like a giant suburb with a downtown that is a court house and a handful of chain restaurants. You end up having to drive on Rockville Pike (arguably the WORST road in the U.S.) to get anywhere. Honestly I end up ordering things online to avoid driving on 355/Rockville Pike. It sucks that much.

Metro into the city is rather a PITA, too, imo. But YMMV.

aspiringnomad

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 08:59:48 PM »
Thank you dcheesi for the great info.
Dulles does look close to Rockville on the map.

Yep I think DC is one of the most expensive cities and we originally wanted to avoid. I think most expensive cities are highly sought after because of what they can offer. I am sure we will have sticker shock as well, we plan to visit soon but this time not as tourists but as potential residences to glean more info.

NE of DC housing seems much cheaper than Rockville...not sure it is truly more dangerous.

We assume DC has a lot of free entertainment (For example, our libraries here are great, and there are many free events). How about people? From the research, it is a more progressive city.

I like it here a lot, but the summer heat doesn't bother me a bit. If you don't like heat and humidity, you'll be in for a shock. I also live near the center of town and have figured out how to get around independently without a car so can access everything the city offers with ease (biking or scootering is actually fun to get around any time of day). The food scene is fantastic by almost all location and historical standards though, yes, a little on the pricey side. But as a Mustachian, you'll be avoiding eating out and when you do on occasion there are more than enough relatively inexpensive neighborhoody places and competition in the industry to ensure a good experience once you sort out where the good spots are. Taxes depend on jurisdiction (DC/MD/VA), but real estate taxes don't get much lower anywhere than in DC proper if you plan to own and reside in the owned property (effective rate <0.075% with the homestead deduction).

The big problem with nearly the entire area is housing costs. Even relatively desirable parts of NE DC have gotten very pricey, but if you're looking for a detached house and have 500-600k to spend I would recommend looking from Brookland east and north all the way to the DC/MD border and beyond (including Silver Spring and Takoma, but not too far beyond or the traffic will get ya!). It can be block-by-block, but Brookland, Takoma, and Silver Spring are not dangerous by my standards, though admittedly not as safe as areas west of Rock Creek Park. If you have real safety concerns, perhaps you can sacrifice space and your own yard to live in Glover Park or Van Ness, for example. I have a few other complaints about the area, but they're a bit more idiosyncratic/complainypants.


Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 10:09:42 PM »
I've lived in DC for nearly 8 years with a household income above $200k for a good chunk of time and no kids. This is not a place to live unless you have family or a career reason for being here. It is not a bad place but is way too expensive for what it is. DC wants to be NYC or Boston but it just isn't. Several months each year are miserable, 90+ temps with dew points above 70. The free museums are great for a bit. Food scene is decent on the high end but rarely do you find a place that has reasonable price, good food, and good service. 2 out of 3 is about as good as it gets. There are precious few small, hometown type places to eat. Taxes are higher than average. Traffic and mass transit are bad such that if you live outside of D.C. it won't take long until you have no interest in trekking into town for a show/dinner. I'm planning on being here another 3 years until I semi-FIRE (part time remote work) to a nicer and maybe lower cost place. I'm a pretty positive person but 8 years of D.C. have worn me out.

What other cities are you considering?


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I am sorry to hear that but it seems like you have an exit plan already. Hang in there. We are also considering Portland/Vancouver(WA), Denver(CO), and Pomona(CA). Honestly, at this point, we open to change our minds. How about you? Where would you go?

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 10:12:30 PM »
So there's going to be a metro to dulles eventually, might be worth looking up areas near there. BWI is also a good airport. There is bus that goes from the Greenbelt metro stop to BWI. We are mentioning public transportation because traffic is bad all the time. Yup, very progressive. I love it but its my home so I'm biased.

To love where you are, is a blessing :) I think as far as airport goes, we probably will end up using whatever is the cheapest route for our travel. BWI is definitely in the mix.

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2017, 10:16:54 PM »
Form Rockville, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and other points north - it is easier to get to BWI than to Dulles. I avoid going to VA or Dulles if at all possible.  It is so frickin' expensive here. Traffic is bad almost ALL the time. I have encountered unbelievable and inexplicable traffic jams at odd hours - like 11pm or 6am.  I plan to FIRE or FIR at least NOT in the DC area.

That said, I like Silver Spring and Takoma park a lot better than Rockville. Both Takoma Park and Silver Spring at least have identifiable downtowns. Rockville feels like a giant suburb with a downtown that is a court house and a handful of chain restaurants. You end up having to drive on Rockville Pike (arguably the WORST road in the U.S.) to get anywhere. Honestly I end up ordering things online to avoid driving on 355/Rockville Pike. It sucks that much.

Metro into the city is rather a PITA, too, imo. But YMMV.

Thanks! Will definitely look into Silver Spring and Takoma Park. Is Rockville Pike that bad though? It is nothing wrong ordering things online.

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2017, 10:28:05 PM »
Thank you dcheesi for the great info.
Dulles does look close to Rockville on the map.

Yep I think DC is one of the most expensive cities and we originally wanted to avoid. I think most expensive cities are highly sought after because of what they can offer. I am sure we will have sticker shock as well, we plan to visit soon but this time not as tourists but as potential residences to glean more info.

NE of DC housing seems much cheaper than Rockville...not sure it is truly more dangerous.

We assume DC has a lot of free entertainment (For example, our libraries here are great, and there are many free events). How about people? From the research, it is a more progressive city.

I like it here a lot, but the summer heat doesn't bother me a bit. If you don't like heat and humidity, you'll be in for a shock. I also live near the center of town and have figured out how to get around independently without a car so can access everything the city offers with ease (biking or scootering is actually fun to get around any time of day). The food scene is fantastic by almost all location and historical standards though, yes, a little on the pricey side. But as a Mustachian, you'll be avoiding eating out and when you do on occasion there are more than enough relatively inexpensive neighborhoody places and competition in the industry to ensure a good experience once you sort out where the good spots are. Taxes depend on jurisdiction (DC/MD/VA), but real estate taxes don't get much lower anywhere than in DC proper if you plan to own and reside in the owned property (effective rate <0.075% with the homestead deduction).

The big problem with nearly the entire area is housing costs. Even relatively desirable parts of NE DC have gotten very pricey, but if you're looking for a detached house and have 500-600k to spend I would recommend looking from Brookland east and north all the way to the DC/MD border and beyond (including Silver Spring and Takoma, but not too far beyond or the traffic will get ya!). It can be block-by-block, but Brookland, Takoma, and Silver Spring are not dangerous by my standards, though admittedly not as safe as areas west of Rock Creek Park. If you have real safety concerns, perhaps you can sacrifice space and your own yard to live in Glover Park or Van Ness, for example. I have a few other complaints about the area, but they're a bit more idiosyncratic/complainypants.

Such positivity! We currently living in the dry heat zone, so I gather we will need to get accustomed to the mugginess. I agree that we can try to find good foods/deals and live cheaply, being resourceful. We normally spend less than $25 when we eat out. I remember paying similar during our last sojourn a few times. Not sure I can get a $8 hair cut in DC though. Would love to spending less than 500K for a house, however that figure is realistic and we might have to expect that. Happiness is reality divided by expectations.

Ocinfo

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2017, 07:12:26 AM »
I've lived in DC for nearly 8 years with a household income above $200k for a good chunk of time and no kids. This is not a place to live unless you have family or a career reason for being here. It is not a bad place but is way too expensive for what it is. DC wants to be NYC or Boston but it just isn't. Several months each year are miserable, 90+ temps with dew points above 70. The free museums are great for a bit. Food scene is decent on the high end but rarely do you find a place that has reasonable price, good food, and good service. 2 out of 3 is about as good as it gets. There are precious few small, hometown type places to eat. Taxes are higher than average. Traffic and mass transit are bad such that if you live outside of D.C. it won't take long until you have no interest in trekking into town for a show/dinner. I'm planning on being here another 3 years until I semi-FIRE (part time remote work) to a nicer and maybe lower cost place. I'm a pretty positive person but 8 years of D.C. have worn me out.

What other cities are you considering?


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I am sorry to hear that but it seems like you have an exit plan already. Hang in there. We are also considering Portland/Vancouver(WA), Denver(CO), and Pomona(CA). Honestly, at this point, we open to change our minds. How about you? Where would you go?

I definitely came across as complainypants. My main issue with D.C. is just the value per dollar spent for everything from housing to food. I'm an optimizer so inflated prices drive me crazy. D.C. is around the 4th or 5th most expensive city in the country depending on source and has the second worse traffic in the country (again depending on source). It's just unusual to hear someone say they want to retire to D.C. in part because a place like San Diego or Miami, etc...can be less expensive. But there are some reasonable areas north of the city (others have provided) that are less expensive but still give you access to Baltimore and D.C. Places such as Columbia or Ellicott City are examples.

As for me, I'm looking at moving to a different neighborhood in the city to change things up for the next couple years. After that, depending on how the market does, will end up in a large mid-west city for a few years, a little surf town in Mexico that I like, or work might take me to SE Asia. Will also spend a few months a year traveling.

D.C. has provided me an opportunity for an excellent life so I suppose it can't be that bad of a place, just not one I'd stay in after the paychecks stop.


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Case

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 07:41:40 AM »
We want to use it as a home base for at least 5 years, and we will travel quite a bit after FIRE.
There are 3 cities that score high on our criteria list, DC is 1 of them.
DC area has a lot to offer and we don't need to be in DC itself.
We visited DC a few times, love the diversity, culture, foods, museums, parks, good airport, etc.
Housing is quite expensive, our initial research shows that Rockville maybe a good choice, not exorbitantly expensive, low crime, etc.d
Any suggestion as far as neighborhood goes?
Or anything we need to about the drawbacks, etc?
Appreciate it much.

I grew up in NoVA, visit there semi-frequently.

I don't think there is any way that DC and most surrounding areas could be considered mustachian, with the exception that there are high paying jobs.  In FIRE your nest egg will need to considerably larger for that location to work.

There are some nice perks to the DC area; museums for example.  Also, I have not seen another US city yet that is growing as fast as the areas surrounding DC.  For this reason, the area is generally clean, new, good infrastructure, all types of culture, etc...You can hunt for other perks that will be free.  There are plenty of ways to spend money in the area, and so if you want to fully experience DC I think you should set aside extra savings to live a little on infrequent occasion.  Not everyone would agree, but I think being able to make an occasional non-Mustachian purchase is a nice thing (e.g. go out to a nice restaurant, buy movie tickets which will be over-priced in the area, etc...).  If you don't have this freedom then I don't think you can fully take advantage of city life.

The idea of using DC specifically as a hub for international travel I think is flawed, because a number of other cities could meet this purpose.  If most of your travel is to Europe perhaps it makes a little more sense since DC is east coast.

Someone here commented that DC areas are overpriced and not on par with NYC/Boston.  Maybe NYC as it is a world standard, but we are really getting into high snobbery here.  DC has pretty good standards for food, and there are all sorts of options expensive or cheap.  On the whole, DC is known for good food.  It is not known as 'that place that isn't worth it compared to NYC'. 

Someone here commented that the summers give months of terrible living due to heat/humidity; this is subjective and on the whole false.  There are some dog days of summer in the area, definitely some days of 'death' heat, but it is not several months a year, and it is not as bad as other places in the US.  On the flip side, the winters are mild and easy.

By far the worst thing about DC is the traffic, which is insane.  Plan your life around rush hours and you should mostly be ok.  This is easier in retirement.  But of course there will be no fully escaping traffic.
The traffic issues become even worse when there is inclement weather.

Second to traffic is overcrowding, which is only increasing and will continue to get far worse.

Housing is very expensive.  You can counter this by living on less.  Your idea to live in a suburb like Rockwell is a possibility; just keep in mind that that will add distance/time to get to DC, which will increase your resistance to go there.  It might not be surprising to be gunghoe at first to make the commute, but eventually tire of it.  For this reason, you should probably choose a suburb that has interesting things going on in it immediately in the location.  I don't know much about Rockville myself.

AlanStache

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2017, 08:32:02 AM »
There are 37 Class B airports in the US.  Any one of them can get you anywhere in the world.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Class_B_airports_in_the_United_States

Weather: yes and no.  There are plenty of days where it will be f-ing hot and f-ing humid.  On my bike ride tonight it will be ~90 with 60% humidity, but I would need a shower no matter what.  And yes the threat of snow can close everything for days.

The people I have known that lived in the DC suburbs did not often go into downtown.  Traffic and the general hassle, but they had 9-5 jobs. 

dcheesi

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2017, 09:14:48 AM »
The people I have known that lived in the DC suburbs did not often go into downtown.  Traffic and the general hassle, but they had 9-5 jobs.
That's another good point. Just taking the Metro all the way in from Rockville takes about 40 minutes, plus the time to get to/from your destination once you're downtown. It's just enough time/distance to make the idea of heading into DC for a casual evening or Saturday afternoon less appealing. I still go into the city maybe once every couple of months, but it's almost always because I have specific plans (often with someone who already lives in or is visiting DC/NoVA --somehow they never seem interested in traveling out to meet me in the 'burbs ;) ).

simonsez

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2017, 10:08:33 AM »
If you're retired - visit there, don't live there. 

It has all the attractions you can think of but if you're retired, just take an extended vacation or go there every so often.

If you have more money than you know what to do with, living in Old Town or Georgetown would be awesome while also draining your nest egg.

Gondolin

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2017, 10:22:13 AM »
+1 to everyone who has said that DC would make a poor retirement location unless you already owned property or had ties there.

Traffic is terrible. The metro is a national embarrassment. Free culture is great but, after a year or two you'll have hit all the museums.

Don't get me wrong, I loved DC. But, unless you're:
A) making bank
B) in or connected to the gov't
C) an ambitious yuppie

There's no compelling reason to live there.

historienne

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2017, 11:01:48 AM »
I'd seriously consider Baltimore if you want to be in the region.  Housing will be about half as expensive, although property taxes will be higher.  Restaurants are also cheaper, the pace of life is a bit slower (which is a big plus for me), and DC itself is on the commuter rail.  BWI is a pretty good airport, and I can get to Dulles in under 90 minutes when I need something even bigger.  Summer is still hot, but I'm from the South originally and don't mind it.

Case

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2017, 11:05:07 AM »
We want to use it as a home base for at least 5 years, and we will travel quite a bit after FIRE.
There are 3 cities that score high on our criteria list, DC is 1 of them.
DC area has a lot to offer and we don't need to be in DC itself.
We visited DC a few times, love the diversity, culture, foods, museums, parks, good airport, etc.
Housing is quite expensive, our initial research shows that Rockville maybe a good choice, not exorbitantly expensive, low crime, etc.d
Any suggestion as far as neighborhood goes?
Or anything we need to about the drawbacks, etc?
Appreciate it much.

I grew up in NoVA, visit there semi-frequently.

I don't think there is any way that DC and most surrounding areas could be considered mustachian, with the exception that there are high paying jobs.  In FIRE your nest egg will need to considerably larger for that location to work.

There are some nice perks to the DC area; museums for example.  Also, I have not seen another US city yet that is growing as fast as the areas surrounding DC.  For this reason, the area is generally clean, new, good infrastructure, all types of culture, etc...You can hunt for other perks that will be free.  There are plenty of ways to spend money in the area, and so if you want to fully experience DC I think you should set aside extra savings to live a little on infrequent occasion.  Not everyone would agree, but I think being able to make an occasional non-Mustachian purchase is a nice thing (e.g. go out to a nice restaurant, buy movie tickets which will be over-priced in the area, etc...).  If you don't have this freedom then I don't think you can fully take advantage of city life.

The idea of using DC specifically as a hub for international travel I think is flawed, because a number of other cities could meet this purpose.  If most of your travel is to Europe perhaps it makes a little more sense since DC is east coast.

Someone here commented that DC areas are overpriced and not on par with NYC/Boston.  Maybe NYC as it is a world standard, but we are really getting into high snobbery here.  DC has pretty good standards for food, and there are all sorts of options expensive or cheap.  On the whole, DC is known for good food.  It is not known as 'that place that isn't worth it compared to NYC'. 

Someone here commented that the summers give months of terrible living due to heat/humidity; this is subjective and on the whole false.  There are some dog days of summer in the area, definitely some days of 'death' heat, but it is not several months a year, and it is not as bad as other places in the US.  On the flip side, the winters are mild and easy.

By far the worst thing about DC is the traffic, which is insane.  Plan your life around rush hours and you should mostly be ok.  This is easier in retirement.  But of course there will be no fully escaping traffic.
The traffic issues become even worse when there is inclement weather.

Second to traffic is overcrowding, which is only increasing and will continue to get far worse.

Housing is very expensive.  You can counter this by living on less.  Your idea to live in a suburb like Rockwell is a possibility; just keep in mind that that will add distance/time to get to DC, which will increase your resistance to go there.  It might not be surprising to be gunghoe at first to make the commute, but eventually tire of it.  For this reason, you should probably choose a suburb that has interesting things going on in it immediately in the location.  I don't know much about Rockville myself.

I don't know how you can say that the weather isn't unbearable in DC for months out of the year.  DC isn't as hot as Texas but the humidity is what makes things feel like you are walking through soup for all of July and August every year.  I visited Austin and even though it was 90 every day it felt way cooler than DC.

I think we just have dissimilar tolerances of the weather.  DC weather is by no means the end of the world, and calling it unbearable is totally ridiculous.  Also, there are many parts of TX that are WAY worse than DC. 

smisk

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2017, 11:32:07 AM »
I've lived in the area most of my life (grew up in Fairfax, now in Centreville), like others have said, going between MD and VA isn't easy, you almost have to take the beltway and there's only a narrow window when that isn't hellishly congested.
Closer to the city is definitely expensive, but depending on how far you're willing to live you can find places that are more affordable. Manassas, VA is cheaper, though it's probably a 25 minute drive (on a good day) from the nearest metro station. Also you're not too far from Shenadoah national park.
DC itself is a cool city, but too expensive. Personally (as a 25 yo) I find the suburbs kind of boring, but there are definitely worse places to live and depending on what you're looking for you might like it.

smisk

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2017, 11:54:34 AM »
Weather is highly subjective obviously, but add me to the list of people who hate the summers here. It's typical to have highs in the 90s and high humidity June - September. Winters aren't too bad though, usually get snow a couple times, and a big storm every few years. But it's definitely not freezing cold.

SuperSecretName

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2017, 12:15:41 PM »
I live in Rockville.  It's a good place to raise kids, but as a retirement hub?  Hell no.  Things are expensive and getting into DC sucks.

Case

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2017, 02:46:52 PM »
We want to use it as a home base for at least 5 years, and we will travel quite a bit after FIRE.
There are 3 cities that score high on our criteria list, DC is 1 of them.
DC area has a lot to offer and we don't need to be in DC itself.
We visited DC a few times, love the diversity, culture, foods, museums, parks, good airport, etc.
Housing is quite expensive, our initial research shows that Rockville maybe a good choice, not exorbitantly expensive, low crime, etc.d
Any suggestion as far as neighborhood goes?
Or anything we need to about the drawbacks, etc?
Appreciate it much.

I grew up in NoVA, visit there semi-frequently.

I don't think there is any way that DC and most surrounding areas could be considered mustachian, with the exception that there are high paying jobs.  In FIRE your nest egg will need to considerably larger for that location to work.

There are some nice perks to the DC area; museums for example.  Also, I have not seen another US city yet that is growing as fast as the areas surrounding DC.  For this reason, the area is generally clean, new, good infrastructure, all types of culture, etc...You can hunt for other perks that will be free.  There are plenty of ways to spend money in the area, and so if you want to fully experience DC I think you should set aside extra savings to live a little on infrequent occasion.  Not everyone would agree, but I think being able to make an occasional non-Mustachian purchase is a nice thing (e.g. go out to a nice restaurant, buy movie tickets which will be over-priced in the area, etc...).  If you don't have this freedom then I don't think you can fully take advantage of city life.

The idea of using DC specifically as a hub for international travel I think is flawed, because a number of other cities could meet this purpose.  If most of your travel is to Europe perhaps it makes a little more sense since DC is east coast.

Someone here commented that DC areas are overpriced and not on par with NYC/Boston.  Maybe NYC as it is a world standard, but we are really getting into high snobbery here.  DC has pretty good standards for food, and there are all sorts of options expensive or cheap.  On the whole, DC is known for good food.  It is not known as 'that place that isn't worth it compared to NYC'. 

Someone here commented that the summers give months of terrible living due to heat/humidity; this is subjective and on the whole false.  There are some dog days of summer in the area, definitely some days of 'death' heat, but it is not several months a year, and it is not as bad as other places in the US.  On the flip side, the winters are mild and easy.

By far the worst thing about DC is the traffic, which is insane.  Plan your life around rush hours and you should mostly be ok.  This is easier in retirement.  But of course there will be no fully escaping traffic.
The traffic issues become even worse when there is inclement weather.

Second to traffic is overcrowding, which is only increasing and will continue to get far worse.

Housing is very expensive.  You can counter this by living on less.  Your idea to live in a suburb like Rockwell is a possibility; just keep in mind that that will add distance/time to get to DC, which will increase your resistance to go there.  It might not be surprising to be gunghoe at first to make the commute, but eventually tire of it.  For this reason, you should probably choose a suburb that has interesting things going on in it immediately in the location.  I don't know much about Rockville myself.

I don't know how you can say that the weather isn't unbearable in DC for months out of the year.  DC isn't as hot as Texas but the humidity is what makes things feel like you are walking through soup for all of July and August every year.  I visited Austin and even though it was 90 every day it felt way cooler than DC.

I think we just have dissimilar tolerances of the weather.  DC weather is by no means the end of the world, and calling it unbearable is totally ridiculous.  Also, there are many parts of TX that are WAY worse than DC.

You are making false assumptions about me, random internet person.  I tolerate the weather just fine.  There is a difference between tolerating weather and enjoying weather.  And whenever I go on vacation to a different city, I enjoy the weather much more.  Call me biased, but I've lived in DC my whole life except a few years, and it's just getting hotter and more sticky due to global warming.

Yes there are hotter areas of the country, but DC is definitely on the shit list for summers, and I just don't see why someone would choose to live there when there are better options elsewhere.

The only assumptions I make are based on what you have stated here.  You don't tolerate the weather well, at least not hot humid summers, and that's my point; you dislike it so much that you'd declare it unbearable for months of the year.  This contrasts others, who might not mind DC summers that much, or might even enjoy them.

The main point is that I think there are more important factors in the choice of DC as a place to FIRE than the weather.  Or spoken differently, I think DC has worse things about it than the weather, by far.  If the OP is quite sensitive to humid hot weather, than perhaps it make sense to give it significant weight.  But I think a lot of people would find DC's weather at least 'average' on the scale of good to bad.

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2017, 04:19:38 PM »
I am very touched by this community (am pretty new here) and thank you all for all the great response!

Trying a different strategy here by consolidating...

Most think DC is not a good hub for FIRE.

Weather maybe subjective. Moustaches's link helps. I think DC is not great but not awful. San Diego is great.  We kinda considered it before maybe it is worth a second look.

DC is expensive, but I think it is relative especially I recently just got back from Reykjavik. I think many things we like are also popular; it is not going to be cheap. And no, to answer simonsez, we don't have more money than you know what to do with. We actually just need a home base. Like Ocinfo, we plan to live in South East Asia, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Nicaragua for a few months, etc. And airbnb out place maybe? But when we are home, we want access to free/cheap entertainment, kindred spirits/friends, all type of foods, events, foods, did I say food?  And a hub for the surrounding areas. DC is close to NYC, Philly, etc… And fly to visit old friends and family members.

Traffic. Would it be worse than LA, or SF (crossing the bay bridge), Dallas/Houston/Austin? Currently we live in an urban sprawl; distance between places can be more so the traffic situation maybe better, but you still need considerably amount of time to get there.

Culture. I am not sure about aggressiveness though. Many asked us what we do, often regardless of location. We used to be more ambitious and but we think differently now. Museums are not static, they change inventories. Living in a small town (far from everything else) is not appealing to us. No matter how beautiful it is.

Nevertheless, this does open our minds and eyes. A lot to consider. Maybe we can stay in one place for a few years and then move…do people really plan to FIRE in one place though?

Dee18

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2017, 05:15:02 PM »
I'm thinking of spending a few years in DC when I retire.  I lived there for many years and loved it, and still have good friends there.  If I do move there, I will rent an apartment in town.  I like being able to travel via walking, biking, and metro. aside from rent, most other expenses (like eating out) are easily controlled.

AlanStache

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2017, 05:48:43 PM »
Maybe it would be best to find a list of cities with a food culture you like and see if there is overlap with your other criteria.  I would guess that an area with great food will also have other activities.  (I will assume that SF/LA/San Diego would be on the food list.)

Have you considered Vegas?  Is a lot more than the strip, great out doors, great public park system.  Incredible food on and off the strip, every entertainer will at some point have a show there.  You do have to like the dry heat and desert conditions.

Mr. Green

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2017, 06:21:48 PM »
I've lived just outside of DC in MD my whole life. It's definitely intriguing to see someone looking to use DC as a home base after FIRE. I'm sure there are some things DC would have going for it in that situation but I can't help but think that any major city would have all of those things.

There are a couple substantial negatives in my book. Traffic is an absolute nightmare. Look at google maps during rush hour and you'll find no place where traffic is a more widespread problem than the Baltimore/DC corridor. Even New York City doesn't have as many roads that are completely hosed during rush hour on a regular basis.

Cost of living I think is the second highest in the country, behind NYC. I'm surprised anyone would elect that, especially if you're planning to travel a lot, but if you've got the money for a house and it doesn't affect your FIRE cash flow then it doesn't really matter.

The general attitude of the area is "asshole." I'm sure people are very nice when you get to know them but the street vibe that is exuded is not that. There are plenty of times when I've been more likely to get the middle finger than a wave from someone. I think it just comes with the whole "rushed/awful traffic" problem the area has.

The weather is so-so. The east coast humidity can really be a killer in the summer if you're not used to it.

We're actually looking to move away from the area, or at least further into western MD, in FIRE for those specific reasons.

Then again, you have close proximity to an ocean, if the beach is your thing, and a whole bunch of state/national parks in the mountains. You get some of America's oldest history. You get an incredibly diverse set of cultures. All pros if those things are what you're looking for.

I would definitely recommend renting first so that you know what you'd be buying into.

Geographer

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2017, 06:22:28 PM »
I'd have to second everyone who said the DC area would not make a good post-FIRE city. I'm currently in Alexandria and in the accumulation phase, but in ~5 years we plan to GTFO and move to a LCOL area. Fiancee is from NoVA so her family is nearby, and it helps that we have good friends in the area too.

Definitely would recommend Baltimore instead if access to BWI is important. Much "cooler" city (depending on perspective if you like grungy/edgy/up-and-coming cities), SIGNIFICANTLY more affordable, but still easy striking distance to DC for pleasure trips. And the added perk of being even closer to Philly and NYC.

I'd also consider Richmond as well. Very cool city with easy access to DC.

usuallysleepy

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2017, 06:40:26 PM »
I was recently unemployed in NoVa for a couple months waiting for some licensure to go through and I ended up finding a free weekly art class at the Smithsonian American Gallery of Art that met on Tuesday afternoons.  Most of the regulars that went were retirees and they loved living in DC (though I think all the ones I talked to had been living in DC prior to retirement.)  There are tons of cool free things always going on (if you are into art, in addition to the free art class on Tues afternoons, they have open art time on Fri afternoons-all supplies are provided, the National Gallery of Art has art days on certain weekends where they have an art historian and a local artist talk about the art and then teach sketching techniques, if you are not into art, I've seen free showings of silent Hitchcock films with lives organ and string quartets at the Gallery of Art, I saw Philip Glass playing his own compositions and talking about life in SoHo in the 60s... I mean, there is a ton to do).  The retirees I met had cool volunteer gigs (the zoo, Mount Vernon, etc).  Housing is expensive but DC itself has really good renter's laws that cap the amount rent can increase, so a couple of the retirees I talked to had just been living in their same apartment forever paying really low rent.  DC can get a little annoying in the summer with tourists e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

That said, I went to school and worked in Baltimore for 9 years and it really grew on me.  Definitely has a less stressed out vibe than DC, and there is all sorts of good food and stuff to do now (wasn't as much that way back in 2005 when I first started.) 

I have also lived between the two in the burbs of Columbia MD.  You can get some affordable housing there, which I think is in part because it is not on the metro.  Nice parks and trails.  It is your average suburbia though it does have Wegman's.  Close to BWI.  I didn't get to DC as I would have liked, though.  Somehow that extra little distance really upped the inertia. 

tralfamadorian

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2017, 07:15:53 PM »
But, unless you're:
A) making bank
B) in or connected to the gov't
C) an ambitious yuppie

There's no compelling reason to live there.

+2

fuzzy math

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #31 on: July 12, 2017, 09:15:19 PM »
I've lived in or near most of the areas you mentioned for fire. Out of all of them I would rank DC last. It is not accessible at all. If you haven't spent much time in NOVA, this may come as a shock but there are basically 1 or 2 freeways there. Everything else is highways - lots of them go through town and have stoplights. What looks reasonable on google maps based on distance is much much worse.

Denver - have family there but have never lived there. Very high quality of life, and an increasing cost of living. Someone else can elaborate more.

Pomona - on the edge of the inland empire. The IE folks are flip flop wearing, Starbucks slurping, strip mall visiting, nail salon-Ing, spray tanners. It's a very status and body conscious area. I have not spent much time in Pomona specifically but the towns immediately east of there (rancho, upland etc) are all like that and are basically the burbs.  The LA traffic is not bad on weekend mornings generally. Weekdays are pure hell. Tons of stuff to do in the area if you're willing to drive. Lots of county parks are not free.

Portland - awesome. More expensive than Denver. Great food scene, not a huge museum scene. Great quality of life if you can afford it.
Vancouver WA - NOT AT ALL LIKE PORTLAND. People who live in Vancouver basically either hate Portland and never go there, or can't afford to live in Portland because they don't have their shit together. The first time we lived in the area, we lived in Vancouver and it was an incredible mistake. We had a difficult time meeting people, and we were never home because we were always driving to or from Portland... That drive over the bridge was so depressing. I once saw a "keep Vancouver normal" bumper sticker. Lots of ppl practice tax evasion there. Look up the political demographics of the 2 cities - they are vastly different.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 09:18:39 PM by fuzzy math »

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #32 on: July 12, 2017, 10:26:19 PM »
Interesting info about Vancouver. Didn't know the divide. I worked with a contractor from there, pretty progressive. Reason to live there, no state income tax and across into Portland, no sale tax.

Denver real estate is on fire, borderline bubble. Almost 38% higher than pre crash peak.

Good info -
http://www.businessinsider.com/housing-bubble-fed-charts-2017-5

Case

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2017, 07:55:40 AM »
Check out this website, it's a cool interactive map that shows where the most pleasant weather is in the country.

http://kellegous.com/j/2014/02/03/pleasant-places/

DC ranks poorly on this.

This is an interesting link, some useful information inside.

It's not the full picture though.  For one, I would rather define good weather in a wider window.  I am more concerned with when the weather isn't terrible, than when it is in the 'perfect' region (again goes back to tolerance, or the weather/temperature range that I can enjoy).  Second, I very much enjoy the balance of 4 seasons.  Therefore, how cold a winter (or hot a summer) gets doesn't bother me as much as having one of those seasons be quite long and encroach onto the other seasons.  Third, the site does not take into account days of sun; there can be a nice balance between too much sun (e.g. New Mexico) and too little sun (Seattle or Great Lakes).

Case

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2017, 08:01:12 AM »
I am very touched by this community (am pretty new here) and thank you all for all the great response!

Trying a different strategy here by consolidating...

Most think DC is not a good hub for FIRE.

Weather maybe subjective. Moustaches's link helps. I think DC is not great but not awful. San Diego is great.  We kinda considered it before maybe it is worth a second look.

DC is expensive, but I think it is relative especially I recently just got back from Reykjavik. I think many things we like are also popular; it is not going to be cheap. And no, to answer simonsez, we don't have more money than you know what to do with. We actually just need a home base. Like Ocinfo, we plan to live in South East Asia, Eastern Europe, Mexico, Nicaragua for a few months, etc. And airbnb out place maybe? But when we are home, we want access to free/cheap entertainment, kindred spirits/friends, all type of foods, events, foods, did I say food?  And a hub for the surrounding areas. DC is close to NYC, Philly, etc… And fly to visit old friends and family members.

Traffic. Would it be worse than LA, or SF (crossing the bay bridge), Dallas/Houston/Austin? Currently we live in an urban sprawl; distance between places can be more so the traffic situation maybe better, but you still need considerably amount of time to get there.

Culture. I am not sure about aggressiveness though. Many asked us what we do, often regardless of location. We used to be more ambitious and but we think differently now. Museums are not static, they change inventories. Living in a small town (far from everything else) is not appealing to us. No matter how beautiful it is.

Nevertheless, this does open our minds and eyes. A lot to consider. Maybe we can stay in one place for a few years and then move…do people really plan to FIRE in one place though?

The traffic in DC is terrible, and there are limited ways around it.  If you drive outside of rush hour you will dodge the worst of it, but there will always be some.  The closer to the city, the worse it is.  And random accidents/weather will trigger massive jams, which might occur outside of rushhour.

I personally don't know how it compares to LA, but it's not uncommon for people to compare it to that.  Also consider that the population of DC is ever growing.

Case

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2017, 10:39:30 AM »
We want to use it as a home base for at least 5 years, and we will travel quite a bit after FIRE.
There are 3 cities that score high on our criteria list, DC is 1 of them.
DC area has a lot to offer and we don't need to be in DC itself.
We visited DC a few times, love the diversity, culture, foods, museums, parks, good airport, etc.
Housing is quite expensive, our initial research shows that Rockville maybe a good choice, not exorbitantly expensive, low crime, etc.d
Any suggestion as far as neighborhood goes?
Or anything we need to about the drawbacks, etc?
Appreciate it much.

I grew up in NoVA, visit there semi-frequently.

I don't think there is any way that DC and most surrounding areas could be considered mustachian, with the exception that there are high paying jobs.  In FIRE your nest egg will need to considerably larger for that location to work.

There are some nice perks to the DC area; museums for example.  Also, I have not seen another US city yet that is growing as fast as the areas surrounding DC.  For this reason, the area is generally clean, new, good infrastructure, all types of culture, etc...You can hunt for other perks that will be free.  There are plenty of ways to spend money in the area, and so if you want to fully experience DC I think you should set aside extra savings to live a little on infrequent occasion.  Not everyone would agree, but I think being able to make an occasional non-Mustachian purchase is a nice thing (e.g. go out to a nice restaurant, buy movie tickets which will be over-priced in the area, etc...).  If you don't have this freedom then I don't think you can fully take advantage of city life.

The idea of using DC specifically as a hub for international travel I think is flawed, because a number of other cities could meet this purpose.  If most of your travel is to Europe perhaps it makes a little more sense since DC is east coast.

Someone here commented that DC areas are overpriced and not on par with NYC/Boston.  Maybe NYC as it is a world standard, but we are really getting into high snobbery here.  DC has pretty good standards for food, and there are all sorts of options expensive or cheap.  On the whole, DC is known for good food.  It is not known as 'that place that isn't worth it compared to NYC'. 

Someone here commented that the summers give months of terrible living due to heat/humidity; this is subjective and on the whole false.  There are some dog days of summer in the area, definitely some days of 'death' heat, but it is not several months a year, and it is not as bad as other places in the US.  On the flip side, the winters are mild and easy.

By far the worst thing about DC is the traffic, which is insane.  Plan your life around rush hours and you should mostly be ok.  This is easier in retirement.  But of course there will be no fully escaping traffic.
The traffic issues become even worse when there is inclement weather.

Second to traffic is overcrowding, which is only increasing and will continue to get far worse.

Housing is very expensive.  You can counter this by living on less.  Your idea to live in a suburb like Rockwell is a possibility; just keep in mind that that will add distance/time to get to DC, which will increase your resistance to go there.  It might not be surprising to be gunghoe at first to make the commute, but eventually tire of it.  For this reason, you should probably choose a suburb that has interesting things going on in it immediately in the location.  I don't know much about Rockville myself.

I don't know how you can say that the weather isn't unbearable in DC for months out of the year.  DC isn't as hot as Texas but the humidity is what makes things feel like you are walking through soup for all of July and August every year.  I visited Austin and even though it was 90 every day it felt way cooler than DC.

I think we just have dissimilar tolerances of the weather.  DC weather is by no means the end of the world, and calling it unbearable is totally ridiculous.  Also, there are many parts of TX that are WAY worse than DC.

You are making false assumptions about me, random internet person.  I tolerate the weather just fine.  There is a difference between tolerating weather and enjoying weather.  And whenever I go on vacation to a different city, I enjoy the weather much more.  Call me biased, but I've lived in DC my whole life except a few years, and it's just getting hotter and more sticky due to global warming.

Yes there are hotter areas of the country, but DC is definitely on the shit list for summers, and I just don't see why someone would choose to live there when there are better options elsewhere.

The only assumptions I make are based on what you have stated here.  You don't tolerate the weather well, at least not hot humid summers, and that's my point; you dislike it so much that you'd declare it unbearable for months of the year.  This contrasts others, who might not mind DC summers that much, or might even enjoy them.

The main point is that I think there are more important factors in the choice of DC as a place to FIRE than the weather.  Or spoken differently, I think DC has worse things about it than the weather, by far.  If the OP is quite sensitive to humid hot weather, than perhaps it make sense to give it significant weight.  But I think a lot of people would find DC's weather at least 'average' on the scale of good to bad.

The only assumptions I can make are what you stated in that you grew up in NOVA but no longer live here.  Therefore you don't truly know what the weather is like in DC in the past decade so you can't make generalizations as well as DC residents can.  On the link I posted DC was ranked below average for weather.  The reason is that the summers are comparably as hot as the deep south and humid (it's not called the DC Swamp for nothing), while the winters can still have some of the worst kinds of temperatures as well (being on the 33 degree ice/snow line is worse in my opinion than if it was just 20 degrees with light fluffy snow), while the areas in the deep south that are hot and humid in the summer have much better winters.  I do agree with you thought that there are many other reasons to hate DC.

Fair enough and reasonable points.

I did live in Arlington for a year, around 5 years ago.  I also admit that the hot summers of the area actually give me some nostalgia, which might be unique.

I moved out to the midwest for school & work, and have spent ~10 years there.  Central Illinois has pretty similar weather to DC, maybe a tad cooler.  The winters get worse (e.g. colder), mostly because of windchill.  Also they have more icy weather than DC.  I don't mind ultra-low temperatures in of themselves, although they do might biking tricky (you haven't lived until you have had tears freeze on your eye lashed).  The ice can get annoying though.  Now I am in central Michigan, where the weather is consistently colder than DC.  I don't mind that the winters get cold, but the upsetting of the season's balance does fatigue me.  This combined with limited sunshine can get old fast.

When I lived in VA, I always felt that the change of seasons was natural; I was ready for the next when it arrived, and it never felt rushed.  Whenever I visit DC in the winter, I am reminded of how easy the winters are there.  You guys absolutely don't get the worst kind of winters.  Because of weather fluctuations, every few weeks (or more) there are relatively warm days where you can easily do stuff outside.  Plus, it's way sunnier which helps with SAD.  I think the bigger issue with DC weather is actually due to the traffic; DC can't handle snow/ice, and it makes the traffic insane.  I would vote this as more of a traffic problem than weather, but I guess that's debatable. 

The link you posted actually lists my current location as better than DC weather-wise, but I would MUCH prefer DC's weather.  Again, I think the worse things about DC are the traffic, COL, and possibly the high concentration of assholes/snobs (certainly subjective).

That said, I acknowledge that there are states that have worse winters than where I am.


CapLimited

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #36 on: July 13, 2017, 11:01:35 AM »
I work in DC, but I bought a condo here eight years ago with the full intention to retire here.  My condo is near the National Mall and museums, and within a block of a metro station.  I don't own a car and never need to drive -- it's easy to get around with Metro, plentiful taxis, Uber/Lyft, Zipcar, bikeshare, and by foot, so traffic is generally not an issue for me.  There are a million free cultural things to do every day -- you would have no problem wearing yourself completely out with activities.  Most people here are liberal/progressive.  I can't say that everybody here is an intense go-getter; it's actually pretty diverse.  If you are here doing the things that you like to do, you can probably find your tribe.  It's starting to change a bit because of the city's growth, but DC actually feels like a series of small towns.  Each neighborhood has its own character (and characters!)  Once you get the housing thing squared away, it's probably not any more expensive than most other places, because you don't really need to pay for entertainment, there are reasonably priced dining options if you look around a little, and it's easy to get by without a car.  You might want to consider renting in the city for a year just to see if it works for you before buying.  I used to live in the suburbs, and the other commenters are right -- if you have to commute far to get into the city, you won't bother.

That being said, the weather, specifically the humidity, is getting old.  DH and I are now starting to consider retiring in Europe, for better weather and for some new cultural experiences.  Interestingly enough, since our focus is Europe, for overseas trips we usually take the train up to Newark Liberty Airport because we like to fly Economy Plus or Business Class and there are better, less expensive options there than at any of the WAS airports.

littlebird

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #37 on: July 13, 2017, 02:03:34 PM »
I grew up in NoVA and don't plan to ever move back. I wanted to speak to your assertion that the museums are always changing exhibits. I'd say that at the Smithsonian that is not really true in my experience of going to all of them multiple times per year for 20 years (due to out of town visitors, school trips, etc). They may have one exhibit that changes, but for the most part they stay there same...

Lance Hiruma

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Re: Considering moving to DC area when FIRE, advice?
« Reply #38 on: July 13, 2017, 08:18:27 PM »
I grew up in NoVA and don't plan to ever move back. I wanted to speak to your assertion that the museums are always changing exhibits. I'd say that at the Smithsonian that is not really true in my experience of going to all of them multiple times per year for 20 years (due to out of town visitors, school trips, etc). They may have one exhibit that changes, but for the most part they stay there same...

Ah good to know. Thanks.