Washington, D.C. is not only the capital of the United States and the country’s main political stage—it’s also a city that’s growing rapidly and attracting educated people from around the world. Whether you’re relocating from New York or from across the country, relocating to the D.C. area can be a stressful and frustrating experience, especially if you’re searching for a new career.
Although overwhelming, the process of relocating to D.C. and exploring new career opportunities can be exciting. But before you start packing, here are five tips to help you prepare for life in the country’s capital.
Prepare for the cost of living
As one of the most expensive cities in the United States, the cost of living in Washington D.C. might come as a surprise to you. If you’re moving from NYC to D.C., you’re probably already prepared for the high cost of living. However, if you’re relocating from pretty much any other city (aside from maybe Los Angeles or San Francisco), prepare to pay significantly more for food and housing.
Generally, housing is more expensive the closer you move to downtown. So even if you’re just moving to a new neighborhood, don’t expect a studio in the downtown D.C. area to cost the same as your studio in Bethesda.
Choose the right neighborhood
Before committing to the move, you’ll need to decide where to live. The D.C. area offers several different neighborhoods, each with varying rent costs.
For example, Capitol Hill and Eastern Market are more residential. If you’re relocating to work at the Hill, Capitol Hill is ideal, since you would be able to walk or bike to work each day. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in a more hip neighborhood, consider looking into Logan Circle, which features Victorian-style houses dating back to 1870. If you’re not sure where to start, researching the average rent prices per neighborhood can help you figure out what you’ll be able to afford.
Work with an experienced career counselor
Whether you’re relocating to D.C. to switch career paths or find new opportunities, working with a career counselor in DC can help you manage stress and find the perfect job. It can feel overwhelming to navigate the job market in a new city, and career counseling takes a holistic approach toward the psychological and value aspects of your career to help you make the best career decisions.
Career counselors are a great choice if you’re not sure what you want out of your next career, or if you’re looking for help defining work-related goals, interests, and values. Career counselors typically administer personality or aptitude tests to provide insight into your strengths and passions.
Learn train schedules and routes
If you’re relocating from a place where public transport wasn’t common, using the Metro might feel intimidating at first. However, the Metro is incredibly convenient, and it provides an easy way to get from point A to point B without having to deal with traffic or paid parking.
Taking the time to learn train schedules and routes can help you save time and money. If you choose to drive everywhere, you risk showing up late to a job interview, which can send the signal that you’re unreliable. To get the timing right, consider visiting interview locations a few days in advance to determine the best route before your meeting day.
Make a positive first impression
First impressions matter, especially during job interviews. According to a 2010 study, first impressions shape perceptions of professional competence. In other words, those who perform well during the meet and greet stage of an interview are typically rated higher on evaluations of professional capabilities—whether or not they’re better qualified.
The way you dress for an interview shapes potential employers’ first impression and shows how you present yourself professionally. Even if you’re qualified on paper, if you don’t dress appropriately for your interview, you risk leaving a bad impression.
When planning your outfit for job interviews, make sure to pay attention to the details. It’s important to always look polished, so don’t show up in wrinkled, stained, ripped, or ill-fitting clothes. For example, if you’re petite, shopping for petite jackets can help you feel more confident and comfortable during your interview.
Whether you’ve been offered a promotion or you’re searching for new opportunities, the D.C. area has plenty to offer. Ultimately, weighing the potential upsides like a higher salary and greater opportunities against downsides like the costs of moving can help you make the best decision for your career.