17 Reasons Not to Move to Washington D.C. (Voted by the locals!)

Washington DC, USA at the tidal basin with Washington Monument in spring season.

Washington DC: The city without a state. The big town with important buildings. A place where people have complained about living for about as long as it’s been on Earth.

1: Tourists

If you’ve only ever visited the District of Columbia then you’ve probably only seen the pretty parts. The Smithsonian, the Capitol building, the White House, and the statue of Abe Lincoln. Tourists spend their time going to these places and this makes them crowded.

It also makes all the roads leading to them crowded, and sometimes the metro too. With tourists gunking up a place that is already in many estimations far too dense for reasonable habitation, it can quickly start to feel constricting to be anywhere nice in town.

Protestors definitely aren’t tourists, but there are lots of those in town too and they do shut down the roads pretty often. This is a perk if you hate roads, otherwise, it can be a pretty big pain.

2: Rats

Like many big cities, DC has a serious rat problem. Not only is there a great number of rats (Orkin, a pest control company, has rated DC the fourth worst city in the country for rat population several years in a row), but they are also incredibly visible, meaning that those with a fear of rodents will likely have an unpleasant time even if their home is pest free.

Speaking of which, recent events have driven a lot of rats to search for new homes, which means that people living in the city have had to put extra effort into making sure they acquire any unwanted roommates. That being said, all of the best practices for avoiding rats are good hygiene anyways, which may improve the quality of life for many people. Just not the ones with rats in their homes.

3: Broken Public Transportation

It feels like the DC Metro is broken more often than it should be. Considering the amount of time the cars spend under repair, they should probably just get new ones. While it is still possible to get around the city without a car, it takes some planning each day to find which route will be rideable each day, with delays and shut-downs working together to make life difficult for commuters.

4: Humid Summers

When DC was first constructed, the land the city would be built on was mostly just a gigantic swamp around the Potomac River. The summers in this area were awful. They were hot and humid, and the air was thick with mosquitos causing malaria and other diseases.

Fortunately, the mosquitos no longer carry diseases. Unfortunately, DC summers are still absolutely miserable experiences to live through, with humidity that can make it feel like you’re trying to swim through the air every moment that you’re outside.

5: Bugs

Remember the mosquitos? DC’s humid swampy climate is basically paradise for bugs of all kinds, from Mosquitos to Cockroaches. For people who are from parts of the country where ticks are less prominent, this may lead to some upsetting first experiences with what might be the worst bug in the country. Those from places where ticks are already common will find no rest in this city.

The mere presence of bugs in the city is not in and of itself unusual, but the quantity of them certainly is. Going outside in the summer in DC feels more like going camping than it does like hanging out in a heavily populated city. Anyone who wants to avoid bug bites should make sure to wear bug spray any time they step outside.

6: Cold Winters

The hope of a hot summer is always the cool of fall, but the changing of the leaves brings with it the dread of winter. It is very cold in Washington DC, and the city’s trademark humidity doesn’t help. While the temperature rarely drops below 29 Fahrenheit, it also tends to start snowing in February, which brings with it its own kind of misery.

The one respite is that it never gets cold enough to make going outside unreasonable. While it will feel cold because of the humidity, anyone with access to a warm building nearby should be fine stepping out for a walk to keep themselves from going crazy as long as they’re willing to put up with the cold for a while.

7: Snow Driving

However, the snow does bring with it the terrors of snow driving. DC doesn’t get enough snow for the drivers there to be good at driving in it but does get enough snow that every year when it starts the roads suddenly get a lot scarier for a couple of weeks. Driving carefully during the year’s freezing months is a must.

8: Traffic

Speaking of driving, the combination of tourists and a naturally high population is that roads are absolutely packed. This can be incredibly stressful for a lot of people who come from more rural areas where traffic might not be as serious, and for people who are more used to heavy traffic, it can still be incredibly inconvenient.

Planning in extra travel time to take traffic into account is never fun, but considering that the alternative may be just as stop and go this can be extra frustrating.

9: Speed Traps And Traffic Cameras

The less heavily trafficked parts of DC are still not easy to travel through, as the city is absolutely filled with police speed traps and traffic cams to catch speeders for even the slightest offense. Driving in any way other than extremely carefully is just asking for a ticket, which makes driving in the city even less pleasant than it already is. And since taking major roadways will lead to traffic and taking the metro will likely lead to other delays small distances in DC can feel like they’re significantly longer than they really are.

10: DC Culture

Washington DC is a city full of highly ambitious people. This leads to two cultural quirks that can be frustrating to live with. The first is an obsession with work, and the second is an obsession with making connections.

It’s easy for people to get caught up in the passion of the place and find themselves working harder and harder, to the point where they exclude other things from their lives. It’s not uncommon for people in DC to become workaholics, which as annoying as they are to meet are even worse to transform into. And with the pressure in the city to succeed and move up, it can be easy to end up that way without even noticing.

Washington, D.C. city skyline at twilight

This is not helped by the presence of all of the country’s most powerful people within the city’s limits. However, even people who successfully dodge the pressures of work in DC will probably find themselves beset by… old men who want to tell them about the senator whose cousin they played golf with one time.

Most people don’t realize how little they care about the social lives of congresspeople’s neighbors and family until they move to DC and have to hear about them constantly. This is just another part of DC culture that is ubiquitous and unpleasant.

11: Limited Food Options

Compared to other big cities across the United States, DC’s dining options are not terribly expansive. Of course, this isn’t helped by the fact that it has to compete with other nearby major cities with incredible food scenes like New York. On the other hand, considering that DC frequently has wealthy visitors from around the world it seems like something should have evolved by now.

12: Bad Schools

The DC school system has the highest dropout rate in the country and has recently been rated the 49th worst school system between itself and all the states. Without alternatives to in-person high school classes, one in three students chose to leave school before they graduate. Those students who stay in school only fare a little better, with abysmal SAT and ACT scores.

Considering that both Virginia and Maryland were in the top ten for best school systems in the country, it’s hard to tell what’s going wrong here. The most likely thing is that it has to do with DC’s incredibly high poverty rates, as students coming from low-income households historically end up doing substantially worse than their counterparts due to their situation.

This seems especially likely since DC spends the same amount on students per capita as its neighbors. This means that the statistics on school quality may be somewhat deceptive. It’s hard to tell whether this is the case or not though without having actually experienced school in DC, and the causes for the problem are likely incredibly complicated.

13: Bad Football Stadium

A quick look at the map of DC will reveal that there is no football stadium in the city. This is because the football stadium where the Washington Football Team plays in a stadium that is actually a fair way outside of the city limits. FedEx stadium is also really old, which can make going to a game there a lot less fun.

The team that plays there also leaves a lot to be desired for many fans, considering that they haven’t won a championship in an incredibly long time. While they can still be a fun team to watch, it makes sense that many fans are disappointed in them and their location.

14: The Potomac River

The poor Potomac went from being a river running through an unpleasant swamp to a river filled with sewage to a river filled with other pollution. This gives it its classic brown color and iconic bad smell. In recent years, the river has been too polluted to swim or fish in. A fast way to get cholera is to drink out of it.

Of course, the presence of the river is what makes the city possible, and its current state is certainly not its own fault so much as it is a natural consequence of the human presence there. Rain carries sewage runoff, motor oil, fertilizers, animal by-products, and other miscellaneous chemicals directly into the water. The end result is a toxic mixture that no living thing should ever come into direct contact with.

15: High Cost Of Living

Washington DC is not a cheap place to live. Between high rent prices and the cost of essentials like food and utilities. While rent can be stifling, it isn’t any better to actually buy a house, as the median home price in the city is more than double the national average.

The incredibly high cost of living in the city is likely a large contributing factor to the city’s high poverty rates. Whether it is or is not, it certainly makes living there a lot less of an appealing prospect.

16: Politicians

Every year, new politicians are moving into the city. There are hundreds of actual politicians in the city at any given time and thousands more working in politics. Why is this a downside? The existence of politics is inescapable in the nation’s capital even more than it is in the rest of the country. This can make it incredibly difficult to take a break from what is increasingly a tiring subject to think about.

Even on a more mundane level, within DC a lot of gossip gets passed around about what congresspeople are doing with themselves. While some people may enjoy this, others may find it an unpleasant reminder of things that frustrate them, especially when the fact that DC itself is not represented in congress.

17: DC Isn’t A State

Americans are famous for not wanting to be taxed by a system that they have no say in. Except in their capital, where people are taxed by a system that they have no say in. The fact that DC isn’t a state makes it incredibly difficult for any kind of important changes to be made in the city, as Congress has the power to veto the city’s own decisions directly. This means that many of the city’s problems, such as the high cost of living and the poor schools, are unlikely to go away any time soon.

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