If you love New York’s bustling city life, but you’re sick of staring at skyscrapers and tall buildings, moving to Washington, DC might be the answer. It shares NY’s fun and exciting lifestyle, but it has wide-open skies and plenty of green spaces.
The District ranks highly as one of the best cities to live in and retire in because of its rich history, walkability, and a strong job market (thanks to the whole of the federal government being housed there).
In fact, DC has grown by 14.6% in the last decade. It’s also a tourist hotspot with tons of free activities, museums, and a bustling shopping, restaurant, and bar scene.
So, what do you need to know about moving to the nation’s capital?
This guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Let’s get started!
DC from NY: Average Moving Costs
There are a variety of factors that will affect your relocation costs, including the travel distance, the size of your belongings, and more.
The most significant factor in your cost will be the distance you need to cover. When moving from NYC to DC, you’ll be driving about 225 miles. Keep in mind that your mileage will increase if you’re coming from the Upstate, resulting in a different cost estimate.
Renting a self-service truck will cost between $350 to $1,000, which is your cheapest option. However, you’ll pay a higher price in time and labor, since you’ll have to pack, load and unload, and make the drive yourself.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can choose to use a full-service moving company. Packaging, shipping, and unpacking are all included, saving you time and physical effort. For this kind of move, you’ll be looking at $1,300 at a minimum. Relocating a fully furnished house can cost New Yorkers upwards of $4,000.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide how much work you’re willing to handle and what kind of budget to set. If a full-service move is off the table, you may be able to keep costs low and still take advantage of some moving services.
Whether you can afford full-service, interstate movers or not, there may be some ways to cut costs along the way. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can move on a budget.
It may not be apparent when shopping for a professional moving company, but most movers will offer a price match with a valid quote.
Find some affordable movers in your area and ask for a free quote from a few of them. To keep your costs low, you’ll need accurate estimates from each company, which means you’ll have to prepare an itemized list of your furniture or have professional movers come out and take inventory for you.
The quoting process is even more complicated now, thanks to COVID-19. Fortunately, many moving companies have adapted to the new challenges. Your Hometown Mover and other professional movers have implemented Live Video Estimates, where a live operator can guide you through the inventory process.
While it can be time-consuming to gather these quotes, it will help you keep your moving costs as low as possible.
Moving Labor & Packaging Services
You can save some money by taking on some of the tasks yourself, like driving a rental truck, while still hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting.
For most moving companies, the behind-the-scenes logistics of your relocation can drive up the price. Long-distance moves require a commitment in resources, including a driver and a truck to haul your goods.
You can remove a large portion of relocation fees by driving your own truck and just pay for what you need.
Many moving companies offer labor services in which they hire out movers on an hourly or daily basis. These professionals will show up to help you pack and load your belongings.
However, hourly services may only handle certain aspects of the move, so double-check the agreement to make sure you’re getting the help you need. If you go this route, you’ll likely have to hire a separate company local to your destination to help you with the unloading process.
Services like this may be essential for those moving out of the Brooklyn, Manhattan, or any of the other five boroughs, especially if you’re likely to be hauling your belongings down flights of stairs. If you’re on a budget, you can still get the help you need while keeping costs low by taking advantage of these services.
Your Hometown Mover offers compartmental services to help you get started. Explore our packing services and moving labor options to learn more.
Occasionally, you might find a moving company that will offer financing options on a full-service move. These “move now, pay later” options allow you to finance the cost of your move over a set term and pay it back later with a small amount of interest.
However, these options are scarce and have become even harder to find with the COVID-19 pandemic.
When moving from NYC or many other cities in the New York State, you’ll be traveling a little over 200 miles or so to Washington, DC.
Because of the labor and distance involved, most moving companies will estimate a delivery within 7 to 14 business days from your move date.
This delay has to do with how most moving companies handle long-distance moves. Traditionally, moving companies will move your belongings to a warehouse. Once there, they’ll combine them with other shipments bound for the same destination.
This is more effective (and profitable) for these companies because it allows them to make the most of their resources. However, it also means that your delivery will take longer than if you’d rented the truck and hauled the goods on your own.
What About Expedited Delivery?
If you don’t want to wait that long to get your belongings, ask your provider about expedited delivery options.
Some companies will offer expedited services with delivery between one to three business days. These movers can get your goods to you faster by skipping warehouse consolidation. They’ll load your things and then drive straight from New York to Washington, DC.
As you’d expect, expedited shipping comes at premium rates and can add thousands to your total moving cost.
In some cases, this may be totally worth it. But, before you pull out your credit card, check with your shipper to see how much time you’ll actually be saving. As useful as expedited services can be, it’s also possible that you’ll only end up saving a day or two from your estimated delivery date.
If you need your belongings fast, expedited delivery is the best option. You’ll save time on the move; plus, you won’t have to worry as much about your possessions getting lost or mixed up at the warehouse.
Long-distance moving requires your goods to be in transit for a significant amount of time.
With an interstate move, you likely won’t be able to follow the moving truck or know precisely where your possessions are at all times like you would with a local move.
This uncertainty can cause additional stress and frustration. An unknown delivery date can also make it more challenging to plan your schedule.
Fortunately, Your Hometown Mover can offer you peace of mind. We provide live GPS tracking information on every shipment, so you will always have access to your belongings’ current location.
If you’re using a different company, make sure to ask if they offer something similar or if they can provide you with regular updates.
It’s essential to look at your insurance options to make the right choice for your move.
While moving companies try their best to create a stress-free moving experience and protect your items, accidents can happen, and they come with a cost.
Having a basic understanding of your insurance options and how your items are valued can help you make this decision.
Basic Liability Insurance
Most moving companies offer basic liability coverage as part of their standard moving package.
While you might think this type of insurance is acceptable, you may be putting the value of your shipment at risk. These insurance rates are based on the weight of an item, not its perceived value.
For example, let’s say a valuable painting or a precious piece of jewelry was damaged or lost during transit. With a basic liability rate of $.60 per pound, you’d only receive a fraction of the value when filing a claim for these items.
Premium Move Coverage
To get full-value coverage, you’ll need to invest in premium insurance. This type of insurance covers the monetary value of your items instead of basing it on their weight.
If you choose to go this route, you’ll have to provide your moving company with a list of the estimated value of all your belongings. They will then calculate a coverage price based on the total value of your list.
Often, you’ll be responsible for paying a deductible before a total payout is issued. However, you’ll receive the full value (less deductibles) of any item damaged or lost during transit.
Premium insurance is the best option to protect your belongings if you have lightweight valuables or large antiques that you can’t take with you in your own vehicle.
Careful consideration should be taken during the packing process of all high-value items, such as oil paintings and antiques. Your Hometown Mover offers custom crating and packing solutions to ensure that your valuables arrive safe and sound.
Moving Vehicles & Boats
Between walking, biking, buses, and DC’s metro (WMATA), you’ll have plenty of options to get around the District. But, while you may not need a car to traverse the city, you may want one to get out and explore the surrounding areas.
The most practical way to move your vehicle to DC is to drive it down the East Coast yourself. If you’re not doing a full-service move, you can attach a rig to the back of your rental truck and pull your car along with you. This will drastically increase the length of your vehicle, though, so it can be challenging if you’re not used to driving large vehicles.
However, if you own multiple vehicles (or boats) or you don’t feel up to a long-distance drive, these options may not be feasible.
Most professional moving companies don’t have the specialized equipment required to handle this directly, so they’ll contract out with a rigger or auto-transporter on your behalf.
Since a third party will handle your vehicle, it’s unlikely that they’ll follow the same delivery schedule as your moving company. That means that if you’ve chosen expedited delivery for your belongings, your vehicle may be excluded, cost extra, or take longer to arrive.
While Your Hometown Mover also outsources this work, our team will help you set everything up for an easy transition.
Washington, DC Resources
The District has a unique, lively atmosphere with enough things to do to keep both visitors and residents satisfied.
Plus, with DC’s height limit ordinance keeping buildings low, you won’t have skyscrapers blocking your view of the open sky, parks, and greenery.
Politics & Voting
One quick thing to note about DC: If you’re moving to the District, you’re relocating to the political epicenter of the country.
However, even though it’s the nation’s capital, DC residents lack a House representative or a senator to advocate for the population’s interests.
The District does have the ability to elect its own mayor, councilmembers, and attorney general, however, all legislation passed by the DC government is subject to congressional approval, thanks to the Home Rule Act.
Cost of Living
Although it’s one of the most expensive cities in the US, the cost of living in DC is a little lower than it is in New York City. In fact, it’s about 18% cheaper, overall.
You’ll find that rent, restaurants, and entertainment are all cheaper in the District than in NYC. Even the sales tax is about three percent cheaper in DC.
If you’re coming from the Upstate, though, updating your cost of living might be a challenge. The average cost of living in DC is substantially higher than what you’re already accustomed to.
Regions of The District
While Washington, DC is the seventh most walkable large city in the nation, it can still be pretty confusing to get around if you don’t understand the regions in the area.
The District is divided into four quadrants, aptly named Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. When traveling throughout the city, you’ll find that all addresses include the abbreviation for one of these quadrants at the end.
That’s because you’ll find repeating street names in each quadrant, and possibly even the same intersection. For example, the intersection 4th and D St. appears in multiple quadrants, so you’ll need to pay attention to the NW, NE, SW, or SE designation to know the exact location.
The District has diverse neighborhoods with plenty of options for families, singles, or professionals. The Northwest quadrant sports more than half of the city’s population, but there’s something to see in each of the four areas.
Adams Morgan (Northwest)
This neighborhood may be less than five square miles, but it’s packed with entertainment. It has over 90 different establishments that make it one of DC’s most popular nightlife districts.
If shopping is more your style, you’ll find an array of independently owned funky and vintage options such as Meeps
or Violet Boutique.
Anacostia is a historic neighborhood that’s primarily residential. It’s just east of its namesake, the Anacostia River, and features homes and rental complexes.
Still, there’s plenty of exciting things to see and do in this neighborhood. It’s worth visiting Kenilworth Park and Gardens to see all the gorgeous summer flowers. You can also check out the nearly twenty-foot-high Chair of Anacostia, which is the world’s largest chair.
Not too far from the roadside attraction, history buffs will also enjoy visiting the home of Frederick Douglass at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
Capitol Hill (Northeast & Southeast)
As you’d expect from its name, Capitol Hill contains the U.S. Capitol Building, along with the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. While you’re there, you may want to consider scheduling a Capitol tour to see everything the Hill has to offer.
While the National Mall from the Capitol Building is no Central Park, you’ll be able to visit the iconic Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and much more. You won’t want to miss the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Surprisingly, this neighborhood still has a pretty residential area. You’ll find plenty of parks, such as Garfield, Folger, Stanton, Marion, and Seward Square.
Not far away, you can visit the International Spy Museum, which holds the world’s most extensive collection of international espionage artifacts.
Georgetown is a charming neighborhood with cobblestone streets and waterfront dining. It’s the oldest neighborhood in DC and it’s designated a National Historic Landmark.
This neighborhood is home to more than 45,000 students with the world-renowned Georgetown University and the George Washington University within fifteen minutes of each other.
In this area, you’ll be walking the same streets as John F. Kennedy, and you can take the Kennedy Walking Tour to see where Jacqueline and JFK lived. Or, if you’d rather, stroll along the historic C&O Canal or check out the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks.
Southwest Waterfront (Southwest)
In terms of real estate, the Southwest quadrant of DC is the smallest and doesn’t sport too many neighborhoods. Instead, you’ll find it home to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
In the Southwest Waterfront area, you may want to visit The Wharf, which contains high-end shopping and restaurants. If you’re more adventurous, you could try kayaking or paddleboarding on the Potomac.
Dupont Circle (Northwest)
Another popular neighborhood is Dupont Circle. Here you’ll find a charming collection of cafes, boutiques, dance clubs, dive bars, and restaurants.
Walk the two-mile stretch to see many of the cities’ foreign embassies on Embassy Row. Plus, you’ll see a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi and a statue of Nelson Mandela on the way.
If you love art galleries, you don’t want to miss The Phillips Collection, which is internationally recognized and the first museum of modern art.
Penn Quarter & Chinatown (Northwest)
Sports fans love Penn Quarter, with its many sports bars and the Capital One Arena, where you can catch a Wizards basketball game or the Capitals hockey game.
Chances are, if you’re moving to the DC area, you may end up living in the suburbs of Maryland or Virginia. The DC metro area is called the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) by many locals due to the fact that these suburbs are so intertwined with the city. In fact, they even share the same public transportation (WMATA) and thousands of people commute from these areas to work in the District.
This Maryland community is the center of healthcare with the National Institutes of Health, the National Naval Medical Center, the National Library of Medicine, and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.
It also has plenty of open space for those who love hiking and other outdoor activities. Cabin John Regional Park is full of trails, playgrounds, sports courts, and even has an ice rink.
Alexandria is just across the Potomac from Washington, DC in Virginia. It’s just a quick metro ride away from the bustling city. However, it boasts its own rich history.
It’s George Washington’s hometown and is still home to colonial-era architecture and cobblestone streets. Visit Christ Church, which Washington attended, or Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, which was many U.S. presidents frequented.
Southern Living named the city one of The South’s best cities in 2020 due to its walkability and welcoming lifestyle. Old Town, the downtown area of Alexandria, sports restaurants, boutiques, and plenty of museums to keep you occupied.
Located just south of Alexandria, Arlington sist just across the Potomac from DC. Here, you’ll find a diverse array of housing, from high-rise condos and apartments to townhomes and single-family homes.
You’ll also find the Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, the Women in Military Service Memorial, and the Air Force Memorial. You can even request a tour of the Pentagon.
Arlington has regularly topped the list of the best cities to live in America since 2016 and currently holds the number two spot. The schools are highly rated, it offers affordable housing, and there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shopping.
The weather in DC is relatively mild compared to New York.
While snow is a possibility in the winter months, it’s pretty rare, and the average temperature in January is 43 degrees. This is not far off from NY, but DC’s winter is slightly shorter and you’ll see a little less snow overall.
On the flip side, summer can get pretty humid and hot, with an average temperature of 89 degrees in July. Again, this is comparable to New York, although it’s about five degrees warmer.
Spring and fall both have gorgeous weather that’s perfect for outdoor activities.
The District’s average rainfall is similar to that in NY, so overall, the two locations aren’t that much different when it comes to weather.
As the nation’s capital, Washington, DC has had relatively strict guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the District is currently 100% open and capacity restrictions have been lifted, masks are still required indoors for everyone, regardless of vaccination status.
You can find all the latest information on DC’s COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions on the government website.
What is the average cost to move to DC from NY?
If you’re planning a full-service move, you’re looking at $1,300 to $4,000, depending on the exact distance you’re traveling.
While it’s possible to move for less, you’re still looking at $350 to $1,000 just for a truck, which doesn’t even include fuel and other services, such as packaging and loading/unloading.
How long will my move take?
A full-service move can take between 7 to 14 business days between pickup and delivery.
Whichever moving company you choose to use can provide you with an estimated delivery date so you can plan ahead.
If you’re in a hurry, you can also upgrade to expedited delivery and get your goods faster, but you’ll pay a premium for this service.
How is living in DC different from NY?
While these two locations have quite a bit in common, they also have quite a few differences.
DC is cheaper than NYC and has a lot more green spaces and open skies due to building height restrictions. Like NYC, the District is very walkable and offers a variety of transportation systems, including rail, bus, and bike.
While there’s plenty to see and do in the Big Apple, DC is rich with history, museums, and monuments that are wholly unique to the country. There’s more than enough to do to keep visitors and residents occupied.
How do you get around in Washington, DC?
It’s easy to get around in the District thanks to the straightforward street grids. Besides walking and biking, you can take any of the public transportation systems, such as the Metrorail, Metrobus, or the DC circulator. The metro may not be as cheap as the NYC subway system, but it’s much more reliable and a lot cleaner.
Of course, you can always drive your car as well, but expect lots of traffic congestion during rush hour, as DC is ranked the third worst city for it in the nation.
Is DC a good place to live?
Washington, DC is ranked highly among the best places to live. It has a small-town feel, even though it’s the nation’s capital. The District has something for everyone, including plenty of culture, history, sports, restaurants, and a hopping music scene.
Moving from New York to DC
Moving from New York to DC can seem like a massive undertaking, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Your Hometown Mover can help! With locations in New York and South Florida, our teams can work with you to create a long-distance moving solution that makes sense for your family.
We offer guaranteed pricing and expedited delivery within 1 to 3 days for many moves. Get a free moving quote today.
Our team will do the heavy lifting so that you can spend less time worrying about your relocation and more time enjoying your new home.