Get Ahead in the Nation’s Capital
Washington DC is a cosmopolitan city, with a strong focus on business and trade. As the nation’s capital, it’s home to a busy political scene but also hosts a thriving business network. Tourism brings in over $5.5 billion each year, and major corporations such as Marriot, Amtrak, and AOL Time Warner all have their bases in the city.
This unique combination of a political and tourist hub and a bustling economy make Washington DC a popular choice for international entrepreneurs to settle. Let’s take a closer look at what makes DC such a great place to live…
The U.S. Capital & a Political Behemoth
Washington DC was founded in 1790 with the unique intention for it to serve as the nation’s capital. The location was chosen by George Washington (who it’s named after) and formed part of a compromise between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, who both wanted different things from the founding of a new capital. Hamilton wanted the federal government to assume Revolutionary War debts and Jefferson wanted the capital situated in a location that would be friendly to slave-holding agricultural interests.
George Washington appointed Pierre Charles L’Enfant to design the city, and he produced a vision that consisted of bold and modern architecture, with grand boulevards and ceremonial spaces, planned using a grid system.
In 1812 Washington DC was almost entirely destroyed as British enemy forces invaded and burned the city, including the White House, Capitol and the Library of Congress. This attack has become known as “The Burning of Washington”. In the next few years the city rebuilt, but remained small in size, especially after voters of Alexandria chose to leave DC and the portion of the city that had belonged to Virginia was retroceded.
Washington increased in size during the Civil War and it remained home to a large and vibrant African-American population after the emancipation of slaves in 1862. It continued to be a center for the Civil Rights movement, where segregation ended in the 1950’s.
Today, Washington DC remains the political center of the U.S., with all three branches of the federal government being located there, as well as the White House, the Supreme Court and the Capitol Building.
Number One for Entrepreneurship!
Washington DC enjoys a thriving economy and was ranked number one in the U.S. for entrepreneurship, according to the Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship. This ranking is based on factors such as new start up rates, how start ups have scaled over a decade, and how many companies show rapid growth.
Washington DC has a slightly higher than average unemployment rate of 6.1% (compared to the U.S. average of 5.2%), but has seen the job market increase by 3.7% in the last year. Job growth in the next decade is predicted at a healthy 41.3% (compared to the average of 38.0%).
Washington DC has an attractive Sales Tax rate – 5.8%, compared to 6.0% nationwide. The income Tax Rate is 6.5%, with the national average being 4.6%.
Wages in Washington DC are robust, with an average of $46,502 per year (compared to national average of $28,555) and a median household income of $69,235 – much higher than the national average of $53,483 per year.
Washington DC is home to some of the world’s leading brands such as AOL, Microsoft, Yelp, Amazon Web Services and Booz Allen Hamilton. It benefits from the Washington DC Economic Partnership, which aims to support new and established businesses in the area. The WDCEP website has a host of resources for entrepreneurs planning to expand their business into the area.
An Good All-Round Climate – Mind out for Flooding
Washington DC is a humid subtropical climate with conditions often similar to a Central European climate, with cold winters featuring light snow, and warm, humid summers.
Winter in Washington DC tends to be cool, with average temperatures of around 38°F, between mid-December and mid-February. It has 15.5 inches of snow per year on average.
Summers tend to be hot and humid, with July temperatures averaging 79.8°F, and a humidity rate of 66%. This can cause some discomfort so spending time in buildings with good AC is advisable. Because of the heat and humidity, summer months often bring thunderstorms and on occasion tornadoes. Hurricanes very rarely visit Washington DC, and if they do they are usually weak because of the city’s inland location. Flooding has been an issue in some years due to storm surges, high tides and runoff. Generally, precipitation is a little higher than the national average with 43 inches per year compared to 39 inches.
Overall, the climate can be described as comfortable year-round, good news for people who don’t like extremes of temperatures and weather conditions.
Choose the Suburbs for the Best Value for Money Real Estate
Washington DC’s housing market can veer towards being pricey, and prices have soared in the last few years. Like many other major cities, prices can vary depending on where you intend to settle. If settling in the heart of the city, you can expect prices to be more expensive – but this could be offset by cheaper traveling costs.
You may be able to get more for your money further out, but will need to factor in whether you want to commute or not.
The median cost of renting in Washington DC is $2,997 per month, and the median price for house sales is $565,000.
What you get for Your Money
Broadly speaking, for the price of $550,000 you can expect to find a range of properties, some of which are single-family homes of between 2-3+ bedrooms and 2+ bathrooms, and over 2,000 sqft of space. Other properties include apartments between 12 bedrooms and 1-2 bathrooms and 700-1,200 sqft of space.
Rentals of around $2,500 per month offer 1-2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, with around 700-1,000 sqft of space.
World-Class Institutions and a Strong Business Ethos
Schools in Washington DC can range from public to private and charter schools. Public schools benefit from tertiary institutions like Georgetown University and provide great educational opportunities to younger students. Public schools, as in many areas of the U.S., can vary widely in quality, often being higher-quality in more affluent areas. Admittance is based on the residential proximity to the school, so it’s wise to research your housing location fully before committing.
There are 19 accredited private schools in the DC area, and curriculums as well as fees can vary widely from school to school. Again, it’s best to do your research and speak with several schools to get an idea of their teaching ethos and admissions policies before you apply.
Washington DC is home to some world-class higher educational institutions such as Georgetown University – a world-famous research university with a highly-prestigious reputation (it counts Bill Clinton amongst its alumni). The university has a strong international base, with over 11% of its small student body made up of international students. Another great university is George Washington University – that boasts alumni like former secretary of state Colin Powell and former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. GWU has a reputation for turning out top-notch business and international affairs graduates.
Howard University has had a strong equality and inclusivity bent since its inception in 1867 where it admitted both sexes and all races. The business school here was ranked first in opportunities for minority students. It also consistently places law graduates with highly successful law firms upon graduation.
A Comprehensive Public Transport System Saves you Commuting Headaches
Washington DC has the second highest rate of public transport commuters in the country (with New York City being the highest). Many people choose to live in the suburbs and commute into work due to congestion on the roads and the high cost of parking within the center of the city.
If you take public transport, you can choose from a variety of options such as trains and streetcars, as well as a regional subway system which has five lines. There is also a range of commuter bus routes available that service different areas of the city. The current streetcar line is relatively recent (completed in 2016), but further lines are in development.
If you do choose to drive, it’s worth being aware that Washington DC has a reputation for heavy congestion and often confusing road rules and signs. Make sure you take the time to research how the grid system works and the different road rules for the city.
From Politics to Major Sports – DC has it all!
If you’re interested in U.S constitutional and political history, Washington DC has plenty for you to explore. It’s home to the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court Building, the National Archives (housing the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights) and the Tidal Basin – which features memorials to political and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jefferson and Roosevelt.
Washington DC is home to numerous art galleries and museums and the Smithsonian Institution runs a number of museums such as the Museum of Natural History, National Museum of African Art and the National Air and Space Museum.
Washington DC has a number of sports stadiums and high-caliber sporting teams such as the Redskins (NFL), Washington Nationals (Major League Baseball), Washington Wizards (NBA) and Washington Mystics (National Women’s Basketball Association).
If theatre and music are more for you, Washington DC is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera and the Washington Ballet. It’s also home to a thriving alternative music scene with plenty of indie and alternative music venues.
Washington D.C. has a growing foodie scene, with a diverse range of eateries and restaurants to eat at. There are plenty of Southeast Asian restaurants as well as Indian food and steakhouses. You can also visit pizzerias and delicatessens and a number of Michelin-Starred restaurants.
- Population: 4,910,600
- Major Industries: Federal government, Education, Tourism
- Gross Metro Product: $391.9 B
- Median Household Income: $98,365
- Median Home Price: $405,000
- Unemployment: 5%
- Job Growth (2017): 7%
- Cost of Living: 17% above nat’l avg
- College Attainment: 7%
- Net Migration (2017): 3,060
(Source: Forbes https://www.forbes.com/places/fl/miami/)
Starting a business in the U.S. can be both exhilarating and exasperating. There is much to know and even more to learn, and the pace of the information coming at you can be overwhelming.
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