Demystifying the DMV: What You Need to Know Before Moving Here

March 13, 2024 | Inside Washington {Metro} | By: The Goodhart Group

Demystifying the DMV: What You Need to Know Before Moving Here

Are you considering a move to the DMV area? If so, you may have heard the term “DMV” thrown around, but what does it really mean? The DMV, which stands for the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, is a vibrant and diverse region with a unique blend of urban and suburban lifestyles. Before making the move, it’s essential to understand the differences between these areas and what each has to offer.

The Heart of the DMV:

When it comes to the DMV, the heart of the region lies not only in the city of DC, but also in the cities and counties that make up the core of each Virginia and Maryland. In Virginia, the cities of Arlington and Alexandria, along with Fairfax County, are central to the DMV. These areas offer a mix of urban amenities, historic charm, and a strong sense of community. On the Maryland side, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County are key players in the DMV, offering a diverse range of neighborhoods, and easy access to both urban and natural attractions. 

Making a move to the DC Area? Check out these other blogs for more helpful insights.

Suburbs of DC:

Virginia and Maryland are often referred to as the suburbs of Washington, DC, due to their close proximity to the nation’s capital. Living in these areas provides residents with the opportunity to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life while still being within easy reach of everything the city has to offer. Whether you’re drawn to the historic charm of Old Town Alexandria, the serenity of Bethesda, or the bustling energy of Tysons Corner, there’s a suburb in the DMV to suit every lifestyle.

Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia each have unique characteristics that set them apart from one another. It’s important to know what you’re looking for in a community when considering neighborhoods in the DMV. If you want a city vibe, you will find that in DC, but there are also many walkable parts of Virginia and Maryland such Clarendon and Ballston in Arlington, Old Town and Del Ray in Alexandria, Falls Church City in Virginia, In Maryland, Takoma Park, Bethesda and Chevy Chase are also very walkable locations. In fact, some parts of VA and MD are more walkable than parts of DC!  Let’s dig in deeper to what makes each place special. 

Washington, DC:

– Washington, DC is the capital of the United States and is a city in its own right, not part of any state. It’s known for its iconic landmarks, including the White House, the Capitol Building, and the National Mall.

– As a major metropolitan area, DC offers a vibrant urban lifestyle with a diverse population, cultural attractions, and a bustling professional scene.

– DC is a center for politics, diplomacy, and international relations, making it a hub for government-related employment and activities.

– Depending on the area you’ll find a lot of condos and townhomes in DC, but can also find gorgeous and large single family homes in certain pockets of DC as well. 


– Maryland is a state located to the northeast of Washington, DC. It offers a mix of urban, suburban, and rural areas, catering to a diverse range of lifestyles.

– As well as being a suburb of DC, the state is also known for its beautiful waterfront communities, charming historic towns, and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, offering a blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions.

– Maryland is home to a variety of industries, including biotechnology, cybersecurity, and government contracting, making it an attractive location for professionals in these fields.

– You’ll find beautiful single family homes here as well as townhomes and condos closer in to DC 


– Virginia is a state located to the south of Washington, DC and is often considered a mix of urban and suburban areas, with a strong emphasis on community and a high quality of life.

– Virginia is known for its strong economy, with a focus on technology, defense, and government contracting, as well as its rich history and cultural attractions, including historic sites and natural parks.

– The state offers a range of living options, from bustling urban centers like Arlington and Alexandria to scenic suburbs and rural areas, providing a diverse array of housing choices. You’ll find a mix of single family homes, townhomes, and condos in VA. 

Connectivity in the DMV:

One of the defining features of the DMV is its extensive network of highways and public transportation options. Major highways like I-495 (the Capital Beltway), I-395, I-66, and I-270 connect the various parts of the DMV, making it easy to travel between Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Additionally, the Metrorail and Metrobus systems provide convenient and reliable public transportation for residents, offering access to employment centers, cultural attractions, and entertainment venues throughout the region.

For more on transit and what you need to know before moving to the DMV check out our article here

Cost of Living in the DMV:

Something you may want to consider is the cost of living and taxes within the different areas of the DMV. Of course certain areas are more expensive than others. Check out our article here where we’ve outlined the cost of living in the DMV using various tax rates (property, income, and car) for the major nearby jurisdictions in Virginia, Maryland, and the District.

The Bottom Line:

Choosing to move to the DMV is an exciting decision, and understanding the unique characteristics of each area is essential for making the right choice. Whether you’re drawn to the bustling urban environment of DC, the charming neighborhoods of Maryland, or the suburban tranquility of Virginia, the DMV has something to offer everyone. 


If you’re looking to buy or sell in Northern Virginia, we’d love to help. Contact us today! Give us a call at 703-362-3221, email us at or or fill out the form below.


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