Moving from California to DC: Here’s What to Expect

January 29, 2024 | Inside Washington {Metro} | By: The Goodhart Group

Making a move across the country can be an exciting yet daunting experience, especially when transitioning from the sunny shores of California to the bustling city life of the Washington, DC area. Whether you’re relocating for work, family, or a change of scenery, it’s essential to be prepared for the differences in lifestyle, climate, and real estate when moving from the West Coast to the East Coast. Here’s what you can expect when making the big move from California to DC.

  1. Climate and Weather

One of the most significant adjustments when moving from California to DC is the change in climate. California is known for its diverse climate, ranging from Mediterranean to desert, while DC experiences all four seasons with hot, humid summers and cold winters. Be prepared for a shift in wardrobe and lifestyle to accommodate the change in weather patterns.

  1. Cost of Living

The cost of living in Washington, DC, is notably higher than in many parts of California. Housing, transportation, and everyday expenses may require some budget adjustments. Researching the cost of living differences and creating a detailed budget plan will help you navigate the financial aspects of the move. Of course, depending on the area in California you’re moving from, the cost of living may be more affordable in DC!

  1. Real Estate Market

The real estate market in DC differs significantly from California. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, it’s essential to understand the local market trends, neighborhoods, and housing options. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent who understands the nuances of the DC market can help streamline your search for a new home. It’s also important to note that the DC area is comprised of Washington, DC itself, as well as suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia. Each of these areas are very different and the disclosure laws differ between each jurisdiction as well.  On the whole, California requires more seller disclosures than each of the jurisdictions in DC.

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  1. Cultural and Lifestyle Differences

From the laid-back vibe of California to the fast-paced lifestyle of DC, there are notable cultural and lifestyle differences to embrace. DC is known for its rich history, diverse neighborhoods, and vibrant arts and culture scene. Embracing the local lifestyle and getting involved in community activities can help ease the transition and make you feel at home in your new city.

  1. Transportation and Commute

In California, owning a car is often a necessity due to the expansive urban sprawl. In contrast, Washington, DC, offers an extensive public transportation system, including the Metro, making it feasible to live without a car in certain neighborhoods. Understanding the transportation options and commute times will be crucial when choosing where to live in the DC area.

  1. Educational and Career Opportunities

DC is not only the seat of the federal government but also home to numerous educational and career opportunities. Whether you’re pursuing higher education, seeking new job prospects, or looking to network in your industry, DC offers a wealth of opportunities across various sectors.

  1. Embracing the East Coast Experience

Moving from California to DC presents an opportunity to embrace the unique East Coast experience. From exploring historical landmarks to enjoying the diverse culinary scene and participating in cultural events, there’s no shortage of new experiences to savor in your new home.

The Bottom Line:

Moving from California to DC is a significant transition that requires careful planning and adaptation. By understanding the differences in climate, cost of living, real estate, lifestyle, and opportunities, you can prepare for a smooth and successful relocation. With the right mindset and a sense of adventure, you’ll soon find yourself settling into the vibrant and dynamic city of Washington, DC.


If you need assistance with any aspect of your move, from real estate guidance to settling into your new community, we are here to help make your transition as seamless as possible. Happy moving!

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