Things to Know Before Moving To Washington from San Diego

Moving from one major city to another is always a big decision that requires a lot of thoughtful consideration. And the differences between easygoing San Diego and high-powered Washington DC cannot be dramatic. Before finalizing any relocation plans, deeply research the divergent costs, transportation, density, work culture, climate, and pace of life between these two cities.  

While both offer plenty of amenities, the lifestyle change will remain intense. So go in with your eyes wide open to maximize your chances of adjustment success. The thought of picking up your life to move halfway across the country is downright daunting. And when the cities involved are as vastly different as laidback San Diego and go-go-go Washington DC, the culture shock can be very real if you’re not adequately prepared.

Things You Need To Know Before Moving To Washington State

1. The Weather is Very Different 

San Diego is known for its near-perfect weather, with sunny skies, moderate temperatures, and low humidity year-round. Washington, DC, on the other hand, sees all four seasons, with hot and humid summers and cold, snowy winters. Additionally, be prepared with the right clothes and shoes for the conditions as the weather can change rapidly.

2. Cost of Living is Higher

While both areas have a relatively high cost of living, DC is significantly more expensive than San Diego regarding housing, taxes, transportation, and other daily expenses. Rent and home prices especially are steep in DC, so budget accordingly. Salaries also tend to be higher in DC, though, to help offset this.

3. Transportation Mainly Revolves Around Metro 

San Diego residents are car-centric, driving everywhere conveniently on the extensive highway networks. DC however has a world-class public transportation system centered around the metro rail and bus network. It connects the whole region efficiently so you can get by easily without a car. Just get a SmarTrip card, and Metro becomes your new best friend. 

4. More Extreme Population Density Variations  

During weekdays, downtown DC is swarming with people as one of the most important global political and economic metro areas. Yet it can feel almost empty during weekends and nighttimes. San Diego, in contrast, has a more even spread of population across neighborhoods for more consistent vibes.

5. Greater Emphasis on Walkability  

DC was designed first and foremost for pedestrians, with broad tree-lined sidewalks, small parks, and plazas nestled everywhere. So walking and biking places is the preferred method to escape traffic headaches. San Diego has walkable pockets, but you must drive mostly due to urban sprawl.

6. Prepare for an Intense Work Culture 

Many DC residents work demanding political, diplomatic, journalism, research, or military jobs that regularly expect long, intense hours. So, the work culture skews towards ambition and drive more than the stereotypical laidback SoCal demeanor. However, a strong economic focus also brings prosperity and abundant world-class amenities.   

7. Excellent Access to Arts and Culture  

As the national capital, DC offers unmatched access to spectacular museums like the Smithsonian Institution network (free entry!), performing arts venues, artifacts, and exhibitions celebrating the country’s heritage. San Diego also has a respectable cultural scene, but DC’s grandeur from centuries as America’s political nucleus gives it an undeniable edge.  

8. More Prominent International Diversity 

The deep influence of international relations, embassies, think tanks, and institutions like the World Bank and IMF means DC attracts far more immigrants and expats from around the globe than most other US cities. So get ready to meet fascinating people from all walks of life and sample authentic ethnic cuisine.

9. Quick Access to East Coast Destinations  

One perk of DC’s central location along the bustling Northeast Corridor is the ability to take weekend trips easily via rail or bus to other East Coast cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and beyond. In contrast, San Diego is geographically isolated from other major destinations in its region.  

10. Get Engaged with Civic Life

As the epicenter of American politics, people take governance and public affairs very seriously in DC. Activism, advocacy groups, non-profits, political events, and rallies abound where concerned citizens make their voices heard. San Diegans aren’t generally as civically driven or partisan by nature.   


Transitioning between the sunny beach vibe of San Diego and the fast-paced political energy of Washington, DC, will never be seamless. But avoiding Culture Shock 101 is very doable with realistic expectations set and the core lifestyle differences squarely on your radar before moving to Washington State from San Diego. Now you have a helpful head start guide on the top major things every future San Diego to DC mover needs to know. Feel free to get in touch with professional relocation experts like Universal Relocations if you need personalized assistance planning and executing this exciting new chapter ahead hassle-free. Wherever you may roam, enjoy your adventures in the dynamic capital city soon to be your new home! 

12. Unplug Equipment Well Before Moving Day  

Save your staff setup/takedown time by disconnecting electronics, taking apart furniture, removing decorations, etc 1-2 days before the official move. Your movers can then focus on loading the prepped items efficiently. Just be sure to label it meticulously for later reassembly!  

13. Inspect New Office Before Move-In  

Have key staff walk through the new office shortly before move-in day to check that building construction/renovations are truly finished as expected. Ensure fire & safety systems, lighting, electricity & WiFi activation, plumbing, HVAC, and security measures are all functioning properly. Address any concerns immediately with the landlord.   

14. Consider an Alternate Work Option for Move Day  

Moving an office understandably disrupts normal work, with packing/noise/distractions at the original location, and setup/equipment issues in the new site. For reduced stress, consider allowing administrative staff to temporarily work remotely on the actual move day. This also gets them out of the movers’ way.  

15. Book Temporary Storage if Needed  

If your new office space is smaller or renovations will not be done before move-in day, secure temporary storage. This provides extra room for inventory that won’t fit initially at the new location. Prioritize what absolutely must be accessible those first days. Transport items from storage later when there is adequate onboarding space for staff and furniture.  

Final Words: Celebrate with a Moving Party!  

Once unloaded and set up in your new office location, host a fun pizza party or office warming celebration! This is a prime team-building opportunity as staff reunite after the move. Having an upbeat event also nicely punctuates the completion of a huge project. Thank everyone for their coordination and patience.   Moving an established business involves seemingly endless logistics, but structuring an intelligent plan minimizes disruptions. Call us to tap the expertise of professional office movers for a smooth commercial relocation. With these tips for timeline management, packing strategies, IT protection, and more, your office will be back up and running at full speed quickly. Let the next chapter begin with Universal Relocations!

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