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Arlington vs DC 🏆 | Comparison + Pros & Cons: Should You Live in DC or Arlington VA?

Last Updated on: 11th January 2024, 08:25 pm

Are you thinking about moving to Arlington or DC but aren’t sure which area to choose? This can be a tough decision as both areas have many incredible qualities that you can’t find anywhere else.

Arlington is a county in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Arlington is known for its beautiful nature, friendly people, and diverse community. Washington DC is the capital city and federal district of the United States. It is known for its amazing historic landmarks, easy-to-navigate streets, and incredible government job opportunities. Both of these areas are great places to live, but which one is right for you? This is everything you need to know about living in Arlington vs. DC.

Arlington to DC Distance

Arlington and DC are very close to each other. It is 5.2 miles (about a 15 minute drive) from Arlington to DC. The two cities are separated by the Potomac River.

Pros and Cons of Living in Arlington vs. DC

One great way to decide on your new home is to weigh the positives and negatives of both areas. Here are the opportunities and obstacles that both areas provide.

Living in Arlington Pros

Lots of Green Space and Parks

Compared to DC, Arlington has much more green space. There are many parks and trails that you can enjoy in the county of Arlington, such as Lubber Run Park and Palisades trail.

Diverse Community

Arlington, VA is a melting pot, so you are sure to experience many different cultures and opinions when living in the area. The citizens of Arlington are 60.4% White, 15.6% Hispanic or Latino, 11.1% Asian, 10.3% Black or African American, and 3.8% two or more races.

Close to Everything

If you want to experience the city on your own time, then living in Arlington is perfect for you. It is just a 20 minute drive to the heart of DC, allowing you to easily travel into the city whenever you please.

Living in Arlington Cons

High Property Taxes

Property taxes are higher in Arlington than they are in DC. As of 2022, the property tax rate is $1.013 per $100 of assessed value.

Tough Real Estate Market in Arlington

The Arlington real estate market can be hard to navigate. The market is competitive and 20% of houses sell over the listing price. So if you are moving to Arlington and are looking to buy a house, you’ll have to act fast!

Arlington is Not Very Walkable

If you don’t own a car, it can be hard to get around Arlington. Unlike DC, many of the county’s shops and restaurants are not within walking distance of each other, so driving is the fastest option. If you don’t own a car, then you can still hop on an Arlington Transit Bus.

Living in DC Pros

DC is Bike-Friendly

No car? No problem. Washington DC is ranked as the  7th best city in the country for bikers. There are clearly marked bike lanes and drivers know to watch out for bikes. You can rent a Capital Bikeshare bicycle if you don’t own one yourself.

Historical Attractions

One of the benefits of moving to DC is that it is one of the most historical cities in the world. You can walk by historical landmarks such as the Washington Monument, White House, and Lincoln Memorial on any given day. There are also many DC attractions to check out that can provide you with a slice of history such as the Smithsonian Museum of National History, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Building Museum.

DC Has Good Public Transportation

In addition to biking, there are many other transportation options in Washington DC. The city is served by the Washington Metro, a rail system that runs through the city and provides quick and efficient transportation. In addition to this, Washington DC was also ranked by Smarter Travel as the 7th most walkable city in the United States.

Living in DC Cons

Lots of Traffic

Washington DC continually ranks as one of the U.S. cities with the worst traffic. Everyday traffic combined with tourist traffic is a recipe for disaster during rush hour. When moving to DC, make sure to give yourself extra time for your commute.

High Cost of Living

The cost of living in DC is very high. The average home price in Washington DC is $650,000 and the average rent in DC is $2,335 a month.

Beware of Bugs

Washington DC is the 7th worst city in the country for bugs. This is more of a nuisance than a dealbreaker for most, but certainly something to remember!

Comparisons of Arlington vs. DC

Arlington vs. DC Population

The DC population sits at 689,545 while the Arlington population comes in at 238,643. So, Washington DC is much larger, with over twice the amount of people as Arlington does.

Cost of Living in DC vs. Arlington

As mentioned before, the cost of living in DC is very high, so it is no surprise that it is generally a little cheaper to live in Arlington. A listed look from Numbeo breaks down the cost of living in each place, showing how the two areas compare.

  • Local transport is 15.8% more expensive in DC
  • Child care is 84.6% more expensive in DC
  • A 3 bedroom apartment is 17.9% more expensive in DC
  • A gallon of gas is $0.04 cheaper in Arlington
  • A carton of eggs is $0.31 cheaper in Arlington
  • A meal at a mid-range restaurant is $12.50 cheaper in Arlington

On the other hand, the average cost of utilities in DC are 5.6% cheaper in DC.

The average home price in Arlington is $586,500 versus $650,000 in DC. According to RentCafe, the average rent in Arlington is $2,460, which is slightly above the average Washington DC rent of $2,335. However, the apartments in DC are typically smaller.

Arlington vs. DC Crime Rates

When trying to determine whether you should move to DC or Arlington, you will want to take the crime rates into consideration. The DC crime rate is significantly higher than the Arlington crime rate. According to the FBI, the overall crime rate in DC is 4,389 crimes per 100,000 people. This is 87.1% higher than the national average. Arlington is a safer place to live than DC.

Arlington, on the other hand, has a crime rate of 899 per 100,000 people. This is 46% lower than the Virginia average and 62% lower than the national average.

Things to Do in Arlington vs. DC

When searching for things to do in DC and Arlington, you will find exciting options in both areas. If you enjoy outdoor activities, then you may enjoy Arlington more than DC. The county offers many large parks and long hiking trails that you won’t find in DC.

If you are more interested in exploring a big city, then you may want to select DC. There are endless DC attractions to check out, so you will never run out of something new to do. DC also offers more historical attractions as opposed to Arlington, as most museums are located in the city. However, you can still get your dose of history in Arlington with attractions such as the Arlington National Cemetary and the Robert E. Lee Memorial.


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Weather in Arlington vs. DC

Because they are so close to each other, there is not much of a difference when it comes to the Arlington vs. DC climate. Both areas have hot, muggy summers and cold, snowy winters.

Jobs in Arlington vs. DC

Are you thinking about moving to Arlington or DC to get a job? There are a few things to consider when comparing jobs in DC to jobs in Arlington.

Arlington has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. At the end of 2022, Arlington had an unemployment rate of only 2.2%. The major industries in Arlington include federal, state, or local government, technology, and food services. According to PayScale, the average salary in Arlington is $84,000 a year. It is important to note that the job market may be competitive in Arlington, as nearly 77% of residents in Arlington have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

At the end of 2022, Washington DC had an unemployment rate of 4.8%. A large majority of DC jobs involve working for the government, so if this is something you are interested in, then this is the city for you. The average salary in DC is $81,000 a year, which is slightly less than the average salary in Arlington. While there are great opportunities for career growth, Washington DC is also known for its income inequality problem. Some people thrive working in the city, while others find it hard to balance the high cost of living and their career.

So, if you want a secure salary, then Arlington may be better in comparison with DC. However, DC has more job options and can be a great environment for those who are willing to take risks to move up in the business world.

Arlington vs. DC Sports

If you are trying to choose between Arlington vs. DC and love sports, then you will probably lean more toward the city of DC. Arlington has no professional sports teams, contra DC which is home to The Washington Wizards, The Washington Capitals, The Washington Nationals, and DC United. DC is also represented by The Washington Commanders, who play nearby in Landover, Maryland.


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Arlington vs. DC: Where Are You Moving?

Now that you know the ins and outs of both areas, are you going to move to DC or Arlington? Both areas have strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to select which one best fits your lifestyle.

No matter which area you choose, Suburban Solutions is here to help. Give us a call today at 301-928-8669, and let us help you plan your move.


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