Aerial view of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., and the surrounding city.

Best Places to Live in the DMV Area: 11 D.C. Suburbs and D.C. Neighborhoods You Should Check Out

Washington DC Virginia Maryland

by Michael Hochman Posted on December 14, 2023
Thinking about moving to the nation’s capital? Besides being at the seat of power, the city is home to an expansive collection of diverse Washington, D.C., neighborhoods and surrounding D.C. suburbs that offer compelling choices for singles, young professionals, and families alike. 

But what are the best neighborhoods in D.C.? That largely depends on your personal taste. If you’re moving long-distance, be prepared to expand your search to include all of the best neighborhoods in the D.C. metro area (aka the DMV), from Maryland to Northern Virginia suburbs, in addition to the D.C. neighborhoods. Don’t worry — you won’t be going too far. In the DMV, you often end up crossing state lines without even knowing. 
Planning a move to Washington, D.C.? Start by getting a quote from PODS.

D.C. Neighborhoods and Suburbs – FAQs

Q: What suburbs are close to D.C.?
A:
Given that the DMV area encompasses parts of Maryland and Virginia, some of the D.C. suburbs closest to the capital city are Silver Spring, MD; Bethesda, MD; and Arlington, VA.

Q: Where is the best place to live near Washington, D.C.?
A:
Niche ranks North Bethesda, Maryland, as the best D.C. suburb to live overall. Though if you're looking for the best suburbs of D.C. to raise a family, take a look at South Kensington, MD, Broadlands, VA, and Bethesda, MD.

Q: What are the Washington, D.C. neighborhoods?
A:
There are several dozen D.C. neighborhoods that make up the four quadrants — too many to list here. Among the best neighborhoods around D.C., though, are Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Capitol Hill, Glover Park, and Logan Circle.

Q: What is the nicest part of D.C.?
A:
Situated in the northwestern quadrant of Washington, D.C., Mount Pleasant is a family-friendly and walkable area that is ranked as the #1 best D.C. neighborhood to live in by Niche. 

Moving to D.C. from outside the area? Jump to the sections below for a quick look at average moving costs:
Raleigh, NC to Washington, D.C.
Boston, MA to Washington, D.C.

 

A D.C. neighborhoods map with different colors used to distinguish the neighborhoods.

Click to view an enlarged version of the map.
(Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Exploring D.C. Neighborhoods: The District

Wondering where to live in D.C. area? If you’re looking at a DMV area map, you’ll find Washington, D.C., is at the heart of it. Although D.C. is divided into four quadrants — Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southwest (SW), and Southeast (SE) — about half of the city’s population lives in the Northwest section, which also covers 42 percent of the total land area. Southwest is the smallest quadrant and is dominated by the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling military installation.  

Northwest includes the downtown business district, the 10 government buildings included in the Federal Triangle complex, the museums along the northern side of the National Mall, and the White House. Considering all that critical mass, it’s no surprise that the D.C. neighborhoods most in demand are also located in the Northwest. 

Here’s a quick snapshot of Washington, D.C., neighborhoods to consider:

A colorful row of buildings line a street in Adams Morgan, a neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Lively and colorful, the main streets in Adams Morgan are highly walkable and entertaining.
(Source: @visitwashdc via Instagram) 

1. Adams Morgan (NW)

At the south end of Rock Creek Park north of DuPont Circle, Adams Morgan is known as one of D.C.’s most popular nightlife and entertainment districts, with some 100 establishments. Two full blocks of 18th Street NW are lined with nothing but bars, pubs, restaurants, and cafes — with even more shops and eateries along Columbia Road NW. Many of these businesses are topped with and surrounded by co-ops, mid-rise apartments and condos, and Victorian row houses. The walkable neighborhood is alive with public art, festivals, farmers markets, and diverse schools.

 

The view looking up at a majestic brownstone in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The home features two sets of steps leading up from the sidewalk, a stone wall beneath the lawn, and a classic Victorian look.

Families in D.C.’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood enjoy access to great schools and beautiful homes, like this Victorian-style townhome.
(Source: RLAH Real Estate via Facebook)

2. Mount Pleasant (NW)

If you’re taking a tour of the best neighborhoods around D.C., you’ll want to make a stop at Mount Pleasant. There’s a reason Niche ranks it #1 among the best neighborhoods in D.C. to live. The public schools are highly rated, and about 58 percent of the population owns their home rather than rents. Not only does it border Washington, D.C.’s, largest park, Rock Creek Park, but locals also tout how walkable the D.C. neighborhood is to shops, grocery stores, and restaurants. Not to mention, it’s just under two miles for those commuting into downtown D.C.

 

A row of brick townhouses in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C. The homes are painted in different neutral colors, like white, black, and beige.

In addition to being home to the U.S. Capitol building, the Capitol Hill neighborhood has shady streets with townhouses and apartments.
(Source: @buchananparkwdc via Instagram)

3. Capitol Hill (NE and SE)

The Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C. does indeed contain the U.S. Capitol Building, which sits on its western border, with the rest of the district fanning out east to Lincoln Park. The area also includes several parks, such as Stanton, Folger, Marion, Garfield, and Seward Square, as well as the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. Aside from that, Capitol Hill is largely residential, with blocks of row houses, townhouses, manors, and Queen Anne homes. Crosscutting Pennsylvania Avenue is the commercial corridor, with a number of trendy shops, cafes, bars, friendly restaurants, and a popular farmers market.

 

A large brick townhome in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., featuring a covered porch and bay windows.

Glover Park residents have plenty of townhomes and apartments to choose from, as well as easy access to parks, retail, and casual eateries.
(Source: @petersellsdc via Instagram)

4. Glover Park (NW)

An upscale, leafy-green neighborhood, Glover Park is tucked away just west of Observatory Circle (the site of the Vice President’s mansion). The neighborhood is also home to several foreign embassies, including the Russian Embassy and its infamous underground tunnels. For non-diplomatic residents, Glover Park is filled with row houses and apartment buildings, lined by Glover-Archibald and Whitehaven Parks, with a commercial corridor along Wisconsin Avenue offering casual eateries and service retail.

 

A row of colorful townhomes in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

The Logan Circle neighborhood is popular among hipsters and young professionals of the LGBTQ+ community. Residents have easy access to downtown, though they likely have to contend with traffic more often than not.
(Source: @visitwashingtondc via Instagram)

5. Logan Circle (NW)

Like its neighbor DuPont Circle, it’s hard to say if Logan Circle is best known as a neighborhood or a traffic circle. Kidding aside, the neighborhood is particularly popular among hipsters and young LGBTQ+ professionals. Just northeast of downtown and the Mall, Logan Circle is walkable to downtown and just a 5-minute bus ride. It features a variety of boutiques, restaurants, galleries, clubs, gay bars, and theaters, along with a popular Whole Foods location.

 

Map of D.C. Suburbs in Maryland

A screenshot of a Google map showing Maryland suburbs outside Washington, D.C.

(Source: Google Maps)

Washington, D.C. Suburbs: Maryland Neighborhoods

1. Silver Spring, MD

Looking for the best neighborhoods near D.C.? In the southeast corner of Montgomery County, Silver Spring sits atop the point of D.C.’s geographic diamond. A favorite of both locals and visitors, downtown Silver Spring includes a large outdoor shopping plaza featuring several upscale national stores, surrounded by an inviting neighborhood designed for strolling, with a variety of family-owned ethnic restaurants and interesting shops. Major draws include the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre, the Ellsworth Place enclosed mall, and the 2,000-capacity Fillmore Silver Spring music venue. 

Plenty of apartment and condominium buildings are tucked within this compact community, while more traditional suburban homes spread out from the center. As a result, Silver Spring offers a wider range of affordable to expensive options than many other D.C. neighborhoods, making it among the best places to live in Maryland for young adults.

Relocating to a new place is both exciting and challenging, especially when you’re moving to D.C. Stay on track and reduce stress with these resources for planning ahead: 


Ultimate Long-Distance Moving Timeline
Zen and the Art of Packing Tips
Moving-Out-of-State Checklist

View of a downtown street in Bethesda, Maryland. Locals are out and about, enjoying a sunny day in the city. Some are dining al fresco, while others are strolling by storefronts.

Downtown Bethesda features pedestrian streets and many outdoor dining opportunities.
(Source: @BethesdaUP via Facebook)

2. Bethesda, MD

If you’re searching “best neighborhoods in DMV area,” you’re bound to see Bethesda near the top of most lists. This Montgomery County suburb along the northwest D.C. border is centered around a bustling, highly walkable downtown area near the Metro station, where there’s an eclectic mix of restaurants and boutiques, condos, and apartment buildings. From there, Bethesda fans out into D.C. suburbs with stately homes and plenty of green space, in addition to the Congressional Country Club, which has hosted five major golf championships. 

And while plenty of Bethesda residents commute into D.C., many work in one of the many leading healthcare facilities located here. Not only is Bethesda the center of healthcare in the D.C. area, but it may also be considered the nation’s capital of medicine. It’s home to the National Institutes of Health, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, National Library of Medicine, and the large medical contractors and facilities that sprung up around them.

Aerial view of Rockville, Maryland, in the fall. Lush trees that have already begun to change colors with the season fill the spaces between Rockville’s city buildings.

3. Rockville, MD


Farther out from D.C. than Bethesda and Silver Spring, the city of Rockville has a more suburban feel than its neighbors. But while its downtown may not match those communities in convenience and charm, Rockville is a major business and technology center itself. Many software and biotech companies offer quality jobs for those who want to live and work in the same community. 

With a little distance, renters and homebuyers will find a dollar goes further in Rockville, too, making it one of the best suburbs of D.C. to raise a family. Families have more room to grow, with larger homes and lots, but there’s also a good mix of condominiums and apartment complexes, especially in the area of Rockville Town Square, a major mall with more than 20 dining options.

 

Map of Arlington County, Virginia

A screenshot of a Google map showing Arlington, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

(Source: Google Maps)

Washington, D.C., Suburbs: Northern Virginia Neighborhoods  

1. Arlington, VA

Formerly the southwest portion of the District of Columbia, Arlington is actually an unincorporated city that makes up all of Arlington County. Home to the Pentagon and Reagan National Airport, Arlington offers a lot of convenience, starting with the Rosslyn area located just across the Potomac River off Francis Scott Key Bridge from Georgetown. From there, Arlington spans out into nearly 60 distinct neighborhoods. 

Arlington neighborhoods range from idyllic but pricey Old Glebe in the northwest corner to the more affordable but up-and-coming Shirlington in the southeast corner. There’s also a broad mix of housing types, ranging from Rosslyn’s high-rise condominiums and apartment buildings to colonial-style single-family homes and townhouses in neighborhoods like Ashton Heights and Columbia Pike. 

And while a majority of Arlington residents commute to work, vibrant downtown areas in the Clarendon, Rosslyn, Virginia Square, and Ballston districts offer plenty to keep folks in town after work hours. A great way to explore Arlington’s green spaces is by biking or walking the county’s nearly 49 miles of paved trails and visiting one of the 163 parks, nature centers, or community centers.

 

Map of Fairfax County, Virginia

A screenshot of a Google map showing Fairfax County, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

(Source: Google Maps)

2. Fairfax, VA

When you hear about Fairfax, Virginia, it’s easy to get confused between the city of Fairfax and Fairfax County. While the city of Fairfax is also the Fairfax County seat, the enclave is a separate entity dating back to 1805. Close enough to D.C. to feel integral to the DMV area but distant enough to exude a deep suburban vibe, Fairfax is ranked among the best suburbs in Virginia for young professionals by Niche. But it’s not all work in Fairfax, with popular events like the Chocolate Lovers Festival, Spotlight on the Arts, and Fall for the Book Festival.
 

There’s more to Fairfax County than Fairfax. Moving beyond Fairfax city proper, Fairfax County encompasses a large portion of Northern Virginia, with a population of more than 1.1 million residents. A study in contrasts, Fairfax is home to the storied history of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, as well as Tysons Corner Center, a massive, modern shopping and office complex. In between are comfortable communities that invite families with a mix of suburban neighborhoods with top-rated schools and urban-style retail cores, including:

  • Annandale

  • Chantilly

  • Falls Church

  • McLean 

  • Reston

A woman hikes across a wooden bridge with her dogs in Lake Accotink Park in Springfield, Virginia.

Lake Accotink Park in Springfield, Virginia
(Source: @VisitFairfaxVA via Facebook)

3. Springfield, VA

Toward the southern part of Fairfax County, Springfield is a parkland suburb close to historic Alexandria. The town is centered on a massive junction along the Capital Beltway known as the Springfield Interchange — aka the Mixing Bowl — between I-95, I-395, and I-495. Being located by a major transportation hub is a major draw for Springfield, as young families enjoy the quiet suburban feel combined with convenience.

In addition to being close enough to commute to D.C. jobs, Springfield is home to three major federal employers — the National Geo-Spatial Agency (NGA), Fort Belvoir, and the recently completed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) headquarters. Springfield Town Center, recently renovated and reopened to incorporate more outdoor foot traffic, offers plenty of shopping and dining options. Residents enjoy hiking, biking, picnicking, and horseback riding at Brookfield Park and Lake Accotink Park.

How Much Does It Cost To Move Long-Distance to D.C.?

Long-distance moving costs depend on distance, the amount of stuff you’re moving, market conditions in the city you’re leaving, and even the direction of your move. In general, it will cost you less to move northward from the south because there’s a lower demand for moving in that direction. 

The cost to move cross-country with a rental truck averages around $2,500, but that depends on the truck’s size and your precise location — and that doesn’t include fuel costs. The same move averages around $4,500 for a portable moving container. And for a full-service move? A moderately furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household relocating from the West Coast to the East Coast (or the reverse) will average about $5,000. (These costs represent the average between the low and high range for each option. The average cost of PODS moving cross-country also varies.)

Relocating to D.C. From Boston, Raleigh, or Points Beyond?

As you’re exploring places to live, it’s not too soon to start planning your move. Here are some average moving costs to give you a general idea of what to expect. Be sure to get detailed quotes for your specific move, and check out our D.C. Moving Guide to learn more about your moving options, including pros and cons. Then manage the details with these tips on moving out of state

 

Moving From Raleigh, NC, to D.C.

Screenshot of a map showing the route from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C

(Source: Google Maps)

Moving From Raleigh, NC, to Washington, D.C. (278 miles)

Your costs will vary, depending on how much stuff you have to move and the season, but here are some useful reference points. Relocating a modestly furnished 2- to 3-bedroom household from Raleigh, NC to D.C. will cost about $330 to $675 for a rental truck, $1,500 to $4,400 for a traditional mover, or $1,000 to $1,399 using a PODS moving container, which also includes one month of storage.

 

Moving From Boston to D.C.

Screenshot of a map showing the route from Boston to Washington, D.C.

(Source: Google Maps)

Moving From Boston, MA, to Washington, D.C. (440 miles)

Relocating a modestly furnished 2- to 3-bedroom home from Boston to D.C. will cost about $425 to $850 for a rental truck, $1,925 to $5,100 for traditional movers, or $1,850 to $2,549 using a PODS moving container, which also includes one month of storage.

When it comes to moving, there’s no one right way to do it. The important thing is to know your options, choose the type of service that meets the needs of your specific move, and select a reliable company that delivers great service. Then, once you get settled in your new home, start exploring all the amazing experiences that our nation’s capital city has to offer.

Michael Hochman is currently working as a lifestyle and travel writer for Apartment Guide and rent.com.

Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.

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Are there more neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C. area? And, what about moving ideas from Virginia to Washington, D.C.? Thank you for your reply.
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