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Old 07-27-2016, 07:21 AM
 
36 posts, read 58,734 times
Reputation: 32

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Hello. I have job opportunities in both the LA and DC metro areas (Pasadena and Greenbelt, respectively), and am struggling to make a decision. The DC job is a civil servant position while the LA one is not.

Independent of the job, however, is my struggle to decide where the best place is for me to settle down (I don't want to get into the habit of moving every few years). I'm from the LA area, and part of me yearns for the lifestyle on the West Coast (low humidity, good surf, jaw-dropping beauty, active lifestyle, etc.), but I am not too excited about the inflated cost of living ($600-$700K for a 3/2 in Pasadena that is in a poor school district and isn't anything to brag about).

DC, on the other hand, is a complete mystery to me. I'd expect to live in the Silver Spring area so I can be in a good school district and jump onto the metro on the weekends to explore the city. The commute to Greenbelt wouldn't be too bad either (20-30 minutes). However, the cost of living in Montgomery County, MD isn't a walk in the park, either.

A little information about myself:

I'm 34 and looking to start a family in the not too distant future. I'm very active, and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Both jobs would pay well (~$125K in LA, ~$110K in DC).

What would you do? What are the pros/cons of each city in your mind? The more diverse the set of opinions on this matter the better, as it will allow me to see the choice from all angles. I look forward to hearing from you!
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Old 07-27-2016, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Live:Downtown Phoenix, AZ/Work:Greater Los Angeles, CA
27,313 posts, read 11,299,539 times
Reputation: 9094
Quote:
Originally Posted by VA Spaceman View Post
Hello. I have job opportunities in both the LA and DC metro areas (Pasadena and Greenbelt, respectively), and am struggling to make a decision. The DC job is a civil servant position while the LA one is not.

Independent of the job, however, is my struggle to decide where the best place is for me to settle down (I don't want to get into the habit of moving every few years). I'm from the LA area, and part of me yearns for the lifestyle on the West Coast (low humidity, good surf, jaw-dropping beauty, active lifestyle, etc.), but I am not too excited about the inflated cost of living ($600-$700K for a 3/2 in Pasadena that is in a poor school district and isn't anything to brag about).

DC, on the other hand, is a complete mystery to me. I'd expect to live in the Silver Spring area so I can be in a good school district and jump onto the metro on the weekends to explore the city. The commute to Greenbelt wouldn't be too bad either (20-30 minutes). However, the cost of living in Montgomery County, MD isn't a walk in the park, either.

A little information about myself:

I'm 34 and looking to start a family in the not too distant future. I'm very active, and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Both jobs would pay well (~$125K in LA, ~$110K in DC).

What would you do? What are the pros/cons of each city in your mind? The more diverse the set of opinions on this matter the better, as it will allow me to see the choice from all angles. I look forward to hearing from you!
The cost of living in DC is actually a bit higher than LA, so if you like LA, choose it
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:21 AM
 
Location: DMV Area
1,297 posts, read 926,218 times
Reputation: 2550
Lived in both. DC does have a higher COL, but the school districts in the DMV area are better overall than what SoCal has (except Prince George's County and lots of parts of DC itself). There is a lot to explore and lots to do in DC, and there is a lot of appeal to being just a train ride away from one of the most powerful cities on earth not to mention the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, the Shenandoah Mountains, and the bevy of attractions and cultural interests here. Baltimore, Annapolis, and Richmond are close enough for day trips and NYC, Philadelphia, and other East Coast destinations are about as close as LA is to Las Vegas, San Diego, Santa Barbara, etc. If you're into beach culture, you're not going to get it here in DC, but Ocean City, MD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Virginia Beach are close enough for weekends. But everyone else has the same idea, so get used to crowds and congestion to get to those cities especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

I miss LA's food, entertainment, weather, scenery, and the awesome urban exploration around the city. It's a very misunderstood city in general, and I enjoyed it for what it is when I lived there. However, I'm much happier in the DC area for a number of reasons. My career has definitely changed for the better and there is a lot of opportunity here. But people are less friendlier and more hurried in pace here compared to LA. And believe it or not, the DC Area is a lot more transient than Southern California in general, so it takes time to establish genuine friendships and relationships, but the networking opportunities are superior.

Silver Spring is an awesome area and has a great location right on the DC Line. It reminds me a lot of Burbank in some ways. Pretty diverse and cosmopolitan and great high-density living if you're into that. So there's great restaurants and cultural facilities there. Nearby Bethesda is more expensive - somewhat reminds me of Pasadena - but its close enough to enjoy activities there and you're not too far from DC to enjoy a night out on the town. Also, I'm not sure if you're single or married, but both cities are huge singles markets and both are hard in their own way in terms of dating. You won't run into as many "flaky" people in DC, but people are in their own world and into their careers (DC is much more work-oriented in its culture than LA is, which has a more overt work-life balance) and many are socially awkward and introverted compared to LA's more extroverted culture. Also, most people with families move pretty far out and Howard County seems to be a popular destination in Maryland along with Upper Montgomery County (Germantown area, etc.) while Stafford and Spotsylvania counties are popular in Virginia.

Traffic is awful in both cities. A commute on the 405 or the 110 is about as hellish as a commute on the Beltway here. And Metro is undergoing extensive track work to deal with its issues with unreliability and safety that it swept under the rug for years, so that could affect your commute quite a bit. Silver Spring is on the Red Line, and its notorious for its delays.

In spite of the fact that I grew up in Southern California and still have relatives there, I felt like a visitor the entire time I was in LA. Partially due to the fact that I lived down south for a long time before I moved back to the West Coast. But partially due to the fact that most people in SoCal have established social networks and tend to be leery of letting people in their circle, especially the farther you get away from the Westside or Hollywood (which tends to attract lots of transplants). I lived in the South Bay area (Hawthorne/Gardena), which seemed to be a lot more family and friends oriented because it's a pretty solid and established area and not very transient, so it was a bit difficult to get in "the circle". You may feel different depending on where you're currently located.

I say try DC for yourself or at least visit to get a feel for the area. And if you do take the job here, try it out and if you don't like it, chalk it up to experience (like I did with Los Angeles). There is a lot of good, bad, and ugly like any place, but overall, DC has been good for me and don't feel like I missed out by leaving LA.
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Old 07-27-2016, 08:55 AM
 
5,324 posts, read 9,312,006 times
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LA - Can't beat the Southern Cali lifestyle.
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Old 07-27-2016, 06:23 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
4,210 posts, read 4,606,111 times
Reputation: 3394
Quote:
Originally Posted by FirebirdCamaro1220 View Post
The cost of living in DC is actually a bit higher than LA, so if you like LA, choose it
I'm not sure that's true. At least not if you're comparing apples to apples. Housing costs seem very comparable with LA generally being just a little more. Especially true in the inner suburbs. Maybe insurance and other costs are more in DC but they have to be pretty close.
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:19 AM
 
36 posts, read 58,734 times
Reputation: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by biscuit_head View Post
Lived in both. DC does have a higher COL, but the school districts in the DMV area are better overall than what SoCal has (except Prince George's County and lots of parts of DC itself). There is a lot to explore and lots to do in DC, and there is a lot of appeal to being just a train ride away from one of the most powerful cities on earth not to mention the proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, the Shenandoah Mountains, and the bevy of attractions and cultural interests here. Baltimore, Annapolis, and Richmond are close enough for day trips and NYC, Philadelphia, and other East Coast destinations are about as close as LA is to Las Vegas, San Diego, Santa Barbara, etc. If you're into beach culture, you're not going to get it here in DC, but Ocean City, MD, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and Virginia Beach are close enough for weekends. But everyone else has the same idea, so get used to crowds and congestion to get to those cities especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

I miss LA's food, entertainment, weather, scenery, and the awesome urban exploration around the city. It's a very misunderstood city in general, and I enjoyed it for what it is when I lived there. However, I'm much happier in the DC area for a number of reasons. My career has definitely changed for the better and there is a lot of opportunity here. But people are less friendlier and more hurried in pace here compared to LA. And believe it or not, the DC Area is a lot more transient than Southern California in general, so it takes time to establish genuine friendships and relationships, but the networking opportunities are superior.

Silver Spring is an awesome area and has a great location right on the DC Line. It reminds me a lot of Burbank in some ways. Pretty diverse and cosmopolitan and great high-density living if you're into that. So there's great restaurants and cultural facilities there. Nearby Bethesda is more expensive - somewhat reminds me of Pasadena - but its close enough to enjoy activities there and you're not too far from DC to enjoy a night out on the town. Also, I'm not sure if you're single or married, but both cities are huge singles markets and both are hard in their own way in terms of dating. You won't run into as many "flaky" people in DC, but people are in their own world and into their careers (DC is much more work-oriented in its culture than LA is, which has a more overt work-life balance) and many are socially awkward and introverted compared to LA's more extroverted culture. Also, most people with families move pretty far out and Howard County seems to be a popular destination in Maryland along with Upper Montgomery County (Germantown area, etc.) while Stafford and Spotsylvania counties are popular in Virginia.

Traffic is awful in both cities. A commute on the 405 or the 110 is about as hellish as a commute on the Beltway here. And Metro is undergoing extensive track work to deal with its issues with unreliability and safety that it swept under the rug for years, so that could affect your commute quite a bit. Silver Spring is on the Red Line, and its notorious for its delays.

In spite of the fact that I grew up in Southern California and still have relatives there, I felt like a visitor the entire time I was in LA. Partially due to the fact that I lived down south for a long time before I moved back to the West Coast. But partially due to the fact that most people in SoCal have established social networks and tend to be leery of letting people in their circle, especially the farther you get away from the Westside or Hollywood (which tends to attract lots of transplants). I lived in the South Bay area (Hawthorne/Gardena), which seemed to be a lot more family and friends oriented because it's a pretty solid and established area and not very transient, so it was a bit difficult to get in "the circle". You may feel different depending on where you're currently located.

I say try DC for yourself or at least visit to get a feel for the area. And if you do take the job here, try it out and if you don't like it, chalk it up to experience (like I did with Los Angeles). There is a lot of good, bad, and ugly like any place, but overall, DC has been good for me and don't feel like I missed out by leaving LA.
Thank you very much for the detailed response! It's great hearing from people who have lived in both places and speak from experience. I agree that as a city DC has a lot more to offer. I believe LA, on the other hand, has a leg up on the diversity of outdoor activities within a 30m-2h drive. You also can't beat the dry heat during the summer in CA.

Like you, I believe ultimately there will be more opportunity for professional growth in the DC area. As a civil servant at NASA I can move from NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, MD to NASA HQ in DC if I'm interested in Agency leadership. Out in LA my opportunity is at NASA JPL, which requires me to leave the civil service (not the end of the world, but definitely not something to take lightly).

I've lived in the Hampton Roads area now for 9 years, after moving from Santa Barbara, which in my opinion, is heaven on Earth (if you can afford it). However, the COL in places like Pasadena, CA and Bethesda, MD are really high, too. So, it looks like either way I should expect a large sticker shock!

As you mentioned, the people are also quite different on either coast. I'm a bit nervous about the description you gave of the DC folks (live to work) as opposed to your average LA folks (work to live). I fall right in between, hence my indecision on which place is better for me. I really do like the idea of living near a metro stop so I can enjoy all the city has to offer on the weekends on foot or bike. That's huge. I just wonder how often I would do it. I guess if it's a quick hop onto the metro in Silver Spring or Bethesda it can't be too much of a hassle.

I guess sometimes you just have to make a decision, and if it doesn't work out you move on to the other choice. I've been over analyzing this to death for way too long. Sitting on the fence is a decision, too, and it's an uncomfortable one!
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:30 AM
 
Location: Cbus
1,720 posts, read 1,750,626 times
Reputation: 2130
Quote:
Originally Posted by VA Spaceman View Post
Hello. I have job opportunities in both the LA and DC metro areas (Pasadena and Greenbelt, respectively), and am struggling to make a decision. The DC job is a civil servant position while the LA one is not.

Independent of the job, however, is my struggle to decide where the best place is for me to settle down (I don't want to get into the habit of moving every few years). I'm from the LA area, and part of me yearns for the lifestyle on the West Coast (low humidity, good surf, jaw-dropping beauty, active lifestyle, etc.), but I am not too excited about the inflated cost of living ($600-$700K for a 3/2 in Pasadena that is in a poor school district and isn't anything to brag about).

DC, on the other hand, is a complete mystery to me. I'd expect to live in the Silver Spring area so I can be in a good school district and jump onto the metro on the weekends to explore the city. The commute to Greenbelt wouldn't be too bad either (20-30 minutes). However, the cost of living in Montgomery County, MD isn't a walk in the park, either.

A little information about myself:

I'm 34 and looking to start a family in the not too distant future. I'm very active, and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Both jobs would pay well (~$125K in LA, ~$110K in DC).

What would you do? What are the pros/cons of each city in your mind? The more diverse the set of opinions on this matter the better, as it will allow me to see the choice from all angles. I look forward to hearing from you!
Pros:
-D.C. has an extensive and easy to navigate public transit system
-Lots of educated and highly motivated people, great for networking and professional development
-Plethora of free events and museums

Cons:
- As you noted yourself the cost of living for the D.C. metro area is quite high as well.
- The humidity, particularly in the summer months, is absolutely brutal
-Probably not as much dramatic beauty as Southern California, although you still would have national parks in VA, Roosevelt Island and other sites to check out
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:41 AM
 
Location: Phoenix
24,739 posts, read 13,668,568 times
Reputation: 21268
In general LA has the better lifestyle and DC the better job and career opportunities. Since it sounds like your opportunity in LA is just as good, go to LA.
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Old 07-29-2016, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia/ Rehoboth Beach
295 posts, read 275,872 times
Reputation: 292
I worked in Greenbelt for NASA in the early 1970's working on lunar samples . Greenbelt then was like in the middle of no where . Found no alien life but did find a lot of strip joints in D.C. At that time they were just digging the sub way tubes . In my opinion D.C. was a lot more fun then it is today . Take the NASA job and forget about the strip joints .
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Old 08-01-2016, 08:50 AM
 
Location: DMV Area
1,297 posts, read 926,218 times
Reputation: 2550
Quote:
Originally Posted by VA Spaceman View Post
Thank you very much for the detailed response! It's great hearing from people who have lived in both places and speak from experience. I agree that as a city DC has a lot more to offer. I believe LA, on the other hand, has a leg up on the diversity of outdoor activities within a 30m-2h drive. You also can't beat the dry heat during the summer in CA.

Like you, I believe ultimately there will be more opportunity for professional growth in the DC area. As a civil servant at NASA I can move from NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, MD to NASA HQ in DC if I'm interested in Agency leadership. Out in LA my opportunity is at NASA JPL, which requires me to leave the civil service (not the end of the world, but definitely not something to take lightly).

I've lived in the Hampton Roads area now for 9 years, after moving from Santa Barbara, which in my opinion, is heaven on Earth (if you can afford it). However, the COL in places like Pasadena, CA and Bethesda, MD are really high, too. So, it looks like either way I should expect a large sticker shock!

As you mentioned, the people are also quite different on either coast. I'm a bit nervous about the description you gave of the DC folks (live to work) as opposed to your average LA folks (work to live). I fall right in between, hence my indecision on which place is better for me. I really do like the idea of living near a metro stop so I can enjoy all the city has to offer on the weekends on foot or bike. That's huge. I just wonder how often I would do it. I guess if it's a quick hop onto the metro in Silver Spring or Bethesda it can't be too much of a hassle.

I guess sometimes you just have to make a decision, and if it doesn't work out you move on to the other choice. I've been over analyzing this to death for way too long. Sitting on the fence is a decision, too, and it's an uncomfortable one!
Santa Barbara is gorgeous! But its even more expensive than LA or DC. So I can imagine how that felt leaving there.

As for people in DC living to work, that is very true. People actually talk about their jobs and what they do during happy hours, and that can be very tedious and annoying. However, my career changed for the better when I moved here and I've been more on my toes since I got here. DC was the kick in my ass that I needed because I got a bit too chill in Los Angeles, for better and for worse if that makes any sense.

However, there are a lot of meetups full of people with like minded interests who don't talk about their jobs, and the non-profit crowd is a lot more chill and laid back than the Feds and Gov't contractor folks here, so you can get a "break" from that world when you need to.

It sounds as if you're career will have more of an advantage in DC as opposed to LA, which is a strong factor to consider and not to take lightly. When all is said and done, you can always travel to LA, and DC has a lot more nonstop flights to the West Coast than Norfolk
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