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Washington DC area- is it really as uptight and unfriendly as people report?

Washington DC area- is it really as uptight and unfriendly as people report?

Old Jun 24th, 2002, 05:51 AM
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Washington DC area- is it really as uptight and unfriendly as people report?

I was offered a terrific job in Washington DC but am starting to have second thoughts. I am a recent graduate of the University of Kansas.

I did a search of Fodors and there are many complaints about the people in the Washington DC area. It is discribed as a place where neighbors ignore each other, people work 12 hours a day and full of type A people.

This is not scientific, but when I visited Washington for my interviews, I encountered an incredibly large number of rude and unfriendly people. Most people I came in contact with in DC seemed to be untight and very intense. I could not get a smile or hello out of almost anyone.

I am looking for advice from people who live in the Washington DC area. Especially people that have moved there recently. What is the "people/social culture" like in Washington? Is it a tough town? Is it different than your home town?
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:03 AM
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Well Cheryl, it definitely won't be Kansas anymore!
There are in DC just as in any city in the world, nice people and not nice people.
If you want to stay in a small town where you know everyone and run little risk of meeting the rude and obnoxious,stay in your own small town.
If you are willing to get out into the world and see how everyone else gets along, I say Go For It!! It will help you grow and make you a more well rounded person,to see how all the different kinds of people live in a city such as Washington DC.
I lived there years ago,now live in NYC. I enjoyed the years I lived in DC.People do work long hours there,depending on where they work, that does not apply only to DC!
I think it would be a great opportunity for any person just out of school to go learn to be an adult.
Good luck!
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:06 AM
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If you do move to Wash., you're going to realize you're not in Kansas anymore.

Wash. is like a lot of big cities, but with one difference. The population is largely transient -- most people are from somewhere else. In some places, I guess, that would make people more friendly, but not in DC.

It is an interesting an exciting area, especially for young people, but a sense of community is lacking.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:12 AM
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The population in the Washington DC area is like the United Nations. Though each group will usually stick with its own kind. The Koreans, Mexicans, Chinese, etc will hang out with each other, and rarely mix.

In Kansas, people have more in common and as a result will more likely be more open to each other.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:15 AM
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Life is very stressful in the Washington area. Employers expect more from people than in more relaxed cities. 10, 12, 14 hour work days is expected in professional jobs. The cost of living is very high.

As a result people are struggling just to survive and have limited time to make riends or talk to strangers.

Walter: in suburban DC
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:17 AM
rump shaker
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One insight--DC people are tense in part because many of them have long commutes. 1-2 hours each way on crowded highways. It's enough to make anyone less than friendly. Plus, 2-4 hours a day in the car doesn't leave much time for socializing.

You should try hard to live close to where you work if at all possible. Don't let people tell you that all of DC is full of crime. Some parts are and some aren't. And factor in the cost of commuting when comparing housing costs. Housing can be cheaper outside the city, but you typically wind up paying more overall when you add in the commute times.

Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:36 AM
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I lived in D.C twice once on an internship nineteen years ago than after college. I was there in early May and just this past weekend. I moved from D.C to NYC in 1986.

I would not compare D.C to another big city. If anything it has more of a town feeling to it. I left after college because I felt there was a lack of diversity in D.C. I am not just speaking about cultural diversity but diversity in jobs, creative influences, restaurants that don’t shut down for the weekend. I actually think you will fit right in in D.C if you are from Kansas. I fit in much better there than I did in New York City when I first moved here. I am Irish American and from southern New Jersey (rural).

D.C is still our nations capital and interesting for the types of work opportunities it can provide if you are working in government (in a non paper pushing capacity).

P.S on being rude the mid-west is famous for friendly people. I would think that you are going to find people rude wherever you move outside the mid-west. Nevertheless, you will find other strengths such as a larger numbers of intellectuals, artists, entrepreneurs. I am thinking a competitive environment makes some people rude but it also makes the community interesting. Not better or worse than the friendly environment of the mid-west but different. I find Washingtonians to be far more friendly than what I am use to in NYC.

I would say to you or anyone I know if you have an opportunity to expand who you are do it and in a heart beat. As you get older you find less and less of the opportunities you are talking about.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 06:42 AM
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George I do know what you are talking about but I think Cherly will find communitiy in Dupoint circle (?), Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Washingtonians correct me if I am wrong?
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:01 AM
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Cheryl, on driving through Kansas, I found the wheat and corn to be incredibly hostile. I never saw one stalk speak to another. And the farmers on their combines were at it 12-14 hours each day, doing a pretty good Type A thing. I honked but could never get them to smile. It was such a grim land. I know you'll be happy to escape.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:18 AM
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Yes it is!

I think it has to do with the egos of congress, the White house, etc.

Washington is full of people with big egos, big plans and lots of desire to make big money. Unless you can do something for them, most Washington people will have nothing to do with you.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:19 AM
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Another factor in the DC area is that so many people are from somewhere else -- and expect to go back there, possibly immediately after the next election. They have no roots in the community and aren't interested in developing them.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:20 AM
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I am one of those washington DC people. I work there every day and have for awhile. I do, however, go home every evening to the burbs where I have many, many nice neighbors.
When I came here from a much, much smaller town I worried that people wouldn't be friendly. To my surprise they were. They felt as I did, and were eager to make new friends. As OI've changed jobs I've made new friends and added them to the old. I now say that Washington DC is home and I'm very comfortable here.
There is a difference in this area between the political over-achievers who come for short stays on their way to greater horizons and the rest of us who work, live, and raise our families here.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:22 AM
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I don't know...Monica found it to be pretty friendly!
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:25 AM
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The very fact that you ask the question implies that you aren't ready for the move, or at least won't be open to the differences and challenges.

First, Washington is not a town. It's a city, even though it lacks the skyscrapers (thanks to a wonderful zoning law) of other cities. It behaves like a city with a lot of work to do, notably the work of governing, managing, trying to influence government and management, and somehow keeping communication between the US and the rest of the world civil.

It was not built as the "hometown" of all the US, even though the Smithsonian keeps a lot of our keepsakes. It won't feel like a hometown. It won't feel like Kansas, and if all the negatives you list are horrific to you, then when you find them, you are going to be horrified ------ and you may miss the positives, which you have not found or felt important in Kansas. You will eventually find neighborhoods that are very neighborhood-y -- friendly, etc. -- if you look for them. But the whole pace and style of life there is going to be faster, tenser, more challenging.

I think you either have to decide that the adventure of the new job, of a new way of life, and a new kind of experience is worth risking uncomfortable differences at first, or it isn't. But don't expect people to suddenly disagree with all the impressions other people from Kansas or Oklahoma or Ohio or Alabama or Vermont or any small town who came to WashDC expecting life to be familiar. No one's going to answer this post and say, "naw, Washington's just like Lawrence, only with monuments."

It takes anywhere from 1 year to 3 or so to get used to something -- you have to find your way and not draw conclusions about the whole city based on your experiences in the first 6 months, which I guarantee will be hard and completely different from what happens later on.

I love love love living here, but you may very well not.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:37 AM
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Enough, DC doesn't need to be explained or justified to the likes of a Kansas graduate. Or anybody esle for that matter. When we visit, we are welcomed. We do not come to DC (we are also in the mid west) with a grudge or chip, and it makes a difference. Sound slike Cheryl came in with a hidden agenda.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:48 AM
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Re Betty's comment about the "community " in Georgetown, etc. There may be one there, but I doubt that a recent college grad from Kansas is going to have the means, financial and otherwise, to break into such communities.

In my experience, young newcomers move into faceless, midmarket apartment buildings, usually in the 'burbs, where such complexes tend to be especially ugly and cold. Then, later, they move up to a suburban townhouse or tract home.

And if they're single and don't have the connection of family and children, that can isolate them even more.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:49 AM
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Have an open mind about DC, its a great city if you are young, professional and understanding of others. Its a very diverse town with great neighborhoods, ie Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, Georgetown. Live in the District, if you live in the burbs expect to spend at least two hours commuting everyday. Traffic here is hell. Maybe thats why people get so upset.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 07:57 AM
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I have only been to Washington DC as a visitor.Then I found that everyone that I had dealings with were friendly or at least polite and courteous.
I have one friend in DC now and must say that there are very few people as nice or friendly,as caring or kind.I am sure that since I am originally from the South and found my move to NY to be an adjustment,but a move that I am glad that I made,that you too will adjust and love DC.Especially if you make the sort of friends that I did.
Be adventurous,you never know where it will lead you!

Old Jun 24th, 2002, 08:00 AM
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I'm a native midwesterner (from Michigan) and have been living in Washington DC since 1994, and I absolutely love it here. Yes, I have one of those stressful jobs with long hours, but I am passionate about my work, and I am fortunate to work with people who are also passionate about their work and great at what they do.

I live in Dupont Circle and am absolutely crazy about it. I love my neighborhood so much. I'm not saying it's perfect (grocery shopping in the city is a particular pain, and forget having a car in the city), but I love the variety of restaurants, theatres, bookstores, little shops where I'm a "regular," the convenience of the metro, and yes, the sense of community. I wouldn't say that neighbors here ignore each other; rather, that they respect each other's privacy, which I appreciate.

A couple of quirks about DC that still bug me: service is notoriously bad (I'm talking about store clerks who act like taking your money is a bother to them), and it's true that DC is pretty much a one-industry town. A friend from LA told me that if you're at a party in LA nobody wants to talk to you unless you're in films or TV, and in DC nobody wants to talk to you unless you're in politics. That's an exaggeration, but if you sit at a bar in DC you're likely to meet lobbyists, Hill staff, federal government employees, and journalists -- and not a lot of people in advertising or banking or plumbers or what have you. Of course, if you love politics, that's great, but if you find it tiresome, you will probably tire of the social scene here pretty fast. There are other kinds of diversity here though -- lots of diplomats from around the world, great ethnic diversity, and a strong gay community

I made good friends here pretty easily, so I wouldn't say the people are unfriendly. It's true that they don't generally smile & say hello to strangers on the street, but most people in big cities around the country don't do that; I wouldn't say it's specific to DC, just a fact of city life.

Uptight -- hmm, I'd probably have to agree that most Washingtonians are probably more uptight than most people from New York City, Chicago, LA. On the other hand, a lot of the mood here revolves around what's going on in government. DC in August is pretty darned relaxed (it's too hot to be uptight in August, and besides, there's hardly anybody here then). And some parts of the city are more uptight than others (one of the things I like about Dupont is that it's pretty laid back).

Like someone else said: I love it here. That doesn't mean you would.
Old Jun 24th, 2002, 08:16 AM
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Lisa what do you mean when you say uptight, one dimensional flat and cookie cutter similarity is how would describe what I see as a visitor from NYC to D.C. I am not trying to be sarcastic it just seems that everyone looks a like, noone steps outside of the box. You see a lot of this in large corporations, is that what you mean by uptight?

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