Military Move to Washington D.C.

5 years ago


In 25 years, I've moved as a result of 14 different assignments.  Some were my own assignments (when I was on active duty), but most were my husband's assignments.  Those assignments included 3 overseas moves and 8 different states.  You'd think with all that experience, each move would be easier and easier.  In some ways they have gotten easier, but our last move, with my husband's assignment to the Pentagon, was our toughest move ever.


You'd think that moving overseas with a toddler would be tough.  You'd think moving overseas when I was 6 months pregnant and had a 6 year old and a 4 year old would be tough.  But, no-ooooo.  Our most stressful move ever was when we moved to the Washington D.C. area.  And I'm not alone.  In talking to other experienced military families, they had just as tough of a time moving here with their assignment to the Pentagon.


I'm not trying to scare you.  I'm just trying to prepare you for this move.  And I want to share with you what I learned from my and others' experiences in moving to the D.C. area. 


Let me start by explaining what makes the move so difficult.


If you are assigned to the Pentagon, there is no easy place to start looking at housing.  Usually when military families move, we first consider living on-base.  But there is not base housing at the Pentagon.  There are some situations where families assigned to the Pentagon live on a nearby post or base, but that is the exception.  


So, what do military families usually do when they decide not to live on-base?  They usually tend to congregate in a couple of areas near the base.  But, no-ooo, not this time.  Folks stationed at the Pentagon live an hour or more away from the Pentagon in every direction.  So instead of the usual 2-5 places to consider living, there are now 20-30 areas to look at.    Having so many choices makes the decision that much more difficult.  You're not just comparing apples to oranges, you're now comparing the entire produce section! 


And then they just do things differently here.  I mean, how many times did your mom tell you, "Never get into a car with strangers!"  And yet here in D.C., folks just jump into cars with strangers every day to get to and from work.  They call it "slugging."  It's a recognized form of transportation (the mom in me is cringing!) and you can read more about it {here}.  But who would have thought that riding with strangers would be one of the possible ways for you to commute to work?


In the Washington D.C. area, it's the norm to list houses for rent or for sale on Craigslist.  And these are legitimate homes listed by honest people.  If you don't know to look on Craisglist for homes, you'll miss a significant number of housing options.


When I was faced with so many choices and entirely new ways of doing things, I was overwhelmed.  Really, really overwhelmed.  We usually have a very methodical process of determining where we live.  You can read about it {here}.     We use a spreadsheet like this one.


But our decision making process was overloaded with so many choices.   We eventually figured out where we wanted to live, but it was a much longer and more complicated process than usual.  Now, with all that painful experience under my belt, I'm ready to help you make your move a little easier.


To help you in your quest to find where to live when you're assigned to the Pentagon, I am going to review several different towns in the D.C. area that you might want to consider.  


For each town or area, we'll discuss commute times and options to travel to the Pentagon, the location of the nearest military base or post, the nearest MTF (military medical treatment facility), types of housing available and the price range, links to the school district websites, and various other considerations. 


My goal is to provide you with a brief overview that you can use to find where you'd like to settle your family for this assignment.   What took me days and days to compile for use in our move, I'd like you have right here ready for you to use.


Next, in this series I'll review Ashburn, VA as a consideration in a military move to Washington D.C.



If you already have experience with a military move to the Washington D.C .area and would like to be a contributor to this series, please contact me at

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