Washington, DC vs Virginia, it’s the ultimate showdown between the nation’s capital and the Old Dominion State. But, which is better? Well, it all depends on who you ask and what you want.
I often get this question from people looking to relocate to the DC area, particularly university students excited of the thought about living where the president lives, but not so excited about paying the associated high cost of living.
In this blog post, I’ll explore some of the key differences between life in the district vs life in Virginia.
Full disclosure, I live in DC and have never lived in Virginia, but I have seriously considered relocating.
I also spend a huge chunk of my time in Virginia – like 85% of my time. So, I’m well-versed in what life is like there.
So, let’s dive right in.
Let’s talk taxes: Washington, DC vs Virginia
Washington, DC has graduated individual income tax with rates from four percent to 10.75%.
|Tax rate||Income range|
|4%||$0 to $10,000|
|400 + 6%||Over $10,000, but not over $40,000|
|$2,200 + 6.5%||Over $40,000, but not over $60,000|
|$3,500 + 8.5%||Over $60,000, but not over $250,000|
|$19,650 + 9.25%||Over $250,000 , but not over $500,000|
|$42,775 + 9.75%||Over $500,000 , but not over 1,000,000|
|$91,525 + 10.75%||Over $1,000,000|
DC also has a 6% sales tax and 8.25% corporate income tax.
Virginia also has a graduated individual income tax. The rates are 2%, 3%, 5% and 5.75%, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation.
|Tax rate||Taxable income bracket||Tax owed|
|2%||$0 to $3,000||2% of taxable income|
|3%||$3,001 to $5,000||$60 plus 3% of the amount over $3,000|
|5%||$5,001 to $17,000||$120 plus 5% of the amount over $5,000|
|5.75%||$17,001 and up||$720 plus 5.75% of the amount over $17,000|
The sales tax rate for most locations in Virginia is 5.3% – one of the lowest in the country.
However, in certain counties like Williamsburg, James City County and York County, the general sales tax rate is 7%.
Virginia also imposes personal property taxes on its residents for vehicles, business boats, personal boats, mobile homes and recreational vehicles. Taxes are due twice a year in June and December.
That’s a lot to consider when deciding where to live. If I were moving to the DC area for the first time, I would opt for Virginia.
When it comes to crime, DC blows Virginia out of the water.
According to FBI data, Washington, DC has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes.
Your chances of being a victim of property crime is 1 in 24. Yikes!
DC is also the place where you’re most likely to get mugged. If you thought it was California, New York or Illinois, you’re wrong.
Compare that with Virginia which US News has listed in the Top 10 for lowest crime in all states. Virginia is one of the safest states in the nation.
I watch the news every day and remain disturbed by the number of carjackings, armed robberies or shootings in the district. Just recently, a 15-year-old was charged in two murders, six armed robberies and three carjackings.
While Virginia is not immune to crime, but it is remarkably safer when compared to the nation’s capital.
If you’re trying to avoid traffic you may want to avoid DC and Virginia entirely. There’s traffic . . . and lots of it. But, if the question is what’s worse, then I think Virginia has DC beat.
According to a 2020 report by US News, Washington, DC ranked fifth in the Top 10 Most congested cities in the US.
The report states that 124 hours are lost to traffic congestion.
Nearly 800,00 people live in DC, but 70% of its workforce live outside of DC. That makes for one hell of a commute every day.
It’s no wonder there are excessive traffic jams heading into Virginia and Maryland on any given day.
So, if you’re moving to Virginia, prepare to sit in traffic. A lot.
If you’re moving to the area, don’t have a car and don’t plan to buy one, then you’re going to want to live in DC.
Without question Washington, DC is a much more walkable town than Virginia due in part to its significantly smaller size.
It also has better public transportation thanks to its six lines and 97 metro stations, and Washington Metro officials say more stations are under construction.
DC is also more pedestrian friendly and it’s not uncommon to see pedestrians walking the streets at all hours of the night. If you lived in Old Town, Alexandria in Virginia, you would not need a car. But, if you’re living in Fairfax or some other far out county, a vehicle is a must.
If you’re looking for diversity as far as race, you’re going to look no further than Washington, DC.
DC has a population of 671,803 with 45.9% of those residents identifying as white alone; 45.8 percent identify as black or African-American; 11.5% identify as Hispanic or Latino and 4.5% identify as Asian alone.
Meantime, Virginia has a population of 8,657,365 of whom 68.8% identify as white alone; 20% identify as black or African-American; 10.2% identify as Hispanic or Latino and 7.2% identify as Asian alone.
Entertainment and social life
It’s no secret that DC has pretty incredible entertainment and nightlife. From hip restaurants to trendy bars and nightclubs to comedy clubs and sports games, it’s got it all.
There’s always some entertaining stage play showing or something going on in town. It really has that New York City vibe minus the mega rats.
Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia also have that vibe, just not to the full extent. Those two places, in particular, have restaurants that I can’t seem to stay away from. You can find all types of delicious fare in Virginia.
Virginia has a more down home feel that’s perfect for young couples in love, older established couples and families with little ones.
Walking through Old Town, Alexandria for example, reminds me of a Christmas Hallmark movie. The friendly smiling faces coupled with ice cream shops and cobblestoned sidewalks is simply dreamy. DC doesn’t have that same vibe.
However, what DC does offer is a city filled with culture, incredible, mind-blowing monuments, a rich history and governmental power.
There’s much more parking in Virginia than DC. That gives Virginia a major edge. Once you move here, you’ll understand what I mean. It’s also one of the reasons I spend so much time in Virginia.
Between DC’s many speed traps, bad roads, traffic and lack of parking, I hate driving in the city. So, I go to Virginia where the parking is plentiful.
This section ain’t gonna be long. Fill up in Virginia. It’s much cheaper. DC is out for blood, your left eye and your first born. Be warned.