I am from a town that has literally less than 30,000 people living in it. Our high school is 7th-12th grade and has maybe 1,000 students in it. I graduated from high school with less than 100 students in my class. I lived in a small town like what is on The Andy Griffith show. I mean everybody knew everybody. You could not even go to the store without having to say hello to at least 10 people. The closest Walmart or Kroger’s is close to 45 minutes away, even today. I lived in a town where people feel safe, where doors are still left unlocked whether you are home or not and you can leave your windows open all day. This type of living is real and still exists today.
I went to the University that was 45 minutes away and I meet the love of my life. We married and started having a family of our own. When we both graduated from college, we started applying to places nationwide. We did not care if it was in Hawaii or Alaska, we just wanted a chance to show our skills. Well, I was the lucky one who was offered a job and it was with a known company not just nationwide, but worldwide. We moved from the small town feel in Ohio to the big city feel of D.C. Let me tell you the change was eye-opening. That is why I have decided to write this article. I want people to know what to expect before moving to a big city from a small town.
First off you need to know that everyone is in a rush and the best thing you can do is slow down when driving in the traffic. When you are driving in a big city like D.C., you should expect to have to sit in traffic. I mean I cannot tell you how many hours I sat in traffic just in the 9 months I lived there. It was crazy. A 30-minute drive could easily, and most likely, turn into a 3-hour drive. You have to leave early just to get there on time because of traffic.
If you are like me you learned to drive on back roads and you drove through creeks to get to some places. In the city, it is bumper to bumper traffic and you always have to be alert of what others are doing. Do not worry though you will get broke in quick. Like I said, I lived there for 9 months and within the first two weeks, I learned how to merge and cross 5 lanes of traffic without thinking twice. Just be prepared.
Houses and rent are both outrageously priced in the city. I mean a two-bedroom apartment in the bad parts costs 1200 dollars to just rent and a 2 bedroom house with one bathroom on less than .25 acre lot costs about 325,000 dollars to buy. It is crazy expensive. I was not prepared for how expensive housing was. Where we were from we were paying 545 dollars a month for a two bedroom apartment and it was a decent size. 1200 dollars in the D.C. area will not get you a decent size anything when it comes to housing. This is one of the biggest reasons why we left as soon as possible.
Life in the city is fast-paced and always on the go. I feel like I never slowed down when we lived in the city. We were going here or there or my husband was leaving as soon as I got home to go hang with his friends because he had a rough day with the child. It was way too fast pace for me. It is literally go, go, go. You hurry up to wait in traffic. Sadly it is the truth. I loved the convenience of everything but I hated the busy life.
Riding the metro was a whole new exciting, yet scary adventure for this small town girl. However, I learned to love the trips on the metro. With the metro, you are guaranteed to only have to be on the metro for a certain amount of time. Even if it says that driving will only take 30 minutes and the metro is 45 minutes, you can bet that the metro will still be faster because it is almost a guarantee that you will be in traffic.
I found the metro to be very relaxing especially early in the morning. I could sleep, crochet, or write in my child’s baby journal that I keep. If I would drive I would be sitting in traffic with not being able to do anything. I also met a lot of interesting and nice individuals in the metro. I suggest you learn how to use the metro before moving, so it is not so scary when you first use it.
No matter where you are child care is expensive. However, in the city, it is basically your entire paycheck. I mean seriously I made 15 an hour plus overtime and driving time, so my paycheck was pretty decent but not for the city. Since we moved where my husband was from, we were fortunate enough to be able to live with his lonely grandmother while we were there so my husband got to stay at home with our child. However, he had an interview for a great position, and had he have received it we both would have had to work in order to be able to live in that area. The job would have paid 120,000 dollars a year and we both would have still had to work, that in itself is crazy.
Anyways, we started looking into childcare and childcare would have been my entire paycheck for just one child. I mean I have never seen anything like it. It is crazy expensive to have children in childcare in the city. My suggestion is if you have kids find a way to either has a live-in nanny or one of you stay at home with the child or children. This was another big factor as to why we did not stay in the big city. So, before you move to any big city be sure to know how much childcare is going to cost you to be sure that it is worth the move.
You may also like my post about how living in a small town is different from living in a big city.