Dear PoPville – Is DC Family Friendly?

Photo by PoPville flickr user hoja-lata

“Dear PoPville,

Now that my husband and I and parents, our perspective on DC has changed drastically. Between the complete lack of affordable childcare for most people (neither of our jobs sponsor care), the seeming lack of flexible jobs, weird public school lottery systems, and constantly taking way too long to get anywhere via car (if you move to the burbs) it just gets more and more frustrating to deal with when you add a baby into it. So we have decided to move. Not just to the burbs but away from DC.

So I am interested – do PoPvillers think DC is family friendly? Why or why not? Has your perspective changed?”

265 Comment

  • Since you already decided to move what do you hope to get out of this post?

    • +1. Looking for confirmation that they made the right choice? I know plenty of families who live here, and plenty who have moved away. It’s up to each family individually.

    • I can sympathize to a point.

      But plenty of families have been raised in D.C. over the years. What it has not had to accommodate however are increasing numbers of higher income residents with equally high expectations of their municipal services and community standards. That seems like a more relevant issue….

      • Over the years it did not cost an arm ans a leg to live here. It does now.

      • I disagree… the residents have always had high expectations and wanted better schools, more retail, more opportunities, etc. Unfortunately, when you’re poor it’s easier to look past your needs and tell you that you should be satisfied with the way things are.

    • This is my question and what I hope to get out of this reading others opinions. There are a number of reasons we will be moving, not just those listed above.
      A person can engage in ‘conversation’ about a topic even if their mind is made up. I would like to see what others think and why (if they are sharing that).

      And for the record we are city people all the way and believe in DC. I would just like my kid to have a yard and be close to the grandparents while he can be. The biggest reason we are going to move is to be close to family who can help with childcare. Plus we go there for every holiday and the travel is getting annoying!

      • It’s time to give up your “city people all the way” line. Clearly, that isn’t true.

        • DC is not the only City in the world.

          • Yes there are other cities last I checked! Even dc has single family homes. We both lived in cities most of our lives and have lived in DC for 10 years. We so t intent to move to rural America.

        • Also you can be a person who prefers the city living in a suburb for whatever reason. I’d still consider that person a city person.

          • Maybe a city person, but not a “city person all the way.” When the desire for a backyard trumps the desire to live in a dense neighborhood, you are no longer “all the way.”

          • Hehe, this makes me think of the “DOUBLE RAINBOW ALL THE WAY” guy – he sure had it figured out! 🙂

        • depends how you define “city”.
          it doesn’t have to mean high rise. it can mean rowhouses that have yards too.

      • I’ve never understood the need for yards. When we were kids we had yards in every house my parents owned and I really can never remember going outside to play in it. We were outside all the time (rarely inside, actually), but we’d go to the playground, or to the school basketball court, or somewhere else. I mean, every person needs to do what they feel is best for their family, but I’ve never understood the yard thing.

        • The advantages of having a yard likely depend on the ages of your kids and the amenities available in your neighborhood. With younger kids, being able to put a wading pool or a set of swings in the yard and know that they’re in a safe place within eye-shot and hearing range is a huge plus — compared to having to take them to the park for limited amounts of time just to get in some outdoor time. Being able to go — on your own — to the school basketball court is more of an older-kid thing.

        • The main thing that I remember about our yard is having to wait for my dad (or later, me or my brother) to finish mowing the damned thing so we could go somewhere.

  • yes, Free DC preschool

    • via a lottery system. And a child has to be the appropriate age.

      • I would sure hope the child has to be the appropriate age!

      • it’s a lottery for what school you get into. some get more applications than others. but even at the start of last school year, DCPS had openings for prek.

      • Ha, based on this reply, it really sounds like you’re just looking for justification for your decision. As others pointed out in response, you want kids of the appropriate age in preschool and the lottery doesn’t mean some kids don’t get in.
        Look, to an increasing number of people, the suburbs are depressing. Smaller, rust belt cities are also depressing in a different way. I can see the charm of a small college or ski town if you’re able to find work there, but you have to make sacrifices to live in a desirable city with lots of job opportunities. Tons of people raise families in Manhattan – even the rich ones are giving something up to do so. Depending on the individual, maybe those sacrifices are too much, but it’s really a personal choice. In your case, it couldn’t be more personal – you want to be near family. Nothing wrong with that, but for many people that doesn’t have nearly the same pull that it seems to have for you. Otherwise, no one would leave their hometown for long.

      • There is free preschool that doesn’t require a lottery. There are options outside of what everyone says is best.

        • You’re completely wrong. There is no guarantee of free preschool. If you live inbounds for a desirable school, your odds are only fair that you’ll get a spot.

  • My wife and I don’t have kids so I can only judge by what I see. When I first moved to Mt. Pleasant 17 years ago, anyone who had kids tended to leave now they tend to stay. I know there is some frustration among the folks about the school lottery system, but it seems to me that, in at least my area, DC is plenty family friendly. Perhaps these people just want it more. Good luck to you.

    • justinbc

      Yeah, I see quite a lot of parents with kids walking, biking, and strollering all around Lincoln Park basically every single day. So it must be working for some folks? The question posed does seem a bit self-serving and too open-ended. If there was some specific problem that was being discussed, rather than all child related issues, it might be easier to address.

  • DC is expensive and if you make $50k a year as a family, yes raising a family here would be tough. But you also don’t need to make $300k. There are plenty of affordable, safe neighborhoods in NWDC. Are they Georgetown, Woodley/Cleveland/AU Park, Kalorama, etc.? No. But go up 16th St or other places and you’ll see affordable houses in the $400k-$700k range plenty big for a family, and decent DCPS schools or other options (lottery, charter) that savvy parents use to get into schools as good as any private school. I know plenty of people doing it. I have 3 kids and yeah, I’m rich but there are parents at my kids’ school that make a very reasonable salary working for the government or in non-fancy jobs and they live in DC.

    • Off topic, but I find your bluntness regarding your financial situation very refreshing!

      • I was thinking it was kind of a douchey thing to say, but on second thought, when rich people recognize they’re rich it’s far better than someone who complains constantly about their finances/situation and is actually very well-off.

        • +1. Remember PPercy? (Or was it PercyP?) 😉

          • PPercy was my favorite annoying PoP commenter of all time, it’s too bad he didn’t stick around long. (Or did he???)

        • justinbc

          I think the conundrum exists when rich people over-extend themselves and wind up living paycheck to paycheck, feeling poor because they just barely make all their necessary high-end mortgage/car/CC payments.

      • Agreed. Even when they don’t complain, it’s off-putting when my very well off friends can’t acknowledge that they’re wealthy. Your parents live on a penthouse on the beach, no, you’re not middle class…and that’s okay.

    • So glad you are rich but $400.000 to $700,000 for a house is insane for most residents of DC.

      • What do you think they cost in Arlington or Fairfax?

      • Why do you think that? My wife and I are looking into a 350-400K house on 150K combined salary. That said, we’re not in DC anymore, but a $400,000 is affordable to many dual income families, provided they save for a year or two and have a down payment. If you work the numbers, you’d find the income it takes to pay the mortgage at the lower end of your range is quite reasonable.

        • I’m hard pressed to think of family-sized places in DC you can buy for $350-400k that 1) don’t have very high condo/coop fees, or 2) don’t require you to fight your way into charters or pay for private school. Those are big impediments. It’s doable, sure, but I don’t think DC–or any expensive urban area–is going to be as “family friendly” as its suburbs. I wish it were, but that’s a very challenging balancing act.

          And when I say family-sized, I’m not even talking huge. 2 bedrooms, 850 square feet for the early years. Much less than that is rough going for even a single kid.

          • Brightwood? Other places in upper Northeast? Brookland? I think one thing that people should realize is you don’t need a top-ranked school, particularly for elementary school. I went to a not great school in Wisconsin and have a couple of advanced degrees. There are a lot of public schools in DC that are just fine.

          • actually i’d want a top school for elementary more than anything. if a kid doesn’t build the fundamentals young, then they won’t succeed in the later years. I’m sure your “not great” school in wisconsin didn’t compare to the worst dc schools.

          • It certainly didn’t compare to the worst schools in dc (nor did I say it did), but there are some totally acceptable schools in DC with boundaries in the price range listed by Mlke. A lot of the learning that will happen in the elementary level are hugely influenced by your family and household. A “top” elementary is just not critical.

          • [email protected]:07 – There currently aren’t any homes in Brookland available for under $515k. Well, okay, there’s one at $395k with reported water and mold damage. And there’s one in Brightwood for $290k!…with substantial water damage that “needs major work,” per the listing. After that, it’s $450k or higher.

            Of course, there are places available for under $400k in upper upper northeast, along the Maryland border…and at that point, you’re starting to lose the urban benefits of DC, and you still don’t have good schools. Tough road to hoe.

          • My fiancé and I recently purchased a new construction home in Ft. Lincoln for $430k and our house is what you would call family sized- 4 stories, 2 bedrooms, a study that can be converted into a 3rd, and 1900+ square feet. That being said, we can’t walk to the metro, but are walking distance to 2 bus stops and can either bike or take a cab when we want to get downtown. I think the neighborhood is very family friendly- the development is full of small pocket parks, and we can quickly walk to Ft. Lincoln Park, the Theodore Hagan Cultural Center, and the Theodore Hagan Pool. Costco is across the street, and there are plans to build more shops and restaurants. As someone who grew up in MoCo schools, I am a little concerned about education once kids are in the picture given the state of DCPS. However, I fully believe that parental & neighborhood involvement can greatly affect the success of the students and the school. We need quality teachers in DC, but we also need the parents to be involved in their child’s education. Great teachers help, but parental support of the students, and parental support of the school (via PTAs, etc) , play a bigger part. A school is a school is a school, and at the end of the day, you get out what you put in.

          • FWIW, we bought a 4 bedroom (including basement) row house in Hill East last year for 450k. It’s in bounds for Maury Elementary and no condo/coop fees. We didn’t have to do any renovation other than paint and basic maintenance. It can be done.

      • justinbc

        The median sale price for a home in DC (in January 2014) was $470,000. Take what you will of that stat, but clearly a lot of people are buying in that range.

        • Yeah, but all you need to do is check the sales records near the “good” neighborhoods to see what’s going on. That median is the result of sales in places east of the river, far north, etc… way outside of the “decent school” zones. Further messing up the numbers is the intentional mis-listing of things like parking spaces, shells, and storage units to get better visibility… they throw off the averages.

          The median, at least in DC, is a number that probably shouldn’t be used for much, if anything. I’m in still-transitional 20001. The median is $481k right now, but I can say with certainty that nothing with 2 bedrooms and intact enough to get FHA approval has sold under $450k this year.

          • justinbc

            Oh believe me I know, if anything the true median is significantly higher in places that people desire. But that just further proves the point that there are lots of people here who can and do afford these houses that nobody supposedly can afford.

      • We make 250 a year and still can’t comfortably move into a non-failing in bounds elementary school in a house that fits two adults and two kids. That said, we enjoy Petworth and will cross fingers for charter lottery. Look at the metrics. Every DCPS east of the park is basically failing.

    • We make about $450,000 a year and there’s no way we could afford to have kids here and sustain the lifestyle we desire.

      • $450k a year? EVERY year?? I can’t even imagine. What does one even DO with that kind of money? His & hers Bentleys? Full time personal chef? A month in the Alps every winter and a month on the Cote d’Azur every summer? That’s after the private school tuition, the night nanny, and the closet full of bespoke onesies.

        • you’d be surprised – we are barely hanging on @ $450K a year

          • You must have some crazy student loans, or just be crazy (or have an expensive habit). I make 170/year. It’s a lot, and I pay a ton in student loans. And when i first started at this job, at 160/year and higher student loans, I had to be careful. But making quite a bit less than you, and even when I was paying most of my paycheck to pay down the student loan, I’ve never thought i was just “hanging in there.”

      • PPercy is BACK, ladies and gentlemen!

      • justinbc

        I’m going to assume you’re either trolling or have an unnatural expectation for standard of living.

        • janie4

          I’m going to assume they have a couple of hundred grand in student loans and have to self-finance their retirement.

      • 8/10 here

        I would have given you something in the 4-6 range, but the responses this generated demonstrate that you clearly deserve a higher score. Well done.

    • We make 250 a year and still can’t comfortably move into a non-failing in bounds elementary school in a house that fits two adults and two kids. That said, we enjoy Petworth and will cross fingers for charter lottery.

  • Also don’t forget all the other things that make DC very family friendly.

    Free DC preschool.
    Free museums, zoo, and endless supply of kids activities.
    Wonderful cultural and learning programs if you look.
    Great parks everywhere. And pools. And rec centers.

  • There’s a myriad of variables to consider – variables that, uh, vary greatly for each individual family. I agree with the earlier poster: what exactly do you hope to accomplish here?

  • Compared to a number of other places in the country, I don’t think so. That is one reason why I am applying to jobs elsewhere. I love DC and it has treated me well, but I think it would be better to raise kids somewhere else. I would have a lot more school options for my (potential) future kids and the cost of living would likely be less (since I would not go to NYC or Boston), so it would be easier to a better provider too.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • the dc burbs are some of the best places to raise kids though.

        • Fairfax county and MoCo have some of the best public schools in the country. Throw in the proximity to DC and all its culturual highlights, and I can see why they’d be good.

          • Yeah, except the parents have to spend 3 hours commuting everyday. I know a lot of people, including my girlfriend and her childhood friends, who went to Fairfax County schools. They seem to have made out just as well or possibly worse (definitely more are in jail or dead from drug overdoses) than me and my friends who went to a big regional school in a semi-rural area. I think it’s more important that the parents are actually there for their children than whether the school is more prestigious.

          • Awesome for kids – they end up going to the best schools. Bad for parents – they have to commute 1 hour plus each day. Plus, houses in neighborhoods like Bethesda and North Bethesda, where the best schools are tend to be very expensive.

            I live with my wife in DC. We don’t have kids, but when we do, we hope we would have saved enough to buy a place in Bethesda.

          • Anon 3:20 plenty of good paying jobs to be had in Tysons/Arlington/Rockville/Bethesda. Thats no 3 hour commute and your kids get the good schools.

          • Depends on where you’re coming from. In my experience living in the suburbs it takes 1 hour for each 10 miles of travel during rush hour. So you’d have to live pretty close to one of those places (and hope you never have to change jobs) for the commute to not be a significant drain.

        • access to some of the nation’s best schools. access to DC and the variety of great things it has to offer. proximity to major highways and airports to get you going elsewhere. proximity to mountains rivers, beaches, richmond, philly, b’more, etc… access to great parks, sports activities, diverse residents.

          i’m a city guy myself, but the burbs around dc have a lot to offer folks with kids. and the close in burbs are more diverse than the city. people can be quick to judge it, but we’re all just trying to live good lives, and if for some that means moving to the burbs, there are good ones here.

          • The close in burbs are just as expensive as dc though. Unless you’re talking about pg county ( the only suburb I would ever consider) but aren’t the schools really bad there?

      • Yes, I know. I’m not super stressed about it and since I’m a fed, I’m already envisioning moving to one of those burbs in 5-10 years. And if my fiancee made even close to what I did (which isn’t the case now nor do I see that changing soon), I also wouldn’t feel the urge to look outside the DC area.

        Basically I would like to provide for my kids as my parents did for me, and I know I can’t do that here in DC (or even most of its suburbs). It is what it is.

        • Maybe thinking about what your parents provided for you in more general terms (supportive environment, enriching opportunities, or whatever it is that you valued) rather than in material terms (size of bedroom and yard, own car, whatever) might mean that you can provide what your parents did but in a different environment. One great thing about kids is they only know what they know. It obviously doesn’t matter to me if you stay or go (I don’t even know you!), but food for thought.
          I think the bottom line is that people should live where they will be most content, because ultimately living in a happier household is really what’s best for children. For some people that’s the suburbs, for others it’s the city, and we shouldn’t judge people who make different choices than we do.

          • I wasn’t thinking about it in material terms. I could care less about the house or car.

            I grew up in one of the most diverse cities in this country (Oakland California) and went to a great (private) school for most of my childhood. I was thinking in terms of educational and cultural experiences I was given.

            I can’t afford to send my kid to a great school here in DC, and I am sorry but Wilson High nor any other public high school in the District don’t measure up. One reason I actually would choose to live in the suburbs is some have as much diversity (or more) than the District does, while having excellent schools.

            But who knows.. Maybe my future wife and I will just decide it is worth it to stay in the District and be especially pro-active with our child’s education. Maybe by the time our child were to reach his/her teen years, the schools will be stronger. Time will tell…

          • I agree with your priority — who are my kids growing up around? I’d also like it to be a diverse community (racially, economically, culturally, pick your metric). As you say, lots of our suburbs are more diverse than many DC neighborhoods.
            I don’t know enough about all the school districts in the suburbs, but when people talk about “great schools” does that include the more diverse parts of, for example, Arlington, or just the most affluent areas? Honest question, asked without judgement.

          • Honestly, I haven’t really done research, so I can’t give you a good answer. I’ve heard Springfield is pretty diverse and has pretty good schools, but I haven’t verified it myself. Alexandria has good schools and seems less economically segregated than Arlington seems to be. It is a good question.

          • You should probably do more research – Alexandria does not have good schools.

          • Springfield is indeed very diverse, but it doesn’t manifest itself in a way that would be beneficial for a kid. Gang violence is a huge problem there, for example.

      • I grew up in the DC burbs and couldn’t get out fast enough.

  • Only if you don’t have a double wide stroller! 🙂

    • I was just going to say, judging by the number of strollers I see in coffee shops/on the street/in restaurants, etc, there must be a lot of people who do find DC kid-friendly.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I saw a double wide stroller the other day with just 1 kid in it! Isn’t that a good time to use the cheapo umbrella stroller? From the accessories and what mom was wearing, it looked like they could afford an umbrella stroller, but what do I know? Except she was on a tiny sidewalk and didn’t even attempt to make room. I judged her harshly for that.

  • Hopefully you’re making a combined income of well over 250k (i’d even say more if you want other luxuries in life) if you really want to raise a family in DC, otherwise, you’re pretty much shit out of luck.

    • Our HHI is less than half your magical $250k, and we are raising a child very comfortably in DC. And yes, saving for education and retirement. And yes, taking vacations. You appear to have poor money management skills if you think you can’t live well on two modest salaries, or one modest+ salary.

      • Who paid your college loans for you?

        • I have a student loan payment of $500/month. I am a GS-13, live in the District in a one-bedroom apartment. I save around 25% of my net pay. Not hard fetched for me to envision raising a kid in the District with a spouse who made about as much as a GS-11, especially since I (likely) wouldn’t be blowing money on bars and eating out as much as I do now. Not saying it would be easy, but I believe anonymous above.

        • Anon @ 2:54 here. My education was paid half by my merit scholarship, quite a bit by my waitress income, and about $5k a year from my parents. We are chipping away (our very own grown-up selves!) at my husband’s student loans. But again, merit scholarships for undergrad and a free grad degree, so it’s not onerous… if you’re smart and don’t take on more than you can realistically handle. (He wanted to go to law school, but that much debt would be stupid, so he got a PhD for free– or rather, for indentured servitude as a TA– instead.)

    • No i think you just need to prioritize. We have less room inside than we would like, but tons to do outside the home. we don’t have a car, one income, spend money where it matters, and not on “stuff” and over priced “small plates” and take advantage of consignment shops for kids stuff. If you really want to you would be suprised what you can make work and do it very happily.

    • Making WAY less than 250K and raising two kids.

      Full academic scholarship to undergrad helped (less student loans than most).

      There are a lot of programs to help people in DC. Elementary schools across the city are improving.

      Freecycle, parent support groups, no vacations, and very little personal shopping…you can make it work.

      The real problem is quality middle schools….that’s the next struggle….

  • I think this depends on your personal situation more than on the city. Want a more flexible work environment? You might need a new job – whether in DC or elsewhere. Same deal with subsidized childcare (though that’s rare regardless of where you live). The lottery is only for out of bounds and charters, so if you don’t participate, your kid can still go to school (and there are lots of other cities where the schools are just as good/bad as in-bounds public schools here). Traffic is bad here, yes, but it’s bad in other places. When you are giving up those headaches, you are replacing them with others. In another city, you won’t necessarily have free public museums or extensive public transportation. Maybe you don’t have competition for charter school lotteries, but your charter options are limited. Maybe you have a flexible job in another city, but you make a whole lot less and can’t afford a big house. Sure, you don’t have to fight traffic to get to your job, but you have to get two cars and drive 20 minutes out of your way to the grocery store when you need milk on a worknight. I don’t think this city is any more or less inherently family friendly than any other, it’s just about what’s important to you and the choices you want to make.

    • Bingo. OP notes the negatives. And whether these outweigh the positives for their family, well, YMMV.

      I’ll just say diversity, culture, community. I grew up in exurbs and never knew neighbors because everyone drove everywhere. 1 or 2 minority students in the whole school. No one owned a passport. My two year old is light years ahead of this already.

  • i don’t think it is family friendly. this gives me additional respect for those that decide to stay here and make it work.

  • kids? It is dog friendly (as long as you pick up your dog droppings off your yard) and that’s all you need to know! (Posted from the bike lane).

  • saf

    “Family friendly” is such a loaded code word. Also, it means something different to every person.
    Obviously, you have decided it is not. So it goes.
    I love this city, and cannot understand your perspective at all, so my input would not be useful.

  • Free pre-k for 3 and 4 year olds, where else can you get that?
    We have an almost 2 year old, one average income, and think the city is awesome! There are a ton of activities, many of them free and or very cheap, great parks and a lot of families with little ones. While the school system isn’t ideal, I’m hopeful that with the increased population of young families staying around the schools will improve. I am a big believer in the success of a school is related more on the involvement of the parents than how good a teacher is or isn’t.

  • The DC that I grew up in was very family friendly. It then became much less so — in many ways — as the population changed, and the city changed to accommodate this new “market”. What’s interesting to me is that you note that your “perspective has changed”. I’m guessing that you and your husband moved here along with lots of other college educated job-seekers. The city responded by building lots of condos, lots of apartments, lots of restaurants and lots of bars. In the process things like affordable housing, affordable childcare, and low key, affordable, child-friendly entertainment options got plowed under in the name of “progress”.

    Can I ask where you’re moving to?

    • I’ve only lived here for little over 4 years, so I am genuinely curious as to which areas of DC were affordable childcare, and low key, affordable, child-friendly entertainment options “plowed” to make way for condos, lots of apartments, lots of restaurants and lots of bars?

      • I’ve been here 12 years and I’m wondering the same thing. Would you like to go back to the DC that included prostitutes and drug dealers overrunning K St, Logan Circle and the like? Or would you like to complain more about neighborhoods that are safer, albeit pricier than they used to be?

        • The OP brought up lack of affordable childcare as a significant issue. As real estate prices increase, low profit margin businesses — such as home based day care and babysitting decrease. “Pricier” neighborhoods mean that a lot of businesses, services, and resources — including many that most of us would regard as being congenial and convenient — and, yes, “family friendly”– will be priced out of many markets.

        • wow – i think you heard more than you saw. i have lived in logan since 97 (was WAY affordable to buy a whole house ~not condo~ back then – about 150k for some). it was quiet. not a lot of amenities and the occaisional prostitute i would see if out in the wee hours of the morn. but nothing that would prevent me from raising a child. the school situation is/was definitely more scary. and i grew up in some very non diverse suburbs.

          • you must not have been out much at night. I lived on the circle from 96-2002 and saw A LOT of prostitutes, open drug markets, trolling drug vans and inside the circle was definitely a place to avoid due to the aggressive pan handlers and pushers. I still live in the neighborhood – just a couple blocks north of the circle – but those were some crazy times! I used to friends come over to sit on the porch and watch the parade of prostitutes.

          • was coming and going a lot at night by foot. drug dealers in the circle for sure. but nothing that was bad enough to prompt me not to buy in the area. ie – no open air drive buy markets for drugs or prostitutes. a very quiet neighborhood where neighbors knew each other. also per the neighbor crime reports at the time not a lot of muggings, rapes or activity with guns. i do remember humvees set up over by 10th and o street to limit prostitution. the way you are talking its like logan was an uninhabitable war zone pre 2004. in some ways b/c the neighborhood is now extremely popular certain crimes have actually gone up (robberies, car theft, package theft, muggings and the strange sporadic gun play of the last few years). everyone has a different definition of safe. for me at that time (1996-2002) living at 17th and euclid – not safe; certain spots between 10 – 13th around logan also not safe due to gang and other activity.

      • one example would be the Capital Children’s Museum, which operated from 1979-2004 in the building that is now Senate Square Condominiums on H St. NE.

        Affordable housing has also been lost–check out A lot of project-based section 8 buildings have chosen to convert to market rate, and a lot of rental buildings have gone condo.

        The child poverty rate in DC hasn’t gone down much in the past 14 years according to KidsCount data. I think it’s hard to say that DC was great for all kids decades ago, or that it’s clearly gotten better or worse for all kids since. For one take on DC’s past, I recommend First Class, by Allison Stewart (it’s about Dunbar HS but has a lot to say about DC’s schools in general).

        • Thanks for the recommendation. I’m second generation DCPS — and my mother and one of her brothers attended Dunbar, so I’m sure that I’d find this an interesting read.

      • My short answer to your question is: Petworth and Columbia Heights . Some of the child-friendly entertainment options that got plowed include the skating rink and multiple neighborhood movie theaters where my friends and I spent many weekend afternoons watching triple features. I’d throw in the bowling alleys too — but they were over the city line. Fortunately the libraries, the rec centers and the swimming pools are still available, although — alas — my summer camp in Fort Totten got plowed under for a very good cause. As to childcare — my babysitter and her family lived two blocks from my house, and I attended nursery school and afterschool programs within walking distance in Park View. I also attended multiple summer programs in churches in Petworth and Shaw, that were either free or extremely affordable. I think DC continues to be a very child-friendly and family friendly city — but because of real estate prices, I wouldn’t describe it as an “affordable” one.

  • Weird question, since the questioner’s mind is firmly made up. But I’ll bite!
    For my family, and the families we’re friends with, it’s fantastic. Having bought property a while back, we’re all near metro stations. Having had our kids a while back, we all got our kids into great charters via a lottery that is less competitive than it is nowadays. We didn’t have a hard time finding childcare, either… once we adjusted our expectations. (We moaned for weeks about the dearth of daycares. Then we found the world’s best nanny share, something we didn’t even know existed til we became parents in a daycare-poor environment.)
    I take issue with one of the statements: It’s just untrue to say that there is a lack of flexible jobs. I’ve never seen such a huge variety of work arrangements as exist around DC. Not having found one yourself is hardly grounds to state that they don’t exist. Very few of my friends work a traditional M-F, 9-5.
    DC is a wonderful place to live with kids. I remember getting told to “go out and play” a LOT when I was a kid. My mom mostly read novels, and puttered around doing housework. I, on the other hand, take my kid to every park, monument, museum, festival, and sporting event there is. I get a lot out of it, and so does the kid. I honestly think she has never once uttered the phrase “I’m bored”. I do worry she might get a little jaded, what with world-class everything within walking distance.
    This is right for us. I would never attempt to convince anyone else that it should be right for them.

    • Well by all means please let us know of all these flexible jobs that exist as you failed to mention even one.

      • I’m a fed and no one in my office works a traditional 9 to 5. Four day a week schedules, every other Friday off, 50% telework – you name it, it’s available.

        • I think one of the issues is that this is manager dependent. No three feds have the same flexibility or anything. OPM writes policies and managers ignore them or say that you are too essential or whatever. No one does 4 day weeks at my job, there’s no teleworking, nothing. Yet elsewhere managers encourage this. It would be nice if there were consistency.

          • You’re in DoD right? Yeah, that’s the culture. From what I’ve heard from others, State is the same. Most fed agencies offer AWS and/or flex scheduling and at least limited teleworking now.

          • I’m at DOD but most of our social group is made up of feds – from a large variety of agencies. Some get flexibility, some don’t. The fact that there is no standard makes it frustrating as life circumstances change. My husband has much more flexibility than I do (though, anyone has more than me!) and he’s also in a national security position. So I don’t get it – there should be a standard, I think.

      • “Get off of my lawn” ?

      • I’m also a fed. I work 6:30-3, but I only go to the office twice a week. The rest of the time is from home.

    • I’m glad for you and your family and friends, but I expect you already see the challenge to your assertions here: people can’t just travel back in time 7-10 years and start then. It’s great that you were in a position to buy property near metro stations when it was affordable, and it’s perhaps even greater that the city had less competition for slots in charter schools. Demand has raised much higher barriers to entry in 2014. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it is to say that you need to make a lot more money and spend a lot more time finding schools and child care to get the same outcomes today.

      • That’s exactly why I mentioned that we’ve been here a while– because I recognize that the playing field has changed in 10 years. And why I say that it’s great for MY family. I would never presume to tell someone else what might work for theirs.
        Then again, we’re making it quite comfortably a significantly smaller HHI than a lot of the PoPville posters seem to enjoy. So maybe the field IS level… we’re poor and still happy. Should be easy for the young go-getters with their $200k to be just as happy as we are, right? That is, if they don’t mind a 1200 square foot house that’s no where near a Whole Foods or a crossfit gym.

  • I say yes. I have two small kids in the City and have no issues. I agree that the school situation takes some work to figure out but there are definitely many good options, particularly with the advent of the charter school system in the City. When you live in the City I think you need to work harder at getting the kids out and playing but there are a ton of good parks and other free amenities in town. I will also throw in a different factor. To me it is family friendly because my alternative would be a much longer commute and much less time with my kids. I will take that over a big yard any day of the week. I think there is also a worldliness to D.C. that the kids benefit from. It isn’t cookie cutter, it is a truly international city. I can’t see our family moving. We love it.

    • This is exactly why we stayed, as well. Am so glad we decided to stick around after having kids. We have an extra 2 hours per day with them, easily. We both teachers and chose a home in norther Petworth/Kennedy street area. The kids’ bedrooms are small, but our neighborhood is filled with families active in the community with kids the same ages. It’s great to be able to hop on a bus and go to the museums and festivals, nearby. Our yard is small, but playgrounds abound and Rock Creek Park is way better than any backyard we could have in the ‘burbs. There is no right or wrong answer, here. However, it seems that lots more families have been staying or moving in in the past 10 years, or so. It’s obviously working for many. The lottery is certainly not for the faint of heart. You definitely have to roll up your sleeves, dig in and do your research. However, when we did our research of area public school systems in the ‘burbs, it was just as difficult to find a good school system in affordable neighborhoods. We chose a good school, a modest home, and lots of family time.

  • I think the worst scenario is when the family lives in the suburbs and both parents commute to DC. I doubt they have any time or energy left for the kids.

    • When my partner and I lived in and commuted from Annandale we were terrible dog parents because of the commute. I would never ever be able to do that with kids.

    • Absolutely +1,000,000 – and, from experience in the DMV area, the parents’ hearts are in the right place because they think their kids are safer and there are better schools, but it ends up being a net negative experience in ways that they don’t anticipate. When the parents are exhausted, there are fewer opportunities for the kids because the parents just don’t have the energy to help with homework, arrange play dates, soccer teams, camp, etc. It’s not one thing getting put on the back burner when you have a 2 hour commute because EVERYTHING at some point gets put on the back burner, including the kids. Unless you can find a way to make it productive, commuting can totally kill you.

  • Financially, yes there are much easier places to get by but it is also harder to find some of the high paying jobs you find here so I guess it depends on your earning potential. In my line of work, I’d have to take a pay cut that would negate any childcare/housing savings to move to a more affordable area. The only other places where I could maintain my income would actually be more expensive and harder to raise a family like NYC. So in my view, DC is a very family friendly place.

  • Not sure you are really interested in other perspectives on this, but we live in Alexandria (where my child will be able to walk to totally reasonable public schools) and have not really had issues with it taking way too long to get places via car. We can walk to most things we need to do (including metro) and within 15 minutes can drive pretty much anywhere we need. I guess it depends on where you are trying to go. Granted, we will spend a small fortune on daycare over the next few years, but given the positive aspects of living in this area, it’s a tradeoff we are comfortable with right now.

  • pros:
    * public preschool for 3 and 4 year olds
    * free activities like the Smithsonian museums and zoo
    * diverse population
    * generous Medicaid and other social services for low-income families, and a good earned income tax credit.
    * very high foster care/adoption reimbursement rates
    * lots of fun activities for kids (even riding the metro can be exciting for them) like hockey and speedskating classes at Ft. Dupont Park, Capitol Hill Arts Center, Levine School of Music….also the library system is pretty great.
    * DC government requires employers to offer 16 weeks of maternity/paternity/adoption leave
    * you can live close to work so you spend more time with your kids than you do commuting
    * some jobs are very flexible about alternate work schedules, flex time, telework, and other family-friendly things

    * child care before age 3 is $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and so are most summer camps
    * some public schools are good but you either have to be rich or lucky–and the boundary/assignment pattern planning process is contributing to the uncertainty
    * high cost of housing, especially for places with 3 bedrooms
    * traffic/taking kids on public transportation
    * lots of kid-friendly activities take place in the suburbs
    * some jobs aren’t very family friendly (federal govt doesn’t offer any paid maternity leave, just vacation time and sick leave). And the DC FMLA is still unpaid leave
    * business/residential development focus seems to be on attracting childless people: lots of studio apartments and expensive bars are coming in, but relatively few playgrounds and such

    overall, I would say DC is a fantastic place to raise kids if you’re rich, as good as anywhere else if you’re poor (especially if you’re diligent about seeking out services and opportunities), and tough if you’re in the middle. Living in a suburb where one parent can afford to stay home or work part time and the other has a reasonable commute, with good schools and a nice house, sounds great. But a lot of people in DC both *want* to have full-time jobs and work in fields that are clustered here. So leaving isn’t feasible for everyone.

  • I totally get what the OP means by “family friendly” but as someone who isn’t planning to have kids I have to say this rubs me the wrong way – the real question is “Is DC kid friendly?”

    Families come in all shapes and sizes and I think conflating “families” with “parents and kids” is unnecessarily exclusive.

    I will say I think marriage equality definitely makes DC more family friendly by making it open to more types of families!

    • yes, I’m sorry – “kid friendly” – families do come in many shapes and sizes. I wrote my question one handed while holding a sleeping baby in the other!

    • Meh, this seems like the ultimate nitpicking to me. I mean if you’re not talking about kids then there’s really no difference between “family-friendly” and “friendly”. And if you say “kid-friendly” then you’re not including the parents, which doesn’t make any sense since they’re the ones with all the decision-making power. And so on and so forth.

      • I agree with the main point, though, that a kid who is raised in DC is a lot more likely to grow up thinking it’s normal for someone to have two moms or two dads. And that’s worth a lot.

        • Yes. This is worth a lot to us. The fact that we are a 2 mommy family hasn’t ever raised eyebrows in DC – not with daycares or with doctors, not with neighbors or other families I run into on the playgrounds. And knowing that our family is legally protected is a weight off my shoulders.

      • saf

        Let me guess, you have or plan to have kids? For those of us who don’t, it’s very negating language. We have families. They just don’t look like one expects when one hears the phrase “family friendly.”

        • Guess again, smart guy. I’m sorry you feel that way, but I just can’t get worked up about something so minor and insignificant.

          • saf

            Dude, FYI, I’m female.
            Other than that, as has been amply demonstrated here, different things matter to different people. Precision of language is important to me.

        • JinDC – no problem and good luck with your move! I should have stated my concern more carefully – I wasn’t trying to call you out specifically – “family friendly” isn’t a term you invented and it does typically mean parents and kids, but I have to agree with saf – I really am bothered that people don’t consider me and my spouse a family. But Anon @3:45, to call my comment picky is really dismissive. I’ll also note that as someone caring for an aging parent with a disability my version of “family friend” includes affordable eldercare options close to home. Again, I think for people raising kids in the District kid-friendly is an essential question. But don’t say the rest of us aren’t families. Language does matter.

          • it isn’t – we have an odd extended family structure so to us, my kid will see gay families and families without kids. I get it:)

    • If you’re raising a child, you and that child are a family. Nobody said “nuclear family friendly”. You’re reading your own interpretation into the word “family”.

      • Be serious – almost all answers on here are about children – that is how almost everyone is reading the term “family” in this context.

  • Aside from the school lottery system (which is terrible and, AFAIK, unique to DC) your complaints would apply to just about any city. There is not affordable childcare anywhere-this is not a DC specific issue. Flexible jobs may be more plentiful in other places, but I don’t think their rarity is DC-specific either. The traffic, long travel times, etc. would happen in any city of this size annd population density. i think that DC is family-friendly, sure. But you seem to want somewhere more family CENTERED, and DC is not that place.

  • have 1 toddler and a baby on the way – i love city living and my own version of hell is to live in the suburbs. the cost of child care in DC is the worst aspect for me. for a family making around 100K total, day care, nannies, and nanny shares are crazy expensive and take a giant percentage of our income. housing for a family of 3+ is also quite expensive. i worry about the public schools, especially if you do not have good luck with lotteries for pre-school and charter schools, but my family’s long term plan is to move to my husband’s country of origin, so i’m not sure we’ll be here by that time. (we should be there now, where child care is subsidized!!!)
    but there are so many child and family friendly activities, events, festivals, museums, etc. to take advantage of, i generally do want to raise kids in a city rather than the suburbs.

  • I always wonder this too. Planning my perfect future, I marry the guy I’m with now and we have kids in 5-7 years. We’d probably have a combined income of around or just under $75k a year. Considering the high cost of living and my massive amount of student debt I can’t imagine surviving here while having a kid, but I guess people make it work somehow, and I would love to be one of them someday.
    As for raising a kid, taking expenses out of the picture, I think it would be a great place. Lots of opportunities school-wise (public and private), lots of nice neighborhoodly neighborhoods, museums/libraries with kids programs, accessibility (it’s close to my family and okay traffic is bad but you can usually plan around it), the amount of parks and walkable neighborhood shops.

    • Hello Boise!!

    • A combined income of $75K? Yikes. Yeah, Boise might be the best option…

    • You have a combined income of $75K now or that’s where you think you’ll be in 5-7 years?

      • Right now we have a combined income around 45k and we’re doing just fine thank you.

        • That wasn’t meant to be a slight against you, I was just curious. A HHI of $75K is definitely nothing to sneeze at- especially considering the nation’s average HHI for a family is somewhere around $40K. I’m very sure people raise children on much less than $75K a year and do fine.

        • With “massive” student loan debt? I applaud you, kd. You must be some kind of sorceress…

        • sorry if this comes off harsh, how old are you? Did you both just graduate from college?I would think combined income with college degrees should be a lot higher than 45K.

          • NGOs and nonprofits can pay very little to idealistic people who value passion and making a change over monetary gain.

          • I don’t really understand the sorceress comment so thanks I guess? I’m 25, have one masters in special education and am halfway through a second masters in library sciences. So now I’m working an hourly library assistant job until I graduate next may when I’m hoping to find an actual librarian position and basically double what I make now.

    • I love raising a kid in the city, but honestly, I would choose a lower cost area if I were you. The trade-offs that you would have to make to live here would make it very difficult, and you could have a very nice life elsewhere, even keeping in mind that your income could be Lower elsewhere. Good luck.

  • lovefifteen

    I certainly wouldn’t rank it as one of the best places to raise a family, unless you’re pulling in $150K+.

  • My wife and I actually did the math to make the determination of stay or go. DC is “family friendly enough” if you make a household income of at least 250K/yr. You need to increase that number by 20K/yr for the second and every subsequent child.

    Why? Schools and housing. I know some of you reading this will disagree because you have a child in a DC school and you will take umbrage to the suggestion you aren’t doing all you can do for your kid(s), but reasonable adults can admit that DC schools are atrocious by every local and national metric used to evaluate them. None of them are fit for kids, and if you want to stay in the District, then you have to be willing to spend 20K a year for private or parochial school.

    Sure, you can let your kid go to elementary school in most of the city. It’s fine until they are in 3 or 4 th grade but middle schools and high schools are a disaster. I know this because we visited a dozen of each to talk to the faculty and did our due diligence on each during the decision making process. Even the best high school in DC doesn’t hold a candle to the average high school in Arlington, Montgomery County, Fairfax or Loudoun.

    You could also spend half your year, every year researching the ever changing charter school field, trying the lotteries but again, other than one or two, none are ones I would send a child to when you get such better schools within a 30 mile radius of downtown.

    Secondly, housing. There is 4K a month allocated in that number for housing, mortgage/rent/property tax/utilities etc.

    You can get housing for less, but it isn’t near any amenities and if you are going to pay that much for housing and not get metro or retail access, then you might as well move to another city or the burbs.

    There are some other ancillary things, but as the census demographic data shows us, DC has become a playground for the very young, single and well paid, which is absolutely great for the District and its treasury. That is also great when you want wall to wall bars or to try the 4 new small plate places that open up every week in town where you blow 80 bucks a person on food and still have to make yourself a sandwich when you get home, but that immediately changes when you have kids, either by course or by necessity.

    There are some cultural amenities, and as valuable as the Smithsonian is, you don’t spend every day in a museum and moving 15 miles from downtown doesn’t make it unusable.

    • you sound like a peach.

      • I don’t know how bad at budgeting you have to be to think you need 250K a year to live in DC.

        • Well, as he said, that’s assuming you send your kid to a private school for $20K.

          • 4K a month for housing? Really?

          • jim_ed

            yeah,but in fairness that probably includes the cost of the domestic help as well.
            What, you think that Steinway Grand Piano is going to dust itself? Get real.

          • Pretty sure you don’t need an 800k house to raise a family.

          • The 30 yr rate on a 600k mortgage is 3200 a month. Throw in property tax and insurance and you are up to 3600 a month, and all the books tell you to budget for 1% yr in household repairs. (6k) or 500 a month.

            So it looks like he was pretty close.

          • He’s right if you consider the school issue. A house for a family of 4 in DC in school bounds for an actual decent public school is 800k minimum.

    • I disagree with almost everything in your post. Your opinions just aren’t fact. I’m a very capable parent of two living in the city, with a combined family income <$250K.

    • Best high school in DC by average SAT score: School Without Walls, 1706 according to

      Average SAT score in Montgomery County: 1648, according to

      According to the College Board, the average in Fairfax: 1663. Arlington’s is 1665. Loudon’s is 1606.

      So no, you can’t say “Even the best high school in DC doesn’t hold a candle to the average high school in Arlington, Montgomery County, Fairfax or Loudoun.” Unless you like being wrong.

      Also, white kids in DC have higher average NAEP scores than white kids anywhere else in the country. If your kid is not white and/or not poor, they will likely do just fine in DCPS. Or anywhere else; they probably have well-educated parents who care a lot about education.

      Of course there is a lot of room for improvement in DCPS. But there are kids getting a good education there, and many of those who are scoring poorly have challenges that extend well beyond what’s going on in school, and would likely exist no matter what school district they were in.

      • Did not know about School Without Walls, thanks for the info! Good to know.

      • You have to be kidding right? You found the BEST school in the entire city (if which can only accommodate a handful of students) only does 3.5 % better than the AVERAGE Mont COunty school, and you think that reflects positively on the DC school system at large? !!

        • no, but I think that it is a good response to Francois’ comment that “Even the best high school in DC doesn’t hold a candle to the average high school in Arlington, Montgomery County, Fairfax or Loudoun.” And that’s who I was responding to.

          Clearly DC has a long way to go until its average is equal to those areas’ averages. But it’s also working with a student body with a MUCH higher poverty rate. Controlling for household income, I bet DC does about as well as those other districts. NAEP scores indicate that DC students who aren’t poor do very well. From “White students in DCPS outperform white students in every other participating city, and the same is true of its non-poor students in both fourth-grade tests….In fourth-grade math, DCPS’s non-poor students saw the biggest gains compared to their peers in the 21 other cities, and white students saw the fifth-biggest gains. In eighth-grade math, DCPS’s non-poor students also outgained their peers in all participating cities. In fourth-grade reading, DCPS’s non-poor students again had the largest gains compared to their peers in all cities, and white students had the fifth-biggest gains. This was true of DCPS’s white and non-poor students in eighth-grade reading as well.”

          I think that a kid who isn’t dealing with poverty and all often goes with it, and who has a caregiver or two with some education and desire to seek out good opportunities, is likely to do fine in DCPS or in another school district. They might get more AP classes in Bethesda. They might get more diversity in DC. One is not clearly better than the other.

        • You should read the point being refuted again.

          “you can’t say “Even the best high school in DC doesn’t hold a candle to the average high school in Arlington, Montgomery County, Fairfax or Loudoun.” Unless you like being wrong.”

          The point is, the best high school in DC does indeed hold a candle – and, in fact, produces students who score higher on the SAT – than average scores in MoCo.

          It’s important to actually read an entire exchange for context before you jump in it.

    • Hm, we have a 3 BR, 2.5 bath house with separate 1BR income apartment that is in the middle of a walkable neighborhood with amenities and close to a metro. And no I’m not talking about the outskirts of DC. We pay about $2800 for our mortgage/taxes, utilities. and that’s before you factor in the rent we get from the apartment which brings it down considerably.

      • Where is the house and how much did you pay for it? The question isn’t “is dc a good place to raise a family if you bought a house here a decade ago” instead of now.

        • By the numbers referenced above, and assuming a 4% mortgage, the person has a 400k mortgage. If he / she put down 5%, the the house was originally ~420k.

          I can’t think of one place in the District where you can get a 3 bedroom house with a rental unit for 420k. You either live in a place most wouldn’t consider very safe, or you bought the house quite some time ago. Which is it?

          • Or they put way more than 5% down and the house is more expensive than you think it is. Or they bought at a time when rates where 3.3 – 3.8. There’s a lot of different variables and your assumptions aren’t the only ones that work for the numbers given.

          • We bought in 2012, 3.5% mortgage and a 20% down payment. The house was $578k. It was my second house so I used the profit from my starter house (which was $200k in a rough area) to get the current house. Oh and it’s just north of H St on the west end.

      • forget private school – day cares or nannies can cost $15 – 20K per year. trying to swing it on a family income less than half of what this commenter has cited as the minimum, but our budget is crazy strict for a few years.

        • Ok, but in places without free preschool, your bills would be high til kindergarten. Here, you pay a premium for a nanny or daycare til age 3, then send the tot to school. It evens out.

      • And when did you buy the house?

      • A 4 bedroom home within walking range to a metro with one rental unit would be worth 800k+ in every part of DC I can think of, east of the river. What magic place are you talking about?

        • West end of H. It was in questionable shape, so we fixed it up using money from the sale of my first house. It’s now worth probably about $800k in its current condition, but we didn’t spend anywhere near that.

          • Well, it sounds like you were in a very good position, and took advantage of opportunities that don’t exist today. It’s great that you’re set up, but rather inappropriate to suggest that others could do the same in today’s market.

    • Your statement that no DC public school is “fit for kids” disqualifies you from being taken seriously. Move along, now, and let the people who actually know what their talking bout carry on.

    • Sorry, Francois, with hyperbole like this: “You could also spend half your year, every year researching the ever changing charter school field”, how do you expect to be taken seriously?
      That’s before we get the mandatory $4k a month for housing and the minimum $80 per person for a meal out. You are either really terrible at money management, or trying to make an invalid point.

  • jim_ed

    Like just about everything else in life, it’s a trade off. DC has more family-friendly things to do than just about anywhere outside of Branson, MO (just kidding, that place is my hell), and many of them are completely free. You’d be hard pressed to name another place on earth that offers the quality and quantity of art, culture, and learning for free that DC does. Shockingly, people like living near this kind of stuff, not to mention the high paying jobs, and so its expensive to live here. It’s not easy to raise kids here comfortably if your family income is less than $150k. I know we could live like royalty if we cashed out moved to some dying rust belt burg, but you lose lots of those benefits, not to mention you take on a different but just as critical set of societal ills that you see in DC. The suburbs may offer more peace of mind, but there’s a whole ‘nother can of worms about what your kids are getting into while you’re stuck in traffic commuting to and from the office.
    To make a rambling post more succinct – if you’re willing to make some sacrifices in how big of a house you can afford and how much disposable cash you have on hand, and are willing to put in effort to get your kid into a decent school and don’t mind that they may not look like very many of their classmates(and lets be real, this is often what people mean when they leave the city for “good schools”), then yeah, DC is very kid friendly.

    • My girlfriend grew up in the DC burbs and the stories she has about the shit kids got into is mind-boggling. Where were their parents? Who was watching them or at least telling them not to do stupid or dangerous or illegal things? Evidently they were spending all their waking hours at work or sitting in traffic. And then there were the sad stories of the kids who were sexually abused by whoever was assigned to watch them. If I had kids I’d place a priority on spending as much time with them as possible, at least while they’re young. So that could mean living in the city or living someplace else entirely, but the DC suburbs would be dead last on my list unless we had jobs right next to home.

      • jim_ed

        Absolutely. My wife grew up in the DC suburbs and has basically the exact same story. And its worse the further out you go. A very good friend of mine grew up in the southern exurbs of DC, where people move so they can guy a 2,500 sf colonial for a modest price, and his stories of high school are horrifying – middle class kids with no supervision because their parents left to commute to DC at 4:30am and got home at 8pm – buying guns, becoming dope fiends, committing crimes all while their parents think they’ve bought the american dream because they go to a decent high school and have a pleasant suburban house. Just crazy stuff.

        • Same stories from the NYCburbs. We are staying in the city, no commuting for us.

          • Let’s also not forget how dangerous the traffic in the DC suburbs is. People get scared away by urban crime, but it’s far more likely that they or their kids will be killed in a car accident if they live in NoVA or wherever. Not to mention the health problems and decreased lifespan associated with a car dependent lifestyle.

          • Pretty much everyone I know who grew up in DC burbs has totaled at least one car in their youth. Mostly because they were driving underage, or at best didn’t have a parent supervising them and teaching them how to drive. Add an inexperienced and barely supervised teenager to the madness of DC-area traffic and accidents are inevitable.

  • We decided 9 years ago to stay in the city “temporarily” after having our first kid and have been extraordinarily surprised at some of the great kid activities in DC. We are still in DC and very happy about our decision. We found a charter that we like and have a path forward (hopefully) through high school. I encourage you (and anyone else) to try it for a few years (i.e. before school age certainly) before you make a decision. On a side note, you could probably find tons of information on just this issue on dc urban moms.

    Some of the key factors not mentioned previously that influenced our decision:

    DC co-op programs for ages 2-5. You have to have a flexible work schedule to take advantage of this, but the program, which is citywide, is great and both our kids did this.

    Smithsonian art program

    National Theatre Sat. kids’ program

    DC libraries story time and other kid events (we started with Wathi T. when it was a trailer; but all the libraries that we’ve gone to are nice)

    DC pools are free (plenty are kid friendly)

    Parks are nicer than you think

    Shorter work and activity commute enhances quality of life/family time

    Good luck!

    Great parent community (it’s a growing group and most are very supportive of each other)

  • I think this is, of course, a matter of opinion. What is important to one family is not to another, and so on, but I do find DC friendly for OUR family.

    We live in a quiet, residential neighborhood in NE DC, but are walking distance to busier neighborhoods with more retail, restaurants, etc. There are lots of young kids on our block. DC has truly excellent playgrounds, rec centers and libraries and is continually investing a lot of money in them, in addition to the Smithsonians – lots of free things to do with kids. Yes, child care is very expensive here, but salaries are generally higher, and free public education begins at age 3, two years earlier than almost any other part of the country, which cuts down on costs in the long-run. Also, DC has MUCH stricter daycare teacher/student ratios than most states, which is part of the reason for the high cost, but also really improves the care. Our daughter is only 2, so we haven’t done the lottery yet, but there are definitely a lot of good schools out there and everyone I know in DC with school aged kids has found a school that they are happy with, so I’m hopeful. I do agree that it’s a lot of stress, but ultimately it’s much more fair than the standard “you have to buy an expensive house in order to be in a good school district” arrangement, so I do like that. I think DC has a lot of offer families and I feel continually lucky that our daughter gets to grow up here.

  • I would never raise a family in DC. Poor schools and disengaged elected officials. Do I even need to mention crime and public safety? Pass.

    • Have fun rotting away in whatever hell hole suburb you came from. I doubt you’ll be missed here.

      • why do people think that one must choose only between living in DC and living in a “hell hole” suburb? live provides more options than that.

        • You’re right. I made an assumption that this idiot is from the suburbs. May be true, may be not. In my defense, I’ve been in DC for 20 years (and — gasp — is successfully raising kids here) and have noticed that people from other cities seem to get DC. People from small towns, too. It’s the suburban folks who have unrealistic expectations that get dashed every time.
          In this case, the poster above managed to be both facile and unproductive, and at the same time dismissive of those who have no choice but raise a family here and insulting to those who choose to do so. Again, he or she won’t be missed.

    • Phew! Less competition for schools!

  • Dearie, I remember feeling the same anxiety when my husband and I first contemplated moving to our Nation’s Capitol. We had all of the usual concerns of people moving to DC- will our new house have a large enough yard for our two award-winning Greyhounds? Will the garage be able to accommodate the BMW AND the Range Rover simultaneously? How will our two sweet children- Rutherford and Agatha- be able to make their cello and German lessons given the city’s legendary reputation for traffic? It’s questions like these that can drive one simply mad!

    Well, one night, we were moved by a bit of a devil-may-care attitude stoked by a few glasses of chardonnay and decided to put an offer down on a modestly priced four-bedroom in Georgetown, and my fears melted away once one of our movers adjusted his back brace and put down the first heavy box of silverware in what would become our new second dining room. I eagerly dove into the rich social spaces of the city- last Tuesday finally saw me working up the courage to leave the Ann Taylor sweater in the closet and venture east into the gritty sprawl of Dupont Circle. DC can really be an interesting place if you put yourself out there- as long as you’re home before dark, when Marion Barry stalks the streets.

    Sure, it’s been a little bit of an adjustment. We only get our groceries delivered to us from Whole Foods twice weekly, and there have been times when I’ve disguised Magdalena, our Guatemalan au pair, and sent her to Trader Joe’s for the odd apertif here and there. Also, we had to cut down on running the air conditioners and pool heater during the summer, and now only cool the rooms when we’re actually in them and only swim during the summer months. But if you’re willing to scrimp and save, DC can be totally affordable. Husband Nolan also traded in his BMW for a Lexus, but none of his colleagues at the lobbying firm look down on him. The kids’ private tutor hasn’t had an issue finding parking several blocks from our house- our neighborhood generally frowns upon 2008 Subaru Imprezas for reasons concerning aesthetics and blight.

    So, what the hey- take a chance and move to DC! It may be an adjustment, but after all, You’re Only Alive Once! (YOLO)

  • I’ll qualify (or disqualify) myself by saying I don’t have kids. I’m nowhere even near the path of having a child. But I’ve thought about it. I’ve been here 12 yrs and love living in DC but my feeling is it is becoming a city of the haves and have nots. Unless you bought property 3+ years ago, you are screwed if you are looking to buy something that will accommodate a family of three. I know you don’t have to make gangbuster money to live in DC but you do have to do pretty well with a dual income household to manage.

    There’s no right or wrong choice. From what I’ve been told, everything changes once you have a kid and you don’t mind sacrificing for the children. If that means moving to an affordable backwaters location, I’ve had friends who have done that and have no regrets. I have other friends who have the means and are staying in the District.

    For myself, I think I would have to leave the region were I ever to have children, knowing my limitations in earning power.

  • For me, it comes down to the schools. Everything is peachy if you can afford Gonzaga or St. Peter’s School on Capitol Hill (a blue ribbon school, btw). Keep in mind we all have different requirements, thresholds, minimums when I say this: no family member of mine would ever be in a DC public school. Yes, it isn’t the 90s anymore, but the system is still rampant with problems and problematic kids. People are free to place that gamble with their own kids’ education or be the trail blazers for public school improvement. However, you get one shot with your kids. Even great well-educated parents cannot completely make up for the poor education or the ill-behaved peers found in DCPS. Like I said, we all have different thresholds. I literally cringe at the thought of my nephew being in DCPS- yes, cringe. My threshold is a lot lower than most, I guess.

    • There are a lot of good public schools in DC. It isn’t a sure think that your kid will get into one, but if they do, they can get an amazing education without either leaving the city or going private. There is no school in this area of any type that I would choose over my child’s charter (we have been there for three years and currently plan to stay for 12 more).

  • We have our first little one due in June, and I think DC is great for our particular family. Our savings will take a hit due to childcare costs, but we got a great price on our home in Shaw/Truxton Circle and have plenty of space. We love the walkability and the amenities that D.C. has to offer as well as the job opportunities. Public education is a concern, but we plan on being closely involved in our child’s education. That said, if I were in the OP’s situation and wanted to leave D.C., I would look for a college town or state capital where there are good job and cultural opportunities and decent public transit. Forget the ‘burbs; no interest.

  • I find this whole conversation really interesting, so, although some people complained the question had “no point”, I’m glad it was asked!!
    My husband and I live in the Truxton Circle area and we’re thinking about having a kid this year. I think about this stuff a LOT – I feel like the city is a good place to have a 1- 2- or 3-year-old (provided you can find some childcare you can afford) but I don’t know what happens after that. I’m trying to come around to the public schools… I grew up in a very bland suburb of Phoenix and while our schools were great, I was miserable and honestly most of my classmates have not made much of themselves. So, I don’t know why I feel like “great schools” is so important. But it’s a difficult instinct to fight either way.

    • Thank you! It was to start a conversation – it’s been interesting to see what some people see as valuable in here they live. I grew up in a cultured area, so I guess I just assumed my kid would go to museums and whatnot.

      What’s interesting, though, is how no one mentioned living near family as something they wanted for their kid(s).

      Maybe we are weird in that! We are very close with our parents and our baby is my parent’s only grandchild (and likely will be unless my older lesbian sister goes for it very soon….tick tock) and I want to be able to let them grandparent as long as they can. I want my child to have memories of his grandparents like I do of mine.

      • Not being near family is definitely a downside to living in DC with small kids. But I don’t think it makes DC inherently less kid-friendly. Any place that is not the place that your family lives (assuming of course that your family all lives in one place) is going to have the same problem. I think it’s a totally legitimate reason to want to move, I just don’t think it has anything to do with whether or not DC is a good place to raise a family.

      • One set of grandparents moved to DC last year, to a little apartment around the corner from our house. Why should WE move? They’re the ones who are retired. We would have a very hard time finding jobs in the little podunk town they lived in before. They love it here, too. They lived in a big city decades ago, before moving to a small town to raise kids. They say that being back in the city makes them feel young again.

    • I live in Truxton Circle, too… and in the past 3 years I’ve witnessed a few shootings first hand, my fiance was sexually assaulted by a crackhead in broad daylight, I’ve been attacked, robbed, and threatened, like 30+ people have been shot within 5 blocks of my home, and on average, the police show up in about 45 minutes. It’s not the place I’d want to raise MY future kids, even before thinking about the schools. I like the neighborhood, but it’s no place for a family.

      • I’m so sorry to hear you that you and your fiance both have had to go through so much! I’ve been up in DC since 1998, and, aside from a few scares (drunk firing a gun outside my house, property theft, etc), I’ve been lucky. I bought in Hill East/Stadium Armory about 5 years ago. I consider it safe-ish for me, but I would have some concerns if I had a child living in that area. I do think it’s improving — and luckily very quickly.

  • Different people have different needs depending on their Istage of life. Would I want to live now where I lived when I was 20? No. Do I want to be where I am now when I’m 65? No. I don’t care of one place or another is family friendly or not, or if its senior friendly or not. Anybody who expects to stay in one place forever is either expecting too much, or has low expectations.

  • My family loves it here. And we have no problems.

    OH – when you mean families you mean a mommy and a daddy and small children.

    I’m sorry – when did the definition of family get changed to “school-age children?”

    I have five brothers and two parents. I’m the youngest, at 40. Are we no longer a family?

    To answer your question. If you have to ask – no. There are plenty of small cities (with no jobs, but who cares?) where you can raise your children, I mean, family.

  • I think the real question here might not be “Is DC Family Friendly?” But “Is DC a good place to raise a family, when considering that both parents are likely high-achievers but not earning the massive salary needed to buy the top-end education that MIGHT be available in other cities to people of similar station?”

    …and the answer is an obvious “NO.”

    Anyone who wants to maximize their kid’s ability to get into the best school their child can reach, and do so on a budget, would not choose DC. It’s really simple.

  • I think it is. It think most people don’t use all of the resources that are available in this city when it comes to purchasing a home. I’m 36yrs old and just bought my second home in DC. I do want kids and will stay in the city.

  • I think DC falls between “family-intolerant” and “super family friendly” depending on your age, your income, your method of producing a family, and how far in advance you planned for it. For a young heterosexual person, maybe early 20s, who is a single parent on $50k a year and conceived naturally, this place can be a very, very challenging place to raise your child, especially if you want to give them a sibling. Similarly, I’ve known reproductively-challenged straight couples and gay couples who went with adoption or surrogacy who found those costs mutually exclusive with being able to have enough left once they had a child to live the lifestyle they wanted in the city.
    However, it most certainly can be done. ESPECIALLY with a lot of planning and foresight. The smartest thing I have seen done is a couple, or even young friends or siblings, buying a multi-unit building in a transitioning area. It’s easier to get a loan for one of those than many people think if it’s 3 units or less, especially if one of the buyers has a decent down payment from selling their old apartment or from a generous family member. Then, over your 20s, the building hopefully appreciates in value and the rental income increases. When you get married, you continue living in one of the units, until your family grows enough that you need to merge two adjacent units into a larger one. It allows you to live in a much larger, probably nicer property than buying into the neighborhood now, and it guarantees your flexibility as your family grows without needing to move. The same concept would apply to living in a small house that zoning and HPRB allows you to expand, though that carries the risk that zoning or HPRB changes its mind before you’re ready to do an addition.
    I know it isn’t for everyone, but I did it and I know a few friends / eventual-spouses-of-friends who did it, and it was a great move for us. I always saw housing as my biggest obstacle to having a family, and it seemed like such a circular problem. By the time I could afford to get a bigger house, I couldn’t afford the increased purchase price of the house, so I’d wait till I saved more, but then the house got more expensive, and on and on. I felt like I was chasing my own tail. Buying a bigger house as a multi-unit allowed me to lock in the 2003 purchase price for the whole house and just assume more and more of the property as my own as I was able to afford it over time. In the early years, though, I lived in the smallest, ugliest unit and let my tenants pay more and more of the mortgage.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I find the schools conversation pretty interesting. The first part of my schooling I lived in a hell hole with good schools. Then for high school I lived in a vibrant, multicultural city that I love with crap public schools (private, magnet, & charter schools were not an option b/c my dad is a socialist). I went to a pretty mediocre school (that lied about their classes, still bitter), but my parents instilled in me the need for education. Although the school wasn’t great, wasn’t even one of the best, my parents made up for that. I went to college, then grad school and wound up here with a good paying job. And I’m the slacker in the family.
    It’s a balancing act between what the city can offer and what the parent offer. For me, great parents made up for any negatives of where I lived. (Seriously, I have the best parents in the world.)

  • My husband and I are trying to make the exact same decision as you. Looking forward to what everyone has to say.

    • My wife and I just went through this conversation; we decided to get out of here all together.

    • We’re giving it another 3-5 years. For now, we have a wonderful day care arrangement, a second child on the way, and the money for private school. Plus, we’re in an “up and coming” neighborhood and I plan to make a mint off my house. But I don’t see us staying here forever unless we strike the jackpot and end up in upper NW.

  • “HAS Become?”

  • I do not think that having children in DC is any harder than it is anywhere else in the U.S., and it’s probably easier than most places. While some people appear to to recognize this, we do have a relative abundance of flexible jobs, and D.C. salaries are relatively high compared to the cost of living. In many professions that are popular in this area, you basically have New York salaries without New York property taxes and housing costs. If you’re not one of those people with a flexible or high paying job I understand why you may disagree – but it’s really not typical in any city, large or small, for people to be permitted to telework half the time, or to get five weeks-plus of vacation per year, or four months of maternity leave. There are a relatively large number of jobs in D.C. where one or more of these things occur.
    I grew up in the suburbs of a smaller city where the cost of living was about as inexpensive as it gets in this country. It’s still that way, yet my friends who live there and have kids complain about all of the same things as D.C. parents: it’s almost impossible to make ends meet with only one working spouse, but when both spouses work a huge portion of the second spouse’s salary just ends up going to child care expenses and the couple feels frazzled and guilty. Schools are mediocre/too expensive/crowded. College is unaffordable.
    It’s not easy anywhere. Child care in the U.S. sucks, and given where wages are for the middle class, most people frankly can’t afford children. But at least there are enough high-paying jobs in DC that you have perhaps the best possible chance of affording certain items where costs are relatively constant across the country. Plane tickets, college, clothing, etc. My friends in “cheaper” cities are in the same boat as people here – they just can’t afford a vacation.

  • One other good thing – If you get your kid through high school here, they’re eligible for the DC TAG program to get $10K to defray the difference between in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition at state public universities. That isn’t such a bad deal – you’re not stuck with your state’s public schools and can go to any state university for (nearly) in-state tuition.

  • I find these conversations very interesting. Though I’m a gay 30-year-old who is unlikely to have children of my own, many of my friends are straight couples in the beginning stages of starting their own families. I’ve seen a few folks touch on it here and I’ve heard it, anecdotally, from my social group, but I think a significant part of conversations and opinions surrounding raising children are based in our own childhood experiences. For my social group and myself, our childhood paradigms are suburban and rural, even though we’ve all settled (for the time being) in DC. Nearly all of my sample of friends are choosing to stay in DC as their families grow, partly because they’ve identified their biases based in the suburban/rural paradigm of child-raising, and have consciously chosen to make adjustments to their expectations. They know that, at least initially, each child may not be able to have his/her own private bedroom; that they won’t have 2+ cars for the family, including a separate car for each child of driving age; that their active parenting will have to fill in for gaps left by schools, whether public, private, or charter; but they also know that they have the proverbial “village,” of which I’m fortunate to be a part, to help them along the way. Granted, I’m able to look at this situation as more of a passive observer and I’m not doing the nitty-gritty calculations on monthly family budgeting, but my feeling, having been raised in a pretty bland suburb in middle-America, is that there is a tremendous opportunity to be had by raising children in a dense urban environment, like DC!

  • Yes, if you can afford it or hit the school lottery jackpot. If not for our ability to buy our way into a higher level of comfort, we’d move in a second. But if we moved, it would be out of the DC area entirely. The cost of living and miserable commutes in the suburbs simply aren’t justified, in my opinion.

  • I think the question should be rewritten as is DC a good place to have a child and raise an infant. I would say yes most definitely. But there really seems to be a lack of the some 200 responses with middle aged children. What does one do with an 8 or 10 year old. I traveled all over for sports as a kid. Would that be easy to do living in DC. Alot of what people mention as positives are fantastic for young children. Those that say you need $250K might actually have older children. I for one have two boys and can’t imagine them living in the city at a middle age.
    Surprised that out of all the comments, age of children was never brought up

    • This is where our discussions always end up. We currently have a 5yo and plan to have another kid next year. We’re in a charter we love (but not one that gets ‘buzz’) and we have a wonderful apartment in a safe, kid-friendly part of the city. Our families live in the area (inside the beltway). We make less than $100K, but really, we lack for nothing. We’ve been able to find great affordable summer camps and we’re saving now for infant care. We’re happy and don’t want to leave any time soon.


      Middle school. What do we do for middle school? We can’t afford private and likely still won’t be able to afford it in 6-7 years. We’re not worried so much about sports and activities, but peers and academics. The suburbs are worse, as it would increase our commute and decrease time spent with our kid(s) and it’s not like living close-in is that much cheaper. It’s tough.

      For now, we’re here. We’re taking it one year at a time. We love living in DC, but we’re not blind to the challenges.

      • Yep. This is as far as I can get too. I don’t have kids yet but I can’t help but feel like once we start, we’ll be setting the timer for when we eventually have to leave… probably by the time they’re 9 or 10 years old. I mean, who knows, a lot can change by then, but by that age I start to think that peer groups matter more than parenting and I am just not sure how I feel about my 10 year old in a pack of kids roaming the streets of DC.

        Again, I don’t have kids, so take it all with a grain of salt. But, I do feel the conversation about having a 3 year old in DC is very different than the convo about having a 13 year old.

        • We are planning on staying forever, as our jobs are niche and it’s pretty much here, San Francisco or NYC (or overseas! which is what we really want). And we are also involved with our kid’s school and plan to continue being involved. We’re hopeful that there will be progress with the middle schools and high schools , but as parents who had excellent public school experiences and a plethora of electives and academic opportunities, we’re concerned that we won’t be able to provide our kids with that same experience. For our family, the benefits of city living greatly outweigh moving right now, but we know that could change one day.

      • I haven’t done the math on this, but I wonder whether people who buy homes in good suburban school districts really save much versus people who do charters/DCPS until middle school and then switch over to private.
        Even a pretty modest house in Silver Spring starts around $600k, and while that’s also the case in many D.C. neighborhoods, it’s still possible to get a nice house for substantially less. More importantly, property taxes in MoCo are about triple what they are in D.C. (I don’t think they’re quite as bad in NoVA, but good luck finding a place for under $750k). And there are (for most homeowners) income tax advantages to living in D.C. versus MD or VA. Factor in buying and insuring several more cars over that period, too, since more affordable suburban areas will be car-dependent.
        So the suburban schools aren’t even close to free – over 18 years, you’re spending a lot of money to live there. Possibly enough to put at least one child through Catholic school for 7 years, especially if you plan ahead a bit and take advantage of 529s and the like.

    • One of the big deciding factors between the charter school we picked for our daughter and the DCPS we were accepted to for PK3 was that the charter goes all the way through 8th grade. We might not be here still then but it’s nice to have that option locked in if we do stay.

  • Sorry, but that’s life in the big city. I hope you find your utopia where childcare grows on trees, everyone goes to the best school in town, there’s never any traffic, and you only have to go to work when you feel like it.

    • I heard there’s a town in Minnesota where all the children are above-average, so that’s a possibility.

  • I’ll throw our hat in the ring for anyone still reading at the bottom of this post…. moved to DC 6 months ago, kids age 4 and 1. We love it here, but it is not without its challenges. We pay an enormous amount for rent in a good school district (can’t afford to buy even with making 160k). We can walk to many things and great parks. Our apartment is only a 2 bedroom (3 bedrooms are an urban unicorn I believe) with one bathroom. We got into preschool next year through the lottery and are happy enough with the school (not our in bounds btw). But like many have said, we don’t see ourselves here beyond the end of elementary school. So age of the kids has a lot to do with it… just my two cents.

  • My perspective may be a little different, I am a foster parent with teenagers… To a point, I do not think that DC is so family friendly. There are so many places that card and only allow 21 and up, even places like Penn Social. I do not understand why I can’t take teenagers there?? Its a place with games!! There are few places that we can take them to, even some restaurants will card after a certain hour. We have found challenges in this respect. Now there is a proposed theatre for only 21 and up?? That is ridiculous!!

  • We have a toddler and live right in the District. We don’t have a yard, but there are plenty of parks and playgrounds and our baby is constantly in contact with other kids his age. We don’t believe a yard is indispensable, but we do believe a city context is more valuable to our kid’s education. There is more diversity and activities that we want to expose him to here in the District than farther out in the burbs.

  • justinbc

    How bad is the school system really that people are so terrified to send their children there? Are people just getting shot up or what? I don’t seem to read stories of that kind of stuff, more about what the rebellious kids do once they’re out of school. Isn’t some of the onus still on parents to help support a child’s education? I certainly didn’t go to the “best” schools growing up, and there was quite a lot of fighting, dropouts, etc, but I somehow managed to survive and get into college and do OK for myself. People complain all the time about a lack of middle ground for housing here, but what about just accepting that some of the students will fall into that middle ground as well. Maybe your kid is one of them, and he’ll be just fine.

    • I agree completely with this. I went to a school that was ranked among the bottom 5 in all of New York. The state threatened to take it over at some point. Certainly there were some bad influences and I didn’t learn as much as I might have at a fancy private school, but I still managed to get a full ride through grad school and had plenty of opportunities to learn later in life. Most of the classmates I remain in touch with are also doing very well now. No matter which school they’re in, teenagers will go through phases that put them outside the influence of their parents for some time, but the dangers during that age are not exponentially worse at an inner city school than at a highly rated suburban school. As long as you’ve instilled some basic wisdom in your kids before then, chances are they’ll be just fine at a city school and perhaps even better prepared to handle the realities of the world when they get through those years, having seen them up close.

      • Exactly. There’s something to be said for not raising your kid exclusively around the petite and haute bourgeoisie and the landed gentry. Toughens them up a bit and makes them not suck as much as people.

      • I had a similar experience going to a “bad” school in NJ. I’m certainly better off than my friends whose parents panicked and either sent them to private school or moved to a better district.

    • I can’t find the 2014 rankings, but Education Week’s school scorecard for 2013 ranks DC schools as 45th-best out of 51. Maryland is #1, and Virginia is #4. The national average was a 76/100 on their scorecard; Maryland scored 88, Virginia 83, and DC 72. DC schools have been improving–they were ranked last just 5 years ago–but pretty much any metric you can find indicates that they still have a long way to go in terms of achievement. As good as some DC schools are and as important as parents are in a child’s education, they have better odds of succeeding outside of DC than inside it.

      • justinbc

        Better odds, yes, absolutely. But to quote Dumb and Dumber “so you’re telling me there’s a chance”. I don’t know, maybe I’ve grown to love the city too much to think that people want to stay and help make it better, rather than all leaving for the greener pastures of Virginia. I would like to think that if I were to ever have a kid he would be growing up in the city (even if it’s not this one) and learning from all the experiences that provides, rather than growing up in a suburbian bubble.

    • Yeah, but what’s the middle at any of these schools? I haven’t looked in a while, but WaPo at one point maybe 5-6 years ago had an interactive map with all the DCPS school test scores and other relevant metrics on it. If I recall, I found just one high school and maybe two middle schools in the entire system that had what I would consider even borderline acceptable rates on basic skills tests for math and reading proficiency. If that’s the case, the average student can’t read or do math at grade level, based on national standards. My guess is that, if you looked at comparable stats from Fairfax/MoCo/Arlington/etc., the middle there is much, much higher than that.

      • justinbc

        But does that reflect a problem with the schools/educators, or the students/parents? I’m sure the answer is some of both, but what the breakdown is I guess you would have to sit in on a class to really know.

  • Doesn’t the guy who runs this site have a kid? I’d love to hear him weigh in!!

  • Move to Baltimore and save up while your kids until your kids get through elementary school, then-if you want to- move back to DC for middle and high school with all the money you’ve saved up for a down payment living in Baltimore.

    Baltimore’s a little more rough around the edges, but you can pay $1k for a mortgage on a rowhouse in a safe neighborhood with as many bars, restaurants, boutique shops and other cultural attractions that you’d find in a comparable neighborhood in DC, which you’d pay 4x-5x as much to live in.

    This deals with the childcare issue (one parent can stay home), the affordability issue and the soul-crushing resignation of moving to the suburbs.

  • I’m working class poor. I have an 8 year old and a 10month old. I have a college degree. I have rent to pay, medical insurance, car note and insurance, and other “regular bills.” My daughter goes to a great public charter school and we live in Brookland. We take vacations and do things most weekends. I look for events and festivals and free things to do. When the circus comes to town I but tickets. We visit the library and we take advantage of every opportunity available. Living in DC is tough, but I do it. My children are 6th generation Washingtonians. We are staying.

  • As pointed out at length above, the ease with which you can parent in DC depends a lot on your individual circumstances — it’s a lot easier with money.

    I think the OP makes a really interesting point about jobs in DC, however. So many people are here because of the unique professional opportunities afforded by DC. And many people in DC, pre-parenthood especially, base so much of their identity around their professional existence. But that also constrains you in some way, which is at odds with being maximally flexible as a parent. My wife and I (parents of 2) talk about this all the time: we’ve fundamentally got good jobs, but we also feel locked into them for a variety of reasons. We need the incomes to pay the daycare and mortgage on the more spacious house; one or both of us couldn’t take on something that might pay better but would demand more hours away from home without feeling like we’re neglecting family obligations; and neither of us could pull up stakes from DC professionally and move on if we really just wanted a change of pace to a more relaxed environment without one or both of us abandoining the career paths we’re on — our jobs are inherently DC-based.

  • I am in the huge minority of parents who moved IN to the city from Maryland after having kids. Their school is WAY better (Powell Bilingual ES), I love that we can walk everywhere, and I love that we are surrounded by diversity. But then again, I seem to have been born without the pretentious gene and don’t have the “omg, my kid(s)’ going to be the only white kid in their school!” issue that a lot of people who move out of the city have. And before anyone jumps my shit, I have seen more than one person ask on a listserv is school X, Y, or Z is actually “that Black/Hispanic” and if it’s really “that bad”.

  • I read several comments and have to weigh in. I’m raising three children in DC and I’m very proud for my children to grow up here and be in such a diverse community. I bought a rowhouse in petworth three years ago and we (family of 5) live on a salary under 150k a year and are doing fine. Dc parks and Recs has every sport imaginable for my children at close to nothing and they are in an amazing charter school. We walk to the park and go to the zoo and museums all the time. I couldn’t give my children anything close to what they are experiencing if we were in the suburbs. I believe DC is an amazing place to raise children.

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