Help Me Convince my Friends to Move to DC”

Photo by PoPville flickr user brunofish

“Dear PoPville,

I have friends coming to visit from San Francisco in a couple of weeks and I (not so secretly) want to convince them to move here. Since SF has most places beat when it comes to hip and trendy, I don’t want or need to show them how “cool” we have become here in the District. Rather, I just want to showcase the best, uniquely-DC things that we have to offer! What things should we do to show them a good time?

Ed. Note: Here’s some recs from 2012 but could definitely use a refresh!

72 Comment

  • accendo

    If they’re coming from San Fran, it’s one of the few times you could tout a lower cost of living.

    • +1
      Talk to them about your cheap rent. Go tour some apartments, lol
      Also if they work in tech, DC has a big tech shortage. If they’re done time at Google, FB, or any of the other big tech firms, they will have job offers very quickly.

  • binpetworth

    How about showing them job listings? DC is an awesome place to live, but only if you have a salary to accommodate some of the hip/trendy/uniquely DC things to do here. I can’t imagine being convinced to move somewhere without having a sense that I could find work easily, and transfer between jobs if one doesn’t pan out.

    • Walk them through Petworth or Brookland and show them how much $750k can buy them πŸ™‚

    • justinbc

      LOL yeah, I was going to say if their particular field doesn’t exist here then don’t waste your time.

    • That (employment) is already one of the appealing things for them. I’m not trying to do anything other than show them a fun weekend and showcase the best parts of the city. I’m surprised by how negative this thread is, aren’t there any things you all actually like about being here? I had a few ideas but I thought the POPville community would show this city a little more love!

      • There’s lots to love, but the original question had us rate what would make someone in SF move to DC. From what I hear, SF is so techy that it’s isolating and though DC is drifting that way, it’s not as bad.

      • I’ve been in DC for 24 years this summer. I expected to hate living here but I ended up loving it for so many reasons. 3 major airports nearby, plus Amtrak, make it easy to travel to and from DC. And there’s so much to do here, and a lot of it is free, that family and friends actually come to visit! Museums, loads of museums, and lots of great public gardens as well: check out the new DC Gardens website,!

      • What I love about the city is that it’s very manageable to get around and see awesome stuff, within the city limits and within an hour’s drive of the city (if they like outdoorsy stuff or history, we have that in spades). Also, the city is big enough that they can find their niche without feeling overwhelmed and lonely. DC is full of some of the smartest, most interesting, and most passionate people you’ll find in the country and while it can sometimes be irritating in large doses, it’s far better than the specific types of narcissism you’ll find in NY, SF or LA. Sure, networking is pretty rampant, but if you’re running in the right circles, the people you meet will try to support you/connect you to the things you love and aspire to be, not try to get something from you. I’m from Brooklyn and my extended family in San Francisco and I am really happy to live in DC (I have for the past 6 years). I have a cadre of amazing, critically-thinking friends with varying political leanings, my commute is reasonable, and I’m able to squirrel away a substantial amount of savings while still having a robust social life (because I don’t have exorbitant rent). San Francisco (and Brooklyn) are being overrun by the shittiest people I went to college with.
        I think walking around your favorite neighborhoods, sitting in your favorite parks, introducing them to your favorite people, and ingesting your favorite foods/beers is a good start. You’re going to be their anchor, so plan your favorite day and try to make them envious of the life you lead. They can bother with all of the worrisome decision-making around cost of living/salaries/etc. Good luck!

  • I think that cost of living is one of the few things we have over SF. And we aren’t in the middle of a severe drought and rarely get earthquakes. Oh, Ethiopian food – we have much better Ethiopian food than SF.

  • Also, pull together a dinner with any friends/family they might know. One of the biggest hurdles to moving is knowing that they’d have a good support network here in DC. If they have a solid crew in SF and but only you in DC, it’s extremely difficult to get them here.

  • DC has ample water!

  • justinbc

    I love DC, a lot, and have liked it more every year I’ve been here since 2007. But there’s absolutely nothing you could say to convince me to move here from San Francisco (or San Diego) if I was already there. The only reason I’m not there now is because what I do doesn’t really exist there. Employment is a big driver for a lot of people, especially in high cost areas, so make sure there are plenty of available jobs in their field before you even consider seriously making that argument.

    • I can relate. Nobody moves here for the overpriced small plates, mediocre local brews, badly-flipped million-dollar condos or the shameful wealth gap. I’ve been here for nearly two decades and I’m getting tired of DC. I’m kind of disgusted with what it’s become over the last five or ten years, but my field of work is pretty specialized, so I’m pretty much stuck here.

  • If they’re gay, they’ll absolutely fall in love with DC especially if they’re into some racial diversity. My friends in SF are over it there. Nothing but older white men. Not that that’s a problem but SF has no diversity.

  • I can’t think of more than a small handful of things DC has over SF, but certainly the free museums and other such activities would be something most cities don’t offer. Definitely take them to the Mall to see the art museums and the nature of Rock Creek Park and the Potomac. Otherwise, I’m sort of at a loss. SF is a pretty cool city, it pretty much has DC beat on nearly everything. If you took them down 14th St they would smile at how quaint it is compared with the Mission, Haight or Chinatown.

    • The mission is a solid mix of gas stations and the occasional unimpressive restaurant.
      Its a REALLY BIG DEAL that they have an indoor minigolf. They brag about it.

      • Ha true. I know what part of the mission you are talking about … I’ve been past the mini golf place.

  • As a 6 year Washingtonian with a year under my belt in San Fran, just tout – well everything except burritos.

    1. Take them outside. Is it sunny? Is it above 60? can you see some blue in the sky?
    2. Food. Really. SF folks all think their food is awesome and rave about it, but its bland and generic.
    3. Cleanliness. There is an actual “SF human poop map” that is updated daily.
    4. Amenities. Show them you have a Washer and dryer in your unit. Bonus if you have a dishwasher. Double bonus if you havent been bitten by a rat in a month. And all for under 5k a month? Minds will be blown.
    5. Urban parks. Within walking distance.
    6. Sidewalk gardens and flowerbeds that both exist and havent been turned into trash dumps

    • I love this. I do love the parks here, and DC is quaint, but there’s something nice about being able to get around easily, and have so much more basically at your doorstep!

      • Walk them around – seriously – through different neighborhoods. San Fran is not a walkable place (or really bike-able, for the most part), and that’s a great thing that sets DC apart. Also, the National Building Museum is opening the Beach Ball this weekend, which looks really cool. For more culture/museums, take them for lunch at Mitsitam cafe at the Museum of Natural History. Md Blue Crab. A Nationals game. A jazz club.

    • justinbc

      Bland and generic? I’m guessing you and I eat at very different places in SF.

      • Yeah, that’s pretty out there.

      • I second this, bland and generic? Were you only eating at the Boudin’s at Fisherman’s Wharf or something? Overall SF’s food scene is miles better than DC’s.

        • Calm it down folks. Nope, lived here, had a chef roommate who showed me around. It all gets hyped and set up as “Hip” so the show is good. But if ya actually eat it? nah.

          Pretty sure most folks defending SF have only been tourists here. So it goes….

        • That said happy to take suggestions. Maybe dc folks know the spots better than locals. Which would be another point for DC?

    • Sorry Matt, you’re doing something wrong in regards to food.

  • I was visiting San Francisco last week and for what it’s worth, I definitely prefer DC. I thought San Francisco was kind of hard to navigate around, and some of the neighborhoods aren’t as distinct. It was even more crowded than DC, and even more expensive. I did enjoy visiting but wouldn’t want to live there. But I already knew DC is my favorite large metro area so I’m biased.

    I would walk around some different neighborhoods, to show them the types of areas they could live in. Visit the free Smithsonian museums and the botanical garden. Go to one of the local farmer’s markets. Maybe a show at 9:30 club.

    I will admit that San Francisco has a better food scene, but get Ethiopian!

  • It depends what they like about SF. We don’t have the same kind of water access and we have a more extreme climate. OTOH, we have more sun and our water supply is not threatened by drought. My experience of SF is that the sense of exceptionalism is greater there and people are quite insular—if they’ve grown used to that bubble and tolerate the high maintenance of people that also like it, DC will be a tougher sell. yes, DC has plenty of jerks, but they have sharper edges to them.

  • i feel like i’m in the minority here, but i am not an SF fan. give me DC any day, and i’ve spent a good amount of time there. the weather sucks, for one thing. parking is horrifying, and it’s somehow even more expensive than DC. public transport seemed pretty good to me, but the hills would kinda scare me off regular bike commuting.

    i would do a couple different things to show off different neighborhoods. maybe hit DC reynolds for a drink in petworth and then walk up to petworth citizen for dinner, and take a look around upshur books. go to the hill and get a drink at tune inn and then catch a quick cab to hank’s oyster bar closer to eastern market, or go to jimmy T’s for breakfast then go to capitol hill books or the outdoor market on the weekend. come to bloomingdale and get a drink at showtime then a pizza at baccio. hit the neighborhood joints! a movie at the angelika near union market would be fun too, then grab gelato at the dolcezza building.

    • justinbc

      “The weather sucks.”
      Nobody there owns a snow shovel, I think they would disagree with you.

      • “Poor baby, can’t hack it in the big city? Gonna move to the Bay Area now, pretend that that was your dream the whole time? Have fun always carrying a light sweater…” – Jenna Maroney, 30 Rock

        A lot of people enjoy having seasons, including winter and all its beauty and camaraderie, minimal as consistent snow is around here. I guess some people with seasonal affective disorder are an exception.

        • Count this Florida native as one. I would be so depressed living in a place with mild temperatures and gray skies, even if it mean no 95 degree days or an inch of snow.. 11 years in and I still find snow amusing and love seeing bright blue sky and feeling the sun on my skin. There’s also something magical about seeing the seasons change – everyone going pumpkin and apple picking in the fall, busting out the cozy sweaters, then the way the entire city goes outside the second it starts to get warm again and the trees start bursting with color.

      • True. But they also don’t own many summer clothes. When I lived there my closet was 90% fleeces.

    • +1 gazillion… San Francisco is easily the most overrated US city. The only ones who think it is superior to every other American city don’t really know it… They see about 1/6 of the city and assume that ALL of it is the same set of pretty, painted Victorian ladies on curved streets… well, in reality half the city’s houses could be mistaken for homes in central Albuquerque with their cheap stucco facades and ubiquitous garage doors. The city has ugly power lines everywhere, crappy internet infrasture, mediocre (and expensive) museums, poorly maintained parks, rampant graffiti, crazy homeless kids, etc., etc. The hills are a total pain (if you like to bike or walk) and the weather is AWFUL (that is unless you love clouds and mist)… Also as screwed up as METRO is here BART is worse… San Francsco really needs better transit access. What’s more fools pay a fortune to live there… a sucker is born every minute. As for DC… well I think it pretty nice (and getting much nicer each year) BUT even if it isn’t your cup of tea, you can be in B’more in 35 mins, Philly in 2 hours and NYC in 4 hours… Napa and greater Northern California is great but it doesn’t even come close to offering anywhere close to the variety and culture available in our little corner of the universe.

      • You can actually get to NYC in just over / just under 3 hours on Amtrak / Acela.
        I agree, though, that people have an unnecessary inferiority complex about DC. Like, people who think NYC is so incredible, I always ask them what part and, inevitably, they’ve never left lower or mid Manhattan, maybe trendy parts of Brooklyn. They have no idea how rough the boroughs really are.

      • +1 except the part where its the locals who overrate it. Pretty much everyone who lives here is pretty honest about it.

    • I’m not sure how those locations would be different from what they could find in San Francisco. Those types of restaurants, bars, and book stores are pretty standard fare in cities.

    • Ummm, Tune Inn is a block and a half away from Hanks, and Jimmy Ts is mediocre, overpriced diner food served with a surly attitude, but otherwise, I’m down with your suggestions. Maybe just grab pancakes at Market Lunch instead.

  • When I first moved here I was really drawn in by the Black culture that SF doesn’t have. I’m not talking taking them to a go-go show on their first spin, but Bohemian Caverns leaves a nice taste in the mouth, and its legacy from Ella and Ellington. Meridian Hill drum circle is a good intro to the counter culture and the fact we don’t take ourselves as seriously as many think.

    Also, 9:30. Many bands treat that like mecca. Great Falls is a good reminder that we have nature and it’s impressive.

    I like DC because it’s that perfect fit of being dense but not too dense, vibrant but not overwhelming. We don’t have the hills to deal with walking. Lots We’re a quick train ride (don’t need a car to leave the city) to NYC.

    I guess I’m in the minority but I’d rather live here than San Fran or the car-dependent San Diego.

  • Langston golf course (soon to be accessible by street car) is awesome. As a former New Yorker, there’s nothing like that so accessible and so cheap.

  • Sometimes I wonder why people live in DC. You’re not in prison–if you don’t like it, move! I really do love SF, but DC is great in a different way. As others mentioned, tons of free things to do!
    1. Go to the museums at night. Do they/you have kids? Pack a picnic and then walk around the monuments while it’s [hopefully] cooler and less crowded.
    2. Friday night concert at Yards park in the summer. Again free and you can byob and food! Good for young people and families.
    3. Meridian Hill Park, Yards Park (the wading pool), Rock Creek Park, etc.
    4. Restaurants–go expensive, moderate or cheap. You can find it all.
    5. Bike ride through the city
    6. See a show at the Kennedy Center
    7. Bike to Gravelly Point and watch the planes
    8. I love going to the different Farmer’s markets, but I am sure SF has plenty of those
    9. Eastern Market

    Anyway, those are just a few things off the top of my head. Good luck!

  • Their kids can go to public school starting at 3 years old FOR FREE!!!! That saves you approximately $2,000 a month/kid.

    That is #1.

    Also go-go music, mumbo sauce, and our street cars aren’t packed with tourists.

  • You’d have a tough time matching SF for Asian-Fusion cuisine — and foodie culture in general — but for arts and culture, the museums are off the charts, and the theatre scene is smart and solid. Local politics here are quaintly old-school corrupt, which is entertaining, compared to SF which prizes public process, sunshine laws and transparency. DC has lots more trees and green space, and much flatter than SF for bicycling, but DC has not caught on to composting. But, it’s actually warm here in July!

  • Well, D.C. is cleaner. The BART smells like piss. Many of SF’s streets smell like piss.

    Free museums. Cooler when you have kids.

    You’re pretty close to very different parts of the country. In four hours you can be in NYC of rural North Carolina. Four hours of SF puts you in the middle of a desert.

    Half smokes. Hah just kidding.

    SF is a massive douchebags magnet.

    I mean DC has its share, but SF tech folks are waaayy worse.

    No earthquakes. And its cheaper.

    • Okay, I let the first earthquake salvo pass, but ain’t no stopping me now.
      DC had a big earthquake in August 2011. That’s why the National Cathedral is still in scaffolding.
      And the Washington Monument was closed for years for repairs. Remember?

      • We had one earthquake. ONE! And it didn’t cause widespread structural damage. Most people didn’t even know what was happening until it was over. That’s like saying it snows in South Florida. Possible, yes, but extremely rare.

  • Take them on a bike ride!! Because when I moved here from SF, I was kinda sad about leaving all the cool places I’d found in SF. So show them we have cool places here, and you can do that more efficiently on a bike. HUGE BONUS, you will show them that biking in DC does not involve as many crazy hills! Also, if the weather permits, take them to places with outdoor seating–not as many places have that in SF b/c of their weather. Also, yeah, see if you can casually mention how much more you get for the $$ real estate wise, and how few turds/used condoms you see on a regular basis.

    Of course, I’ve been trying to get my friends from SF to move here for ages with no success, so take that FWIW.

  • I don’t get why this is a competition. Rather than try to one-up SF, focus on what DC has and how you can enjoy it. A few things I do with friends I’m trying to convince to move here (that I don’t believe I’ve seen in prior comments):
    -Union Market
    -the beaches (a drive, yes, but still pretty good)
    -Virginia wineries (clearly not Napa or Sonoma, but no one says they are)
    -the great public pools
    -kayaking on the Potomac

    If you are looking to one-up SF, take them to our Chinatown. πŸ˜‰

  • Take them to a dive bar like Showtime or The Raven. That’s one thing I miss about SF…crazy vintage dive bars with eccentric owners in the middle of a residential neighborhood or otherwise off the beaten path.

  • 1. Free museums. You can’t beat that. SF has great culture, but it ain’t free. The Freer Sackler’s usually not overrun by tourists.
    2. If they’re runners, take them on a run around the monuments/gravelly point/etc.
    3. Food-wise, I’d take them to the fish markets, Ethiopian food, the American Indian Museum’s cafeteria. Maybe some small distilleries/breweries. If they want Asian food, hit Annandale.
    5. Twins Jazz or Bohemian Caverns.

  • I moved here after six years in San Francisco in 2003. I can’t speak for your friends, but a big thing I was worried about missing in DC was the sort of edgy, freaky, creative community that was in San Francisco when I lived there. So if they are going to be here in a couple of weeks, I would definitely recommend taking them to a Fringe Festival show, and/or one of the cabaret performances in the Fringe Bar during July. Another thing I was worried about missing was driving a half hour to go hiking, so maybe take them to Great Falls and do a hike there. I’ll maybe add some more things if I think of them later. Because of my SF connection, I have a lot of friends here who had moved from SF, and almost everyone has loved it. The only people that I recall have moved back, are ones that have family in the Bay Area. Good luck!

  • SF transplants are almost as insufferable as Manhattan/Brooklyn transplants. Let them stay, please! Nothing about the DC experience will impress them. Our restaurants suck. Our style is too conservative. We’re too close to the South/are in the South. “Racism” is worse here. The arts scene is non-existent. The tech scene is too government and military oriented. Our billionaires aren’t cool (do we have any??? Dan Snyder? Sheila Johnson? The Mars folks?) There’s no entrepreneurial drive or spirit here. And what really seems to get their goat, we’re all a bunch of fat asses.

  • Little Serow
    Union Market
    Lincoln Park
    Yards Park
    Hike the MD side of Great Falls
    That gelato place behind u market
    Thai xing
    Dcity bbq
    Ft Totten transfer station

    Show em some lines make me feel at home

    • Adding some here:

      U Street Music Hall
      Reminisce party every first Saturday at Liv
      Fort Reno Park concerts if they’re rockers
      Anywhere in the city where DJ Underdog is spinning (Afrobeat, etc)
      H St Country Club (for the mini golf and drinks)
      Atlas Arcade
      9:30 Club
      Langston Golf Course
      Langston Bar & Grille (best kept soul food secret in town!)
      Yards Park
      A Nationals game
      Little Miss Whiskeys
      Rose’s Luxury

      • Anonomnom

        I am just going to combine these two lists and save them for a Treat ‘Yo Self weekend.

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