Washington DC is well known as the seat of power of the United States Government, but it's also a great metropolitan city. With a population of around 660,000 people in the federal district and close to 6 million residents in the wider, metropolitan area, its cultural heritage and features serve as a fantastic tourist attraction, too. It is famous for its long, scenic thoroughfares lined with trees, as well as its major government buildings and world class museums and galleries. The stunningly grand grey and white classical architecture of the downtown area is instantly recognizable, as are the many famous landmarks and sites of historic interest.
Expats living in Washington will soon discover that traveling in the city by car isn't the best way to get around, especially if you're visiting the city center. DC traffic can soon get a little jammed at the busier times of the day, and you may find the charges for parking a little steep. Thankfully, the city has many great public transportation options to help you get around. Whether you're going sightseeing, shopping or checking out some of the top museums in the area, you'll find there's a route to suit you.
The most popular mode of travel is the Metrorail. This regional subway network is a reliable and safe way to get around the city. It serves six different color-coded subway lines with easy options to transfer at various stations, giving you access to the whole system from any one point. Alternatively, you might find the busses to be a convenient option. There is a Metrobus service that connects the Metrorail with all local bus networks, making it easy to get wherever you're heading.
Also look out for DC streetcars, and various express rail services. For travel further afield there are plenty of connecting services that can get you to Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports, as well as to the imposing Union Station.
DC is a remarkable center of museums and sites of cultural significance. There are seventeen Smithsonian museums to visit in total, with a huge variety of exhibitions and events throughout the year. The Air and Space museum is one of the most popular attractions, with items such as the Wright Flier, the Apollo 11 module, and the X plane that broke the sound barrier all in one place.
Seeing the White House is a must for anyone's itinerary, and it's easy to stroll around the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. In addition to its historical and architectural heritage, DC is also home to many up to date cultural attractions, including a vibrant music scene, and a great collection of quality restaurants. The range of international fare on offer is staggering, and there are lots of fine establishments to cater to the needs of even the most stringent of foodies. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosts many attractions throughout the year, and there are also lots of lively historic theatres and a burgeoning arts scene.
If you have a family, you will want to know that the place you're living in has good access to educational centers. There are plenty of options for international schools and foreign national schools in the DC area. You can choose from both public and private options, and there are also lots of schools that cater to a particular requirement, such as religious needs or language immersion. The tuition fees for private schools vary, depending on factors such as location and peer tuition. Paying for a good private option gives your child access to smaller class sizes and better resources, as you'd expect from any private institution. The British School of Washington is a particularly popular option, with a unique international curriculum, and students from over 60 different nations.
There are also plenty of great choices when it comes to colleges in the DC area. The oldest and most famous institution is Georgetown, which dates back to 1789, and has a student population in the region of 18,000 people as of 2014. But this is by no means the only college for students to choose from. There are 17 institutions in all, ranging from tiny colleges such as the Washington Theological Union to sprawling legal colleges and medical schools.