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DC or Boston for 30something female?

DC or Boston for 30something female?

Old Mar 11th 2013, 12:25 am
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Default DC or Boston for 30something female?

Hello there,

I am looking at spending 6 months to a year on sabbatical from my UK job in a think tank or non profit in either Washington DC or Boston, and I was wondering if you kind people could share your views with me on the pro's and con's of both regarding some specific factors.
1) I have a walking disability, I can walk but not far and will be without a car, so need to be able to use buses, the tube and taxis and find somewhere to live that's situated near to public transport.
2) As I'll be moving over on my own and looking for accommodation (shared or otherwise), safety is a big factor for me.
3) Making friends - although I have contacts in both cities and expect to be able to make a few friends through work, on the ex pat and hobby scene, being able to meet friendly people is important. I come from London however, so almost anywhere will seem friendly in comparison! I am socially pro-active too.
4) The work I do is fairly serious and academic, but I am a laid back, friendly, communicative and down to earth person. Hearing the stereotypes of DC workers as hot headed politicos with no time for social or personal life, and of Bostonians as tied to their childhood circles and less open to outsiders is a bit scary. But then again, I come from London so most places have to be friendlier and contain some laid back people, right.

I'd be most grateful for any experience sharing in view of the above.
Thank you very much.
Cheers,
Katya
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 12:54 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Originally Posted by KatyaM View Post
Hello there,

I am looking at spending 6 months to a year on sabbatical from my UK job in a think tank or non profit in either Washington DC or Boston, and I was wondering if you kind people could share your views with me on the pro's and con's of both regarding some specific factors.
1) I have a walking disability, I can walk but not far and will be without a car, so need to be able to use buses, the tube and taxis and find somewhere to live that's situated near to public transport.
2) As I'll be moving over on my own and looking for accommodation (shared or otherwise), safety is a big factor for me.
3) Making friends - although I have contacts in both cities and expect to be able to make a few friends through work, on the ex pat and hobby scene, being able to meet friendly people is important. I come from London however, so almost anywhere will seem friendly in comparison! I am socially pro-active too.
4) The work I do is fairly serious and academic, but I am a laid back, friendly, communicative and down to earth person. Hearing the stereotypes of DC workers as hot headed politicos with no time for social or personal life, and of Bostonians as tied to their childhood circles and less open to outsiders is a bit scary. But then again, I come from London so most places have to be friendlier and contain some laid back people, right.

I'd be most grateful for any experience sharing in view of the above.
Thank you very much.
Cheers,
Katya
I can't help with you questions, however how are you going to be in the US? Are you traveling on the VWP? If so, the maximum stay is 90 days.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 12:56 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Via the US Government J-1 Visa Scheme for professional exchange visitors.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 12:57 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Originally Posted by KatyaM View Post
Via the US Government J-1 Visa Scheme for professional exchange visitors.
Sounds good! I'm sure someone will be along soon to answer your questions. Best of luck on your journey.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 12:57 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Welcome to BE!

Will you be getting a visa for your stay? Silly question maybe, just checking.

Edit: Cross-post, I see you know about the visa!
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 2:14 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Well I can only offer my experience as a female traveler, having never lived in either cities.

As interesting as DC is, I felt quite unsafe at times as the panhandlers were quite aggressive and I had several women approach me aggressively which has never happened in Boston. However I loved DC for its easy and clean subway system.

Boston might be harder for a person with a walking disability dues to the ice and snow. I was there two weeks ago and got caught up in a big snow storm. However, Cambridge and generally all of Boston is very walkable and accessible and the subway is simple and easy to use. Cambridge has a very English feel to me and I love it there.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 2:21 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

There is a web site that sometimes gets referenced here, it is reportedly good for looking up information for cities in regard to their liveability.

I am particularly unhelpful in that I can neither remember its name nor its address, but this may remind someone else about it and they may be able to post a more useful response.

edit: 'city-data' maybe

Last edited by kimilseung; Mar 11th 2013 at 2:24 am.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 2:29 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Yep. Here you go, there is a city vs city forum!

http://www.city-data.com/forum/city-vs-city/
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 2:33 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

I've not been to Boston but I thought that in DC, even with so much public transport, there was a lot of walking to be done i order to use it. The taxi fares were also quite expensive.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 4:08 am
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

I lived in DC for many years but have not lived in Boston so I can only speak about Washington.

First, DC is the be-all, end-all center of public policy debate in the US. If your think tank has anything to do with what is going on in government or, well, basically anything, DC is probably going to offer more options with a broader scope than any other city. You'll also find as the nation's capital quite an international mix of residents, with embassy staff, World Bank and IMF, and international media all having set up in the city.

As for the main issue of walkability, it depends a bit on where you work is located and where you will be living. For example, many think tanks are in the West End / Dupont Circle area of the city, which also has some housing options (albeit expensive ones) nearby. A neighborhood like that would make a walk to work quite livable.

However, if you are having to commute, you'll be at the mercy of public transit, both buses and the subway. The subway is nice and modern, though it isn't exactly everywhere. There are swathes of the city that are not walkable from a subway station, and certainly parts of the suburbs that are also inaccessible. I should also note that even the most 'walkable' ares of the US are not quite the same as the UK. You'll have several bars, banks, hair salons, restaurants, maybe a drug store all within 'walking distance' but no major grocery or hardware shop nearby. The more day-to-day items you buy are often in big box stores surrounded by parking lots, and those options that do exist in the city are often more boutique or 'convenience' stores which charge a significant premium on staples like milk and bread.

DC is 'deceptively large' for walking. You get out by the Capitol and you see the Lincoln Memorial and you're like 'hey, let's just walk down there.' Nearly two miles later you are like "wtf were we thinking?". It doesn't snow as much in DC as it does in Boston, which might also be something to consider in your walking plans, however in the Summer months, DC is a 'swamp' basically with really high humidity. When I worked on Capitol Hill and had to dress professional we used to call some days in the Summer 'three shirt days'--one shirt before lunch, one after you got back, and then a third when you went out for a dinner. It was that hot.

Do you have an idea what non-profit and where they might located?

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Old Mar 11th 2013, 3:42 pm
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

I would echo the remarks made by Penguinsix.

We have lived in DC for nearly three years and really love it. My wife works for a non-profit focused on business/development and DC really is the centre of power for that kind of thing.

We are a family and live in Chevy Chase DC which is delightful. Most of the single folks I know who work downtown tend to live either in the NW corridor (Red Line), Dupont or Logan Circles or Capitol Hill.

To give you a sense of viability look at accommo on Craiglist DC to see what you get at what price points in different parts of the city.
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 9:36 pm
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

HI all,

I can only say thanks so much for a such a comprehensive set of useful replies, all the info helps a lot especially the proximity info on DC transport etc. I'm not sure yet where I'll be working as in discussion with a government agency and a think tank, and some other places to consider. So I will have to explore all factors. I'm really grateful though as it makes preparing for this far less daunting to get some inside views so I really want to say thanks so much for taking the time to pen some thoughts.

All best wishes,
Katya
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Old Mar 11th 2013, 10:38 pm
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Boston is great for walking around and using public transport, but it's a cock for anyone who has trouble walking. Those pavements are a mess and all that fun stuff. Places on the T are even more expensive and taxi's cost a bomb.

Easy to make friends though, the consulate does lot of tech/science events, Microsoft, MIT, Tufts, (all these are on the red line on the T) etc, they all do decent events. Also a large Boston Brits group on FB.

Montfan mentioned beggars, I've never seen so many as Boston and some are quite aggressive...but over all, it's a pretty safe city.

Ideally you want to be considering places along the redline, most convenient, followed by the orange line which wings out to Jamaica Plains. Blue line is okay but just an added hassle as that's the financial district, hitting Quincy Hall area and down to the aquarium and it's just a bit of an arse doing the walk to change lines. Greenline, which is shit for reliability and safety, heads out to Boston College, North Eastern and the like, but does hit Copley Plaza area which is lovely.

Quite a few threads on Boston and the burbs that might be worth a punt. Thing is, without a car, you're kind of limiting yourself to places on the T line. Sure you could get the bus in from Arlington, Brookline, Watertown, Waltham etc, but you wouldn't really want to, not in the evening, in winter. So that's going to affect your budget.

Cambridge is lovely, but it is very expensive. Davis Square and Porter Square are getting on to the end of the Redline, they're up and coming and quite nice. That's right where Tufts Uni is, about 5 stops/10 mins away from Kendall Square, which is a 5 minute walk to MIT and the Brit Consulate across the road.
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Old Mar 14th 2013, 2:01 pm
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

I live in Boston, and I can't speak of the professional atmosphere here, as I'm a student. But what I can tell you is that this is easily one of the best cities in the world. I used to live in Raleigh, about 4 hours from DC, so I went to DC fairly often, I've probably been there 30 times. I like DC, but it's not that much fun to be in, almost too professional. Granted, Georgetown is easily my favorite neighborhood on earth. Also, public transportation isn't very easy to use in DC.

Boston is much different, the city is beautiful, lots of young people here, the weather sucks if you don't like the cold, but if you love snow, this is the place haha. I think the one bad thing for you would be that Boston is far from other big cities, so if you intended on sightseeing and visiting other cities while here, that wouldn't be as much of an option in Boston as in DC. But I'd definitely recommend coming to Boston over DC, public transport is also much easier and more convenient here.
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Old Mar 14th 2013, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: DC or Boston for 30something female?

Originally Posted by cjreisen View Post
I live in Boston, and I can't speak of the professional atmosphere here, as I'm a student. But what I can tell you is that this is easily one of the best cities in the world. I used to live in Raleigh, about 4 hours from DC, so I went to DC fairly often, I've probably been there 30 times. I like DC, but it's not that much fun to be in, almost too professional. Granted, Georgetown is easily my favorite neighborhood on earth. Also, public transportation isn't very easy to use in DC.

Boston is much different, the city is beautiful, lots of young people here, the weather sucks if you don't like the cold, but if you love snow, this is the place haha. I think the one bad thing for you would be that Boston is far from other big cities, so if you intended on sightseeing and visiting other cities while here, that wouldn't be as much of an option in Boston as in DC. But I'd definitely recommend coming to Boston over DC, public transport is also much easier and more convenient here.
Please substantiate your remarks that public transportation is not easy to use in DC.
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