Population: 581,530 (2006 estimate)
Percentage of retirees: 12.3% in 2006
Cost of living index: Substantially above average
Public libraries: 27
Public transportation: D.C. is served by an extensive MetroBus and MetroRail systems.
Access to airports: Washington, D.C. is served by three airports. The closest to downtown is Reagan National Airport. The MetroRail system has a station there. Baltimore Washington International is about 45 minutes outside of DC. The BWI Express Metro bus runs between BWI and Greenbelt metro station at the end of the Green line on the MetroRail. BWI train station has trains to Union Station downtown. Washington Dulles International Airport is located about 30 minutes outside of DC. Metrobus 5A runs from the airport to L'Enfant Plaza metro station.
Tax breaks: In D.C., Social Security is exempt. Taxpayers 62 and older can exclude $3,000 of military, federal, and state/local pensions. All state government pensions are fully taxed.
Number of museums: 74
Number of cinemas: 30
Number of sunny days a year: 202
Cultural Highlights: A wealth of free museums, gardens, and performance options.
Access to Healthcare: Good, with a variety of strong university medical schools in the city and the renowned Johns Hopkins medical facilities within an hour's drive.
Climate: Cold, humid winters and hot humid summers, made up for by lovely springs and falls.
Annual precipitation: 43.4 inches
Washington, DC Convention & Tourism
Nearby Attractions: Baltimore, Annapolis, and the Chesapeake Bay within an hour's drive, the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains two hours away, and the Maryland/Delaware beaches about a 2.5 hours' drive.
In the Know: "The area is well-suited for retirement because of all the cultural opportunities, starting with the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center, the Shakespeare Theatre and its Harman Hall. It's a very, very vital community, and what makes it particularly appealing is that so much of it is either free or at very low cost or free. We're quite spoiled here-if we have to go to another city and pay to get into a museum it surprises us.
-Sue Parsons, volunteer, Friends of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
For roughly the first 200 years of its history, the nation's capital was a sleepy Southern-style town with the blandness of most places where government is the main event. But in the last few decades, D.C. and the surrounding metropolitan area have been virtually reborn as an international, multicultural cosmopolis. Virtually every ethnic group is represented here, as are their cuisines and traditions. Performing arts venues and the local arts scene in general have blossomed, and the downtown has become a dynamic destination instead of a dying shell. Finally, the "city of magnificent distances," as intended by the city's planner, Pierre L'Enfant, has been realized, with broad avenues angling past well-landscaped circles, squares, gardens and greenscapes. Government is still the strongest presence here, but it fuels an amazing amount of free culture. So while the city is by no means inexpensive, many of its art offerings are.
More than a dozen Smithsonian Institution museums, not to mention the Smithsonian's National Zoo, are in the metropolitan area; all are free and most concentrated on the National Mall. (See GoSmithsonian.com.) In summer, U.S. military bands offer a series of free concerts at Mall locations, and various Smithsonian museums, as well as the Library of Congress, also host lectures, concerts, film series, and classes.
The close-in neighborhoods of northwest Washington and Capitol Hill have their own characters, and increasingly urban pioneers are venturing into areas once considered marginal but now alive with restaurants, cafés, and clubs. These often reflect the city's multiculturalism, as do festivals that celebrate everything from the colorful Hispanic mix in the city to Hip Hop culture. At the same time, such mainstays as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National and Shakespeare theaters continue to ensure that traditional classics are never in short supply. Edgy offerings at small local venues characterize the "new" Washington, whose big city aspirations have moved beyond the confines of a buttoned-down bureaucracy.