The Washington, D.C., metro area is booming. DC Inno highlighted a report last year indicating that the city was experiencing some unprecedented population growth. “The report says that D.C.’s population has grown by 76,000 since 2010,” the article’s authors say. “That’s a 13 percent increase, bringing the total population to over 681,000 residents.” The influx of people is having a serious impact on the local dynamics, too. Limited housing supply coupled with surplus demand has forced the cost of living to skyrocket.

RealEstateThe good news for possible newcomers to Washington is that career salaries usually compensate for the higher cost of living. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains key figures outlining how promising the career prospects are in the region. Clear trends suggest the disproportionate expansion of sectors serving the federal government. That makes sense considering Washington is America’s capital city.

What about the living arrangements? Typical of most major cities, people can anticipate higher premiums for real estate close to downtown. Fortunately, urban living isn’t the only viable option, especially for younger professionals trying to balance income with expenses. Natalie Grigson at Movoto promoted the 10 best places to live near Washington. Readers might be surprised to see that two of the top three are somewhere in Northern Virginia, more colloquially known as “NoVa” by regional residents.

Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, have extremely rich features to offer to its denizens. The proximity to downtown Washington makes them ideal for anyone looking for a more tranquil homestead. Prospective residents will find plenty of guidance published when it comes to renting in NoVa. More challenges come with buying or building a home in those areas.

Forbes contributor Reagan Greer shared seven factors that novices should consider when building a first home. He covers everything from the importance of location and appropriate budgeting to managing realistic expectations and selecting the right builder. Countless moving parts are involved, which can sometimes surprise those with no previous experience. Homeowners could also entertain the idea of future renovations. A simple Google search of home additions Northern Virginia would reveal a host of possible contractors qualified to take existing homes and upgrade them.

Another sound strategy is relying on more formal resources. Staff writers at the National Association of Home Builders detailed how to choose a home builder. They recommend starting by figuring out the type of home you want and then shortlisting possible builders who work locally. Word of mouth, newspapers, and real estate agents can prove helpful, too. Most people underestimate the need to prepare questions ahead of time, but the authors emphasize it heavily. The piece concludes by suggesting that people shop for value and quality.

Anyone who successfully moves to the Washington area has a lot to learn about the culture. Multiple editors at The Washingtonian published everything people need to know about D.C. Common myths are debunked and obscure nuances revealed. Neighborhoods were detailed with crucial detail and the cultural cuisines were showcased. At the end of the day, the city offers a variety of things to locals who take the time to appreciate them.

Washington and its surrounding towns and cities have an abundance of opportunities and adventures for ambitious souls. Northern Virginia is a clear contender when it comes to suburban living, but the best entertainment is likely to be found in downtown Arlington or Alexandria. The biggest decision to make is whether renting an apartment or buying/building a home would be the right long-term choice.