Amanda, Mark, Abigail (11) and Tom (10) Foote tell us about army life in the US capital, Washington DC

How long have you been an army family?
15 years.

Time in Washington?
Since August 2018.

How many other military families live in Washington?
There are many other families here in DC, tri-service as well as embassy staff.

What’s your quarter like?
We live in a furnished, rental property on the outskirts of DC where many other defence families settled. Properties tend to be larger than UK quarters.

Are there any employment/training opportunities?
Those looking for work will have to complete some paperwork and wait a short time for authorisation from the State. Once approved, you can seek employment on the open market and join the spousal pool at the British Embassy. I work at the Australian Embassy and love it! On the downside, some professional qualifications are not accepted in the States.

What about schools and childcare?
Like the majority of military kids here, Abigail and Tom attend a local state school. The curriculum and teaching methods are very different to the UK and it can be a difficult transition for some. The school day is long with fewer breaks but there are also opportunities for sports and clubs. If you’re coming over here with school age children, I’d advise you to do your research.

Where do army families meet and who supports you?
Meet-ups such as book club, sewing club and walking group happen routinely and there’s also a Facebook page, an embassy welfare team and volunteer service reps. Outside of the military community, we’re spoilt for choice as DC is always buzzing with activities.

How do you find the cost of living there?
Initially the outlay to move stateside was substantial, having to buy two cars, additional furniture, garden items etc – it soon added up. Having some savings helped make those first few months more manageable. The cost of living is high, Local Overseas Allowance helps but many spouses opt to have a job.

What’s the best thing about living in Washington?
The opportunity to travel is by far the best thing about living here and we’re having a wonderful time! We’ve already visited some amazing places in our first year and have ambitious plans for future trips.

Would you recommend it as a family posting?
Yes – for independent families looking for adventure!

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