Is there life beyond the Beltway?

According to extensive market research, a majority of Federal News Radio’s readers/listeners live or work in the following 10 states:

Virginia, District of Columbia, Maryland, California, Texas, Missouri, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

In that order. I know D.C. isn’t a state, but it is a state of mind. But that’s good information. Useful too. We can’t forget our base, but we’d like to connect with more people in other places where there are lots of feds and retirees. And in more remote areas where, even with the Internet, news-you-need is hard to come by. Finding Missouri among the top 10 was a nice surprise. I have a brother who works for Uncle Sam there. Plus lots of cousins, some of whom are unemployed, but mean well.

The numbers were a good reminder that D.C., while nice, isn’t the center of the universe. Over the years, we have received reports here indicating there are vibrant civilizations in those 10 states. Plus other places. This may explain, in part, why their football and baseball teams beat ours so often. And that there are also successful federal government outposts in places like Oklahoma, Utah and Alabama. So is this true?


Over the years, we’ve talked with many workers who came to D.C. from federal outposts around the country. Also from overseas, people who worked in places like Panama, Finland, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Germany, Italy and several who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. They all say that D.C. is very different. Sometimes good, sometimes not. Some say that things and people here in the headquarters town are more uptight than their former federal agencies in other places. Is that true? Some (a few) say this is the place to be. Who knows? Which is where you come in. We’d like your first-hand accounts, whether you work in the Washington metro area, or what many call “the real world.”

Several years ago, a manager in an IRS facility right outside of D.C. said he missed his former colleagues in Pittsburgh who were “more laid back and definitely less politically correct.” He missed the Pirates, but not winters in Western Pennsylvania. Next stop in retirement: Central Florida.

Many of the people we’ve talked to over the years came here seeking a job. Or because they got a promotion or were told it was easier to get rank here. Or just to be near or part of the corridors of power.

Some locals and transplants leave D.C. after a while. They cite traffic (which is horrible), prices (high but not as bad as many other fed centers) or uptight colleagues or inflexible headquarters operations. Ironically, some who left cutting all their ties here, came back after a few years in retirement to Arizona, North Carolina, Florida, Washington state and Illinois. They found they missed what they thought they hated. A lot of them said the conversation was better here! So is it true? Does that describe you?

Or did you come here with misgivings, for a temporary posting only to find things aren’t pretty good here.

Bottom line: What’s your story? Will you never leave the Beltway? Or have your bags remained unpacked since you got here? Or will you never set foot (other than as a tourist or on TDY
training or travel) in the Nation’s Capital. Either way, why? Is there a big difference between us and them? If so, what is it? What could D.C. do to be a more happy, productive and effective place to work? Or is the situation hopeless?

What can feds in Huntsville and Decatur, San Antonio and Austin, Norman and Oklahoma City federal outposts in the real world, learn from us? If anything. What should we know here about how people out there, beyond the Beltway, do their jobs and view their federal careers?

We’d love to hear from you. We pass on what you tell us, and maybe (hopefully) some of the responses can be easily converted to guest columns. If so, let us know what byline (real, full name, pen name or whatever) we can use.  Submit your answers here.

Buy Low, Sell High: Some experts say the bear market is here to stay. Others believe it’s a bump in the road. What does the low price of oil, the demise (or not) of coal and major economic hiccups from China mean to your Thrift Savings Plan account? If stocks are on sale, should you be buying? Or is this a time to cut your losses and head for the G-fund. My guest Wednesday on our Your Turn radio show is financial planner Arthur Stein. He’s a former fed, teacher and government adviser with lots of active and retired federal clients, including at least one TSP millionaire. He’ll be talking about what to do (or not) to protect and grow your TSP account. That’s 10 a.m. tomorrow online at or in the D.C. area at 1500 AM. If you have questions you can call in during the show or email them to me in advance at

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

According to the U.S. Census, Washington, D.C., has the second highest percentage of public transit usage in the country, behind only New York City.

Source: Wikipedia

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