Most of this world is made up of losers, poor pathetic losers. If you’re reading this to improve your odds when you move, you are not a loser because you’re willing to take advice from anyone for self-improvement, including blowhards on the internet like me, and you’ll figure out your own plan after taking in all the information you can. Congratulations.
Phase II is the most exciting phase (see Phase I) because you’re still new enough at your job not to get fired for incompetence/hangovers, but you know enough about the city to break hearts and have a good time. Lots of adventure, lots of hooking up with questionable girls, lots of fun. By now you shouldn’t be talking to your friends from home more than once a week or so, you should have a pretty good idea what’s considered cool for locals, and you should have met a bunch of people without becoming great friends with any of them. In other words, you have a full backpack and a map of the land: it’s time to explore.
Based on the available public transportation, ease of parking, and price of gas, figure out a reasonable radius that encompasses everything you can consider “local”. This is your stomping ground, and you have to know it and protect it well. Travel to every part of the stomping ground that has anything in it you are remotely interested in. In DC, I would say the list is something like this: Clarendon, Alexandria waterfront, Crystal City, Georgetown, Cleveland Park, Farragut Square, Dupont Circle, Chinatown, Adams Morgan, U St, H St, Capitol Hill, SW Waterfront, Eastern Market, and Union Station. You’ll read some things saying some of those places suck or some of them are hip and new, but things are always changing, opinions are variable, and you never know until you go. In any case, you should make your opinion on a place; you shouldn’t read it.
You’ll know you’re being successful in Phase II if you’re talking to somebody who’s been a local for 15 years about a local neighborhood/place/event and they don’t know anything about it. The people who have lived in a place their whole lives just assume they know everything about it. But they don’t and if you’re successful in Phase II: you will. Fuck those arrogant locals. This gives you a huge advantage of knowing more than the locals without being a local. Because you don’t have the time to stay in a place for 10 years without feeling like it’s home. There’s way too much shit out there to stay stationary.