When I worked for HUD I was a "Development Representative" (really a grants manager) and my job was for a State Office in Chicago. We only managed funds for IL grantees, so my travel was limited to IL, except for trainings. I only went to DC three times in 11 years. Most of our training was in Chicago or other midwestern cities. I was also fortunate to be sent to training at the University of Maryland and at the Kennedy School of Govt.
My typical day was 9-5:30 (an 8 1/2 hour day with a flex start and finish). Many people in my office worked 7am-3:30pm. I did alot of reviews of municipal expenditures for housing, infrastructure and public service projects. I answered e-mails, phone calls and inquiries from my grantees (State and local governments and some non-profits). We also did site visits and on-site monitoring of projects and files (for fiscal and compliance monitoring). I probably had to travel for monitoring about 5 times a year, but I postponed alot of trips when my son was a baby (or took him and my husband with me).
I was on the phone alot, on the computer alot and reviewing reports. We reviewed annual reports, financial reports, project progress reports, etc. States and local governments also had to do 5 year planning documents, so we assisted and reviewed planning documents.
HUD makes both entitlement and competitive grants, so we also admisistered the competitive grants (which meant reviewing and rating and ranking grant proposals). That was definately the most interesting and fun part of the job. I administered some contracts - and I HATED that. The paperwork was never ending and we were far removed from the actual projects, so I always felt like a cog in a huge machine.
But I always felt good about the overall mission and goals of the agency. Most of my co-workers were great.
Chicago is a high cost of living area and we got paid based on our high cost status. We also got transit subsidies and I always felt well compensated. I remember that a co-worker who moved from DC thought that Chicago would be so much more affordable, but he found that it was still hard to buy a house (but certainly not impossible). I was a GS 12.6 when I left.
I had the opportunity to telecommute from home 2 days a week and I was glad for the chance to do that. I still had my son at the babysitter 5 long days every week, so that was hard for me. I asked to reduce to 3 days a week and I did that (part time from the office and 2 days a week totally at home with my son) and that was the best compromise for me. Unfortunately it was hard for me to really do my work in part time hours and keep up with changing regulations, etc. Plus I was just burnt out and wanted to have the SAHM experience for a few years. I was still expected to travel for work and that was hard with a nursing toddler. I took a leave of absence and then I finally left.
I would definately consider going back to a federal agency in the future. My kids are 4 and 7 now and I am working part time as a grant writer for a private school. The pay is a fraction of my old salary, but I am very close to home and I write my own schedule.
Hope that helps.