Moving to Baltimore

Located on the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is a beautiful city that encompasses a variety of neighborhoods, cultures, and personalities. This diverse area has something for everyone, from professional sports and outdoor activities, to cultural events and a thriving economic atmosphere. While the modern city continues to grow, it remains one of the greatest historical destinations in the country. The area boasts an impressive background steeped in American history. Among the many historical sites to visit is Fort Henry, built in the late 1700s. It’s renowned as the site that inspired our National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

Within driving distance to sandy beaches and relaxing ocean resorts, Baltimore locals love their seafood! And speaking of driving, motorists here have been known to be a bit aggressive, mostly due to road construction and challenging rush hour traffic. But most importantly, the residents of Baltimore are quirky yet extremely welcoming to those moving to the Charm City. 

Once you’re settled, you’ll want to venture out and explore. In addition to museums and historical sites, the city has much to offer.  Amazing restaurants, professional sporting events, sailing, concerts, and nature parks are just a few of the things that draw new residents to the largest city in Maryland.

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Living in Baltimore, MD: What to Know Before Moving to Baltimore

Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and the 26th largest in the United States. With a population of approximately 622,000, the area boasts an impressive mix of culture, attitude, and activities. Conveniently located 40 miles northeast of Washington, DC, Baltimore is rich with history and modern culture.

Pros and Cons of Living in Baltimore

Choosing to relocate to a new area can be a difficult decision that requires careful consideration. Making a list of your new city’s pros and cons can help you decide if the move will be a proper transition. We’ve compiled a list of a few potential benefits and disadvantages of moving to Baltimore. 

Pros:

  • Secondary Education Opportunities: Baltimore is home to multiple private and public colleges or universities, including John Hopkins University, one of the top-rated hospitals in the world. Not only is it a biomedical research facility, but it’s also a reputable teaching hospital.
  • Job Market: The city has a true atmosphere of opportunity, and Forbes magazine ranked it among the top locations for tech startups. Significant industries in the area include transportation, steel manufacturing, auto manufacturing, and shipping. 
  • Professional Sports: Sports fans will find a home in Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles, the American league professional baseball team, plays at Oriole Park. The National Football League is well-represented at M&T Bank Stadium as it’s the home of the AFC champions, Baltimore Ravens. Even horse racing has a place in the Charm City. The Preakness, second leg of the Kentucky Derby, is held at Pimlico Race Course.
  • Attractions and Activities: Baltimore has a beautiful downtown area, complete with waterfront views, shopping, and dining. Multiple museums, historic sites, and other attractions keep Baltimore residents’ calendars full. 

Cons:

  • Crime: High crime rates are a problem for Baltimore. Most of the violent crimes involve drug activity but are primarily an issue in the neglected areas of the city. Efforts are being made to intervene and reduce the crime rate. 
  • Big City Traffic: Traffic is heavy and challenging at times. It can take a substantial amount of time to cross town, especially during rush hour.
  • Humidity: There are periods of extremely high humidity, mostly June through September. These high levels result in sticky, sweaty skin, and big frizzy hair!
  • Higher Tax Rate: Baltimore is a politically independent city which results in slightly higher property tax rates.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: Baltimore’s property tax rate of 1.519% is higher than the Maryland rate of 1.085% and higher than the national rate of 1.211%.
  • Sales Tax: According to Avalara, the Baltimore sales tax rate is 6%. The city doesn’t add special tax rates to the Maryland state tax of 6%. 
  • Income Tax: Overall, Maryland has a moderate income tax rate of 5.75%, which is very comparable to Virginia and Rhode Island. Some states have much higher income tax rates, such as New Jersey at 10.75%, or much lower income tax like Pennsylvania at 3.07%. 

Housing Market

The largest percentage of Baltimore residents are homeowners, and 43.1% are renters. Rental apartments and houses make up 3.6% of the housing market. As of August 2019, the median home price was an affordable $114,300, and currently, the market is fairly warm for sellers. If renting is a more feasible option for you, you can expect to pay a median rental price of $1,313 a month, a bit below the United States average. 

Niche.com gives insightful information on more affordable neighborhoods in Baltimore. These include Pleasant Hills, Dundalk, Perryman, Arbutus, and Middle River. There are several important factors to consider when choosing a new neighborhood; the cost of living and crime rates may be the most significant. 

Cost of Living

According to bestplaces.net, Baltimore’s cost of living index is 96.8, significantly less than the US average of 100. Bestplaces allows you to compare your current city to your future destination to better prepare for your upcoming financial changes. Lower than average expenses in Baltimore are housing at 61.1 and health-related costs at 97.1. Higher than average costs are transportation at 144.4 and utilities at 107.3. 

The average income in Baltimore is $46,641, slightly lower than the national average. A family of four would need to earn $6,417.00 a month, or $76,998.00 annually to live comfortably. This relatively high budget suggests that most families would need to earn dual incomes.

Weather and Natural Disasters

Residents of Baltimore experience four distinct seasons throughout the year with hot, humid summers and windy, cold winters. The coldest months are normally December and January with highs reaching 42 to 46 degrees F and lows in the 20s. The two hottest and very humid months of the year are July and August, with temperatures reaching the upper 80s. Rainfall during the year averages 40.72 inches with the wettest period in September. Snow falls predominantly between November and March, with an average of 19 inches annually. 

The area can fall victim to a variety of severe weather threats. Residents may experience hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and hazardous winter storms. Citizens can stay informed and prepared by reviewing The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management website

Economy and Job Market

The Baltimore unemployment rate is 5.7%, which is higher than the national rate of 3.7%. However, job options are consistently presenting themselves as there are more than 21,000 employers located in Baltimore County. A large number of medical facilities, universities, and the expanding bioscience industry create a continued source for career advancement or opportunities. Private-sector industries create over 36 billion dollars for the economy. 

Major employers in the area include John Hopkins Hospital and Health Systems, The University of Maryland, and McCormick and Company. More than 60 federal agencies are located within 30 minutes of Baltimore, as well. The top industries for job seekers are health care, technical, scientific, and professional services, as well as culture and tourism. 

Individuals who are looking for a job in Baltimore have several valuable resources at hand. One of the most significant is the Baltimore County Workforce Development Center, which provides information, training, job postings, resume, and application assistance among other services. Online resources are also available with up to date job openings and career information. 

Traffic and Transportation

Unfortunately, Baltimore isn’t known for its wonderful traffic conditions. The city has the 22nd worst commute in the United States, and overall congestion is among the worst in the nation. Some estimates indicate that the typical commuter will spend approximately 59 hours a year stuck in traffic. Most drivers are obviously on the road during the morning and evening commutes. 

Sixteen interstate highways run through Maryland in various directions. Interstate 695, known as the Baltimore Beltway, consists of 51.46 miles of highway that surrounds the city. Commuters experience multiple daily delays and traffic jams on this stretch of road.

Public transportation is moderate, with four options for residents. These include the Metro Subway, Light Rail, MARC train, and public bus. Trips must be planned specifically for each mode of transportation because each travels a specific direction.

Walkscore.com gives the city a walk score of 69, a transit score of 57, and a bike score of 52. Each of these scores is above average, so Baltimore can be considered a less car-dependent city than many other cities it size.

What to Do

Charm City is a vibrant, buzzing, and energetic city full of activities for everyone. The list of things to do includes a variety of outdoor activities as well as interesting cultural attractions. From thriving arts districts and fun nightlife to world-renowned museums and historic destinations, the area pulls you in with various experiences. 

The art and culture environment is a huge part of the city dynamic. Multiple festivals are held throughout the year to celebrate diverse heritages and events. The Maryland Science Center is a great place for the entire family with three levels of interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater, and live science activities. 

Parts of Baltimore are breathtakingly beautiful. Assateague Island State Park and National Seashore are located nearby in Berlin. Highlights include maritime forests, sandy beaches, and a coastal background. One of Baltimore’s most notable destinations is its Inner Harbor, known as the heart of the city. You’ll enjoy a variety of restaurants, shops, boutiques, and attractions. The National Aquarium is among the most influential in the United States and has unique exhibits such as Animal Planet Australia and Shark Alley. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine serve as a remembrance for the Battle of Baltimore and the inspiration for our National Anthem.

Professional sports are well represented in Baltimore by the Orioles (baseball) to the Ravens (football). The city also has a couple of professional soccer teams, as well. Even horse racing has a home at Pimlico Park, which draws huge crowds for many of its nationally recognized races, including the Preakness Stakes. 

Schools and Universities

When moving your family to a new city, it’s important to review the school systems and educational options. The quality of education is a significant factor when deciding if the move is the proper fit for you and your children. Baltimore City Public School District serves over 80,000 students through 173 public schools. The student-teacher ratio is 16:1 which is close to the state ratio of 15:1.

Overall, according to greatschools.org, Baltimore has a high ranking for public education, with many schools performing above average. Some examples are Eastern Tech High School (10/10) and Rodgers Forge Elementary School (9/10). Maryland placed 2nd in the 2019 Best High School Rankings, with 43.7% of these schools in the top 25%.

Secondary education opportunities are extremely abundant for residents. Forty-one four-year colleges are within 40 miles of Baltimore, and many of these rank among the best in the country. Several community colleges and tech schools offer IT, computer, medical assistant, and cosmetology programs as well. 

Crime

An unfortunate statistic for the city is its high crime rate. Baltimore has a violent crime rate of 77.8 while the national average is significantly lower at 22.7. Robbery and assault make up most of these violent crimes. The property crime rating is 67.6 which is also much higher than the national average of 35.4. Downtown has the most incidents, while other pockets of elevated crimes include Owings Mill and Essex. Residents should stay aware of their surroundings and be cautious when traveling alone at night or in deserted areas. 

Utility Providers

One of the most tiresome relocating tasks can be researching, finding, and contacting your new utility providers. Starting these services must be done as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition to your new home. The following is a list of providers who service the Baltimore area:

  • Gas and Electric: Baltimore Gas and Electric, also known as BGE, is Maryland’s largest natural gas and electric provider. You can find information and request to start service on their website.
  • Water: The City of Baltimore Department of Public Works is responsible for your water service needs. They pride themselves on being responsive to their customers and providing high-quality services. Visit their website for questions and new service requests. 
  • Trash Pickup/Recycling: The City of Baltimore Department of Public Works is also the largest trash collection and recycling provider for the area. You can find details about specific trash collection and recycling guidelines on their page
  • Internet/Cable Service: Several internet and cable companies provide service for the residents of Baltimore. You can compare packages, prices, internet speed, and other factors by visiting this local provider’s page

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Best Neighborhoods in Baltimore, MD

Choosing the best neighborhood for you and your family will depend on several factors, including housing information, population, school system, and area amenities. We’ve compiled information on the top eight neighborhoods in Baltimore to help make your decision a bit easier. 

Riverside

Riverside is a moderately sized neighborhood located northeast of downtown Baltimore. Most of the homes in this community were built in the early 1900s but have been updated and renovated. They include small yards and usually two to three bedrooms. 

The neighborhood is near a major inland port, so it’s always buzzing with energy and activity. New shops and dining venues are opening at a frequent pace. There’s also a wonderful leisure and commercial area, which includes parks, museums, and The National Aquarium. 

  • Population: 6,264
  • Average Home Price: $176,800
  • Average Rental Price: $1,366
  • Schools: Church Creek Elementary (7/10) and Villa Maria School of Hartford County 

Fells Point

Fells Point is a charming, warm, historic district that dates back to the 18th century with 161 buildings on the National Register. You can stroll down the original cobblestone streets and enjoy the local buildings that have stood for centuries. The Patapsco River forms the southern boundary

Fells Point sits near several major highways, including the Jones Falls Expressway and the Beltway. Charming antique and craft stores dot the neighborhood, and the community regularly hosts street fairs.  Hip taverns and pubs, like Max’s Taphouse and Thames Street Oyster House are popular with locals and often feature live music. The Art Gallery of Fells Point and Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum are other popular attractions.

  • Population: 10,898
  • Average Home Price: $295,582
  • Average Rental Price: $1,362
  • Schools: Western High School and Hampstead Hill Academy (4/10)

Chinquapin Park – Belvedere

This area is a beautifully landscaped neighborhood that has a true village personality. City playgrounds offer the ideal place for a fun-filled afternoon with the kids. Three landmarks add character to the town: The Govans Presbyterian Church is a stone edifice that anchors the community, Belvedere Square offers unique dining and shopping options, and The Senator Theatre is the best-known landmark to visit. The community acts as a hub for its residents, adding to the sense of “being neighborly.”

  • Population: 24,827
  • Average Home Price: $309,844 (according to areavibes.com)
  • Average Rental Price: $1,288
  • Schools: Federal Hill Preparatory (4/10)

Federal Hill

This neighborhood is located on the peninsula in southern Baltimore, surrounded by the Patapsco River on three sides. This recently reclaimed area features lovely brick homes, and if you’re interested in buying and renovating a fixer-upper, several prime properties are ready for your special touches. There’s a great mix of resident diversity, including a wide age range and varying economic statuses.

Federal Hill is a hip neighborhood that has a lively nightlife scene in and around taverns and pubs. Federal Hill Park is a great place to relax with views of the harbor and downtown. The American Visionary Art Museum is a quirky venue that showcases outsider art. There are numerous live music events and wonderful neighborhood markets like the Cross Street Market that brims with fresh produce and prepared foods. Federal Hill has earned a walk score rating of 95, making it a perfect neighborhood if you love getting out to all the amenities on foot. 

  • Population: 6,232
  • Average Home Price: $302,082
  • Average Rental Price: $1,486
  • Schools: Federal Hill Preparatory (4/10)

Westgate

Westgate is situated so that it provides both city and county living. The city part of the neighborhood sits in West Baltimore. This neighborhood features an eclectic mix of vintage homes ranging from bungalows to cottages and more. Homes have period attributes that add real character, such as brick facades, stained-glass windows, original hardwood floors, fireplaces, and wide porches. Several attractive apartments and townhome complexes exist for those who prefer to rent.

Westgate is an older community established between the 1920s and 1930s. The neighborhood has a very suburban feel, although it’s located conveniently by Hwy 40 or 144 to access downtown. This proximity allows residents to experience peaceful everyday living with only a 15-minute drive to dining, entertainment, and exciting nightlife. 

  • Population: 14,467
  • Average Home Price: $166,033
  • Average Rental Price: $909
  • Schools: Thomas Jefferson Elementary and Middle Schools; Part of Baltimore City Schools, they provide a challenging and unique education with an international focus.

Canton

Canton is a vibrant community that’s located directly east of Fells Point. Its waterfront faces the Patapsco River. Canton developed from a plantation that belonged to a seaman named John O’Donnell. His son built the area now known as Canton where many European immigrants settled. Now, Canton is a community with new housing developments and local marinas. 

Homeowners make up 62% of Canton residents – only 3% lower than the national average.  Residents enjoy visiting the Canton Waterfront Park and Fishing Pier Park as well as the Canton Library. Lively oyster bars, crab shacks, gastropubs, and pastry shops are popular with locals. The area is popular for its summer concert series and food and wine festivals. The neighborhood has earned a walk score rating of 85, which means Canton provides a great environment if you enjoy leisurely strolls or heart-pumping outdoor exercise.

  • Population: 12,040
  • Average Home Price: $259,906
  • Average Rental Price: $1,548
  • Schools: Hampstead Hill Academy (4/10)

Inner Harbor

Inner Harbor is considered a major tourist attraction in Baltimore. Residents see thousands of tourists and visitors from all over the world wander through the area. Luxury hotels along the waterfront not only provide services for business people but celebrities as well. The neighborhood is primarily condo living with high rise developments being the most common. 

Inner Harbor is the transportation hub of the city with the subway, light rail, and bus system, all making stops in the area. You’ll find upscale shopping, access to two sports stadiums, superb dining experiences, various live performance stages, and waterfront views. The Maryland Science Center and National Aquarium, plus a collection of historic warships reside at the waterfront. Locals pack up their sand pails and sunscreen for a day at the only public beach in Baltimore. 

  • Population: 2,535
  • Average Home Price: $213,683
  • Average Rental Price: $1,288
  • Schools: Federal Hill Preparatory (4/10)

Locust Point

Located at the end of the Southern Baltimore peninsula, Locust Point sits between Lawrence Street on the west and Patapsco River on the north, east, and south. Locust Point is a historical community that contains the oldest row houses in the state. Modern times have seen new luxury high-rise developments constructed for new residents. 

Locus Point still retains a lot of beautiful green space. One of the most visited attractions is Latrobe Park, which offers a dog walk, ball courts, playgrounds, and a recreational center. Under Armour is headquartered in Locust, and a visit to Fort McHenry, the historical site that inspired the Star-Spangled Banner, is a worthwhile and interesting excursion. 

  • Population: 1,917
  • Average Home Price: $239,675
  • Average Rental Price: $1,939
  • Schools: Frances Scott Key Elementary School (3/10)

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