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Where to Live in the Baltimore Area

City or Suburb?

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If you're thinking of moving to Baltimore, one of the first tasks is deciding whether to live in an urban or suburban area.

Baltimore City, with a population of 635,815 in the 2000 Census, is at the center of the region.

Baltimore County wraps around the city in nearly all directions except due south. With a population of 786,113, it is larger than the city by more than 150,000 people.

While the commonly used term “The County” usually refers to Baltimore County, it is occasionally used interchangeably with “suburb” even though there are several other suburban counties in the region.

Other nearby counties include:

  • Anne Arundel County – south and east of Baltimore City, includes Annapolis
  • Carroll County – northwest of Baltimore County
  • Harford County – northeast of Baltimore County
  • Howard County – southwest of Baltimore County

    City Life:

    Pros:
    • Baltimore City residents often have shorter commutes because they are closer to the city center and can often avoid heavily congested highways. Or if they work in the suburbs, they have significantly less traffic in a reverse commute.
    • Most of the region’s major attractions, private schools, universities, hospitals, museums and cultural centers are located in the city.
    • Restaurants, shops and services are much closer to residential areas in the city, which significantly lessens the need to drive.
    • Dining and nightlife options are more diverse, and there are fewer chain dining establishments
    • A wide variety of housing types is available. Neighborhoods close to the water – such as Inner Harbor, Canton, Fells Point, Federal Hill, Butchers Hill and Patterson Park – have mostly rowhouses, condos and apartments. Northern neighborhoods such as Roland Park, Mayfield, Beverly Hills and Mount Washington have a range of styles of freestanding homes with yards.
    • City residents are closer to more options in public transportation.
    Cons:
    • Homes tend to be smaller and older and often without yards.
    • Parking is more of a problem in some city neighborhoods. In the areas dominated by rowhouses, most homes don’t have off-street parking and those that do cost more.
    • Crime and poverty rates are higher in Baltimore City.
    • Municipal services can be less reliable.
    • Many city public schools are among the lowest performing in state.

    Suburban Living:

    Pros:

    • Suburban homes tend to be larger and newer and have more green space.
    • Types of community settings are more diverse. City-like enclaves, new home developments and rural living are among the options.
    • Many suburban public schools out-perform their urban counterparts in standardized tests.
    • Neighborhoods tend to be cleaner and safer.
    • Several options are available for commuting by public transportation.
    • More convenient to malls and large shopping centers.
    Cons:
    • Traffic and congestion are major issues, particularly in areas with many stores and offices. Commuting into the city by car can be a long, slow journey.
    • Rapid growth in the suburbs has put a strain on schools and municipal services in some areas.
    • Less variety in stores and restaurants. Chains are the rule, and independents are the exception.

    Live Baltimore is an organization dedicated to promoting city life. Its website has many useful resources for newcomers to the area. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, check out these resources for renting or buying.

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