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The Best Places to Live in Maryland
Maryland is one of the few states that only has one major city, Baltimore. This makes determining the best places to live in Maryland challenging. With that said, the state is filled with lovely little towns scattered across a stunning and diverse landscape decorated with rolling hills, pine-covered mountains, sand dunes, and beaches. If you’re a history buff, you’ve come to the right place.
To kick things off, we’re going to start with the most obvious location on our list of best places to live in Maryland… Baltimore. But, don’t let that stop you from reading on if you’re prefer a smaller place, we think we’ve got some options further down on this list you will be quite fond of (oh, and by way of introduction, we’re Bellhop—Baltimore movers, Rockville movers, and movers throughout the country).
A word about home prices: we’ve worked hard to reflect the average home price in these great picks, using Zillow as a reliable source. It’s worth checking the value before making any decision. Maryland’s average home value may surprise you: $405,000 as of mid-2023.
We’re in the midst of an interesting time here in the United States. Covid radically changed how we think about living and working. Large popular cities like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles saw young creatives, entrepreneurs and remote workers saying “forget it” and moving to far less popular yet underrated locations like Chattanooga, Richmond and Pittsburgh.
We would feel comfortable throwing Baltimore on this list, too. While the city is by no means small at 570,000 residents, it’s safe to say it is a less popular choice when compared to other East Coast cities like Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, and Philly. Not to mention, it’s in the midst of a reinvention.
In an article published in The Smithsonian, “How Baltimore Quietly Became the East Coast’s Next Cool City,” travel and leisure writer David Amsden revisits the place he was born and raised after being away for nearly two decades.
What he experiences is a mixture of old and new, some he recognizes, most he doesn’t. And, millennials seem to agree with him (granted we hate being called that). From 2010 – 2022, the number of degree-holding young professionals in Baltimore increased by 35%.
Instead of joining the rat race in larger cities and living paycheck to paycheck, young people are heading to Baltimore where their money can go quite a bit further.
Sean Wen, a twenty-five-year-old professional who previously worked at Goldman Sachs in Texas, shared with The Christian Science Monitor his reasoning for making a jump to Charm City, “A lot of my decision to come here had to do with being in a city where I knew I could make some positive impact.”
Sean, along with hundreds of other millennials are joining a program called Venture for America that links recent graduates and young professionals with jobs at startups in locations like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Kansas City. Bellhop actually services many of the cities on the list of places Venture for America works out of, so if you land a gig in one of these locations, don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Anyway, who is Baltimore really for?
Baltimore is for the young professional looking to make change happen. It’s for movers and shakers. We highly recommend Baltimore for those interested in living close to (but not actually living in) major East Coast cities. Baltimore is smack in the middle between Washington, Philadelphia and New York. Don’t want to drive? Baltimore has great access to Amtrak and travel by train can be faster than by car. We’ve written about and explored quite a few places here at Bellhop, and we have yet to see a large (but very livable city) that close to some of the biggest players in the United States. And, if you like crab cakes, well that’s another sell on Baltimore… or Maryland for that matter. But more on that here in a moment.
Looking to stretch your housing dollars? Baltimore ‘s average home value is $182,000 as of June 2023, according to Zillow, well below the US national average of $348,000. Rentals can be a bargain too at $1,500 on average.
Have money to spend on a great neighborhood? Zillow points to Bolton Hill, Charles North, Mount Vernon, and Greenmount West.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the city got a bad rap for crime: D+ according to Niche. The city recognizes this negative impact and is committed to improving it.
More good news: Baltimore’s vibrant downtown is on the road to recovery: the University of Toronto’s School of Cities compares pre and post-covid cell phone activity. We admit this sounds crazy, but Balitmore’s is back up to 87%. So if you are itching to hit the downtown for a late night brew, the good news is that you won’t be alone.
Takoma Park, Maryland is a stone’s throw from Washington D.C. In fact, it’s so close that sometimes folks find themselves making cultural comparisons between the two. Don’t. They’re nothing alike, and this is what may make Takoma Park the perfect place for you and those you love to call home.
It’s left. Far left. Wayyyy left. So, if you’re a die-hard Republican, pack your bags and head further south. But, if living in a very free-spirited liberal place is your jam then you will love Takoma Park.
For one, life in Takoma Park is earth-friendly, it’s highly educated, 17,000+ residents are nature lovers and solar power advocates that are extremely passionate about creating a municipality that is a “nuclear-free zone.” Sixteen and seventeen year old residents may vote in municipal elections. Some would describe it as being a hippie haven, full of hot yoga studios, vintage clothing shops, vinyl record stores, and more vegetarian restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Its annual Takoma Park Folk Festival is well known and draws crowds from the region.
People are willing to pay for the privilege of these amenities and proximity to D.C. The average home value in mid-2023 was $675,000.
So, who is Takoma Park for?
This is an easy answer, so we’ll keep it short. Takoma Park is for very liberal-minded, eco-centric, folks looking to live in a smaller town within close proximity to a larger city. It’s for vegetarians. It’s for yoga practitioners. It’s for nature lovers. If none of these resonate with you, get the heck out of dodge.
At a population of just over 6,500 people, it’s natural to wonder why on earth Thurmont ended up on our list of best places to live in Maryland.
Well, a few reasons. For one, Thurmont’s average income sets at right around $82,000. Yes, you read that correctly.
And, to add to this, the average house costs only $363,000. And, while this small town is certainly not for everyone, if you’re a lover of the outdoors then you couldn’t ask for a better place to call home.
Thurmont is located smack dab in the middle of two stunning state parks and is known locally as the “Gateway to the Mountains.” One of the parks it is adjacent to is Cunningham Falls State Park which boasts the largest waterfall in Maryland. And, with the town also being next to the Catoctin Mountain Park, residents have easy access to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
So, who is Thurmont for?
Thurmont is not for the young professional looking to make some big moves in a big city. We would only recommend this town for the outdoorsy type who is either a professional that works remotely or someone looking to retire in a quaint town near the mountains. It’s one hour plus by car to Baltimore; not bad for a weekend movie, yet maybe a little far for a daily commute.
Frederick, Maryland is quite a bit bigger than Thurmont and Takoma Park but still small compared to Baltimore. At roughly 82,000 people (279,000 when you count the greater Frederick Maryland County area), it’s the second largest city in Maryland, so the city might be the perfect size for folks who want a little of everything.
It’s located where ancient Native American trails crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains crossed trails running through the rolling Piedmont hills. These trails later became the main route across the Appalachians by settlers and figured prominently in the revolutionary war.
In addition, Frederick is a nice blend of both historic and contemporary. Its historic downtown area is dominated by beautiful old churches that stand like masterpieces on the Frederick skyline.
One quick Google search and you’ll be able to see what we’re talking about here. The city is breathtaking, honestly. Its old buildings have been repurposed versus knocked down and built over and it has a beautiful canal that runs through the city with lovely walking and biking paths along the sides of it. The city was named one of the nation’s Distinct Destination because of its incredible job preserving its buildings.
Not to mention, if you are a jetsetter and need close by access, Frederick is actually close to three international airports. Yes, you read that right. It’s within a one hour+ drive to Reagan National, Dulles and BWI (that’s Baltimore, Washington, International airport)
It’s also worth mentioning that Frederick is home to a growing regional airport and close to two other regional airports… Hagerstown Regional Airport and Gaithersburg Regional Airport. What we’re trying to say here is that you won’t have any trouble getting where you need to go for cheap from Fredrick, that’s for sure.
One benefit of living here is the home price relative to living near so many great urban opportunities: $435,000 according to Zillow in mid-2023.
So, who is Frederick for?
We recommend Frederick for families of professionals that might find themselves needing to do a lot of traveling but who aren’t wanting to deal with the craziness of a bigger more congested city. Frederick isn’t so small that you’ll run out of things to do, but it’s not so big that you’ll find yourself getting lost there, either.
Columbia represents something a little different: a planned community of ten, mid-century, self-contained villages, founded by a trend-setting planner who believed that cities had to be places where people succeeded. Zoning was strictly regulated to contain sprawl and to create an environment where “where men, women, and their families can live and work, and, most importantly, grow in character, personality … and the capacity for joyous living.” Later, others would take this design idea and run with it, notably in Florida, creating the same desirable outcome.
Today, his foresight is reflected in the popularity of the town. The city was rated the best city in Maryland to raise a family in 2023 by both WalletHub and Livability. Ranked 13th in the national survey, it is also the only city in Maryland to qualify.
So, who is Columbia for?
Just about anyone who wants a great, safe, planned community living experience, and that’s everyone of course who can afford it. Housing prices are on the high side for Maryland: $475,000 according to Zillow.
The city is favored by a highly educated, high income and diverse population. In recent Census information Asians represented 13% of the population, nearly double the Maryland average.
Recognizing that people under 25 represent 30% of the population, the county has focused its resources on youth. The county recently took steps to increase school funding by a billion dollars, fully-fund universal pre-K services, and offer free bus access to students.
In short, if you’ve got a family and can afford it, jump in!
Final thoughts on the best places to live in Maryland.
As we mentioned at the beginning, Maryland is an outlier state when it comes to cities. It’s absolutely breathtaking with diverse landscape, but unlike other states, there aren’t too many large cities.
So, as far as the best places to live in Maryland goes, we have to give it up to Baltimore. While Baltimore has been known for having a relatively high crime rate, we think the benefits you will get living in such a big city with such close proximity to others is worth it.
Sorry, but we just don’t think you can beat that. With that said, if you are looking for something smaller you can’t go wrong with Columbia, Frederick, Thurmont or Takoma Park. You really can’t.
And always remember, if you find yourself worn out while moving or simply need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to give us a call. While we don’t currently service the smaller cities and towns on our list of best places to live in Maryland, we do move in and around Baltimore and have Washington DC movers, and would be more than happy to help you settle in. So if you decide to move in or to Maryland, don’t hesitate to reach out. We coordinate local and long-distance moving services in Maryland, and we would love to help.
Best of luck!
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