Since being established in 1729, Baltimore has played a key role in American history, first serving as a hub for trade to the Caribbean and then as a meeting place for the Continental Congress when Philadelphia was under threat.
Francis Scott Key, the lawyer and poet, wrote the “Defence of Fort M’Henry” after witnessing a British attack on the city. The poem, published in the Baltimore Patriot, later became “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Other notable authors who called Baltimore home include Edgar Allan Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Frederick Douglass.
Though the city has done a good job of preserving this history—listing more than 65,000 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places—it has also made a substantial effort to look toward the future, as you’ll discover in our guide.
For those considering a move to Baltimore, your friends at Bellhops are here to help (we're movers in Baltimore, FYI). We’ve gathered information and resources to help make the decision easier. We’ve also reached out to folks who live there to find out what they love about the city as well as what they think it could improve upon.
The Baltimore Basics: Overview, Cost of Living, Employment, and Transportation
A Brief Overview
Baltimore is Maryland’s largest city and just 40 miles—about an hour-and-a-half drive—from Washington, D.C. It is the second-largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic and home to about 2.8 million people.
Because Baltimore is a politically independent city—meaning, it’s not affiliated with the surrounding Baltimore County—it has significantly different taxes: Baltimore County has a 2.83 percent tax rate, and Baltimore City's rate is 3.2 percent, which is the highest in the state.
When it comes to buying a home (which we’ll cover more in our neighborhood section), Baltimore has a rate of $2.24 per $100 of assessed value, which is almost twice the national average, according to the Baltimore Sun. The city, however, is in the middle of a plan to reduce the property tax rate by 20 percent, so things could change.
If you’re looking to rent, be wary about indirectly paying property taxes through increased prices. You may also want to see if you are eligible for an annual credit (up to $750) based on your monthly rent and your gross annual income. For more information and to see if you qualify, visit livebaltimore.com.
If you are interested in a more thorough breakdown of the cost of living in Baltimore, Expatistan is a great site that will provide you with an extensive list of costs such as rent, health care, groceries, clothing, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Although Baltimore is well-known for shipping, auto manufacturing, transportation, and steel processing, Forbes magazine claims that it’s now one of the top cities for tech start-ups in the nation.
Other key industries in Baltimore include biosciences, health care, and higher education—due in part to the fact that Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System are the city’s two largest employers.
Some other influential industries, according to Visit Baltimore, include government, defense contracting, cybersecurity, financial services, and sports (it’s home to the Baltimore Ravens and the Orioles).
For more information, take a look at this ranking of the city’s top workplaces by The Baltimore Sun.
Driving is manageable in Baltimore (as this video demonstrates), but there is a variety of alternatives as well.
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) operates the Metro, a subway system that connects the northwestern suburbs to downtown, the Light Rail, which is a 27-mile system of aboveground rail lines, and the city’s bus system. It also offers the MARC Train, a commuter rail system that services Harford County, Brunswick, Washington, D.C., and other nearby areas.
Then there’s the Charm City Circulator, a free shuttle that travels four routes in the central business district.
Baltimore also has the eighth-busiest Amtrak station in the country. Penn Station, the historic terminal, is getting a makeover, which is part of a citywide initiative to encourage mixed-use development around transit stations to improve public safety, preserve history, and boost economic growth.
Because of the popular HBO show The Wire, many people associate the city with crime. And it’s true that there’s a lot of talk about Baltimore being the most dangerous city in America. But there are also efforts to address this issue, such as the Safe Streets program, as well as a bill up for vote that demands stricter sentences for repeat violent offenders and more money for services and intervention programs.
###Where to Live in Baltimore? A Neighborhood List
####1. Mount Washington
Located in the northwestern tip of Baltimore, Mount Washington is surrounded by large, open spaces—such as Luckman Park and the University of Baltimore Playing Fields—to walk, ride bikes, and play sports.
The area offers a variety of row homes, condos, apartments, and rental properties. In the eastern part of the neighborhood, there is Mount Washington Village, which features restaurants, salons, galleries, and boutiques.
Locals like to frequent the Mt. Washington Tavern and the Nickel Taphouse for dinner and a few pints, as well as the British-inspired Corner Pantry, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The average price for a home is $306,000.
####2. Charles Village
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Charles Village is known as one of Baltimore’s finest row-house neighborhoods. Not only is it home to the Wyman Park Dell, a 16-acre public park and one of Baltimore’s most noted landmarks, you’ll also find Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Museum of Art here.
The average price of a home in this area ranges from $230,000 to $247,000.
####3. Old Goucher
The home of Goucher College, Old Goucher is full of rental homes and apartments, as well as row homes that go for around $199,000. Located in the center of the city, it’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Baltimore, featuring plenty of arts and culture, restaurants, bookstores, clubs and bars, and a dedicated neighborhood association committed to its community. Taste This is a popular dining destination in the neighborhood, as well as the Terra Cafe, which is known for its burgers, omelets, cakes, and pies.
####4. Roland Park
Established in 1891, Roland Park was the first planned suburb community in the United States. This upscale neighborhood boasts a variety of large, beautiful, historic homes and an array of eateries such as the french bistro Petit Louis, the brunch cafe Miss Shirley’s, and the Indian restaurant Namaste Baltimore.
####5. Washington Village/Pigtown
Not only do we love the name, we also love how culturally and economically diverse this neighborhood is. It’s family-friendly yet affordable for college students and young professionals. If you’re looking to buy, houses start around $106,000. Though it was renamed Washington Village in the 1980s, residents still refer to it by its original name, which came from its railroad-working founders who would unload pigs from the B&O railroad cars and herd them through South Baltimore.
Popular places to eat include the local coffeehouse Cafe Jovial, Marty’s Deli, and Pickles Pub.
Baltimore Nightlife and Culture
When it comes to places to visit and things to do in a city where you’ve just moved, the dilemma for many is if (and when) to visit the touristy destinations.
As a visitor or a local, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is difficult to avoid, since there’s so much to enjoy. Yes, there are tourist destinations, such as Baltimore’s famous National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. But then there’s also places like Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, the Historic Ships of Baltimore exhibit, and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture.
There are also a variety of dining options around the Inner Harbor, such as Tin Roof, BRIO Tuscan Grille, and Dotties. And if you enjoy shopping, there is a wide range of clothing stores and specialty shops.
Just one block from the Inner Harbor is Power Plant Live!, a collection of bars, restaurants, and music venues all in one convenient area. And if you like drama, there are a number of theaters to choose from, including the Hippodrome, Center Stage, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and the Iron Crow.
For those who tend to avoid tourist areas, Station North might be the place to go. An arts and entertainment district that spans the Charles North, Greenmount West, and Barclay neighborhoods, it’s a more low-key area, with diverse galleries, workshops, and venues for those who consider themselves to be culturally educated (or wish to be). Among places of interest are the Baltimore Improv Group, the Baltimore Eagle Nightclub & Bar, and the Charles Theater. Station North also has lofts and other spaces for rent for artists of all kinds.
When we asked residents what they love about Baltimore and what they think could be improved upon, we got some good responses.
Mark Brock-Cancellieri said that Baltimore has a thriving arts scene with a lot of diversity. He also loves the proximity to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. “There’s a good sense of community here,” he says. “But you have to embrace the grit and be flexible.”
Mark is referring to Baltimore’s reputation for violence, which you read about earlier.
Haley Phipps shares similar concerns about crime. She also says that traffic can be terrible. But she loves that it’s a big city “with an artsy, harbor-town feel” and plenty of amazing restaurants and bars. “It’s a great place for sports fans! The Orioles’ stadium and the Ravens’ stadium are within walking distance from each other.”
Good Luck with Your Baltimore Move
And that’s it. Our job is done. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your potential move, that’s OK. It’s all part of the process. Hopefully, what we’ve provided will help alleviate some of your anxiety and help you decide if Baltimore is the right move for you. If you decide to take the plunge, don't hesitate to reach out to your friends at Bellhops. We coordinate local and long distance moving services in Baltimore and we would love to help.
Move forward, leave anxiety behind.