The city of Baltimore was established in 1729, making it one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in the United States. It was based on the initial settlement of the area that occurred in 1661 by the English. German immigrants came to the area around 1723, which gave the general assembly to create a community that had a real existence instead of one that was only on paper.
During the 18th century, the city drained many of the marshes in the area, filling them in to create building opportunities. Canals were created through the center of town to help manage the water, and then they constructed bridges to ensure people could stay connected to one another. By 1790, the population of the city was already at 14,000 people.
The city has seen its ups and downs over the years. President Trump even described the city as being “disgusting,” and a “rat and rodent-infested mess “ in a July 2019 tweet series. He also called it a “dangerous and filthy place” that was “far worse and more dangerous” than the conditions at the U.S. Mexico border.
If you’re thinking about moving to Baltimore soon, then these are the pros and cons to consider before finalizing your decision.
List of the Pros of Living in Baltimore
1. Baltimore is a seafood lover’s paradise.
When you start craving seafood along the East Coast, then Baltimore is the place that you want to be. The Chesapeake Bay cuisine that you’ll find here in the city is some of the best on the planet. Lobster rolls, crab cakes, and oysters on the half shell will have you covered at almost any time of day. You’ll discover the culinary scene is evolving in a variety of ways here, with a growing cocktail scene working to compliment the craft breweries that have become popular in the region.
There’s a series of eclectic options to enjoy in Baltimore, along with a handful of fun food festivals to browse when you start living here.
2. There is a rich history to explore in Baltimore.
Baltimore is one of the few cities in the United States that is older than the country. If you love to explore historic sites or hear the stories of the past, then this city is a treasure trove that you’ll appreciate exploring. This place is where Francis Scott Key found the inspiration to write the “Star-Spangled Banner.” It was where Babe Ruth was born, and it is also the final resting place for author and poet Edgar Allen Poe.
You will find over 65,000 properties in Baltimore currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That figure is more than any other city in the United States.
3. You can live in a unique home in Baltimore.
Baltimore is one of the few cities in the United States where you can still find row houses based on the initial colonial influences. There are several charming neighborhoods where you can find an apartment, condo, or studio with a unique ambiance that other cities can’t provide. You might even have the chance to rent a loft in a warehouse. As an extra bonus, some of these properties are on the waterfront if you can afford the prices.
4. The educational opportunities found in Baltimore are world-class options.
You will find several world-class public universities and colleges operating in Baltimore. A handful of private institutions are also available in the city. Loyola University, the University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins are the famous names that you’ll find here. The latter choice also has a teaching hospital and one of the best biomedical research facilities in the country. If you or your family want to go to a medical school, then this is one of the places where you’ll want to consider living.
5. Jobs are fairly easy to find when living in Baltimore.
The unemployment rate in Baltimore tends to hover right around what the media rate is for the United States. That means it’s around 4.5% in 2019, although it has gone a little lower and above 5% in recent years. The trends are due to the manufacturing jobs that are found in the city, with an emphasis on steel processing, automobile manufacturing, and transportation. Changes to tariff structures had a massively adverse impact on the city, but there was a surge in tech startups that helped to offset some of the economic losses.
You can also find a variety of healthcare positions open regularly when you start living in Baltimore.
6. You are going to be living close to Washington, DC.
Baltimore is close enough to the nation’s capital that you can get there on a 45-minute train ride. That means you can get there in about half of the time that it would take you to drive there. You’ll have access to three significant airports in the region when the city is your home, including BWI in Hanover, Ronald Reagan Washington National, and Dulles International. That makes all of your traveling needs super simple to fulfill. If you plan your trips in advance, you can find some pretty good deals waiting for you with all of these options.
7. There are plenty of pro sports for you to enjoy in the region.
Living in Baltimore means you can watch baseball with the Orioles or football with the Ravens. You can go down to the nation’s capital to see the Nationals and the Redskins. If you prefer soccer, then D.C. United represents MLS in the region. There are several college teams that play at a high level in the region, and a growing lacrosse presence can provide you with some variety. Hockey and basketball are also close when you start living in this city.
8. You can find several homes available at reasonable prices in Baltimore.
You can find homes priced above $1 million to the north and south of Baltimore. If you are a Middle-Class family wanting to live in the city, then you’re going to find it provides one of the best bargains on the East Coast. The median sales price of property here was $210,000 according to information provided by Trulia. If you prefer to rent, then the average monthly cost was $1,499 per month. You can still find several listings in the $150,000 range, which is 90% cheaper than if you were trying to live in some NYC neighborhoods.
You can enjoy a high quality of life when you start living in Baltimore – at least when you look at the cost of living here.
9. There are several attractions for you to visit when living in Baltimore.
The waterfront is the centerpiece of downtown Baltimore. The only city with one that is entirely comparable is Seattle, so there’s nothing quite like what you can experience when living here. The Inner Harbor is breathtaking, surrounded by shops, restaurants, hotels, and plenty of attractions. There’s a fleet of historic ships there, including the USS Constellation from the Civil War era. You can take the kids to explore the Maryland Science Center or the Port Discovery Children’s Museum.
You’ll find a series of galleries and museums that you can tour throughout the city. If you like to plan a weekend activity with your family, it will take years to run out of new things to do when you start living in Baltimore.
10. Baltimore benefits from a temperate climate.
The city of Baltimore benefits from its location that isn’t too far north or south when you prefer to live on the East Coast. That means the seasons keep the temperatures and precipitation moderate throughout the year. This advantage is the reason why it is a great place to enjoy an activity at any time of year. Whether you prefer the 80,000 tulips that bloom at Sherwood Gardens or a winter-time experience with Miracle on 34th Street, there are always entertainment options for you to ponder when you call this area home.
11. The nightlife in the city is thriving.
If you love having a good time on the weekend, then Baltimore has a lot to offer if you start living here. The culture scene is excellent, with choices like the Tin Roof, Alexander’s Tavern, and Amber providing a great time. You’ll want to experience the Havana Club on Friday nights if you love dancing. Howl at the Moon is a dueling piano bar. There are numerous locations in Federal Hill and Fell’s Point for you to discover.
If you want LGBTQIA+-specific options, Grand Central and The Hippo are popular choices that are welcoming to all. You’ll also find several comedy clubs dotted throughout the city for you to enjoy if that is more of your scene.
List of the Cons of Living in Baltimore
1. The traffic problems in Baltimore are only getting worse.
Traffic all along the East Coast can be a problem, but it doesn’t stop you from getting to where you need to go. Baltimore has more problems than the other metro areas since you have commuters and local workers filling the streets and highways. Unless you need to be there for some reason, it’s best to avoid the outer loop of the beltway as people on I-695, I-395, and I-95 try to get to work or come home for the day.
You do have some public transportation options to use in the city, including a subway, a bus system, and commuter rail options. Plan to spend lots of time in traffic unless you can walk to your destination.
2. Crime in Baltimore is an issue that you will need to manage.
Baltimore routinely ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. The homicide rate in 2017 pushed the city into third place on that list. Most of the violence comes from the neglected areas of the community, and it is usually drug-related issues that cause the most problems. You’ll want to use common sense methods to stay safe, be careful, and take precautions to protect yourself. Leaving valuables in your car is a habit you will want to break. Don’t walk alone at night if you’re living in an unfamiliar area. You might even consider purchasing a club so that you can lock your steering wheel.
The Safe Streets program is working to reduce this disadvantage, but it is still an issue to consider before you start living in Baltimore.
3. Taxes in Baltimore can be more expensive than you realize.
If you live in Baltimore, then you need to be prepared for your tax obligations for the city. It carries a politically independent label, which means you’ll pay more than if you lived in the county or somewhere else in the state. The city’s income tax rate is 3.2%, which is higher than the 2.83% rate found in the county. Property taxes are much higher than what you’ll find further west, which can be pretty hard on the finances.
Some of the credits that people used to offset the costs of owning a home expired with the 2018 changes to the national tax law. You’ll want to see what the expectations are for your property before moving so that you can financially plan for this issue.
4. Homelessness continues to thrive in Baltimore.
The homeless community in Baltimore continues to struggle despite having more resources and services provided to them. It’s a massive issue in many of the urban areas in the United States because of the combination of low wages and high housing costs. You’ll find encampments springing up throughout the city, sometimes next to neighborhoods paying high mortgages or monthly rental costs. Temporary housing, shelters, and expanded social services have not yet managed to get the issue under control.
Because mental health issues are prevalent in this community, the behaviors of the people you can meet on the street are sometimes unpredictable. If you have young children with you, then this structure could be a disadvantage to think about if you plan to walk to your next destinations.
5. You may need to navigate the blue laws found in Baltimore.
Many of the liquor stores that sell products in Baltimore are closed on Sundays. If you want to purchase something specific, then this disadvantage is something that you’ll need to figure out a work-around for when living here. Anne Arundel County, which is just to the south of the city, allows Sunday sales, so a quick road trip is one way to manage this disadvantage. Most of the bars in the city also have off-sale licenses that let them sell packaged goods that you can take home.
If you’re used to getting whatever you want rather easily at any time, there are a few changes you’ll need to manage when living in Baltimore.
6. There is a risk of hurricanes each season for you to consider.
A total of 123 tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes have affected Maryland and the Baltimore urban area since 1950. The deadliest storm to hit the area was Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which killed 19 people when heavy flooding affected the region. None of them made landfall with hurricane-force strength winds, but storms like Hurricane Dorian in September 2019 like to bring heavy rains and higher winds that can become problematic for some homeowners.
What makes Baltimore unique for the region is that it lies in the path of some Pacific storms that form and move toward the northeast. Hurricane Tico in 1983 was the best example of this issue, causing heavy rains and flooding as it moved into the city.
7. The cost of living in Baltimore can be problematic for some families.
Although the cost of housing in Baltimore is better than most locations along the East Coast, it is still double what you would pay for the U.S. median. Changes to the tax structure keep being floated by the state legislature and the city, but there haven’t been any permanent changes that have taken place in recent years. If you’re moving from a low-wage location like Iowa, Wyoming, or Montana, then your rental costs might rise or your paid-off home would become a down payment for what you’d get in the city.
The pros and cons of living in Baltimore are dependent on the neighborhood you choose and your overall expectations for the experience. If you plan to raise a family in the region, then you’ll want to take a closer look at Ellicott City, Fulton, Ilchester, and Columbia.
There are some expenses that you will need to plan on having that may be new. Taxes are the primary issue that surprises people here, especially with the property tax rate compared to the price of a house in the city.
If you want to live on the East Coast and have access to most of the significant cities in the region, then the central location of Baltimore makes sense. You can head to the north to see Philadelphia or New York City, while to the south you have Washington, DC. Providence, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Beach are reachable on a single tank of fuel.
Because there are so many options, you will find that living in this city tends to be a positive experience for everyone.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.