Baltimore may not be the first place that comes to mind when one considers moving to the East Coast of America. Surprisingly, though, increasing numbers of people from across the country and beyond are starting to see the value of life in the Charm City. Much of this is thanks to the efforts of local government authorities and industry who've come together to improve the city's infrastructure and public image. 

Some of the major drawcards for those looking to move to Baltimore include its great location close to the US capital of Washington, DC, teamed with a relatively low cost of living and excellent schools. On the flip side, Baltimore does have its issues with crime in certain parts of the city, along with traffic jams and slightly higher taxes than nearby areas. For some, these are reason enough for some to disregard the city’s potential. 

Here is a broad overview of the pros and cons of moving to Baltimore that prospective residents should consider before deciding to relocate to the Charm City. 

Accommodation in Baltimore

White and concrete rowhouse by Tia Cunningham

+ PRO: Plenty of housing options and neighbourhoods

Baltimore is known as a ‘city of neighbourhoods’ and with more than 200 communities to choose from, newcomers are sure to find an area or suburb to suit their lifestyle. In terms of accommodation in Baltimore, prospective residents can take their pick from modern apartments and luxury condos to historic row houses and converted factories. There is bound to be something to suit every budget.

Getting around in Baltimore

+ PRO: Good public transport infrastructure 

Baltimore has an extensive public transport network. Buses, light rail and the MTA subway cover the most prominent areas and suburbs of the city. The Charm City Circulator is also a handy way to get around the city centre.  

- CON: Traffic jams

Baltimore, like most big cities in the world, suffers from traffic congestion. The average driver will spend at least 30 minutes commuting to work. While it isn’t really necessary to drive, those who need to do so should avoid rush hour on busy routes such as the I-695, I-95, and I-395.

Safety in Baltimore

- CON: High crime rates in parts

Popular HBO TV series The Wire could be blamed for creating an image of Baltimore as a gritty city plagued by drugs, poverty and violent crime. While this dramatisation is wildly exaggerated, there is some truth in the portrayal. Crime rates do remain high in neglected parts of Baltimore but, that said, most middle-class Baltimoreans go about their daily lives without being affected. So, new arrivals who stick to recommended areas and take sensible precautions should be just fine. 

+ PRO: The city of Baltimore is making efforts to improve safety

The city authorities are determined to have people see Baltimore in a more positive light and have made a real effort to address the issue of crime. They’ve implemented the Safe Streets programme and invested in various intervention schemes to alleviate the problem. Slowly but surely, the city is seeing results.

Working in Baltimore

+ PRO: Good job opportunities in some industries

Baltimore’s economy is on the rise and unemployment is steadily falling. New arrivals with a background in healthcare, finance and higher education shouldn’t struggle to find employment in the Charm City. Entrepreneurs will also learn that this is a great place to launch a start-up because of the support offered to small businesses by local authorities. 

- CON: Employment packages aren’t all that lucrative 

While Baltimore is a great place to launch a career, those who are fairly well-established in their field of work and looking for more lucrative job opportunities may struggle to find something suitable. Compared to nearby New York, Boston and Washington, DC, Baltimore is home to few Fortune 500 companies and has a less dynamic economy.

+ PRO: Work culture promotes a positive work-life balance

Prospective residents who want to take a step back from their career and prioritise other elements of their life will find that Baltimore is a great place to do so. The work culture in Baltimore is not overly cut-throat and people aren’t regularly expected to work long hours. Many companies have measures in place to encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Lifestyle in Baltimore

Seven Foot Knoll Light Baltimore Harbour by Bob Smith

+ PRO: A foodie’s paradise

While seafood is the focus of Baltimore’s Chesapeake Bay cuisine, foodies will find everything from award-winning restaurants to eclectic ethnic eateries here. Baltimore also has its fair share of annual food festivals which provide a great opportunity for local food producers to showcase their offerings.

+ PRO: Thriving nightlife

While it may not quite compare to New York City, Baltimore’s nightlife offerings are varied and vibrant. Most of the action takes place in Federal Hill or Fell’s Point, but each individual suburb has its quirks when it comes to bars, restaurants and live music venues. 

+ PRO: Attractions galore

New residents will enjoy getting acquainted with their new home. There is plenty to see and do in Baltimore, especially near the waterfront. From the wealth of shops, restaurants, and bars along Inner Harbour to nearby attractions such as the Maryland Science Center or the USS Constellation, as well as Baltimore’s numerous galleries and museums, there is sure to be something to keep everyone entertained. 

Education and schools in Baltimore

+ PRO: Highly-regarded public schools

Those moving to Baltimore will be pleased to find that the city boasts many excellent schools. Bear in mind, though, that public school admission is often based on catchment areas, so the proximity of good schools should be considered when choosing where to live in Baltimore. There are also several charter and magnet schools, which aren't based on catchment areas. These are great options for students with strengths in selected subject areas.

- CON: No international schools

While Baltimore’s community is certainly diverse, it hasn’t traditionally been a popular expat destination. As such, the city doesn’t have any international schools that follow foreign curricula. A handful of public and private schools in Baltimore do, however, offer the globally recognised International Baccalaureate programme. 

Foreigners who want their children to study the curriculum of their home country can explore a wider range of schooling options in Washington DC, which is just a short drive away. 

Cost of living in Baltimore

+ PRO: Living expenses are reasonable

As one of the few major cities where middle-class families can comfortably afford to live in the downtown area, Baltimore is the East Coast’s best bargain as far as quality of life and cost of living are concerned.

- CON: Higher taxes

As a ‘politically independent city’, income tax in Baltimore is slightly higher than rates in the surrounding county. Prospective residents who are considering buying a home in Baltimore should bear in mind that property taxes are also much higher than those further west. 

Weather in Baltimore

+ PRO: Temperate climate

Thanks to its location on the East Coast, Baltimore benefits from a temperate climate. Winters are relatively mild, and the summer months aren’t scorching either. Rainfall levels are moderate throughout the year, so it is never really a bad time to get out and about in Baltimore.

- CON: Risk of hurricanes

While Baltimore’s weather is generally favourable, the city happens to stand in the path of Pacific storms. Thankfully, none of these hurricanes have caused much destruction recently. Hurricanes do, however, bring heavy rains and strong winds which have the potential to cause damage to property.

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