Your budget is the limit when it comes to living in Towson. Options abound for housing, ranging from small studio apartment rentals to that hilltop manse. Whether you're looking for a high-rise apartment in an urban setting, seeking the perfect family-friendly neighborhood with access to ample community resources, or looking for a private retreat with some property, Towson has it all. The challenge is to find what you want at your price point. This can take some time in this popular part of the country, so give yourself ample opportunity to see whats out there, be prepared to move quickly when you find something you love, and be willing to consider the option of a rent to own agreement if all the other pieces fit.
How Much Will It Cost?
The cost of living in Towson is slightly higher than Maryland's average and significantly higher than the national average. In return for cracking open your piggy bank, you get lower crime rates, well-rated public schools, and premier city access. Like most of the country, many Towson neighborhoods took a beating when the housing market crashed. While the market appears to be slowly rebounding, its still possible to get a great deal.
In this college town, the market for apartments ebbs and flows with the semesters (surprise, surprise). If you're hoping to find an apartment, avoid the peak times just before a semester begins. Also, while there are options for nearly everyone willing to look long enough, the number of homes on the market remains low because so many homeowners are locked into their mortgages by the credit crunch. In other words, it may take longer to find the home of your dreams because people just aren't budging. As housing prices continue to rebound, this looks likely to change.
What Do You Need?
There's no need to worry about any special requirements when you want to move here, but don't head out the door without the basics. This includes credit information, proof of income, references and rental history. If you show up without these basics to hand, you're practically handing the apartment rental of your dreams to some other guy (or gal).
Towson is big, and its housing options--from apartment rentals to houses for rent--vary wildly and depend on the neighborhood. Knowing where you want to live is just as important as knowing how you want to live. If you can identify desirable neighborhoods first, you will eliminate a lot of wasted time and energy in the long run. Here are some to consider:
Stoneleigh: This sought-after residential community on the National Register of Historic Places is full of tree-lined streets and prestigious homes. Great schools and a community pool are just a few of the amenities of living here as well as grocery stores and the popular Towson Town Center shopping mall within a five-minute drive. What's not to like? $$$$$
Loch Raven Village: Considered a great family neighborhood and home to the beloved Castle Playground, Loch Raven Village offers charming brick townhouses, a prime location, and great prices. It's a suburban haven for both renters and owners. $$$
Rodgers Forge: Residents of this vibrant community just north of the Baltimore City line consider it one of the areas best-kept secrets. With a rich history and a family-oriented community, the public schools here are some of the best around (good news for junior). Plenty of restaurants and shops are within a short drive or longer walk, and you'll also find fitness facilities, athletic fields and playgrounds. This area may be most famous for producing record-holding Olympian Michael Phelps. $$$$
West Towson: This rapidly growing, distinctive community of about 800 families stays connected through newsletters and neighborhood activities, including a spring parade, holiday decorating contest, spring picnic, Easter egg hunt and more. You'll find both single-family houses and row houses for rent. $$$
Chestnut Hill: This in-demand neighborhoods popularity is evident by its vacancy rate--one of the lowest in the country. With a reputation for offering peace, quiet and security, Chestnut Hill is known for its variety of demographics, ranging from singles to families to retirees. If you love the night life, walk on by. $$$$
Knollwood-Donnybrook: A popular home for college students and consisting of apartments and smaller homes, this area has been undergoing a period of rejuvenation. Because of its location, crime can be high here, but an active neighborhood watch and community involvement help keep people feeling safe. Can you say pepper spray?$$
Southland Hills: Bordering Towson University, this community offers premiere access to the main street Collegetown area. While the neighborhood has recently undergone changes, crime can be dodgy here, so residents take adequate caution. $$$
Anneslie: Small-town character and urban proximity make Anneslie a great destination for former hipsters who have traded nights out on the town for nights up with the baby yet still prize individuality and access.$$$$
For the most part, residents of Towson prize their suburban existence against the backdrop of urban amenities. But there are trade-offs, and nearly all Towson neighborhoods struggle with incidences of crime, crowds and other issues related to living in such a highly populated area.
Bring Your Car Keys
While many Towson neighborhoods are walkable within their perimeters, Towson is not a very pedestrian-friendly town because of busy traffic on the main roads. Several bus lines through the Maryland Transit Administration serve the Towson area, and there is also light rail service to downtown Baltimore and the airport as well as stops in neighboring Lutherville and Falls Road. The Collegetown Shuttle offers a popular option for students. Amtrak service is accessible at Baltimore's Penn Station while the Baltimore-Washington Airport is just over 30 minutes south of Towson. While traffic in the Towson area can be the worst kind of annoying, it's nothing like the frequent commuter snarls found further south on the Beltway.
Invest in Air Conditioning or Hit the Road
Summers in Towson can be sweltering, and "Its not the heat, its the humidity" is a common refrain throughout the months of August and July. Many residents beat the heat by heading to the shore, with Ocean City and Reho, both as popular breezy destinations. You will spare yourself some sleepless summer nights, nevertheless, by seeking out shelter with air conditioning. On the flip side, while winter weather can be relatively mild, snow storms do happen, and its not unheard of for a weeks-long dig-out to shut down the entire town.
Living in Towson may be costly, and there are some downsides related to crime and congestion in certain neighborhoods, but the trade-offs can be significant for the people who call Towson home. They include an incredible variety of housing options within a wide range of budgets, all offering unparalleled access to cultural, recreational and retail offerings. If you choose to make Towson your new home, you get everything this bustling college town and its big city neighbors have to offer--for better or for worse.