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5 Best Places to Live in Maryland

By: Susan Finch
August 11, 2021

Are you thinking of moving to Maryland? Dubbed the "Free State," Maryland boasts proximity to both Baltimore and Washington DC for expanded job opportunities and recreation. There are also plenty of neighborhoods with a more reasonable cost of living than much of the East Coast metro areas without compromising on amenities.

Not sure where to start? We did all the research for you to find the best places to live in Maryland.

1. Baltimore

  • Population: 593,490
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,689
  • Median Household Income: $50,379
  • Walk Score: 65
  • Transit Score: 57
  • Bike Score: 56

Baltimore was established in 1729 as a shipping port for tobacco and grain, and its waterways were also used for flour milling. By 1830, Baltimore thrived as a central transportation hub after the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad arrived. The city’s history holds the distinction as the birthplace of the United States National anthem and The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. Today, Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland, attracting newcomers to its urban amenities and reasonable cost of living compared to nearby cities like Washington, DC, and New York.

According to Apartment List’s migration report, people are moving to Baltimore from Washington, Boston, and New York, while people who move out of Baltimore are relocating to Washington, DC, New York, and Atlanta.

Over the last decade, Baltimore set an ambitious goal to improve its amenities and services to increase its city's population and grow its services and amenities. Tourism is growing, and more newcomers are arriving from expensive east coast cities looking for more reasonable rents. Popular industries in Maryland are financial and professional services, health and bioscience tech, culture and tourism, information and creative services, and logistics.

College students have their choice of prestigious higher institutions peppered throughout Baltimore’s neighborhoods. John Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, Loyola University Maryland, and various private and community colleges offer undergraduate, grad, and professional degree programs.

Baltimore's location on the estuary of the Patapsco River and Harbor makes it an idyllic place to enjoy the outdoors and urban living at the same time. Dine along the sparkling waterfront or stop by the National Aquarium. Harborside attractions include the USS Constellation warship and other historic vessels. Stopping by the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine marks the play that inspired the national anthem. Art museums, pubs, live music, and Orioles games keep locals busy.

2. Columbia

  • Population: 99,615
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,940
  • Median Household Income: $108,352
  • Walk Score: 32
  • Transit Score: 27
  • Bike Score: 34

Columbia, Maryland, was founded by James W. Rouse, a New Deal agency's Federal Housing Administration employee. In the early 1960s, he developed a new model city that included jobs, schools, shopping, services, and a more comprehensive range of housing choices. Columbia was soon built and flourished as a bedroom city for Baltimore and the DC area.

Ambitious job seekers are welcomed in Columbia. The city ranks as one of the best cities for jobs in the US. Columbia is also less than 22 miles from Baltimore for a quick commute to even more metro job opportunities. Locals find work at Johns Hopkins University, Verizon, and Howard County General Hospital, among others. With a kid-friendly vibe, as well as low unemployment and high earning potential, Columbia is welcoming to families. College students attend nearby Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and local community colleges.

Maryland is known for its outdoor beauty, and Columbia is no exception. Lake Kittamaqundi offers paths and trails, along with open space for relaxing. For more waterfront exploration, Lake Kittamaqundi offers paths and trails, along with open space for relaxing. For shopping and entertainment, the Mall in Columbia houses big-box retailers, eateries, a bowling alley, and a children's play area. Locals also have their choice of distilleries and breweries without leaving the city limits.

3. Germantown

  • Population: 86,395
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $2,000
  • Median Household Income: $94,559
  • Walk Score: 36
  • Transit Score: 37
  • Bike Score: 47

Germantown, Maryland, is known as the "corridor city" and was built during the 1960s. Native tribes lived in the area and hunted the land before an influx of Germans settled during the mid-1800s and farmed the land. As the site grew, modern-day Germantown was created to preserve the forests and farms around its cities.

Government jobs and contract work opportunities are standard around Germantown, attracting millennials and career climbers. Major industries around Germantown include medical research, medical services, hotel hospitality, defense, aerospace, and electronics. Families settle into Germantown for the highly regarded public schools and greenspace.

Germantown's idyllic backdrop offers plenty of time for relaxing and outdoor recreation. Seneca Creek State Park is a popular spot for fishing and hunting. Locals also boat and hike at Black Hill Regional Park and Butler's Orchard is the perfect spot for farm activities and fun. For a sports fix, places like TopGolf help you channel your inner Tiger Woods. Culture lovers head to the

BlackRock Center for the Arts for communication education opportunities.

4. Silver Spring

  • Population: 71,452
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,810
  • Median Household Income: $83,782
  • Walk Score: 61
  • Transit Score: 64
  • Bike Score: 59

Silver Spring, Maryland, is a northern suburb of Baltimore and Washington DC and is named for its local spring with flakes of sparkling mica. World War II brought a population boom, and people continue to move into Silver Spring as a suburban community to raise families and escape skyrocketing D.C. rents. The area houses the headquarters of the National Association of the Deaf, an Army Medical Center annex, and Seventh-Day Adventist World Headquarters, and National Capital Trolley Museum.

Like Germantown, Silver Spring is part of Montgomery, Maryland, and shares similar industries and employers, including government jobs and contract work, medical research, medical services, hotel hospitality, defense, aerospace, and electronics. Families settle into Germantown for the highly regarded public schools and welcoming atmosphere for kids.

Silver Spring is nearly 34 miles to Baltimore and just over 6 miles to Washington, DC, offering even more job opportunities. Locals know that commute times are significant in heavy D.C. traffic despite the short distance to the surrounding metro areas.

There's plenty of culture in the surrounding metro areas, but Silver Spring also offers its own attractions like the Maryland Youth Ballet and AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. Nearby DC attractions include the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, The National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The best part is, all Smithsonian properties are free to visit, keeping money in your pocket for rent and dining out.

For outdoor fun, Wheaton Regional Park hosts an education program and tranquil Brookside Gardens. Locals jog and bike along the trails at Sligo Creek Park and stop to skip rocks on the sandy beaches. Tennis courts, picnic areas, and outdoor grills attract families and neighbors on weekends. Locks are also near the free outdoor attractions around D.C. from the United States Botanic Gardens, Yards Park, and the National Arboretum.

5. Waldorf

  • Population: 67,752
  • Median 2-Bedroom Apartment Rent: $1,669
  • Median Household Income: $95,695
  • Walk Score: 17
  • Bike Score: 35

Boston may have dibs on the nickname Beantown, but it was Waldorf, Maryland's original name. Beantown was also part of the post-assassination escape route of John Wilkes Booth. In 1880, the city's name was changed to Waldorf and flourished as a tobacco market village. By the 1950s, it also attracted visitors to its slot machines and gambling opportunities. Gambling was outlawed by 1969 and Waldorf adopted a quieter vibe that grew into a bedroom community for the greater Washington, DC metro area.

As a bedroom community, Waldorf is about 28 miles to D.C., but commute times can get brutal in metro area traffic. Waldorf is also home to industries like education, military installation, local government, medical services, and retail. The city is also family-friendly, where parents look for more space and lower rents than the D.C. area. College students attend the University of Maryland University College, Waldorf Center, College of Southern Maryland, and Waldorf Center for Higher Education.

Waldorf is filled with historical and outdoor attractions like the Dr. Samuel Mudd House and Museum, a two-part frame farmhouse that was the site where Dr. Samuel A. Midd treated an injured John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of President Lincoln. The family-run Shlagel Farms is also a local favorite with over 100 years of continuous farming under the three generations of the Shlagel family. Visitors come to pick fresh strawberries, choose Fall pumpkins, shop the market, and attend year-round activities.

You can head into Baltimore or D.C. to see the major leagues or stick around Waldorf to see the Southern Maryland Nationals baseball team play at Regency Furniture Stadium. For cold brews, the BlueDyer Distilling Company and Patuxent Brewing Company serve up drinks and tours.

Final Thoughts - Where Should I Move to in Maryland?

Moving to Maryland offers city living, suburban splendor, and natural beauty. Whether you want a historical backdrop or close proximity to the bustling D.C., you can find it in Maryland. Ready to make a move? Sign up for Apartment list to find the best places to live in Maryland.

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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