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Cost of Living in Baltimore, MD 2021

By: Susan Finch
October 1, 2021

Maryland is known for its gorgeous beaches, hills, state parks, and city living. Moving to Baltimore offers metropolitan amenities which come at a cheaper price tag than nearby cities like Washington DC, New York, and Boston. Baltimore has quickly earned a reputation for its diverse population, fine dining, big attractions, and a growing job market in construction, manufacturing, education, and tech. Read on to learn more about how your most common living expenses will shape up in Charm City.

Baltimore Housing Costs

Figuring out your budget and the cost of living in Baltimore should start with your rent. It will likely be your most significant expense, especially in trendy waterfront neighborhoods. Despite the renowned job market in areas like manufacturing, Baltimore's tech start-up scene is also rapidly growing. A fresh wave of entrepreneurial-minded residents creates an inevitable increase in the cost of living in Baltimore. Rents are climbing steadily, though are still reasonable in comparison to other metro markets. Baltimore residents have seen a near 17% increase in rents year after year.

The city of Baltimore is home to over 620,000 residents and 2.8 million in the metro area. Despite periodic declines and sluggish growth, the population grew by 13% since 1998. However, there are indicators that the market is still growing, such as real estate prices, especially as more start-ups and young professionals move into the area.

For one, rents are reasonable around Baltimore compared to its northeastern neighbors. The average rent in Baltimore recently increased and is up by 17% compared to this time last year. Median rents in Baltimore run $1,107 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,411 for a two-bedroom.

Baltimore Transportation

You need your own set of wheels to make the most out of Baltimore, but there are public transportation options around the city. The Baltimore water taxi offers complete on-off service to over 30 attractions and waterfront neighborhoods. Whether you're a tourist or local, it's a fun way to explore the city.

The Charm City Circulator is a frugal way to cruise through downtown. Buses run every 15-minutes along four routes. The Baltimore Light Rail is ideal if you're headed north to south from Hunt Valley to BWI Airport. If you want to travel further, the local MTA bus features 60 bus routes.

Uber, Lyft, and taxis are also available in Baltimore, or you can hop on an electric scooter or rental bike with Lime, Bolt, Jump, and Spin for a small fee.

According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, expect to spend about $5,113 on transportation as a single adult. On the other hand, families of two working adults and a single child need at least $9,378. Fortunately, Baltimore is still a relatively affordable city to live in compared to northeast cities like New York and Washington DC.

Learn more about costs and what to expect if you're moving out of state to Baltimore.

Baltimore Food Costs

According to the MIT estimates, a single full-time employed adult that cooks his or her meals (including snacks) spends approximately $3,177 per year on food. If you want to enjoy the waterfront restaurants and pubs Baltimore has to offer, expect to pay an average of $15 on a meal at an inexpensive restaurant without extras like appetizers and alcohol.

Dinner for two at a mid-range restaurant costs around $65. For reference, dining out in New York costs about 26.20% more. So if you are moving from the Big Apple, you'll come out ahead on reasonable housing costs and food options.

Baltimore Healthcare Costs

According to the MIT data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the typical cost of medical services for a single, full-time employed adult in Baltimore is approximately $3,001 per year. A family of two full-time working adults and a child will pay up to $8,623 per year.

Baltimore Utilities

Make sure to factor utilities into your Baltimore cost of living, which will cost $252 per month. The estimated cost includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage.

Baltimore Fitness and Entertainment

Baltimore's bike paths and waterfront areas make it a gorgeous backdrop for biking and walking. If your workouts require equipment or you prefer the structure of group classes, plan to pay $52.81 on average in monthly membership fees. In comparison, a gym membership in New York will cost you $107.90 a month. Of course, you could also set up a small home gym to save some money.

Going on a date to see the latest blockbusters at the cinema will cost you $12 a ticket, plus drinks and popcorn. In comparison, movie theater tickets in New York are priced at $16, and in San Francisco they’re $15.

Other Expenses to Consider in Baltimore

Baltimore residents have a few additional expenses to consider when living in the city. For example, residents pay a flat city income tax of 3.05% on earned income in addition to the Maryland income tax and Federal income tax. If you live outside Baltimore but work in the city, you'll pay a reduced local income tax of 1.80%.

To live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in Baltimore, you should shoot for an income of at least $39,852 a year or $19.06 an hour. For a two-bedroom apartment, you'll need to earn at least $50,796 a year or $24.42 an hour.

The "living wage," or the minimum amount of money needed to live above the poverty threshold, is $15.84 per hour for a full-time employed individual in Baltimore. The median income in Baltimore is $50,379, as reported by the Census Bureau in 2019. By comparison, the median income is $84,805 in the rest of Maryland.

There are still affordable Baltimore neighborhoods to fit your paycheck. However, if you want to live on the waterfront or in a new luxury high-rise, you should aim for a higher salary or take on some odd jobs to build the lifestyle you want.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know everything there is to know about the cost of living in Baltimore, you can start your apartment hunt in Charm City. Start your Baltimore apartment search today with this quiz!

If you're curious what the best places to live in Maryland are, read our article!

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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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