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How to Find an Apartment in Baltimore

By: Susan Finch
October 12, 2021

Moving to Baltimore offers a historical backdrop, incredible seafood, and world-class attractions along a sparkling Harbor. Once a sleepy town, Baltimore is now Maryland's largest city and quickly turned into an alternative option to the sky-high rent prices in New York City, Washington DC, and Boston. Baltimore is also home to a booming tech scene, steadily attracting more entrepreneurs and startups.

You can piece together all the info on how to find your apartment in Baltimore or use our detailed guide to simplify the process and find the best rental possible.

Ready to relocate to Charm City and enjoy urban living with waterfront views? Here's what to do to find the best apartment amenities and neighborhoods in Baltimore.

How to Find the Best Baltimore Neighborhood

Moving to Baltimore offers a mix of urban fun like pubs, dining, and attractions. In addition, you can find walkable neighborhoods in Baltimore near nightlife or paved biking trails. Baltimore's location is also incredibly convenient to take weekend trips to nearby cities like Washington DC, New York City, and Maryland's tranquil countryside.

Rents that were once a rock bottom bargain in Baltimore are on the rise. Keep in mind that some Baltimore neighborhoods are transitional or rougher than others. As with any big city, exercise caution and care when heading out to savor the city's nightlife. Arm yourself with common sense, a roommate, and rideshares to Baltimore's trendiest hotspots.

Renters can choose from luxury apartment buildings along the Inner Harbor and the Patapsco River or quieter options in surrounding suburban neighborhoods. Either way, you'll find the quality of life you're looking for and varying price points to find the perfect apartment for you.

Ready to move to Baltimore? Here's where to get started!

1. Riverside

Riverside is famous for its rent-friendly row houses and modern apartment buildings. Look for an apartment along the expansive public park with towering views of the South Baltimore peninsula and the sparkling Patapsco River, perfect for young professionals who want close proximity to restaurants, shopping, and pubs.

2. Fells Point

The historic Fells Point neighborhood is home to 300 buildings on the National Historic Register. It also attracts tourists to the oldest standing residence in Baltimore City: the Robert Long House.

Fells Point is perfect for renters looking for hip pubs, taverns, seafood, and live music. Chesapeake Bay crab and oysters are popular staples among neighborhood restaurants and eateries.

3. Canton

Canton, Baltimore is among the city's trendiest neighborhoods. Walk out of your apartment and to your favorite gastropubs, pastry shops, and lively seafood restaurants. Development is booming around Canton with new apartment buildings, townhomes, and condos. You’ll find more expensive apartments nestled around the waterfront.

4. Frankford

Frankford offers a quick commute to Downtown Baltimore for shopping, recreation, and dining. It's also the go-to neighborhood for foodies with many ethnic eateries and exotic dining options. Savor everything from Jamaican to Nepalese cuisine in Frankford.

5. Charles Village

Charles Village is an attractive, low-key neighborhood, perfect for Johns Hopkins University students. It's walkable, easy to get around, and offers bars and casual dining before heading out to explore the rest of Baltimore.

Need more ideas on where to live? Read more about the best neighborhoods in Baltimore.

How Much Are Apartments in Baltimore?

If you're considering a move to Baltimore, you'll need to know more about the average rent prices and budget accordingly.

Average Rent in Baltimore

Baltimore rents have risen by 2.66% compared to last month and are rapidly rising by 17.04% compared to the same time since last year.

Here's more information to help you determine your budget:

  • 4% of apartments in Baltimore cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 47% of apartments in Baltimore cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 41% of apartments in Baltimore cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 7% of apartments in Baltimore cost over $3,000 per month.

How to Find Cheap Apartments in Baltimore?

Baltimore residents still enjoy cheaper rents than many metropolitan cities in the Northeast, though rent prices are steadily rising. Need an apartment on a budget? You can still find cheap apartments in Baltimore with some planning and hustle.

Move-in Specials

Start your Baltimore apartment search by looking for move-in specials with limited-time offers. Here are a few specials many landlords run, especially during slower renting seasons like winter:

  • Waived application fees
  • Reduced or waived security deposit
  • First month free
  • Look-and-lease deals

Make sure to check all of the terms of the promotion carefully. Rent discounts or waived fees typically apply to your first month's rent.

Deals on Longer Lease Lengths

If you're looking for apartment deals and coming up empty-handed, use Apartment List's Net Effective Rent. Our tool makes it convenient to look for move-in specials and see their actual value before you start applying for an apartment.

Even if you score an incredible move-in special, you still need a budgeting checklist to double-check all of your expenses. You don't want any financial surprises after moving in, and you'll need to factor in moving costs, utilities, transportation, groceries, and more. In addition, new college graduates should consider their student loan repayments or new furniture for their first apartment.

If you're on a tight budget, there are ways to save more. You can try these tips to find an affordable apartment. Sometimes landlords offer discounts for apartments with poor views or dated appliances. Finding a roommate is also a reliable way to save on rent in any city.

What's the Best Time to Find an Apartment in Baltimore?

Like most areas in the United States, the best time to rent an apartment in Baltimore depends on the season you move. There's a seasonality to apartment renting that can impact how much you'll pay.

Renters will find more inventory to choose from during winter months when fewer people want to move. On the other hand, the late spring and summer months are more competitive and expensive.

There is a caveat, however. The trendiest neighborhoods in Baltimore attract newcomers year-round and are less likely to offer specials.

Regardless of the renting season, you find yourself in, you can increase your odds of landing an apartment at a price you can afford when you come prepared. While your competition is going home to collect their documents, you're ready to sign your next lease.

How to Find an Apartment in Baltimore

Before you sign your lease, remember to use the 30% rule. It will help ensure you can afford your apartment with your current income and stay financially comfortable.

The rule states that you should spend no more than 30% of your pre-taxed, monthly take-home pay on rent or a mortgage. It's even better if you can spend less and have more disposable income available. Pre-taxed take-home pay is also referred to as "gross income." There's an easy way to come up with your number. Divide your gross annual salary by 40, and you'll get the same number.

When you use the 30% rule, you can get an idea of the salary you'll need to live in an average-priced Baltimore apartment.

  • If you rent an average-priced studio apartment in Baltimore, your annual salary should be around $60,264 or higher.
  • If you rent an average-priced 1-bedroom apartment in Baltimore, your annual salary should be around $69,408 or higher.
  • If you rent an average-priced 2-bedroom apartment in Baltimore, your annual salary should be around $74,304 or higher.
  • If you rent an average-priced 3-bedroom apartment in Baltimore, your annual salary should be around $79,776 or higher.

If you're considering renting in Charm City, be sure to learn more about the cost of living in Baltimore.

Understand the True Cost of Renting

The 30% rule helps obtain an understanding of how far your income will go when you're renting. Keep in mind there are other unexpected and hidden costs for renting and moving that the 30% rule doesn't consider. How much apartment can you really afford? Here are some apartment expenses to consider:

Beyond your moving and apartment-related expenses, you should also look through your bank statements and credit cards. The 30% rule may need some adjustments if you have long-term student loan repayments, medical bills, consumer debt, or other financial commitments.

We created this handy Rent Calculator to help you figure out how much rent you can afford to pay without stretching yourself too far.

Commuting in Baltimore

Baltimore's location on the eastern seaboard makes it a heavily trafficked area. Before you pick your neighborhood, make sure you factor in your commute time and transportation expenses.

Baltimore's walk score is 65, with a transit score of 57 and a bike score of 56. Those scores offer some flexibility if you rent an apartment in a walkable neighborhood with plenty of amenities, like restaurants and pubs. Canton and Riverside are among the most walkable and bikeable places to live in Baltimore.

Public Transportation in Baltimore

Baltimore's public transportation helps connect you throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. The Maryland Transit Administration includes bus, rail, airport, and park-n-ride service.

Single ride, cash fares are $1.90 with monthly options starting at $74.00. The free Charm City Circulator connects visitors and locals to major points around the city, though Lime electric scooter rentals are also available. Renters who want to make the most of walking, biking, and scooters should choose an apartment in an urban epicenter to help reduce their commute and monthly expenses.

Set Your Apartment Priorities

Expect new developments expanding through Baltimore with a mix of brand new apartment buildings. You’ll find all the amenities you could want alongside older units at a lower price point. Setting your priorities helps narrow down your search and find the best apartment in Baltimore by focusing on budget and must-have amenities, like rooftop terraces.

Amenities

Create a list of your needs, wants, and can't-live-without options for your next apartment in Baltimore. Don't skimp on the amenities you love, like an on-site gym, access to public transportation, and free parking. It's easier to narrow down your choices when you know what you want in an apartment.

Prepare for Apartment Tours

An apartment tour gives you a feel for where you want to live. It’s also among the last stages before signing a lease. Come prepared to sign with documentation like your ID, landlord or personal references, and cash or credit card for your application fee.

If you’re not sure how the apartment application process works, here’s an overview. It’s ideal for new renters and anyone who hasn’t moved in a while.

It’s easy to rush through the tour and forget what you wanted to ask, which is why you should have these 20 questions when renting an apartment handy. You’ll go over everything you need to know, like building rules and pet policies.

Applying for Your Baltimore Apartment

If you're ready to move forward on your Baltimore apartment, you’ll need to get the application process started. Here's what to know and how to plan.

1. Fill Out an Apartment Application

Let's get started! Before you do anything else, you'll need to fill out an apartment application when you find your ideal unit. The application will ask about your previous employment and personal information.

2. Pay the Apartment Application Fees

Application fees quickly add up if you're looking at multiple apartment buildings. Most apartment applications require a non-refundable application and processing fee. You should budget an extra $50-75 per application, though some landlords require an additional fee for each person on the lease.

3. Provide Proof of Income

You’ll likely need to prove your income is at least 3x your monthly rent to rent an apartment. Some landlords may offer some flexibility if you have a high credit score and sparkling references. Month-to-month rental with higher rental prices may have different income requirements and are often easier to rent. Bring along three previous pay stubs and bank statements to prove your income and financial stability.

4. Approve a Credit Check

Credit checks are part of the rental process and are required before moving forward with processing an application. A score of 650 is usually the minimum credit score needed to rent an apartment for a landlord to feel confident you are financially responsible.

5. Approve a Background Check

Background checks are the norm for renting an apartment, as they alert landlords to any issues and give them peace of mind that renters are who they say they are. If you know there is a red flag on your background check, talk to your landlord in advance. Explaining the situation in advance can go a long way in earning their trust.

6. Find a Cosigner (If Needed)

Poor credit or low income aren't always deal-breakers, though they can make signing a lease more difficult. Landlords will usually accept a cosigner who is in good financial standing and responsible. Your co-signer is legally obligated to pay your rent if you can't. Here's a guide to figure out if you need an apartment cosigner.

7. Provide Past Landlords and Personal References

Landlords want to know that you're a reliable tenant. The best way to show off your integrity is by providing references from past landlords. Of course, if you don't have a rental history, you'll need to get creative. Asking around for personal or professional references can help. Learn more about rental reference letters to secure your next apartment.

8. Pay a Security Deposit

Getting approved for an apartment is just one crucial step in moving forward to your dream apartment. Paying a security deposit is usually the next step. You can prepare in advance by budgeting between 1-3 months' rent for your deposit. Don't worry. If you take great care of your apartment and keep your rent paid on time, your landlord should return your security deposit when moving out.

Protect Yourself from Rental Scams

Rental fraud is prevalent and not going anywhere anytime soon. You may feel you're savvy to scams, but they're becoming harder to spot and are more sophisticated than they were just a few years ago. New renters who haven't done much apartment hunting are also vulnerable. Unfortunately, one in three people has lost over $1,000 after paying a fraudulent security deposit.

Stay proactive and diligently study up on the latest rental scams. Arming yourself with information and knowledge is vital in protecting yourself from fraud. Only choose reputable landlords or apartment complexes and ask around for recommendations. It's also essential to trust your gut. Like anything else in life, "too good to be true deals" are a scam.

Ready to Rent an Apartment in Baltimore?

Congratulations! Baltimore is filled with new job opportunities, urban living, and waterfront fun. The only thing left to do is unpack and start exploring your new neighborhood.

Using Apartment List to Find Your Baltimore Apartment

Ready to move to Baltimore? Apartment List is here to help you find your perfect apartment.

Here's how it works: First, we get to know you. You'll answer a few simple questions, and we'll find the best matches customized with renters like you in mind. Then, we mix and match your personalized results, making it easy to discover places with the perfect combination of price, location, and amenities.

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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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