Thinking About Making the Move to Maryland? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- Where Are The Best Places To Live In Maryland?
- How Is The Job Market In Maryland?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Maryland?
- How Is The Maryland Real Estate Market?
- Is Maryland A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like In Maryland?
- Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Maryland
- The Pros And Cons Of Living In Maryland
- Maryland Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Maryland might be the 9th smallest state in the US, but there’s a heck of a lot packed inside its oddly shaped borders. It’s best known as the ‘Old Line State’, but Maryland also proudly bears the unofficial title of ‘America in Miniature’. It’s designation as “America in Miniature” stems from the diverse landscape that seems to embody a little bit of everything that makes America, “America”.
From the pristine beaches of the Atlantic coast and the Chesapeake Bay to the soaring Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia, Maryland has everything you could ask for when it comes to scenic beauty.
The state is home to around 6 million people and has a huge variety of diverse ways of living. It’s conveniently perched up against Washington DC, and the areas surrounding the capital are a major hub for federal government employees.
The largest city is historic Baltimore, with its rich ethnic diversity, world-class culinary scene, and high-tech industries. There’s also a wealth of picturesque mountain towns to the west of the state, and sprawling coastal farmlands along the eastern shore, dotted with quaint traditional fishing towns where you’ll find some of America’s best seafood.
There’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking about relocating to this diverse state. Let’s dive in and take a look at everything you need to know about moving to Maryland.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 24, 2020)
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Maryland?
We could write a novel about all of the interesting places to live in Maryland, but for the sake of brevity, we’ve selected just a handful. If you look hard enough there’s sure to be a town or city suited to just about everyone.
In no particular order or rank, here are a few of the best places to call home in the Old Line State…
Columbia has been ranked as Maryland’s best place to live numerous times in recent years. For example, in 2017, Niche.com even placed it in the top 5 places to live and raise a family in the whole nation; not bad for a town of just 103,000 residents.
Part of this planned community’s success is it’s a prime location, right in between Baltimore and Washington DC, which makes it a hub for commuters working in these cities. Residents tend to have generally high paying jobs leading to a higher quality of life and overall living, with the average median household income being over $100k.
The area in and around Columbia has an attractively low crime rate, as well as some of the best schools in the nation, making it a highly popular place for families to move to and plant roots.
With all these accolades, it’s a pleasant surprise to find out that property is more affordable than one might think, especially as compared to many other areas of the state. The median home value in Columbia is $365,500.
This affluent Washington DC suburb is another example of a successfully planned suburban community. Situated in the “well-to-do” Montgomery County, North Potomac boasts an almost zero crime rate, impressively low unemployment, and fantastic public schools.
At last census around 25,000 people call this suburb home, with many of the residents being comprised of well-paid federal employees; the median household income here is an impressive $150k.
It’s no surprise then that property prices aren’t as affordable as other areas. The median home value in North Potomac is a whopping $620,000, ranking it among the less “budget-friendly” places to move to. That said, local employment opportunities abound and tend to be on the higher-end salary-wise.
Gaithersburg is a diverse community of around 65,000 people. The top-notch public school system, proximity to Washington DC, and relatively affordable cost of living make this area popular with young millennials who choose to start a family here.
The historic ‘Olde Towne’ area hosts community events throughout the year, and there’s enough in the way of great bars, restaurants, and shopping that means residents don’t need to travel into the capital to enjoy some great dining and nightlife options.
The average price of a home in Gaithersburg is surprisingly low for an area of the state known for its pricey properties. The average median home value is $366,000.
Another popular Washington DC “commuter town” is historical Bethesda. With its lively yet charming downtown area and peaceful suburbs, it’s a popular place for families relocating to the metro area for work.
The town is known for having some of the very best public schools in the country and has even been crowned ‘The most educated small town in America’ by none other than Forbes Magazine. It’s no surprise then that the unemployment rate is well below the national average.
There are around 62,000 people living in this affluent community, with a median household income of around 145k. The downside? Property here ranks amongst the most expensive across the state, with a median home value coming in right around $840,000.
Havre de Grace
Havre de Grace is a picturesque town that sits right on the waterfront of the Chesapeake Bay. Although the town has a lot to offer, one aspect of note is that it gets pretty “busy” during the summer tourist months. During the summer people flock to visit the historical and charming downtown area, sample delicious local blue crab, and see the historic Skipjack Martha Lewis – a beautifully preserved wooden oyster boat that is still in action today.
The area is less affluent than some of the Baltimore and DC suburbs further afield, but it still has a great public school system and an average household income of over 70k per year.
This is a great place to find a starter home since property here is relatively affordable compared to the rest of the state. The average median home value is $286k.
This Baltimore suburb is a popular place for residents commuting in and out of the city. It’s a cute little town of around 68,000 people, with a diverse community, surprisingly good nightlife, and a reassuringly low crime rate.
The historic downtown area is densely packed with period architecture, and the suburbs that surround it are peaceful, leafy and have a nice community feel.
It’s a pretty affluent area, with the median household income of $115,000, and property prices reflect that; the median home value is around $509,000.
Towson is home to Towson University, giving it a college town atmosphere that keeps this small community lively and vibrant.
Around 57,000 people call this Baltimore suburb home, and it’s becoming increasingly popular with commuter families moving to the area. This is partly due to its super low crime rate, with hardly any violent crimes at all, as well as a top-performing school system.
It’s also popular with outdoorsy types since it’s next to the beautiful Loch Raven Reservoir Park which has some great hiking and mountain biking trails.
The median home price here is $350,000.
Middletown is a great option if you enjoy being close to nature and living in a tight-knit community.
With a population of just 4,500, this is a real traditional ‘main street’ small town, just 15 minutes outside of Frederick. It’s a very friendly and family-oriented community, with an excellent school system and barely any crime to speak of.
South Mountain State Park with its impressive waterfalls and rugged landscape is just next door, which is great for hiking and exploring in nature.
The median home value in Middletown is $377,000.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 24, 2020)
How Is The Job Market In Maryland?
Maryland has a strong and thriving economy, which in turn leads to a prosperous job market. Unemployment here is a comfortable 3.6%, and there’s a state-enforced minimum wage in effect, which means no one works for less than $9.25 per hour.
That being said, Maryland has some of the highest wages in the country, and with its proximity to Washington DC, as well as the tech hub of Baltimore, there’s no shortage of well-paying work and career-advancing opportunities.
Industries in Maryland
That state’s “business-friendly” culture makes the state a breeding ground for innovation and new and established businesses alike.
Federal jobs make up a large chunk of Maryland’s workforce, especially in industries such as defense, aerospace, and cybersecurity. There are over 8,500 businesses in this area alone, altogether generating over $35 billion annually.
Since Maryland sits on the Atlantic coast, fishing is a major source of income here. The state’s famous blue crabs generate a whole lot of business along the state’s eastern shore, as well as produce like tilapia, catfish, and shellfish.
The state is also home to a thriving manufacturing industry, especially in and around Baltimore. Products such as food, machinery, and chemicals all lead the way here and provide jobs for thousands of works across the state.
Top Industries Overview:
- BioHealth and Life Sciences
- IT and Cybersecurity
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Military and Federal
- Aerospace and Defense
- Financial Services
- Energy and Sustainability
Top Employers in MD
Maryland’s biggest private employer is John Hopkins University and has a huge range of career options from academic research to administration and much, much more.
Baltimore’s John Hopkins Hospital, which is rated as one of the very best in the country, is also a major employer, with over 30,000 staff.
Other companies on the employment map in Maryland include the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center which has around 10,000 employees, as well as the grocery chain Giant Food Inc, with over 27,000 staff.
List of the Top Employers by Number of Employees in the State:
- Giant Food Inc, 27,000 employees
- John Hopkins Medical Institutions, 22,000 employees
- MedStar Health, 22,000 employees
- Black & Decker Corp., 22,000 employees
- Johns Hopkins University, 15,759 employees
- Verizon Inc., 14,000 employees
- Northrup Grumman Corp., 11,000 employees
- Constellation Energy Group, Inc., 8700 employees
- McCormick & Co., 8000 employees
- Walmart Stores, Inc., 7286 employees
- United Parcel Service Inc., 6945 employees
- CaseFirst BlueCross BlueShield, 6500 employees
- R. Grace & Co., 6300 employees
- University of Maryland Medical System, 6162 employees
- Safeway Inc., 6000 employees
- LifeBridge Health, 5691 employees
How Much Does It Cost To Live In Maryland?
Like housing, other living expenses in Maryland tend to be pretty pricey. But there are some upsides. Let’s break down the cost of living in the state as compared to the national averages.
The typical utility bill for an average family in Maryland is around $135 per month, around $25 higher than the median price across the US. If we look at the averages though, the cost of utilities balances out a bit closer to the national average, at only 5.6% higher.
Food makes up one of the biggest expenses of living. Given that we all have to eat, it is a line item that needs to be budgeted for in everyone’s monthly list of expenses. In Maryland, you can expect that your overall grocery and food bills will be about 5.2% higher than the national average.
The cost of owning a car is also pretty high. According to Insure.com, people in Maryland tend to pay around $90 a year more for their car insurance. Gas is slightly cheaper though, around $0.10cents less per gallon than the national average.
The good news is that if you live in the Baltimore metro area, public transport is relatively affordable; a 31-day pass which includes the use of the express bus service costs $85, which works out much cheaper than having a car and eases your carbon footprint.
If we look at the OVERALL costs of transportation including vehicle insurance, gas, license fees, taxes and other associated expenses, the costs of transportation in the state come in at 19.3% above the national average.
Healthcare is an expense we all must consider. Costs associated with healthcare can be substantial for those with a family, existing medical conditions or who are counted among the aging population.
In Main, it costs the average resident around $300 more per year than the national average for insurance payments. But there is a silver lining. As compared to the national average, the total costs of healthcare which cover, dental, vision, doctor visits, hospital bills and more, comes in at 10.9% lower.
How Is The Maryland Real Estate Market?
The real estate market in Maryland remains strong. Dense population, limited inventory and a booming economy and job market tend to support a healthy real estate market across the state.
Home prices in Maryland currently sit way above the national average. With property within the Washington DC metro area trending towards the the more expensive end of the scale. Some areas have median home values approaching close to $1 million. When we look at the state as a whole, however, there are plenty of areas that are more affordable. In fact, the median home value across Maryland is currently around $320,000.
If you’re renting your home, you’re also likely to end up paying well above the national average. A studio apartment costs around $1,120 per month, a 1-bedroom averages at $1,260 and for two bedrooms, expect to pay around $1,550.
Maryland Real Estate Market Forecast / Predictions
Various market data aggregates for Maryland real estate place the 2019 market values at between an increase of 1.4-2.5% depending on the area, with the market projected to increase by up to another 3.7% in the year to come.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 24, 2020)
Is Maryland A Good Place To Retire?
In terms of taxes, the short answer is no. It’s one of the least tax-friendly states for retirees in the country, since you’re expected to pay tax on retirement income such as 401(k) and IRA. The state is also the only place in the US that has an estate tax and a separate inheritance tax.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. Aside from the issue of taxes, Maryland has so much to offer for retirees. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of spending your golden years in the Old Line State.
The great outdoors
With both the Atlantic coast and the Appalachian Mountains in this small state, there’s endless scope for day trips with family and so many great reasons to enjoy a vacation close to home.
The delicious food
Maryland is the home of delicious blue crab, which the locals love to serve up with their other culinary claim to fame, Old Bay seasoning. Crab cakes are also a favorite recipe in the Old Line State, as well as fresh oysters, clams, mussels, and catfish.
It’s proximity to Washington DC
If you live in Maryland, you can enjoy all the perks of being close to the nation’s capital, without the major expense that comes with living inside the city limits. The DC metro connects the neighboring Maryland suburbs to the city so you don’t need to jump in the car to go sightseeing.
Maryland enjoys all four seasons. The winters are cold, but not too cold, spring is pleasantly warm with no need for AC, and when the balmy summers come around, you’re never too far from the coast to go and enjoy a trip to the beach. A favorite for many residents is fall, which seems to last for months and turns the state into a rich rainbow of color.
Maryland is home to one of the nation’s very best hospitals, John Hopkins. It repeatedly tops the charts across the nation and could be your local hospital if you choose to live in or near the Baltimore area.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 24, 2020)
What Are The People And Culture Like In Maryland?
The state, which is dubbed ‘America in miniature’, has a wide range of people and cultures. Those close to the DC Metro area tend to hang out in the career-focused crowds, where what you do and who you know is always a hot topic. This is great if you’re set on climbing the career ladder, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Those who prefer a more laid-back way of life will do much better in the Chesapeake Bay area and the Atlantic coast, as well as the more rural areas heading into the mountains. Here you’ll find a slower pace of life, where people know their neighbors and there’s a strong sense of community spirit.
Maryland is technically on the southern side of the Mason-Dixon Line, but residents, on the whole, tend to think of themselves as Northerners. That being said, the southern influence can still be seen here in the more rural, small towns across the state. It’s a nice mix of both so you can pick and choose which suits you best.
In terms of politics, Maryland is a pretty split state. The areas around the DC metro area and the city and suburbs of Baltimore tend to be more liberal, democrat voting areas, and once you head out into the country, away from the big cities, people tend to be more conservative and vote republican.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 24, 2020)
Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Maryland
There’s so much to see and do in the Old Line State, and while there are way too many awesome attractions to mention, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorites.
The National Aquarium at Baltimore Harbour
This incredible aquarium has over 16,500 different specimens and over 660 different species of animals. It’s not just limited to fish; there are also amphibians, invertebrates, birds, reptiles and mammals. The aquarium sits right inside Baltimore’s inner harbor, which is an awesome place to visit in itself. There’s also a science center here, with a planetarium and observatory, as well as the ‘Top of the World’ observation point, with sweeping views across the city.
This unspoiled stretch of white sandy beach is home to a unique colony of wild ponies who are native to the island. It’s a protected nature reserve and an unspoiled paradise perfect for long walks, camping, and swimming during the summer months.
This super popular beach town resort is a huge hit with Spring Breakers from in and around the state. The long section of boardwalk has everything you’d want in a beachside tourist attraction, including arcades, beach bars, and restaurants, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, tattoo artists and tourist shops. There’s also the Ocean Downs Casino with its 900 slot machines and electronic poker, roulette, and blackjack games.
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Every fall Crownsville, Maryland is transformed into a fictional 16th-century English village named Revel Grove. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their finest medieval garb and enjoy theatre performances across 8 stages, as well as a full jousting re-enactment. There are stalls selling traditional period style food and even mead, their take on the ancient English alcoholic beverage.
It’s a great, family-friendly festival spanning over 25 acres and well worth a visit. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another land and time.
Visionary Art Museum
This incredible Baltimore museum is well worth a visit even if you don’t count yourself as an art lover. It’s dedicated to ‘outsider art’ – self-taught artists spanning many decades that never dipped their toe into the traditional art world. Works on display include a giant bird’s nest, a mosaic angel and a giant Love hot air balloon. There’s also an awesome gift shop full of off the wall artifacts to take home for your own personal collection.
JM Clayton Seafood Company
This is the world’s oldest crab company, operating as a family business since 1890, and is still the best place to buy Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs to cook up at home.
Be adventurous and go for the super fresh, shell-on experience, or take the easier route and indulge in a delicious can of pre-picked crab meat.
Adventure Sports Center International
This Olympic standard white water rafting and canoe slalom center is a favorite with some of the world’s finest champion paddlers, but don’t worry; the center is also geared towards complete beginners too. The man-made rapids can be slowed to a comfortable speed while you learn the ropes, and as your confidence builds, so does the current.
This mountaintop playground is the only one of its type in the world. For an even bigger dose of adventure sports, be sure to make a stop at the Wisp Ski Resort at Deep Creek Lake just next door, which is open all year long.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 24, 2020)
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Maryland
So now that we’ve taken a look at what Maryland has to offer, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of moving to the Old Line State.
- There are plenty of jobs to go around. Especially high paying jobs, thanks to neighboring Washington DC, and the up and coming tech hub of Baltimore.
- There are tons to explore in the great outdoors. Maryland has some beautiful national and state parks, from the protected nature reserve of Assateauge to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia.
- There are so many beaches. Come summer it’s super easy to head to the coast and hit the beach. You don’t even have to head as far as the Atlantic; there are also tons of beautiful beaches along the Chesapeake Bay.
- There’s a great public school system. Maryland is home to some of the most highly ranked public school systems in America, so it’s a great place to raise a family.
- The rush hour traffic. Especially in the areas around Baltimore and Washington DC, driving during rush hour can be kind of a nightmare. With so many great jobs, there a huge amount of commuters.
- A high cost of living. House prices are well above the national average, and renting is also expensive. If you’re relocating from a cheaper part of the country, you might feel the pinch.
- The Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Some people love it, some people hate it, but if you choose to move to Maryland, you’ll find you have to cross this 4.3mile-long section of super-bridge from time to time. Sure, the views are spectacular, but the traffic can be gridlocked and the heights are too much for many driver’s nerves.
Maryland Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Strange Laws Still On The Books In Maryland
Every state has its fair share of weird and bizarre laws that are still on the books, and Maryland is no exception. Here are a few of the stranger ones from the Old Line State.
- It’s illegal for a man to buy a female bartender a drink.
- Swimming in the ocean while eating is against the law.
- Fortune telling is illegal in Caroline County.
- It’s against the law to rummage through your husband’s pockets while he’s asleep.
- In Baltimore, it’s illegal to take a lion into a movie theatre.
Fun Facts About The State
To wrap up our overview of moving to Maryland, here are a few fun facts that you probably didn’t know about Maryland.
- Baltimore is the home of America’s first-ever post office.
- The first telegraph line in the world was run between Baltimore and Washington DC.
- Annapolis, MD, was the home of America’s first-ever school, set up in 1696.
- The same town also had a brief stint as the nation’s capital, from 1783-1784.
- During the mid-1600’s Puritans forcefully took control of the Maryland government, burned down all the Catholic churches in the region, and made both Catholicism and Anglicanism illegal.
- Edgar Allan Poe spent much of his life in Maryland
- The British government sent tens of thousands of English convicts to Maryland to serve time.
Ready to Make the Move to Maryland?
For many, Maryland has a lot to offer. From career-minded professionals, to those looking to raise a family, the state may be just what you’re looking for.
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.