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Old 01-11-2012, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Third rock from the sun
44 posts, read 72,522 times
Reputation: 28

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Hi there.

I have friends in Baltimore and have been talked into moving there soon. I'm tired of the Midwest and ready for a change.

However, I'm running into concerns and decided to turn here for some answers, since even my friends just scratch their heads and say, "I dunno, that's just how it is," when I ask them. So:

My personal experience from spending three decades of adult life in various cities of various sizes in the Northeast and the Midwest has been that in most places I've lived, a single person earning the equivalent of roughly $32,000 to $35,000 per year in today's dollars could generally afford at least a one-bedroom apartment of their own, plus afford to make a reasonable car payment and still have money left over for utilities, food and gasoline. (We won't even bother with the current high price of gasoline, because that's really only a minor factor in this equation.) As an example, a 2-bedroom apartment in a duplex or even a small apartment building in a place like Buffalo NY, Erie PA, or in Cincinnati, Columbus or Cleveland in Ohio might rent for, say, $700 to $850 a month, and a 1-bedroom for under $700. Obviously, this wouldn't include utilities other than water, but it's certainly a reasonable rate compared to some areas.

At the same time, a job as an administrative assistant, secretary or customer service rep might pay $30,000 - $35,000 per year. I've been there, and I have friends who are in that situation right now in places like that, with the income and rents I've described.

So here I am, contemplating a move. I've looked all over the internet -- Craigslist, various search engines that seem geared to deliver the user straight to apartment complex databases, and even the so-called "online classifieds" for the Sun which seem to be no more than another portal to these apartment complex sites (seriously, do privately-owned duplexes not exist in or around Baltimore?) and what I'm finding worries me.

It seems like unless you can afford to spend over $1000 a month on rent, the only way to have an apartment is to have roommates, possibly several of them. I see ad after ad on Craigslist and elsewhere that looks at first blush to be for a 1-bedroom apartment for one person or a couple, only to read further and find that it's a room in an apartment or house shared by several other people. You know, I didn't mind living that way back in my college days, but I'm pushing fifty so hard it's starting to fight back, and I don't know if I can handle having multiple other people I don't even really know sharing my living space. I've lived on my own for too long, and I have an entire apartment's worth of furniture and belongings. Where would I even put them?

And here's the kicker: I don't make a ton of money where I live right now. Oh, sure, the economy is tough all over, but I see ads for jobs in the fields I mentioned above in Baltimore and the surrounding area where the employer is basically asking for someone with a degree and several years of experience... and wants to pay an hourly wage or a salary that's no more than $2 or $3 over minimum wage. Jobs that I know are worth easily $15 per hour or more (in other words, ~ $30k per year, not that this is a high wage) even in a depressed craphole like Cleveland or Buffalo, and in Baltimore they're offering $9, $10, maybe $12 an hour?

So I guess what I'm wondering is this: does nearly EVERYONE in Baltimore who is single (and thus has only one household income) and not in the profession of say, at least middle management or perhaps a software developer or engineer or something... does EVERYONE below that level live with a house full of roommates, even in middle age?

My friends swear that Baltimore is NOT the kind of craphole that Buffalo or Cleveland or Toledo are, and I already know its weather is more to my liking than any of the other places I've mentioned, but I'm just having trouble processing what seems like a disconnect between the potential incomes I'm seeing and the cost of a roof over one's head. I'm a middle-aged divorced woman doing secretarial-type office work and while I don't expect to have a mansion or even a luxury apartment, I really don't want to be forced to share space with strangers, either (or even necessarily with people I know) for the long run.

So any help is appreciated. Where would I look if I wanted to find, say, a 1-bedroom unit in a duplex for an affordable price, in a safe neighborhood? Does such a thing even exist?
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:11 PM
 
Location: Virgin Islands
594 posts, read 1,191,556 times
Reputation: 568
I lived in baltimore for 18 Months, made roughly 30K a year, rent was 750 for a 2/1 rowhome in a so-so area. I will give this a stab.

First off, the notion of a traditional "duplex" like you see in the Mid-west and South is not as prevelant in Baltimore. I am going to assume that you are wanting to live in Baltimore City proper? Or is Baltimore County an option? Nevertheless....Finding affordable, safe housing for someone on your income is always a challenge. Baltimore City is full of haves and have-nots. The lack of safe, affordable housing is a reflection of that. Baltimore City is made of mostly rowhomes (townhomes) some of these have been converted into apartments.

You can't compare the COL in Ohio to Baltimore. Baltimore is 45 minutes from DC, one of the most expensive areas of the nation. People commute from Bmore to DC everyday, so in effect Baltimore is a quasi-suburb of D.C.

I lived in "Pig-town" which is a kind of rough, up-and-coming area of South Baltimore. Safer neighborhoods are: Federal Hill, Charles Village, Some areas around Patterson Park (Butchers Hill) ,Fells Point. Charles Village would be the cheaper of the above neighborhoods, with Federal Hill and Fells Point being on the more expensive side.

If I were you I would consider looking at Baltimore County. White-Marsh may have some apartment complexs with 1/1 rent in the 800 a month range.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:33 PM
 
31 posts, read 37,892 times
Reputation: 47
lol yeah you're not going to find a decent place for that price unless you get extra extra lucky. And the cost of living is higher than in places like that. Point blank they're going to take people without the degrees because they can get them to do it. a lot of college students and people looking for work.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:11 PM
 
Location: Third rock from the sun
44 posts, read 72,522 times
Reputation: 28
Duttygal86: actually I'd prefer the county over the city, for reasons of quiet and safety. Probably cheaper car insurnce too. And while there may not be tons of duplexes, they have to exist... I've seen them. Just can't figure out where to find listings.

I'm aware this is a more expensive city. What I don't understand, though is how so many of the cost comparison sites claim that the overall COL there is only around 10% than Columbus or Cleveland, yet that rent is up to 75% more. I'm wondering where the offset is that drops the overall COL. Also the fact that salary comparisons claim a correspondingly (or more) higher range for positions in my field. That's why the low payscales I'm seeing (in ads that quote one) confuse me.

Rembrandt, I'm not expecting the COL to be the same as where I've lived before. I'm just having a hard time with the idea that youur average admin assistant lives with roommates.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Maryland
18,567 posts, read 15,683,136 times
Reputation: 6258
According to the Census Baltimore's median household income is just shy of $40K, Cleveland is $27K.In Baltimore nearly a quarter of the residents have at least Bachelors, Cleveland it's 14%.

So not only is Baltimore larger than Cleveland but has far more educated people that can command higher salaries and drive up rents. Thus rents in Baltimore appear to be in line with the income folks earn in the city.

You should check into the county I've seen 1Br for $600-700. You can get them at that rate in the city but you may not like the neighborhood as much or the quality of apartment.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:34 PM
 
251 posts, read 604,732 times
Reputation: 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by OutsideIn View Post
Duttygal86: actually I'd prefer the county over the city, for reasons of quiet and safety. Probably cheaper car insurnce too. And while there may not be tons of duplexes, they have to exist... I've seen them. Just can't figure out where to find listings.

I'm aware this is a more expensive city. What I don't understand, though is how so many of the cost comparison sites claim that the overall COL there is only around 10% than Columbus or Cleveland, yet that rent is up to 75% more. I'm wondering where the offset is that drops the overall COL. Also the fact that salary comparisons claim a correspondingly (or more) higher range for positions in my field. That's why the low payscales I'm seeing (in ads that quote one) confuse me.

Rembrandt, I'm not expecting the COL to be the same as where I've lived before. I'm just having a hard time with the idea that youur average admin assistant lives with roommates.
No, there really aren't that many duplexes. And I wouldn't really trust COL comparisons in this economy, but if I had to guess I would say the offset is in mortgages. As for salary, that is just a quirk of the economy these days. Jobs that would be considered entry level a decade ago now require at least a few years of experience, and that's because the people with that experience are willing to settle for these jobs.

As for finding a place without roommates, it is certainly possible. But I don't think the city has many single income residents pushing fifty. I could be completely wrong about this, but the market you're looking for just might not exist unless you look in the county.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:58 PM
 
Location: Herndon
83 posts, read 363,635 times
Reputation: 68
I looked at HotPads - Map Search for Real Estate, Apartments and Houses for Rent, Foreclosures and Homes for Sale and saw a lot of 1 bedroom apartments in the Baltimore area for up to $1000. Some are in scary neighborhoods but a lot are in generally acceptable areas. Many are in the further-out suburbs.

Quote:
I'm just having a hard time with the idea that youur average admin assistant lives with roommates.
People are willing to endure tough commutes to have better living conditions. I think that's the missing piece here. An admin assistant who works near the city but wants to live alone probably commutes in from somewhere like Reisterstown or Glen Burnie or Cockeysville.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Sneads Ferry, NC
11,088 posts, read 18,465,494 times
Reputation: 4991
Quote:
Originally Posted by DillThePill View Post
I...saw a lot of 1 bedroom apartments in the Baltimore area for up to $1000.
I have seen apartments in Rosedale at about $800, and they seemed decent.
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Old 01-12-2012, 07:50 AM
 
Location: Third rock from the sun
44 posts, read 72,522 times
Reputation: 28
I'm not sure why everyone still seems to think I want to live in the city when I've already said I prefer COUNTY.

As for jobs, I'm not looking for entry-level. Good God, I have over 20 years of experience in my field. Nor am I complaining about degrees. My concern was about seeing jobs advertised that clearly are NOT entry-level (meaning I'd apply for them) but that list pay rates just a couple bucks over minimum wage. That's what made me ask, "Do employers really expect to hire degreed and/or experienced people for wages this ridiculously low?"

My full preference would be to both live and work in the county rather than the city, or at least to live in the county and work in the city. I can't take a truly huge commute because of gas prices and the fact that my vehicle isn't terribly fuel-efficient (I purchased it to accommodate my hobbies rather than anything else) but a 20- to 30- mile round trip daily isn't out of the question if the paycheck is high enough to cover the gas and everything else too. I've had longer commutes before. Isn't that why car stereos were invented?

Oddly, in most places I've lived, the suburbs and exburbs were where costlier housing was, compared to the city. I've spent the bulk of my adult life in the suburbs and prefer them.

My basic question is where in the county or nearby to find decent apartments for $800 or preferably less, with hookups for a washer and dryer (I have my own, having had several truly horrible experiences with shared laundry facilities).

Last edited by OutsideIn; 01-12-2012 at 08:00 AM..
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:17 AM
 
Location: SE Baltimore
123 posts, read 236,220 times
Reputation: 94
There are many results under $800 in the apartments.com listings in nice areas (Cockeysville, Towson, Pikesville). The issue at hand is the personal washer/dryer hookup. I never saw that in my years of renting affordable one-bedrooms. This would be considered a perk deserving of a higher rental price.
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