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Old 01-25-2014, 09:48 PM
 
494 posts, read 677,029 times
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Hello
We are considering our next move. Our job opportunities are in Woodlawn for me an Catonsville for my wife. We currently live in a town that is outside of a bigger city, but has a cute walkable downtown. We currently love our situation, but want to move back to the east coast. We have no kids and are in our thirties. I'm not sure if kids are in the horizon, but they wouldn't be in school for 5 years, so schools are not really a consideration except as it relates to property values.
We are thinking that Ellicott City and Catonsville would be great for commute purposes, but maybe not our lifestyle. We like walkable areas, going to restaurants, shows, symphony, sporting events, etc. and think maybe living in Baltimore would be a better option.
On the other hand, one of the potential benefits of Baltimore for us is proximity to DC (which we LOVE!), and would like to be able to go there for night and weekend activities.
So where should we look? Will the suburban communities give us what we want, or should we look at the city. If the city, what areas would be best?
Our budget is $400-700K, but obviously would like to stay at the lower end if possible. We'd pay more for the ideal situation.
Am I crazy to actually want a longer commute? What would it be like from Baltimore neighborhoods?
Thanks in advance for everyone's opinions.
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Old 01-26-2014, 11:47 AM
 
167 posts, read 364,051 times
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I'm throwing out a set of suggestions based on where I've gone to, not because I've lived there. My suggestion is to rent a place in the area you're interested in for a set amount of time before you buy.

Ellicott City is a very small town. Its (small business) core is on Frederick Road, and very walkable if you can find any nearby housing units. Not sure about any nightlife, though. Catonsville along Frederick Road between Rolling Road and Maiden Choice Lane is one long mixed retail strip mostly, very walkable, lots of conveniences.

Living in the city puts you closest to sports events, and has an active nightlife. Federal Hill, Sharp-Leadenhall, and Locust Point would put you in spitting distance of downtown and the stadiums. The blocks of Light and Charles streets are bustling with activity from the bars, eateries and hang-out joins such that it almost New Yorkish there.

Canton/Fells Point/Harbor East is another large center of amenities and action. The area has a rough border of President St. on the east, Baltimore/Fayette street on the north side, the water on the south side, and Haven St. on the west. The area has a proliferation of places to meet people, buy stuff, and eat. (Harbor East, Eastern Av., Broadway, Boston St., O'Donnell St.)

Downtown has been building its stock of new apartments & condos, or converting office buildings into apartments, for the past 10+ years. Downtown is roughly bordered by MLK Blvd./Howard ST. on the west, North Av./Amtrak on the north, I-83 on the east, and the water on the south. I'm not sure about property purchase opportunities there. Nightlife is active along Charles St., and the area 'round the University of Baltimore/MICA (near the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall & Lyric Opera House), and Harborplace.

Johns Hopkins in Homewood has some walkable places to eat and meet near Charles & 33rd streets, and a block east on Saint Paul. I'd consider Roland Av. area between 36th St. and 41st.

25th Street between Calvert and Huntingdon is a strip lined with small businesses selling various things and restaurants. I'm not sure what type of night life exists there outside of the restaurants.

Harford Road between Montebello Lake all the way up to Joppa Road offers varying levels of density in walkable places, but less than what the other places I mention offer.
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Old 01-26-2014, 02:10 PM
 
Location: Bolton Hill
805 posts, read 1,827,883 times
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Old Town Ellicott City might be an option. Not a ton of stuff to do but a few restaurants and shop. I would say this area would be similar to Catonsville.

In the city Canton, Fells Point, and Federal Hill you will find a lot of bars and restaurants. Mount Vernon has quite a few restaurants and bars. You could also live in Bolton Hill for a quieter area then walk a short distance to stuff. Mt. Washington and Charles Village are also nice.

With your budget you can get a nice place almost anywhere. The city has an outrageous tax rate so just be aware of that.
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Old 01-26-2014, 05:38 PM
 
494 posts, read 677,029 times
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Thanks for the replies. Looking further at the map, Otterbein seems to be a place I'm looking for, but I don't see much for sale. Can I find something there in my price range? Is it difficult to find a house there?
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:16 AM
 
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For that price range you can hit anywhere in the city outside of the mansions in Roland Park that have their own tennis courts. Baltimore is much, much cheaper than other East Coast cities.

Do you want to drive to DC or take the train? If you it's the train, look at the Northern end of Mt. Vernon. That neighborhood is my favorite, like a small New York. Lots of nightlife and very walkable, plus you will find concerts and theater going on all over. Beautiful grand town homes there (and also in Bolton Hill). You'd be very close to the train station and be able to take the Marc down pretty much anytime, now that it runs on weekends. The area around the station is also improving by the year.

If you want to drive but make it as short as possible, I would pick Federal Hill or Locust Point which are close to 95. You can make it down to the DC 495 loop in 20 minutes once you get on 95 or 295, if there's no traffic.

On the other hand, if driving isn't a big deal for you, look at Roland Park, Tuscany/Canterbury, Guilford. That's where we live and we regularly go down to DC, but it is a 1 hour to 1 hr 10 min drive to most places we like (e.g., Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan).

Personally, I think Ellicott city is vastly overrated. It's a cute place to visit, but it is overrun with lower-class tourists on the weekends, yet doesn't have much nightlife and I think the "one cute street" would get old quickly.

My boyfriend commutes to Catonsville from North Baltimore and it's not a bad trip - about 25 minutes.
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Old 01-27-2014, 06:35 AM
 
Location: East Coast
866 posts, read 2,301,006 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niceguy17 View Post
Thanks for the replies. Looking further at the map, Otterbein seems to be a place I'm looking for, but I don't see much for sale. Can I find something there in my price range? Is it difficult to find a house there?
Otterbein is a great neighborhood. When searching for homes there on real estate websites, if you're searching by zip code, be sure to look at both 21201 and 21230, as Otterbein straddles these two zip codes.
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:24 PM
 
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Patterson Park!
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Old 01-27-2014, 02:52 PM
 
124 posts, read 119,021 times
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I would recommend places in the northern part of the city. Nice city neighborhoods that would keep you near lots of restaurants and other amenities are Lake Walker and Cedarcroft. These neighborhoods border a nice suburb called Towson that you should also consider, that has lots of shopping, bars, and eateries. You can learn more about the area here B'more Bungalow

Also, you may want to reduce your budget. As a people with no kids you probably don't need a ton of space, and housing is extremely affordable in Baltimore. Do keep in mind that utilities are high here, so you won't want too much wasted space.
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Old 01-27-2014, 05:02 PM
 
206 posts, read 401,670 times
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[just thought I'd throw in the obligatory:]
Maybe you should think about renting first. With potential family uncertainty going forward, and not much knowledge of the city already, you'd do well to rent (with a really high budget) for at least a year while exploring.

I don't see any suburb working for you. Towson might, if it weren't so far north. Mount Vernon might be best for your needs but actual townhouses there (and not just condos) can be hitting the top of your range. Harbor East will have the nicest, newest condos if that's your thing and you want an exclusive vibe. Federal Hill has the "established gentrified" feel plus some drunk post-college kids thrown in. Otterbein is not a bad choice. North Baltimore has the old money charm, but actual walkability is best if you stick to the southern end (like Tuscany-Canterbury).

EDIT:
or if you really don't know the city, start with this map:
https://www.baltimorecity.gov/Portal...lettersize.pdf
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Old 01-27-2014, 07:08 PM
 
223 posts, read 340,763 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remstone View Post
[just thought I'd throw in the obligatory:]
Maybe you should think about renting first. With potential family uncertainty going forward, and not much knowledge of the city already, you'd do well to rent (with a really high budget) for at least a year while exploring.

This is really good advice, actually. We rented for a year in Mt. Washington because we were spooked by the crime stats at first. After a year, I knew so much more about Baltimore, which is as they say "a city of neighborhoods", and became much more familiar with the real meaning behind good/bad/gentrifying, and what I was comfortable with.

For instance, Federal Hill and Fells Point, which my bf and I used to think of as a desireable area to live in, got on our "definitely not" list after countless encounters with totally drunk people vomiting in the street near there, not to mention the lack of parking and petty crime issues.

I bet there will be a really great fit for you here, but it's best if you explore in person to find it.
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