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Need family friendly burb within commute to Hopkins Hospital
My husband is going to be getting his PhD at Hopkins (the Bloomsberg school of public health, which I think is near the hospital). We are originally from Boston and love it there but have been living in Atlanta for 8.5 years now. We will have to relocate to Baltimore for 1-2 years but then will be back in Atlanta again. So, this is a short term move, and we won't be buying a house and won't be quite as picky about our criteria, I think, as we would be if it were a permanent move. Also, moving for 2 years is going to be a stretch on the finances (moving itself costs too much)!, so we're hoping to scale back a little on our housing costs since we'll still own a house in Atlanta and don't know if we'll be able to lease it the whole time we're gone.
What we'd like:
1) Safe area
2) Family friendly - lots of families, some stay-at-home moms, deadend streets for riding bikes, sidewalks for walking the dog, parks and recreation, a yard, etc.
3) Good elementary schools but doesn't have to be the best of the best. We are very interested in our kids' education, and we want to live near other families who feel the same way. However, our kids are still young and will be using a Montessori program for the 1-2 years that we are in Baltimore as they do now in Atlanta, so we won't be making use of the public schools yet. That is why we don't need the best of the best, but we do want pretty good schools because we think that is a factor in who our neighbors will be.
4) The occasional house for lease. We figure the neighborhood we want will be mostly homeowners/houses (as opposed to apartments/rentals), but we will be looking to lease a house rather than buy at this point.
5) Commute. My husband wants his commute, during rush hour, to be no more than 30-35 minutes. I need to be reasonably close (20-22 minutes tops from a Montessori school, most of which seem to be in the Northeast part of the city/burbs, though I haven't looked at all of them yet).
6) Cost: House rental for $1500-$2000/month. Clean and well kept.
Sure, we'd like to have what we have here (Trader Joes, great neighborhood gatherings, an upscale outdoor shopping mall only 5 minutes away, etc.), but since it's short term, and we're trying to keep cost down, we know we can't have everything! We'd also love to have a nieghborhood with some diversity, which we always enjoyed in Boston but have missed since moving to the suburbs of Atlanta, but, again, this is a short term move and we're more focused on something basic and family friendly in a safe neighborhood.
I've searched the forums and have seen comments on White Marsh, Perry Hall, Nottingham, Towson, as some possibilities. Are their others I should consider ? And can anyone comment on the relative differences in character/cost/amenities/commute for White Marsh, Perry Hall, Nottingham, and Towson. I noticed Severna Park also sounded nice but I think the commute MIGHT be too much for my husband and possibly also for the Montessori schools as I haven't noticed one close to that area in my search yet.
Updating my own question! Since someone helped me a bit with my post on Montessori Schools, I am focusing (for now, at least) more on the North instead of the Northeast area. The school I'm currently contemplating for the kids is the Montessori School in Lutherville, so instead of thinking about Perry Hall and White Marsh, etc., I'm wondering about Rodgers Forge, Towson, and Lutherville (or other places in that area).
Rodgers Forge sounds like it might not work for us because it's mostly condo/townhome, and we have a big dog and need a decent yard. Would that generally rule Rodgers Forge out or am I thinking of it in the wrong way ?
What would be different about Lutherville vs. Towson ? Is there a major difference in terms of schools, commute, access to the light rail, house prices, general character/personality, etc. ?
For quality of life- my bet is on Rogers Forge/Anneslie/Cedarcroft. It's between Towson and Belvedere Square. Towson has a good mall, a decent farmer's market on thursdays, restaurants, movie theater, a college nearby and conveniences like Target etc... closeby. Lots of families. Families galore! Belvedere Square is an excellent little market/shopping area that has places like Atwaters (incredible breads and soups), boutique shops, a discount book store, starbucks, a decent gym-- very cute. They do events on Fridays through the summer and lots of families congregate, drink wine, be neighborly. If you can afford it- Roland Park is one of the best neighborhoods in B-more. It's beautiful and just north of Belvedere/Rogers Forge. Same with Guilford & Homeland. These are those perfect little neighborhoods with perfect old houses, big trees, kids on bikes. But not cheap.
Baltimore is high crime, and crime is the dominant concern in the city and surrounding areas. With that in mind, you probably want to stick to the northern part of Baltimore County. Timonium, Cockeysville, Hunt Valley, and possibly Lutherville, are probably your best bets. They are the safest parts of the county (in my opinion), have lots of shops, restaurants, and just about anything else you could need. A nice class of people as well. With no traffic, you can get to downtown Baltimore in 15 minutes (in rush hour, a different story!) This is a fairly expensive area, though.
> 6) Cost: House rental for $1500-$2000/month. Clean and well kept.
Just as a warning, $2K might not be enough to rent you a whole house with a yard.
I work in Towson (and live in Cockeysville). I would recommend taking it off your list -- it doesn't fit what you are looking for, in my opinion. Towson definitely has more of an urban feel compared to the other places you mention. The main problems are cost, congestion, and crime. And it doesn't have a family-friendly vibe. I work in a professional building directly across from the mall in Towson, and we've had some issues with cars getting systematically broken into during the day, even though we have security that's supposed to prevent this. I like Towson (for the most part), but I wouldn't raise a family here.
Last edited by dickens; 02-01-2008 at 08:30 PM..
Reason: My wife insists that I state that "Mr. Dickens" wrote this review.
If you want a real 'suburban sprawly' feel w/lots of corporate box stores & fast food chains- then Cockeysville/Timonium is your ticket! If you want old homes, interesting young families, mature trees and access to city life, Towson is better. I'm not sure where Dickens is getting his info from, I've lived between Towson and Baltimore for 20 years and in my opinion, it's got the most to offer in quality of life. Rogers Forge is teaming with families and dogs. I wouldn't live there because I don't have a family- it's just me and my husband and we felt RF was all families and kids. We chose Hampden/Wyman because the streets are lined with trees, it's close the beautiful Hopkins campus, we can walk to the BMA, the park and the Avenue and there are lots of like-minded interesting people around- including the stroller pushers and doggie walkers! There are some exceptions beyond Towson- I hear Mays Chapel out in Cockeysville is nice for families.
Yes, it sounds you'd be very happy somewhere along the York Road corridor from the city line to Towson. The neighborhoods are Cedarcroft, Stoneleigh, Rodgers Forge, Anneslie, and Towson itself (look at the West Towson area). Trader Joe's in Towson is right off York Road by the mall, and with easy reach of any of these neighborhoods. These are educated, responsible, and very family-friendly areas with a mix of housing and a wonderful tree canopy. I'd say York Road is 20 minutes to Montessori in Lutherville in the morning/evening rush hour.
I can't help you with rent or specific houses/apartments to look at, but any responsible realtor will easily help you on this.
As for crime, well, *rolls eyes*, some people automatically believe every square feet of the city and the innermost suburbs are crime plagued area, despite the city has some of the richest neighborhoods in the state, as do the innermost suburbs.
My suggestion is to run from Towson Most every one on here forgot to mention a big school called Towson State U. Which makes the area twice as congested as most burb areas. York rd. is an expressway for crime as well as people trying to commute to the city for work, it's one of those areas where every one sticks their head in the sand and pretends that nothing ever happens. On the flip side you will never find a house to rent for 2 G's in Hunt valley Take my advice and look at Whitemarsh, Perryhall, Kingsville, You will be in the Burb's but close enough to the Avenue, the Mall, Ikea, etc, And on the 95 corridor which will be an easy commute for Hopkins.
Thanks for the ideas. As I look further into some of the ideas mentioned, I'm wondering if anyone can suggest areas within each that are more vs. less desirable.
1) That is, are there particular elementary schools to seek vs. some to avoid within the communities listed below ? Are there particular zip codes to seek vs. some to avoid within the communities listed below ? Are there particular streets, subdivisions to see vs. some to avoid within the communities listed below ?
*Towson (definitely some differences of opinion on this one)!
2) Also, what is the distinction/difference between Lutherville and Timonium ? it seems like most people mention them together as if they are one thing ?
3) In terms of traffic, which is worse - 83 or 95 into the city ? Lutherville is on the light rail, and that seems like a bonus. My husband is generally very comfortable using public transportation as we are originally from Boston and used to do it all the time. In Atlanta, we hardly every do, since it doesn't go most places we want to go and since I once got mugged on the subway here.
I'm so far thinking that Cockeysville, Hunt Valley, and Kingsville might be a bit too far into the burbs for my husband's commute. He really wants to keep it to a minimum! For the time being, I've ruled out Cedar Croft because on the map it looked like it was still within the city limits....when it was just the two of us, I might have gone for it, but with 4 of us, we've succumbed to more town/suburban living!
Thanks again for all the insight! The help I'm getting here is leading me to think I should log in to the forums on Atlanta and Boston and help others who are moving to those areas since I can lend insights there !
Location: Pigtown!! Washington Village Does NOT Exist.
689 posts, read 2,137,133 times
I'd take White Marsh off your list. Unless you spend a lot of time in sub-par malls and the Ikea, there's not much else up there.
I think you'd really like Towson -- as for the university, if you lived in Atlanta, you should be used to living in a college town, right? The "downtown" has some of the things you mentioned on your "wants" list, including a Trader Joe's...and it's not far from the city. As for your commute...not sure, as my commute is a walk around the corner and I don't drive. I do think that as far as bad traffic goes, it's probably a toss-up between 95 and 83...the only difference is that using 95 means a tunnel and toll each way, and 83 has no tunnel/toll.
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