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Old 03-06-2010, 03:06 PM
 
2 posts, read 8,360 times
Reputation: 10

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Hello there. My husband and I are first-time home buyers, looking to buy a house in the $350-400k range. We currently live in the Boston area, but will be moving down to Baltimore in late spring/early summer. Neither of us is very familiar with the area, but we plan to stay for the long term and raise a family.

There are a couple of houses in Catonsville that we really love, and we're thinking seriously about making an offer on one. However, we're a little bit concerned by how many houses are for sale there; it seems like there are more "for sale" signs than anywhere else we've looked. Is there a reason people are moving away from the Catonsville area? Is there something we should know before purchasing a house there? Or is this just the general trend in Baltimore in general, and we're worrying needlessly?

Also, we have a good impression of Catonsville, and it seems that's justified by what I've read on this forum, but if you have any input (good or bad) for us on the area that would be great too.

Thank you!
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:17 PM
 
Location: The Heart of Dixie
5,858 posts, read 10,655,242 times
Reputation: 3282
With the "gentrification" and "revitalization" of Baltimore City, a lot of the ghettos are being pushed outward. Catonsville is becoming more nad more ghetto every day when it used to be a nice area. Thank "urban renewal", ACORN, and Section 8, sponsored by our liberal politicians, for that. Last month a convenience store owner was killed in a robbery in Catonsville. At least the area east of the Beltway has become very bad, and Catonsville directly borders West Baltimore, one of the most dangerous, impoverished, and crime-ridden places in America. Now they are trying to redevelop the west side of MLK Boulevard and that is pushing the slums westward.
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:04 PM
 
332 posts, read 1,061,922 times
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From where in Boston are you coming?
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Old 03-06-2010, 05:33 PM
 
2 posts, read 8,360 times
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Tom, if this is the case, what areas around Baltimore do you suggest looking? Should we go more north of the city?

Lisa, we currently live in Everett, MA, which is north of Boston. We haven't lived here very long, though!
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Old 03-06-2010, 06:11 PM
 
Location: Ellicott City MD
2,264 posts, read 7,748,833 times
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When we were looking in November there were hardly any houses in Catonsville. They must have all waited until after the first of the year to put them on the market!
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Old 03-07-2010, 01:19 AM
 
Location: The Heart of Dixie
5,858 posts, read 10,655,242 times
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Cmcqueen, are you going to be working in downtown Baltimore? In Baltimore County, I would probably suggest the areas around White Marsh, Towson, or Owings Mills which are all north of Interstate 695, the Baltimore beltway. They are mostly suburban and middle class neighborhoods. You may also want to consider the area around Dundalk and Essex...these are less glamarous compared to OWings Mills or the White Marsh area, they are decidedly blue collar communities but they are low key and friendly and have more of a small town feel. The thing about this area is that it is located along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline yet still with very reasonable prices. Blue collar but not ghetto, a big distinction I learned upon coming to this area. Pasadena in Anne Arundel County is also an okay area that is more affordable but still kinda removed from the city.

Yeah large portions Catonsville unfortunately is going downhill in mhy opinion. And the ghetto in Baltimore is not like at least what I see of the ghetto in South Boston or Dorchester in the movies. IT is VERY bad and statistically we have the second highest crime in the nation. WIthin Catonsville, stay as far west as possible. In fact it is just better to stay further away from the city line period. I'm not sure if they can legally tell you but I would ask the real estate agent about the presence of Section 8 housing or public housing projects in any area you are considering buying or even renting in. And if the agent can't tell you this information you can always ask people in the neighborhood.

A lot of people commute from farther out like Bel Air/Fallston and Abingdon in Harford County, and from Columbia and Ellicott City in Howard County. HOward is a very wealthy county and can be expensive, and can feel kind of pretentious and stuck up but not on the level of the DC area or the urban Northeast. I personally prefer a more laid back, more Southern and more small town lifestyle so I think Howard is high stress and stuck up, but compared to the Boston elite you probably are used to encountering you will think nothing of it here. Even further off is Westminster and the rest of Carroll County which is predominantly rural but is seeing more and more suburban expansion so you get a mix of the suburban Starbucks crowd mixed the the nice good ol' boys who have always lived there.

If it matters to you, you will find a lot more modern housing stock in Howard, Harford and Carroll Counties and also in Towson or White Marsh. Keep in mind that Towson and White Marsh are also major entertainment, shopping, and business areas in themselves separate from downtown Baltimore so you will not have to go far to find a diverse selection of restaurants, major department stores, malls, Walmart, etc.

Overall there is much to like about Maryland and Baltimore. Even within this area there are nice parks on the Bay shoreline, lots of green space and within easy driving distance to the bay, the ocean, and the mountains. The weather is too cold for me in the winters and i hope to live someplace like southern Virginia or North Carolina or maybe Texas but if you're from Boston again you won't think much of our winters. With crime you just have to see where the "urban renewal" is taking place in Baltimore City and in which direction the ghetto will be pushed.
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Old 03-07-2010, 07:17 AM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
4,180 posts, read 12,190,082 times
Reputation: 1589
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmcqueen View Post
Hello there. My husband and I are first-time home buyers, looking to buy a house in the $350-400k range. We currently live in the Boston area, but will be moving down to Baltimore in late spring/early summer. Neither of us is very familiar with the area, but we plan to stay for the long term and raise a family.

There are a couple of houses in Catonsville that we really love, and we're thinking seriously about making an offer on one. However, we're a little bit concerned by how many houses are for sale there; it seems like there are more "for sale" signs than anywhere else we've looked. Is there a reason people are moving away from the Catonsville area? Is there something we should know before purchasing a house there? Or is this just the general trend in Baltimore in general, and we're worrying needlessly?

Also, we have a good impression of Catonsville, and it seems that's justified by what I've read on this forum, but if you have any input (good or bad) for us on the area that would be great too.

Thank you!
I would be hesitant to rely on this web site for advice on where to move. Each person who responds has his or her own unique perspective and tolerance levels; including myself.
Catonsville opinions vary. I work with two folks who live there. One hates it and thinks it has gone downhill. She originally lived in the city and now that her son is in college, has her home for sale and plans on moving to the Otterbein neighborhood in the city. The other person has no intentions on leaving Catonsville and loves it there.
I lived in Boston before moving to Baltimore. Unlike Boston, it is difficult to avoid the neighborhoods that are more riddled with crime. That is the issue I have with Catonsville, the commute to downtown from there brings you through some pretty tough areas unless you drive the freeway. But, given the choice of living in the Dundalk area or Catonsville, I would choose Catonsville. The Dundalk area is not all roses and cream and also has issues to deal with.
If you opt to send children to private schools, don't rule out the city. As "Tom" likes to say, it is becoming a more viable choice because of the gentrification. Places like Roland Park, Homeland, Mt. Washington, Guilford have many families with children who attend schools.
A lot depends on your tolerance levels. At first, when I moved here I was in a bit of a shock: lack of transit, more crime, less civic pride. But, now that I have lived in Baltimore for awhile, I actually enjoy living here.
Good luck to you with whatever you do but make careful decisions before you sign the papers.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:51 AM
 
339 posts, read 1,280,379 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Lennox 70 View Post
I'm not sure if they can legally tell you but I would ask the real estate agent about the presence of Section 8 housing or public housing projects in any area you are considering buying or even renting in. And if the agent can't tell you this information you can always ask people in the neighborhood.
Another option is to go to the US Dept of Housing and Urban Development's website and do their search for Subsidized Housing in whatever area you are interested in. This will give you an idea of what's out there are where.
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Old 03-10-2010, 01:41 AM
 
1,099 posts, read 1,710,344 times
Reputation: 2456
The question of “where should I live” is frequently asked on this forum and annoys me to no great extent because there are so many different types of neighborhood environments that it is hard to help the poster when he or she doesn’t provide additional information on the type of neighborhood they are looking for.

I agree with Jon that you need to take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt. An above poster claims that Catonsville is suffering crime problems spilling over from Baltimore City, and yet refers you to Essex and Dundalk on Baltimore’s east side, which not only have a very different, working class, character from Catonsville, but is also suffering from its own crime and drugs problems that easily exceeds those of Catonsville.

I will give you a quick rundown on the Baltimore suburbs:
1. Older, established areas with housing stock dating back to the 19th century:

Catonsville
Towson
Lutherville

2. Newer suburban areas with little local vernacular left (almost entirely cul-de-sacs, big box retails, strip malls):

White Marsh
Perry Hall
Owings Mills
Timonium
Cockeysville
Ellicott City (outside the historic core, which is quite distinctive from the rest)
Columbia (Columbia is unique, however, and has a strong community organisation)

3. Quasi-rural, quasi-horse country:
Hunt Valley
Phoenix
Jacksonville
West Friendship

Catonsville has several wonderful neighborhoods and I wouldn’t be afraid to buy a house there, however, it will depend on where in Catonsville the house is located.

I will assume you prefer an older, more established neighborhood with a variety of housing types and a main street retail district.

Baltimore does not have a surfeit of such areas unlike Boston or even Philadelphia. If you want to consider similar areas outside Catonsville I suggest that you look into Towson (consider Towson neighborhoods such as Anneslie, West Towson and Stoneleigh).

The housing stock will be more expensive but you will find something in your price range. Towson generally has the best schools in Baltimore County, the assorted retail and its convenience can’t be beat.

Baltimore City itself has some of the wealthiest and handsomest neighborhoods in the region but I will agree that for a solid middle class family with children in the public schools, the city would not be my first choice.
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Old 03-10-2010, 09:34 PM
 
Location: Maяlyaиdstaи
126 posts, read 302,318 times
Reputation: 60
Consider renting in the area for a year. That will give you time and first hand experience to get to know the area's and where you might want to move.

I lived in Catonsville for 12 years prior to moving away in '05. Crime was never a concern, well no more than it would be in any metropolitan area. Catonsville has 3 exits for the Baltimore beltway, you can hop on it to 95 and be downtown lickity split.

I would agree, further from the city the better, stay outside the beltway.
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