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Moving to Baltimore

Expats and those who relocate to Baltimore from elsewhere in the US tend to find it quite easy to fit in and settle in Maryland’s largest city. Just a short drive from the US capital of Washington DC, and home to around 3 million people, the Charm City – as Baltimore is so lovingly referred to by locals – is a surprisingly massive metro and rather diverse too. It therefore goes without saying that foreigners and out-of-towners looking to relocate will adjust to life in this ethnic and cultural melting pot with minimal effort.

One of the first things to consider for expats and prospective residents of a new city is, of course, its cost of living. Being so close to DC, and increasingly favoured as a base from which to commute for those working in the capital, Baltimore's cost of living isn’t particularly cheap, so it's best for newcomers to factor in expenses such as rent, utilities and lifestyle costs when negotiating a salary.

The good news is that the range of accommodation options available in Baltimore is extensive, with a broad price bracket, so just about anyone will be able to find a home that suits their lifestyle and pocket. Like any big city, prices in Baltimore will vary quite a bit depending on the area and suburb, with some being significantly more expensive than others.

Those moving to the city in search of a job will be pleased to know that Baltimore has a buzzing economy, filled with opportunity. Historically-speaking, shipping, transportation, manufacturing and steel have been prominent industries in Baltimore, but more recently the city has seen an exciting rise of other key industries such as healthcare, higher education and the biosciences, all of which have become major sources of income-generation for the city. Not only that, but those keen to have a crack at a tech start-up might do well in Baltimore, as the city has seen a wave of these spring up in the last few years.

When it comes to things to do and having fun, Baltimoreans have little to complain about, and new arrivals will have a ball exploring their new city. It boasts a massive range of thrilling attractions, including a number of museums, art galleries, bespoke bars, world-class eateries and leafy parks. Another reason why so many people are choosing the Charm City – besides its charm, of course – is its central location, which makes it a great base from which to explore other prominent US destinations such as Philadelphia and Washington DC.

New arrivals and expats concerned with how they might get around once in the city, can rest easy. Although most Baltimore residents do drive, there are a variety of public transport alternatives that make getting about town uncomplicated and quite painless. The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) oversees the city’s extensive public transport network, which includes various rail and bus services.

In terms of medical care, new arrivals will be in good hands – provided they have adequate health insurance, of course. The city is home to John Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Centre, both of which are among the leading healthcare facilities in the USA and provide an excellent standard of care.

For those moving to the city with little ones will be happy to know that the city’s range of schools is extensive and varied. But the number and varying standards of schools will also mean that parents need to conduct a fair bit of research before settling on the right school for their children, including the choice between public, private or international schools.

Moving to Baltimore won’t require too many cultural adjustments for those relocating from cities in developed countries, and those moving from elsewhere in the US will acclimatise to their new city in no time. It’s well equipped in terms of infrastructure, it’s home to a culturally diverse population that is welcoming of newcomers, and job opportunities are in abundance. This, combined with the fact that the city boasts so much to see and do, plus its central location, make Baltimore a choice destination for anyone looking to start an exciting new chapter.

Weather in Baltimore

Baltimore has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons. New arrivals should expect long hot summers and cool winters. Summer, from June to August, is humid and hot with temperatures averaging 27°C (81°F), while thunderstorms do occasionally occur in the late afternoon. Winter, from December to February, is generally mild but snowfall do occur occasionally. Winter temperatures range from 2°C (36°F) to 10°C (10°F) but do drop to -7°C (19°F) depending on the impact of the Arctic air masses.

Spring and autumn in Baltimore are probably the most pleasant seasons, although rainfall is at its highest in the spring. Hurricanes haven’t been much of an issue in recent years, but Baltimore does lie in the path of Pacific storms, and the remnants of hurricanes have been known to cause flooding in downtown Baltimore. This is probably something worth bearing in mind for those considering purchasing property. 

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Baltimore

Baltimore may not be the first place that comes to mind when one considers moving to the East Coast of America. Surprisingly, though, increasing numbers of people from across the country and beyond are starting to see the value of life in the Charm City. Much of this is thanks to the efforts of local government authorities and industry who've come together to improve the city's infrastructure and public image. 

Some of the major drawcards for those looking to Baltimore include its great location close to the US capital of Washington DC, teamed with a relatively low cost of living and excellent schools. On the flip side, Baltimore does have its issues with crime, poverty and homelessness, which are reason enough for some to disregard the city’s potential. 

Here is a broad overview of the advantages and disadvantages that prospective residents should consider before deciding to relocate to the Charm City. 


Accommodation in Baltimore

+ PRO: Plenty of housing options and neighbourhoods

Baltimore is known as a ‘city of neighbourhoods’ and with over 100 communities to choose from, newcomers are sure to find an area or suburb to suit their lifestyle. In terms of housing, prospective residents can take their pick from modern apartments and luxury condos to historic row houses and converted factories. There is bound to be something to suit every budget.


Getting around in Baltimore

+ PRO: Good public transport infrastructure 

Baltimore has an extensive public transport network. Buses, light rail and the MTA subway cover the most prominent areas and suburbs of the city. The Charm City Circulator is also a nice way to get around the city centre.  

- CON: Traffic 

Baltimore, like most big cities in the world, suffers from traffic congestion. The average driver will spend at least 30 minutes commuting to work. While it isn’t really necessary to drive, those that need to should avoid rush hour on busy routes such as the I-695, I-95, and I-395.


Safety in Baltimore

- CON: Crime

Popular HBO TV series The Wire could be blamed for creating an image of Baltimore as a gritty city plagued by drugs, poverty and violent crime. While this dramatisation is wildly exaggerated, there is some truth in the portrayal. Crime rates do remain high in neglected parts of Baltimore but, that said, most middle-class Baltimoreans go about their daily lives without being affected. So new arrivals who stick to recommended areas and take sensible precautions should be just fine. 

+ PRO: There are initiatives in place to rid Baltimore this unfavourable reputation 

The city authorities are determined to have people see Baltimore in a more positive light and have made a real effort to address the issue of crime. They’ve implemented the Safe Streets programme and invested in various intervention schemes to alleviate the problem, which are slowly but surely seeing results.


Working in Baltimore

+ PRO: Job opportunities

Baltimore’s economy is on the rise and unemployment is steadily falling. New arrivals with a background in education, healthcare and finance shouldn’t struggle to find employment in the Charm City. Entrepreneurs will also learn that this is a great place to launch a start-up because of the support offered to small businesses by local authorities. 

- CON: Employment packages aren’t all that lucrative 

While Baltimore is a great place to launch a career, those who are fairly well-established in their field of work and looking for more lucrative job opportunities may struggle to find something suitable. Compared to nearby New York, Boston and Washington DC, Baltimore is home to few Fortune 500 companies and has a less dynamic economy.

+ PRO: Work culture promotes a positive work-life balance

Prospective residents who want to take a step back from their career and prioritise other elements of their life will find that Baltimore is a great place to do so. The work culture in Baltimore is not overly cut-throat and people aren’t regularly expected to work long hours. Many companies have measures in place to encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance.


Education and schools in Baltimore

+ PRO: Excellent public schools

Those moving to Baltimore will be pleased to find that the city boasts many excellent schools. There are also a number of charter and magnet schools which are a great option for students with strengths in selected subject areas. Bear in mind, though, that public school admission is often based on catchment areas, so the proximity of good schools should be considered when choosing where to live in Baltimore.

- CON: No international schools

While Baltimore’s community is certainly diverse, it hasn’t traditionally been a popular expat destination. As such, the city doesn’t have any international schools which follow foreign curricula. A handful of public and private schools in Baltimore do, however, offer the internationally recognised International Baccalaureate programme. Foreigners who want their children to study the curriculum of their home country can explore a wider range of schooling options in Washington DC, which is just a short drive away. 


Cost of living in Baltimore

+ PRO: Living expenses are reasonable

As one of the few major cities where middle-class families can comfortably afford to live in the downtown area, Baltimore is the East Coast’s best bargain as far as quality of life and cost of living are concerned.

- CON: Taxes

As a ‘politically independent city’, income tax in Baltimore is slightly higher than rates in the surrounding county. Prospective residents who are considering buying a home in Baltimore should bear in mind that property taxes are also much higher than those further west. 


Weather in Baltimore

+ PRO: Temperate climate

Thanks to its location on the East Coast, Baltimore benefits from a temperate climate. Winters are relatively mild and the summer months aren’t scorching. Rainfall levels are moderate throughout the year so it is never really a bad time to get out and about in Baltimore.

- CON: Risk of hurricanes

While Baltimore’s climate is generally pretty good, the city happens to stand in the path of Pacific storms. Thankfully, in the recent past, none of these hurricanes have caused much destruction. Hurricanes do, however, bring heavy rains and strong winds which have the potential to cause damage to property.


Lifestyle in Baltimore

+ PRO: A foodie’s paradise

While seafood is the focus of Baltimore’s Chesapeake Bay cuisine, foodies will find everything from award-winning restaurants to eclectic ethnic eateries in the Charm City. Baltimore also has its fair share of annual food festivals which provide a great opportunity for local food producers to showcase their offerings.

+ PRO: Thriving nightlife

While it may not quite compare to New York City, Baltimore’s nightlife offerings are varied and vibrant. Most of the action takes place in Federal Hill or Fell’s Point but each individual suburb has its own quirks when it comes to bars, restaurants and live music venues. 

+ PRO: Attractions galore

New residents will enjoy getting acquainted with their new home. There is plenty to see and do in Baltimore, especially near the waterfront. From the wealth of shops, restaurants, and bars along Inner Harbour to nearby attractions such as the Maryland Science Center or the USS Constellation as well as Baltimore’s numerous galleries and museums, there is sure to be something to keep everyone entertained. 

- CON: Baltimore’s Blue Law

Liquor stores in Baltimore aren’t allowed to trade on Sundays which is a little inconvenient for some. That said, most Baltimoreans manage to easily navigate the city’s Blue Law. Residents either stock up ahead of time or take a quick drive to nearby Anne Arundel County. Alternatively, many bars now have off-sale licences that allow them to sell liquor for people to take home, albeit often at an inflated price.

Working in Baltimore

Baltimore's strong economy is owed to several factors, among them its thriving port, excellent transport infrastructure, and strategic location along the economically vibrant Washington DC-Boston corridor. Historically, manufacturing and steel production were also key components of the city’s economy. 

Manufacturing remains big business in Baltimore, with food manufacturers McCormick and Co and chemical company W.R.Grace and Co being the major employers in the city.  However, economic activity in Baltimore is now much more diversified than it once was.

While the job market may be considerably less competitive than in other east coast cities, Baltimore is increasingly regarded as a great place for those starting out in their field of work, people looking for a career change, or those looking to strike a healthier work-life balance.


Job market in Baltimore

Being home to just four Fortune 500 companies, Baltimore’s job market may not look all that enticing when compared to those of other east coast cities such as Boston, New York, and Washington DC. However, the city is developing at a rapid rate and unemployment has declined steadily over the last few years. 

New arrivals with a relevant background in education and health services shouldn’t struggle to find work as these sectors are thriving in Baltimore. The finance, business, and construction industries are also experiencing relative growth. 

More recently, Baltimore has been affectionately dubbed "Smalltimore" thanks to the city’s focus on supporting small businesses, and it has become known as something of a hub for entrepreneurs.


Finding a job in Baltimore

The internet is a good starting point when it comes to looking for job opportunities in Baltimore. Most employers advertise their vacancies online, either on the company website or through recruitment agencies.

Local industry-specific agencies are also well placed to help new arrivals find jobs in their chosen fields. Recruiters tend to have an intimate knowledge of the job market in Baltimore and have established relationships with companies, allowing for a straightforward process of connecting suitably-qualified candidates with employers.

Networking is another viable avenue for seeking out lucrative business opportunities or finding work in Baltimore. Thankfully, it is an exceptionally friendly city where people are often more than happy to offer advice and help facilitate new business relationships. 


Work culture in Baltimore

Although it may not be especially dynamic, Baltimore's economy is robust, the city's unemployment is relatively low, and many of its residents enjoy a good level of job security. Work culture does, however, depend tremendously on one's industry and company.

Many established companies in Baltimore provide their employees with substantial benefits and opportunities for career progression. Start-ups tend to offer their employees greater flexibility, although salaries are sometimes lower. 

On the whole, the work environment in Baltimore is not as fast-paced or competitive than those of nearby cities such as New York or Washington DC, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that employees in Baltimore are any less hardworking and industrious. Instead, it indicates that there is a greater focus on people having a healthy work-life balance.

Cost of Living in Baltimore

Before accepting a job offer or making the decision to relocate to Baltimore, prospective residents should be aware of the expenses they are likely to incur.

Thankfully, the cost of living in Baltimore is reasonable compared to other major cities on the East Coast. A newcomer's biggest living expense is likely to be accommodation. That said, there are a lot of cost-effective living options for those that are willing to commute. 

For those relocating to Baltimore for work, it's worth negotiating a health insurance contribution as part of their employment contract as this will be a significant monthly saving.


Cost of accommodation in Baltimore

Newcomers to Baltimore will be pleased to learn that property rental prices represent fairly good value, especially in comparison to other prominent East Coast cities such as New York, Boston and Washington DC. 

The cost of renting an apartment in Baltimore is between 40–50 percent less than the equivalent in Washington DC. For this reason, there are an increasing number of people who choose to live in Baltimore and commute to Washington DC on a daily basis. 


Cost of education in Baltimore

New arrivals to Baltimore with children will need to factor in the cost of education. Much of this will depend on the type of school they decide is best for their child.

Fees at private schools in Baltimore are expensive and parents will also need to budget for additional expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular activities and field trips. On the other hand, attending a public school in Baltimore comes at little to no cost. There are plenty of good charter and magnet schools in Baltimore, which offer a good standard of education without the hefty price tag.


Cost of healthcare in Baltimore

Baltimore has some excellent healthcare facilities. Both Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center are world renowned, but it's worth noting that, as is the case throughout the US, high-quality medical treatment doesn’t come cheap.

Anyone moving to Baltimore should ensure they are covered by a comprehensive health insurance plan – it's wise to invest time exploring various insurance options and to be aware of the co-payments involved. 

Depending on one’s field of work, some employers will either cover the cost of medical insurance or at least make a contribution. If one is able to negotiate some sort of healthcare allowance into one's employment package, this will be a considerable saving in monthly expenses. 


Cost of transportation in Baltimore

Although it isn’t essential, most people living in Baltimore do own a car as it affords them greater freedom to get around and explore surrounding areas over weekends. The cost of petrol (gas) is not expensive and comparable to prices in other nearby cities. That said, parking in the city centre is pricey and will certainly add up for those who drive to work regularly.

Utilising Baltimore’s extensive public transport system remains the most cost-effective way to get around in the city. Prices are reasonable and those who plan on using public transport regularly will make significant savings by investing in annual, monthly or weekly passes. 


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Baltimore

The cost of entertainment and eating out will really depend on a person’s lifestyle. Those looking to splurge will find plenty of opportunities to do so at Baltimore’s slew of fine dining institutions, bars and clubs. 

On the other hand, enjoying leisure time in Baltimore doesn’t always need to break the bank. Newcomers will find that enjoying many of the city’s major attractions won’t cost a thing. Baltimore also has a wide variety of eateries to suit a range of budgets.

Being a university city also means that many bars and restaurants launch special offers to attract crowds. In many cases, these deals will also be extended beyond just the student population. 


Cost of living in Baltimore chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Baltimore in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 1,600

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,060

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 2,300

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 1,860

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 2.60

Milk (1 litre)

USD 0.90

Rice (1kg)

USD 4.30

Loaf of bread

USD 2.20

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 7.40

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 8.30

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 8

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.10

Cappuccino

USD 3.90

Bottle of local beer

USD 6

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 65

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.11

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 75

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 150

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.60

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 1.90

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.65

Accommodation in Baltimore

Those relocating to Baltimore will find a wide range of accommodation options on offer, giving them some room to manoeuvre when it comes to finding the right home at the right price. That said, more and more people working in Washington DC choose to base themselves in Baltimore and commute rather than fork out the extortionate rental rates in the capital, which does put some additional pressure on Baltimore’s property market at times.


Types of accommodation in Baltimore

The type of accommodation new arrivals choose largely depends on where they intend to live in Baltimore, among other personal factors. Apartments and condos tend to be most suitable for young professionals and small families who wish to live close to the centre of town. The further one moves into the suburbs, the more spacious the properties tend to become. 

Rowhouses

Rowhouses can be found in almost all suburbs of Baltimore but their appearance and set-up can vary quite dramatically depending on location. Generally, these are two- or three-storey houses that are attached to one another. Older rowhouses tend to have little to no outdoor space, while modern rowhouses – most often found in suburbs further afield – tend to come with small gardens and a front veranda.

Apartments

Apartment living is fairly commonplace in Baltimore, and apartment size vary greatly. Some apartments are located within older historic buildings with no modern features, while modern complexes often come equipped with additional facilities such as security services and communal spaces. 

Condos

Condos are similar to apartments, but the communal facilities on offer tend to be more extensive. Generally, complexes come equipped with shared facilities such as gardens, swimming pools, fitness centres, and laundry facilities. A major advantage of condo living as opposed to living in an apartment or an individual family home is that there is a noticeable sense of community in these complexes. This makes them a sensible option for those who've just arrived in Baltimore and are looking to establish a social network. 


Finding accommodation in Baltimore

While accommodation tends to be more readily available in Baltimore in comparison to nearby Washington DC, it is still wise to start the property search as soon as possible. Online property portals are an excellent starting point as they allow prospective tenants to get an idea of the types of properties available in different parts of the city, and how much to budget

Factors such as access to public transport, proximity to schools, places of work, amenities and shopping hubs, as well as space requirements and lifestyle considerations will all come into play when looking for a suitable home in Baltimore. 

Local real estate agents are a great source of information and can assist those unfamiliar with the different areas and suburbs of Baltimore find a suitable home that matches their requirements. 


Renting accommodation in Baltimore

Owing to the fact that Baltimore is not as populated as nearby Philadelphia and Washington DC, demand for property tends to be lower, which means that finding a suitable rental in the city shouldn’t be too difficult for newcomers.

The rental process

Potential tenants looking to rent a property in Baltimore will need to file an application either via an agent or by dealing directly with the landlord. Once the relevant checks have been done and references are verified, the landlord and tenant will sign a lease agreement. Having a US bank account and social security number set up will speed up the process.

Leases 

As is the case throughout much of the US, a rental contract in Baltimore is usually valid for a year with the option to renew once the term is over. In some cases, tenants are able to negotiate a shorter lease, especially in quieter months when demand for rental properties is lower.

Deposits

When signing a lease agreement, tenants are required to put down a security deposit usually equal to a month’s rent. This is refundable once the lease has come to an end. It is important to make sure a detailed inventory is carried out at the beginning and end of a rental period, as any damages will be deducted from the deposit.

Utilities

Potential renters should check the terms and conditions of the lease carefully to determine which utilities are included. In some cases, landlords cover the costs of standard utilities such as gas, electricity, and water. Tenants are usually expected to pay for extras such as internet, cable TV, and telephone services.

Areas and Suburbs in Baltimore

The best places to live in Baltimore

Dubbed the 'city of neighbourhoods', Baltimore has hundreds of different areas and suburbs to choose from, making it a bit of a daunting prospect for expats and newcomers looking to put down roots in the Charm City.

There are a number of factors for new arrivals to consider when deciding on a neighbourhood, the most important of which are generally the cost of accommodation, the area's lifestyle offerings, its access to amenities, and proximity to one’s place of work. Those relocating to Baltimore with children will of course have the additional priority of finding a suitable home in a family-friendly area close to good schools. 

Thankfully, most new arrivals report that Baltimoreans throughout the city are incredibly friendly, helpful and welcoming. So regardless of the neighbourhood, the Charm City's sense of community should help newcomers settle into Baltimore life pretty quickly. 

Here is a general overview of some of the most popular areas and suburbs among new arrivals and expats in Baltimore. 


City living in Baltimore

Baltimore is fast becoming the East Coast destination of choice for dynamic young people looking to start a career. While other nearby cities have priced out many of those without existing capital, Baltimore offers these entrepreneurial types the opportunity to establish themselves and launch their careers without compromising on quality of life. Because Baltimore’s cost of living is quite reasonable, young professionals without dependants tend to have a sizeable disposable income.

Those that value their time and want to be close to lifestyle offerings, opt to live as close to downtown Baltimore as possible. Rents in sought-after areas close to the city centre are naturally higher as a result of demand. Properties also tend to be on the small side. That said, if location is a priority these are some of the recommended neighbourhoods that offer new arrivals the best in city living. 

Row Homes in Baltimore

Mount Vernon

Located just north of downtown Baltimore, Mount Vernon is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods and has been designated cultural districts. Residents and visitors alike will find plenty to see and do here. Although history abounds around every corner, the original Washington Monument is the focal point of Mount Vernon. Being so close to the centre of town means that getting around is easy. Mount Vernon is well served by all modes of public transport including major bus routes, light rail, metro and the Charm City Circulator. Residents of Mount Vernon have an array of nightlife offerings on their doorstep, with numerous restaurants, cafes and bars dotted around the neighbourhood.

Locust Point

Home of the famous Fort McHenry, Locust Point has a rich history. Over the years, it has been home to large immigrant communities from Ireland, Italy and Poland. The legacy of these groups is visible throughout the area to this day. More recently, the neighbourhood has undergone gradual gentrification which has brought with it a slew of new offerings. The area boasts plenty of bars, restaurants and coffee shops that meet the needs of its relatively young population. Rental prices in the area are high by Baltimore standards and properties are comparatively small, but it's a great spot for those looking for a central location close to all the action. 

Federal Hill

Centrally located on the South Baltimore Peninsula, Federal Hill is named after the distinctive hill that can easily be spotted from all over the Inner Harbor area. Federal Hill residents are just a stone’s throw from most of Baltimore’s best attractions. The Cross Street Market, full of shops, restaurants and bars, is a huge social hub for the area. The type of accommodation found here will primarily be apartment or condo living options popular with young urban dwellers. Rents are high as result of the prime central location.


Family-friendly suburbs of Baltimore

Prospective Baltimoreans, particularly parents, are drawn to the Charm City because of the quality of life it affords those with children. The cost of living in Baltimore is more favourable than in other East Coast cities such as Boston, Washington DC and New York, and it also boasts a range of excellent public schooling options. Properties, especially in outlying suburbs, tend to be reasonably priced and spacious. Here are some popular family-friendly neighbourhoods in Baltimore worth considering for those relocating to the Charm City with kids in tow. 

Luxury Home in Baltimore

Ellicott City

Ellicott City is a well-established suburb of Baltimore. It is a particularly popular choice for families thanks to the presence of some excellent public schools. Most residents in Ellicott City own their homes, and it's a great spot for those who’ve decided to settle down in Baltimore. The historic centre of the area has a quaint old town feel which provides a lovely respite from the hustle of urban life. Ellicott City’s location with easy access to Route 40, the I-70 and the I-695 makes getting around a breeze. Plus, living close to the natural beauty of Patapsco Valley State Park provides ample opportunities to spend time outdoors. 

Pikesville

Pikesville has historically been home to a sizeable Orthodox Jewish community, but the area's become more diverse over the years. Pikesville's popularity is often down to its good schooling options and access to transportation – the Baltimore subway runs through Pikesville, which makes commuting into the city centre easy and straightforward.

Fulton

This close-knit suburb of Baltimore is another excellent option for newcomers moving to Baltimore with children. Fulton has a real rural community feel to it, crime is low and it is considered extremely safe. There are plenty of green parks and outdoor playgrounds for families to enjoy. Public schools in Fulton are highly rated which is a major drawcard for its residents. Those that love being outdoors will appreciate being close to the Patuxent River, which is a great spot for hiking, fishing and boating.

Healthcare in Baltimore

Prospective residents can rest assured that they’ll have access to a high standard of healthcare in Baltimore. The city is home to both the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital and the University of Maryland hospital, the latter boasting one of the country’s top shock trauma centres. 

Pharmacies are readily available throughout Baltimore with many being open 24/7.

The cost of healthcare in Baltimore is high, so those moving to the city need to ensure that they are well covered by comprehensive private health insurance where possible.

Here is a list of the major hospitals in Baltimore. 


Hospitals in Baltimore

Johns Hopkins Hospital

www.hopkinsmedicine.org
Address: 1800 Orleans St, Baltimore, MD 21287

Mercy Medical Center

mdmercy.com 
Address: 345 St Paul Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202

Sinai Hospital

www.lifebridgehealth.org/SinaiHospital/ 
Address: 2401 W Belvedere Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215

St Agnes Hospital

www.stagnes.org 
Address: 900 S Caton Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229

University of Maryland Medical Center

www.umms.org/ummc 
Address: 22 S Greene St, Baltimore, MD 21201

Education and Schools in Baltimore

As is the case throughout the USA, the schooling system in Baltimore is divided into three levels:

  • Elementary school - Kindergarten to Grade 5
  • Middle school - Grade 6 to Grade 8
  • High school - Grade 9 to 12

Prospective residents planning a move to Baltimore with children will need to factor in schooling options when making decisions. There are hundreds of schools that fall under the two public school districts that oversee education provision in Baltimore, which might make deciding on the right school slightly overwhelming. 

Factors to consider when choosing a school in Baltimore include the type of school, the standard of teaching, the cost of tuition fees, extra-curricular activities, and proximity.


Public schools in Baltimore

Public schools in Baltimore are either overseen by the Baltimore City Public Schools District or the Baltimore County Public Schools District, depending on their location. 

The standard of public schools in Baltimore varies rather dramatically, from excellent schools that provide specialist teaching and support to students, to schools that are underfunded and failing miserably. As is the case in most major cities, better public schools tend to be located in more affluent parts of Baltimore. 

Admission to most public schools is generally based on catchment areas. Anyone living in the local area will be able to attend a public school at little to no cost, but students admitted from outside the school district may be required to pay tuition, depending on their circumstances. 

Some of the more popular public schools in Baltimore are oversubscribed so prospective students will want to submit their application as early as possible. It's advisable to have the following documents on hand when making an application: student’s birth certificate, parents' ID, and proof of address. Some schools may also ask for academic records, references and medical certificates. 

Charter schools

A charter school is a type of public school that is overseen by external entities. They have increased autonomy but remain accountable to the school district

Each school will have a charter or performance contract which details its programme, goals, and methods of assessment. Some charter schools may have a particular approach to learning, focus on a certain instructional theme, or serve particular populations. 

Students may choose to attend a charter school, regardless of where they live in Baltimore and are not strictly governed by catchment areas.

Magnet schools

Magnet schools, like charter schools, are primarily state-funded. However, magnet schools do receive additional external funding, are not strictly bound by the US curriculum, and are instead able to develop their own curriculum. 

Magnet schools typically focus on a specialised subject area, like STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), the performing arts, or languages. Teachers at magnet schools are highly specialised and tend to have a high level of training.


Private schools in Baltimore

There are a number of good private schools in Baltimore. These institutions tend to be more competitive academically. The application process for private schools is fairly stringent, and prospective students may be required to pass an entrance exam and attend an interview. 

In general, private schools perform better academically than the average public school. Students have access to modern facilities and have greater opportunities to explore extra-curricular pursuits such as sport and music to a higher level. 

The downside of choosing to attend a private school is, of course, the cost. Parents who opt to send their children to a private school will also need to budget for a number of additional expenses such as uniforms, textbooks, and extra-curricular lessons, as well as various field trips.


International schools in Baltimore

There are no international schools that follow foreign curricula in Baltimore. There are however a handful of public charter- and private schools that offer students the option of studying for the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Expats relocating to Baltimore in the short-term who'd prefer to have their children continue studying the curriculum of their home country should consider international schooling options in Washington DC. International schools provide a more familiar environment and allow students to associate with other expat children. 

Baltimore is just over an hour's drive from Washington DC and many people commute between the two cities on a daily basis. That said, the capital is home to a large expat community and, as a result, the demand for international schools is quite high, which means expats living in Baltimore who wish to send their children to one of these schools should apply ahead of time to secure a spot.


Tutors in Baltimore

For struggling students or those in need of some extra support to tackle university entrance exams, private tuition could help strengthen comprehension, boost confidence, and give students that extra edge. 

There is limited additional support offered by the school districts in terms of private tuition. Some schools do provide extra lessons for those with mild learning difficulties, but no school is required to fund private tuition for students, even those with an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) under the No Child Left Behind programme. That said, schools will often provide a list of recommended tutors available in the local area, should parents request this information.

For students in need of extra academic support, there are a number of reputable tutoring companies in Baltimore. Some of the well-established companies include Charm City Tutors and Varsity Tutors. These companies offer one-to-one tutoring services for various subjects and for a range of different grades from elementary to high school.


Special needs education in Baltimore

In Baltimore, students with disabilities are entitled to free specialised education from birth to the age of 21. The support structures in Baltimore for such students are extensive. There are a number of different options, with bespoke programmes designed for children suffering from a variety of developmental and behavioural issues as well as those with physical disabilities. 

Where possible, students with special needs will be accommodated at mainstream public schools in Baltimore. If the severity of the disability restricts this, there are a number of special education centres and private special education facilities in Baltimore that offer more extensive support. 

Lifestyle in Baltimore

Despite being overshadowed by nearby New York and Washington DC for years, the humble Maryland city of Baltimore is fast becoming a destination of choice, among tourists and permanent arrivals alike.

Much of this is owed to the impressive work done by the city to attract young entrepreneurs who have in turn unleashed a huge demand for new attractions, cultural events and dining experiences. Baltimore’s somewhat more relaxed work culture, which encourages residents to maintain a healthy work-life balance, also allows people to make the most of the city’s diverse range of lifestyle offerings.

New residents of the ’Charm City’ will most certainly be pleasantly surprised by the wealth of activities available to keep them suitably entertained during their leisure time.


Arts and culture in Baltimore

Baltimore is home to a thriving arts scene. From quirky modern art exhibits at the American Visionary Art Museum to more traditional works at the Baltimore Museum of Art, there is something to suit everyone’s taste. Not to mention the ever-changing street art that continuously pops up around the city. 

History buffs will marvel at Baltimore’s past which is encased in the city’s beautifully preserved 19th-century architecture- and heritage landmarks. Mount Vernon is the city’s cultural district where visitors will find the famous Peabody Library, the Walter’s Museum, and the prominent Washington Monument.


Eating out in Baltimore

Foodies are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Baltimore. Each neighbourhood is host to its own set of cosy cafes and eclectic eateries, so Baltimore residents don’t necessarily have to travel far to find unique dining experiences. 

Long leisurely weekend brunches have become quite the Baltimore institution and newcomers will soon learn that eating out in the ‘Charm City’ is very much a social pastime. Crab, in all its forms, is what Baltimore is famous for, so be ready to get those hands dirty when cracking open the daily catch. 

Baltimore may not be as cosmopolitan as its neighbours, but it does have its fair share of ethnic restaurant offerings. From French, Italian, and Spanish eateries to Korean, Japanese and Indian restaurants, Baltimore residents won't find it hard to satisfy an international range of food cravings.

For special occasions, there really is no need to travel to New York as some may mistakenly assume. Baltimore actually boasts a solid selection of excellent fine dining establishments for those who are really looking to push the boat out.


Nightlife in Baltimore

Baltimore is a university town so it comes as no great surprise that the city has a vibrant nightlife. For a big night out head to Federal Hill, where most of Baltimore’s bars and clubs are found. Other neighbourhoods such as Inner Harbour, Hampden and Mount Vernon all have their own evening entertainment spots and part of the fun is discovering these hidden gems.

Those looking for a more subdued evening out should visit Fell’s Point for sundowners and live music with a view. While it may not be Broadway, Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre is a great place to catch a show. For something memorable take an evening dance class at the famous Mobtown Ballroom or enjoy a sunset cruise in the harbour.


Sports and outdoor activities in Baltimore

Outdoor enthusiasts needn't fret, as Baltimore and its surrounds present many opportunities to get a fresh air fix. Baltimore has its fair share of walking trails, lush green parks, gardens, and lakes to draw residents out into nature. 

The Cylburn Arboretum, located just a few miles from Baltimore City, is a vast property housing a stunning period mansion and several beautiful gardens for guests to explore at leisure. Holt Park with its labyrinth and meditation path is great for a peaceful retreat from the busy city. 

Those looking for something more intense to get the blood pumping can explore scenic cycling routes such as the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail, which is not too far outside the city. Hikers will be in their element as they take to the trails in nearby Patapsco Valley and Rocks State Parks. 


Shopping in Baltimore

When it comes to retail therapy, Baltimore has a slew of shopping options. From local boutiques to those high-street stalwarts and bargain outlets, shoppers are sure to find something to suit their taste and budget.

Prominent shopping precincts include Harborplace and Gallery on the Inner Harbour, while Federal Hill, Fell’s Point and Hampden are good for thrift shopping and boutiques. Antique Row, as the name suggests, is the place to trawl through pieces from bygone eras. 

Maker culture is big in Baltimore, and exploring the city’s markets, which brim with various food and craft items, is quite a social affair. Taking a wander through Lexington Market, the oldest in the USA, is always an experience. Other popular markets in Baltimore include Broadway Market at Fell’s Point and Federal Hill’s Cross Street Market.

See and Do in Baltimore

The best way for expats to get acquainted with their new home is by exploring the city’s best attractions. Whether it is art and culture, history, science or sport that is of interest, there is no doubt that Baltimore has plenty to keep its residents entertained.

Furthermore, having fun in Baltimore doesn’t need to break the bank, as newcomers will soon learn. Many of the activities on offer won't cost a thing. General admission to most major museums and galleries in Baltimore is free and getting outdoor to appreciate nature never costs much. 

Here is a list that highlights some of the best things to see and do in the ‘Charm City’.


Attractions in Baltimore

Baltimore Museum of Art

This is an impressive collection of over 90,000 pieces from the 19th century to contemporary times. Exhibits include works by Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh, making the Baltimore Museum of Art a world-class attraction. On a warm day, visitors can enjoy the outdoor sculpture gallery, set over three acres of landscaped gardens. 

The American Visionary Art Museum

Housed in an old Federal Hill whiskey warehouse, the American Visionary Art Museum is certainly one of Baltimore’s more eclectic experiences. Rotating exhibits explore a wide range of topical issues such as race, gender and the impact of technology. 

Edgar Allan Poe House

This small unassuming redbrick building on North Amity Street was once the residence of Edgar Allan Poe. It has now been transformed into a museum dedicated to his work. Literary fans will enjoy looking through the well-preserved artefacts from Poe’s past including his telescope and portable writing desk.

Maryland Science Center

One of the USA’s oldest scientific institutions, this was where great scientific minds once met to discuss revolutionary ideas. It has now been converted into a popular Inner Harbour attraction. With interactive science displays for kids, a planetarium and giant dinosaur exhibits, the Maryland Science Center caters for visitors of all ages. 

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Watch the Baltimore Orioles compete in a baseball game at this spectacular stadium based at Camden Yards. Despite the stadium’s state-of-the-art modern design, the location boasts a rich history and is located just a stone's throw away from the birthplace of baseball legend George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth. A must-see for any sports fan.

National Aquarium

Home to over 700 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, Baltimore’s National Aquarium is one of the city’s most popular attractions. It also features a 4D immersion theatre and a children’s gallery, making it a great experience for visitors of all ages.

Fort McHenry

This monument boasts a rich history and is said to be the birthplace of the USA's national anthem. Visit during the summer months for a guided tour of the precinct or attend one of the concerts hosted at this unique venue for a truly memorable experience. 

Fell’s Point

This historic waterfront precinct is a great place to take a walk whilst admiring 19-century homes and storefronts. Full of places to shop and grab a bite to eat, Fell’s Point is also where Baltimoreans come to gather. 

Patterson Park

This 300-year-old park is a popular spot amongst Baltimore locals, especially during the summer when it hosts a range of seasonal events and concerts. It also features a swimming pool, lake, marble fountain and a dog park. Taking a walk to the pagoda on Hampstead Hill affords visitors some stunning unobstructed views of the Baltimore skyline. 

Cylburn Arboretum

This 200-acre public garden houses the historic Cylburn Mansion designed by George Frederick. Visitors can either take a leisurely walk around the grounds or tackle one of the more challenging nature trails. These beautiful surrounds provide a wonderful retreat from the pace of Baltimore city life. 

What's On in Baltimore

As home to an ever-increasing young population, Baltimore plays host to an eclectic range of events throughout the year. From music festivals and food shows to sporting events and street parties, the events calendar in Baltimore is incredibly varied. Newcomers to Baltimore will also learn that each suburb also proudly puts on its own events that draw in crowds from beyond the city. So expats and new arrivals will never be short of something to do in Baltimore

Narrowing down a list of the best events can be hard, but here are a few of the Charm City’s most popular annual events. 


Annual events in Baltimore

Preakness Stakes (May)

Held at the storied Pimlico Race Course, this event is an excuse for Baltimoreans to get dolled up and have a flutter on the horses. A highlight of Baltimore’s summer, attendees continue to soak up the party atmosphere at the concert which usually has an impressive line-up, including international musicians. 

Baltimore Pride (June)

This colourful event celebrates Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ community and is the largest Pride festival in the state of Maryland. The festival kicks off with a massive street parade and ends in block parties that carry on throughout the night. It also includes a family-friendly concert that takes place at Druid Hill Park.

HONFest (June)

This unique Charm City event focuses on the role played by working-class women throughout Baltimore’s history. The Baltimore suburb of Hampden comes to life as over 100 vendors, artists and entertainers take to the streets. HONFest is an event not to be missed and a highlight on the city’s events calendar.

Independence Day Celebrations (July)

Being the birthplace of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, it is no great surprise that Baltimore goes all out in celebration of Independence Day. The best places to see the spectacular fireworks display is either at the Top of the World Observation Level or anywhere on the harbour. For a celebration that honours the country’s history in a more traditional way head to Fort McHenry.

Chesapeake Crab Festival (August)

Baltimore is famous for its crab and this is said to be the world’s largest festival of its kind. Held at Inner Harbor, people travel from neighbouring cities to sample the best, fresh crab that Baltimore has to offer. Festivalgoers also get to taste local wines and craft beers and will be entertained by local musicians. 

Getting Around in Baltimore

New arrivals in Baltimore will find that it is fairly easy to get around the city. While most people who settle down in Baltimore in the longer term will invest in a car, it is by no means essential. While driving will certainly give new arrivals more freedom to explore Baltimore and its surrounds, the city's public transport is more than efficient when it comes to the daily commute.


Public transport in Baltimore

The Maryland Transport Authority (MTA) oversees Baltimore’s integrated public transportation system. This system consists of buses, light rail, and subway networks, which get commuters to all corners of the city.

Purchasing a daily, weekly, or monthly transport pass allows commuters to utilise all modes of public transport in Baltimore over the designated period at discounted rates.

Light rail

The light rail system in Baltimore helps connect the suburbs to the centre of Baltimore. Commuters often drive to stations located outside the city – where they are able to park at no cost – and then make use of the light rail to travel into the centre.

Subway

Baltimore has a single-line subway which runs from Johns Hopkins Hospital through the city centre and out to the northwest subways. The subway tends to be used by commuters travelling from their homes in the suburbs to the centre of Baltimore.

Buses

Bus routes in Baltimore cover most of the city and help connect areas that aren't sufficiently covered by the subway or light-rail networks. Unfortunately, buses rarely run to schedule, so it’s best to allow plenty of time to account for these delays.

There is also a free bus service known as the Charm City Circular. It consists of four different routes connecting downtown Baltimore to selected neighbourhoods. Visitors find this particularly useful as it covers tourist areas near the harbour and most historic sites.


Taxis in Baltimore

Checker and zTrip are two of the biggest taxi companies operating in the Baltimore area. Fares are competitive and drivers use a meter to calculate fares. In busy tourist areas and parts of the city centre it is easy to hail a taxi, but it is often better to pre-book when travelling from the suburbs.


Cycling in Baltimore

While Baltimore hasn’t always been the most cycle-friendly destination, the city has made significant strides in improving the cycling infrastructure in recent years, including designated cycle routes and safe bicycle storage facilities.

The Baltimore Bike Share programme has dozens of docking stations throughout the city. These allow cyclists to rent an electric- or regular bike to get them around the city. Monthly and weekly subscriptions, as well as single passes are available to those who wish to cycle as a means of commuting. 


Walking in Baltimore

Baltimore is a large city so walking as one’s sole means of transport is not practical. That said, it is possible to walk around within particular suburbs. Areas that are popular with tourists such as Fells Point and the harbour precinct are especially safe and pleasant for those who enjoy a walk.


Driving in Baltimore

Most Baltimore residents, especially those with families, do tend to own a car. While driving offers greater freedom to explore different suburbs and to travel beyond the city at weekends, it is not always the most efficient way to get around the city. Traffic can be terrible during the week and parking is notoriously expensive; it's therefore advisable to drive to a light rail station and use public transport for the better part of one’s commute.