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DC or Baltimore?

DC or Baltimore?

Old Feb 11th 2011, 2:32 pm
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Default DC or Baltimore?

Hi all! My wife and I are trying to decide where to move to, DC or Baltimore. Chances are, we will both be working in DC, but rent around the area ( DC and Northern VA) is crazy! We looked at Baltimore, a major city with easy transport to DC (we will not have a car, at least at first) and the prices there are much, much better. My question is, has anyone ever had to make the Baltimore-DC commute? Will it drive us absolutely insane, or is it worth saving about $6000 a year on rent?
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 3:28 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

$6,000 is nothing to be honest. A rounding error in the taxes and commuting costs. That's $500 savings a month for 40-60 hours in a car or train every month.

There are folks who do that commute and the transport options are better than most places I the USA but it isn't quite that simple. Trains are unreliable and traffic rough. By way of comparison there are far more trains from Cambridge to London than there are dc to baltimore Baltimore is quite different than dc culturally too.

Where exactly in dc area are you working?
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 3:49 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Originally Posted by AyePod View Post
Hi all! My wife and I are trying to decide where to move to, DC or Baltimore. Chances are, we will both be working in DC, but rent around the area ( DC and Northern VA) is crazy! We looked at Baltimore, a major city with easy transport to DC (we will not have a car, at least at first) and the prices there are much, much better. My question is, has anyone ever had to make the Baltimore-DC commute? Will it drive us absolutely insane, or is it worth saving about $6000 a year on rent?
I think a driving commute from Baltimore to DC would be rough. The I-95 and I-485 (DC Beltway) interstates can be jammed at times. Without a car, the MARC train is a possibility:

http://mta.maryland.gov/services/mar...nSystemMap.cfm

I live in DC's Maryland suburbs. I used to work in DC near the White House. I took the subway ("Metro") down there from the Shady Grove station. My employer moved to Arlington, VA so now I get to work from home most days.

If you don't have kids, I would consider an apartment in NW DC somewhere along the red Metro line. If you have kids and need a house, I would suggest DC's Maryland suburbs - somewhere within striking distance of the Metro. Montgomery County has a good school system.
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 3:59 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Hi

Typing now on a keyboard instead of an iPhone so a bit easier.

DC and Baltimore 'look' close together on a map, but there is a wide gap in distance, economics, and culturally.

First things first--where exactly are you going to be working in the DC area? I ask because "the last miles" of your commute are as important as the "most miles". For example, let's say you were working at Georgetown University, about three miles from the DC train station. It would take you probably an hour to get from Baltimore train station to Union Station in DC. But from Union Station to Georgetown in traffic is another 30-45-60 minutes. To Northern Virginia your transport options are far fewer and time even longer. And it is worth pointing out the MARC Rail between DC and Baltimore is very limited. No weekends or holidays, and frequently there are delays or cancelled trains. Driving it isn't a happy ride either.

Folks do it--many do, but it isn't a cut and dried thing. Most who do it are those who really want to live in Baltimore as they want an urban experience (row houses, etc) or have a spouse working in Baltimore or something like that.

Housing prices in DC are nightmare-ish. Some of the most expensive in the area. What is your budget per month for housing and what are your needs/wants? Primarily--do you need schools? This drastically cuts the city and area into go / no go areas. Same with your tolerance for petty street crime, city life, etc. But understand the streets of Baltimore which might look cheaper on a website also might not have the same offerings as you'll find in a DC neighborhood.

DC is now the economic hub of the area, a change from 30 years ago when Baltimore had the money and DC was just the 'government town'. There are still some odd feelings about that in Baltimore amongst older residents, and Baltimore has fallen on rather tough times of late. DC is quite a bit more cosmopolitan and international--more so than many other US cities. You could have a rolodex full of UK or EU citizens who live in DC whereas it would be quite less diverse in Baltimore. While a bit of a Hollywood exaggeration, the TV show "The Wire" filmed in Baltimore offers a rather harsh look at the lives of the underclass in Baltimore.

So basically where do you plan to work, what is your budget and what type of housing / neigbhorhood are you looking for? Give us a bit of info on these things and some of the locals might be able to push you towards some other options.

p.s. also consider this site:

http://www.city-data.com/forum/washington-dc/
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 5:33 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

I would second the view that living in Baltimore and commuting to DC is probably not worth it.

If you are driving that commute, factor in the extra cost of petrol, and the need for a newer car. Also, bear in mind that insurance in Baltimore City, at least in my experience, can be prohibitively expensive particularly if you are below 30 years old.

Also from a social point of view, Baltimore and DC are different worlds. You may find it hard to participate in social events with your co-workers living that far away.

You can find affordable rents in the suburbs of VA and MD, if you are willing to live out in rather anonymous areas near to the farther out stations on the Metro. Alternatively just bite the bullet and pay for the urban DC lifestyle. It would help to know your age, whether you have children, what kind of lifestyle you are looking for, etc.
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 5:46 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

I live in Arlington VA, and work near Dupont Circle in DC.

I would say unless you have a VERY good reason, or REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to live in Baltimore, don't make the live-in-Baltimore/work-in-DC choice.

Yes, Baltimore is a good bit cheaper rent and house-wise than DC and environs -- and I actually prefer it as a town -- but your day to day commuting experience would be just awful.

There isn't enough money in the world that could make that commute worth it (for me)...
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 6:15 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

I live in the District and would not recommend any commute involving I-95.

If you don't have any children, find a nice apt in Logan Circle / Dupont Circle and enjoy the city, getting around by foot, bike or Metro.

We have kids and live in Chevy Chase, DC which we really like. One of our offices is out at Tysons Corner, VA, so I have a reverse commute if I have to drive out there, but Beltway (I-495) commute traffic can be bad and the rush "hours" can be long.
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 6:20 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Find it difficult to believe that rents in decent living areas of Baltimore are $500 a month less than a nice apartment in Northern VA. My daughter lived there for 6 years, Reston and then Herndon, and her rents were quite reasonable.
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 6:21 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Originally Posted by IPM View Post
I live in the District and would not recommend any commute involving I-95.

If you don't have any children, find a nice apt in Logan Circle / Dupont Circle and enjoy the city, getting around by foot, bike or Metro.

We have kids and live in Chevy Chase, DC which we really like. One of our offices is out at Tysons Corner, VA, so I have a reverse commute if I have to drive out there, but Beltway (I-495) commute traffic can be bad and the rush "hours" can be long.

Chevy Chase is in Maryland isn't it?
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 6:24 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
Chevy Chase is in Maryland isn't it?
It's an area that covers both DC and MD
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 6:38 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

inna Takoma Park stylee
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 6:51 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

I'd also say DC over Baltimore any day.

Close to the Metro, I'd recommend looking at Alexandria. Has to be Old Town though as the rest of the city of Alexandria is well away from the Metro and really urban sprawl spread around part of 495. Yes there are some very expensive (and lovely) houses in Old Town but there's also quite a few condo developments, some of which are rental only. Old Town offers a good range of bars and restaurants as well as being on the yellow and blue Metro lines.

Someone has already mentioned Dupont and Logan Circles. Also worth looking at (depending on how open you are to different areas) are Adams Morgan (more bohemian and can look a bit messy in places) or Columbia Heights just to the north of Adams Morgan.
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 7:45 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Definitely don't do the Baltimore-Dc commute - it would be hell. I know some people that do this commute and a typical day might include 4-5 hours in a car. That whole 95/495 is a disaster in the mornings and evenings.

Either that or leaving at 5am in the morning.....

Have you thought about the Herndon area? Good links to get around and if you've got kids a good place to bring them up.
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 7:50 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Sounds like a consensus to me...

Don't do it!
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Old Feb 11th 2011, 7:57 pm
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Default Re: DC or Baltimore?

Originally Posted by IPM View Post
It's an area that covers both DC and MD

Covers as meaning there is a Chevy Chase, Maryland and a Chevy Chase, District of Columbus and each have their own local governments?

After researching, the city has two zip codes. One is MD and one is DC. Guess it now goes by who they state taxes to and city if there is one. Here in our area one portion of the city thinks themselves above those who live in "Yonkers" and call their area "Crestwood" which is bounded by Scarsdale. They have their own post office and zip code but they pay Yonkers City taxes.

Last edited by Rete; Feb 13th 2011 at 1:41 pm.
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