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Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Old Oct 9th 2012, 2:28 am
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Default Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Background: I am in the US on a green card thanks to marriage to a wonderful USC husband. We’ve been living happily in Northern California for nearly 10 years now, have three young kids and dog and I have no desire to move.


However my husband has decided that since a change in leadership at the company he works for no longer gives him the creative leadership he desires. It’s time to uproot for greener pastures. Now being healthy and happy are my priorities, but the company actively pursuing him is based in.....Baltimore. Downtown. Waterfront. Baltimore. My knowledge of Baltimore comes exclusively from The Wire. Not ideal.

So it’s by far a ‘done deal’ in that he hasn’t been offered a job yet, so things could very easily not get that far but I’m frantically trying to reassure myself and get the low down on what it could be like. Any Expats live there who could help me out?

We’re not really city people (right now we live on the beach) and with a gaggle of small kids and a dog, we need some space. I’m guessing that coming from the Bay Area, housing and schooling will be a pleasant surprise financially. We’d prefer to live within say 40 minutes commute of downtown Baltimore.

Husband has the idea of living in Severna Park on the water with a boat on a dock at the end of our garden (we probably can’t swing that but should be able to afford an adequate house). He went to college in Annapolis so had an idea of what it could be like. Me, on the other hand, never been anywhere near Maryland. I seem to remember him bitching about blasting hot summers, but now we might move there, he thinks that summers are fine!

So really:
How long would it take to commute from Severna Park to downtown Baltimore?
How long would it take to commute from Annapolis to downtown Baltimore?
Would living in Severna Park be all about pedicures, the yacht club and trust funds?
Are there any communities that seem to have a nice downtown, good schools, places to eat, things to do for small kids within 40 minutes of rush hour commute to Baltimore?
What about suburbs of Baltimore - anything that doesn’t look like the places in The Wire that I should be considering?

Trying not to freak out....
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 2:40 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Can't really help, but city-data.com and goodschools.org it probably a good starting point till someone pips in

My first question would be how solid is the hub? Able to bounce back to something if the company dumps you, or are they a one shot wonder leaving you having to relocate again in the future?
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 2:45 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Severna Park and Annapolis are both generally very nice places (there is a 'part of town' in Annapolis that is a bit rougher). Severna Park would be more suburban in that for some items you'd head into Annapolis for shopping, dinner, etc. Annapolis is big into sailing and the Naval Academy. It has a quaint feel about the downtown area near the water, but the areas near the freeways are more suburban box mall shopping (Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, etc).

Don't expect a great discount on housing though. The Washington-Baltimore area is very expensive, and Annapolis and Severna Park are both a bit higher end in that market.

There are absolutely lovely parts of Baltimore as well. North of Johns Hopkins has some amazing homes in tree-lined neighborhoods, etc. Here is a street view from just a random corner up there. http://goo.gl/maps/Ibzas

Commutes are do-able from both Annapolis and Baltimore within your 40 minute guideline. Traffic (accidents) will be the major problem.

You could also look at Ellicott City. I think they have commuter rail to Baltimore as an option. Howard County (Baltimore Suburb) has very good schools.
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 2:58 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Just as unrealistic but this might help to get the images from "The Wire" out of your mind ...

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Old Oct 9th 2012, 3:00 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
Annapolis is big into sailing and the Naval Academy.
Thx for the info. But that's part of the problem. Hubby is VERY into sailing and went to the Naval Academy. So no wonder he thinks this could be a great move.
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 3:08 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by jackattack View Post
Thx for the info. But that's part of the problem. Hubby is VERY into sailing and went to the Naval Academy. So no wonder he thinks this could be a great move.
For many Annapolis is the 'perfect city'. I can't tell you how many folks from New York or Philly have told the headhunters "do you have anything around Annapolis". The proximity to the water, the 'old parts' of town, the 'college town' feel around the Naval Academy, and the closeness to the economic hubs of Washington and Baltimore make it quite ideal for many folks. You are also near BWI which is an international airport and the Acela Express, which is only about 2.5 hours by train to New York City, making Philly and NY both within a day trip.

There are bad parts of Annapolis, traffic is getting a bit crazier, and finding the right school in town can be tricky (there are many who opt for private schools), but you could do much worse in your move than heading there.
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 5:04 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

I live in Maryland. Baltimore is on the rebound from some hard times. There's a lot going on downtown - lots of new development, the baseball and football teams, inner harbor attractions (e.g. aquarium), thriving bar/club/concert scene, etc. You can do the research on crime but generally the inner harbor and the downtown area is safe - at least I feel safe there. Crime however is still an issue and you need to be aware of where you are - there are some really bad neighborhoods. Overall, I feel less safe in Baltimore than I do in Washington DC - I'm in both cities fairly often.

I certainly would have no issue about working in Baltimore. The rush hour commute can be very unpredictable in the entire Baltimore-Washington region and we have some of the worst traffic (and worst drivers!) in the country.

Severna Park is a good place to live - it's 30 mins from downtown Baltimore in ideal traffic conditions. Annapolis is one of my favorite places although the commute from there is a bit longer (40 mins in ideal traffic conditions but, again, very unpredictable in rush hour.)

There are other decent places to live inside and outside Baltimore (e.g. Ellicott City, Columbia) but I think you would really need to visit and have a look around before making a move (especially as you don't seem eager to move).

Maryland is a great part of the country to live and work in. We're within striking distance of mountains, lakes, rivers, and beaches (Maryland, Delaware and Virginia). There are many tourist attractions and historical sites. Other interesting cities are within a few hours drive e.g. Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York, Pittsburgh, etc.
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 5:36 pm
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

It sounds like a good idea to me. Baltimore is a rapidly up-and-coming city. It's a lot better now than it was even a few years ago. The city has a seaside mid-Atlantic feel to it. Also, the Chesapeake Bay area can be really beautiful. You're also in easy driving distance of DC and all that city has to offer.

Sidenote: people from Baltimore have the most insane accent in the entire US.
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Old Oct 9th 2012, 7:50 pm
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
For many Annapolis is the 'perfect city'. I can't tell you how many folks from New York or Philly have told the headhunters "do you have anything around Annapolis".
Yes, I can imagine that. If I were relocating from the East Coast then I might quite like the idea of Annapolis. But from the west coast? Bet there aren't too many peeps from the Bay Area saying the same thing.

On the other hand, I must feel lucky that hubbie's area of expertise isn't desirable in NYC. Then I REALLY would be freaking out. Strange really considering I spent so much time living in London (zone 2). I am going to try and keep an open mind and encourage a visit out there to check it out. The headhunter and company (plus husband) all seem quite keen.
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Old Oct 10th 2012, 2:12 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by jackattack View Post
Yes, I can imagine that. If I were relocating from the East Coast then I might quite like the idea of Annapolis. But from the west coast? Bet there aren't too many peeps from the Bay Area saying the same thing.
Not sure why you say that. There are lots of great ocean communities on the east coast too. Consider the Forbes Top 10 US Beaches list for 2012:

East Coast 6
Hawaii 3
West Coast 1
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Old Oct 10th 2012, 5:27 am
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Not sure why you say that.
Probably because life in the San Francisco Bay area is very different from most places on the East Coast.

Somehow I don't think that proximity to beaches is what was uppermost in the OP's mind ...
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Old Oct 10th 2012, 12:34 pm
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
Probably because life in the San Francisco Bay area is very different from most places on the East Coast.
That might be what the OP meant although she said "west coast" not "San Francisco Bay area".

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
Somehow I don't think that proximity to beaches is what was uppermost in the OP's mind ...
Maybe. She implied that Annapolis would be more attractive to people from the east coast than it would be to people from the west coast. I would be interested to know what she meant.
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Old Oct 10th 2012, 7:34 pm
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by MarylandNed View Post
Not sure why you say that. There are lots of great ocean communities on the east coast too. Consider the Forbes Top 10 US Beaches list for 2012:

East Coast 6
Hawaii 3
West Coast 1
Ouch sorry. Didn't mean to stir up a big debate. I apologise if I came across as derogatory towards East Coast beaches, I certainly didn't mean to be. In fact, for the last ten years I've lived two blocks from a West Coast beach and only been in the water twice. It's freezing. But I've been swimming plenty of times in the Summer on east coast beaches.

What I was trying to say, rather inelegantly was, if I were living in Boston or NYC, the idea of moving to a smaller, more 'liveable' city for a family, such as Annapolis, would be quite appealing.
But the Bay Area has so many options for activities - trails, hiking, camping, beaches, wine country, Tahoe, Yosemite, skiing, Big Sur plus a relatively strong job market (depending on what sector you work in, obviously), diverse population, good schools etc that I wondered if there were many families from this area, other than my husband, thinking that Annapolis offers more than where we are currently.

Probably a tad unfair since I've never lived in or even visited Maryland but I apologise for any offense. I have lived for a year in each of CT and NC though, so I have at least experienced East Coast living.
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Old Oct 10th 2012, 9:07 pm
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by jackattack View Post
What I was trying to say, rather inelegantly was, if I were living in Boston or NYC, the idea of moving to a smaller, more 'liveable' city for a family, such as Annapolis, would be quite appealing.
But the Bay Area has so many options for activities - trails, hiking, camping, beaches, wine country, Tahoe, Yosemite, skiing, Big Sur plus a relatively strong job market (depending on what sector you work in, obviously), diverse population, good schools etc that I wondered if there were many families from this area, other than my husband, thinking that Annapolis offers more than where we are currently.
Don't really know Annapolis nor what MD has to offer, but I wouldn't move away from Boston for that list of stuff, it's already on the door step and cost of living nor quality of life isn't improved. So a move would have to be for another reason.
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Old Oct 10th 2012, 10:13 pm
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Default Re: Help. What is Baltimore really like? My impression is only from The Wire.

Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Don't really know Annapolis nor what MD has to offer, but I wouldn't move away from Boston for that list of stuff, it's already on the door step and cost of living nor quality of life isn't improved. So a move would have to be for another reason.
Boston area was on the cards a few years ago. We went over to Framingham to check it all out (husband grew up on the coast just south of Boston so he knows what its like there). Husband confessed that he didn't think he could stomach the New England winters again. Luckily I didn't have to veto the move since he decided that the job role wasn't right for him. It seems he gets itchy feet every few years, so I'm just going to sit tight, not freak out and embrace whatever comes our way. After all, he's got a job for now so we're some of the lucky ones.
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