Moving to Baltimore
Once one of the largest ports in North America and a major centre for manufacturing, Baltimore joined the rust belt in the 1950s and entered a six decade period of population decline. The drug and crime problems of a city where one in four live in poverty have been well documented in popular television shows like Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire. And yet Baltimore, despite these obstacles, still has reason to look to the future with hope.
In 2011-2012 the population increased by 1,100 people, reversing the long term trend. The crime rate is also falling. The Downtown area ranks 15th in the country for employment density with the Johns Hopkins Hospital and John Hopkins University foremost among the city’s employers. The historic and cultural capital of Baltimore also makes it a prime tourist destination with visitors flocking from all over the US to see the historical sites of the American War of Independence and War of 1812. It’s also been rated the 14th most walkable city in the US.
Indeed, if Baltimore can marry its status as a top medical education centre with a resurgent financial and services economy, if it can make the most of its historic legacy to boost tourism and if it can regenerate its former industrial areas to raise more of its population above the poverty line, then the future for the City of Charm could be a bright one.
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Moving to Baltimore from the UK
The city of Baltimore itself is rather compact by US standards, cramming a population of over 621,000 into an area of 238 square kilometres its closes UK comparisons are Sheffield or Tyneside. The Baltimore Metropolitan Area though has more than 2.7 million inhabitants and is closer in size to Birmingham.
The sole metro line extends in a northwest direction out from the city centre as far as Owings Mills, making neighbourhoods along this corridor like Woodberry popular with commuters. Other prime locations include Federal Hill near the CBD, Guilford and Roland Hill to the north and,, further out, the many suburbs of Howard County between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Property prices in Baltimore have levelled off but not fallen dramatically since the bubble burst - as in many other US cities. The current average listing price is around $213,000 (£137,000). In Federal Hill that’s closer to $385,000 (£247,000) and in Woodberry $559,000 (£359,000).
You can rent a three bedroom family home for around $1,600 (£1,027) per month.
The Baltimore City Public School system has come under much criticism in recent years so you might want to look into sending your children to one the area’s many privately run institutions.
Comparing Baltimore vs London
Baltimore’s climate is not altogether different to London’s though sees greater extremes. Summer high temperatures average around 30°C, seven degrees higher than London’s, and winter lows average -2 °C, four degrees lower than London’s. The summers bring frequent thunderstorms and the winters frequent blizzards. While there is more rainfall per annum than in London, Baltimore also sees considerably more sunshine.
The cost of everything from property and rent to restaurants, transport and energy are lower in Baltimore than in London - both in real terms and when compared to the average worker’s disposable income.
Baltimoreans judge themselves as receiving a better standard of health care than do Londoners but they also see more crime and pollution.
Baltimore’s many cultural attractions include the great diversity of its neighbourhoods - a contribution of massive european immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries - its historic sites - including Mount Vernon, the USS Constellation and the Baltimore Basilica - and its status as a centre of the arts. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Centrestage Theatre Company, Lyric Opera Baltimore and the Maryland Film Festival all cal the city home.
The city’s green spaces include Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park (which hosts the annual Baltimore Herb Festival), Clifton Park and Druid Hills Park which is home to the Maryland Zoo.