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Published by Contour Mortgage on February 07 2020

10 Best Baltimore Neighborhoods To Live In

Topics: Home Buyers

Few cities have had a harder time overcoming its less-than-stellar reputation than Baltimore, Maryland. Whether born in pop culture or based in reality, the public perception of Charm City is that of high crime, economically challenged neighborhoods, and crumbling infrastructure—not exactly charming ways to describe any city.

But, contrary to an oft-uttered platitude, perception is not always reality. 

Though smaller than other major cities that are nearby, Baltimore has been dubbed the “city of neighborhoods” and is home to hundreds of identified districts, dozens of neighborhoods, and many suburbs within driving distance. With all of these various places to potentially live, and each location relatively affordable with job opportunities, unique architecture, and historical landmarks, reducing Baltimore to one negative soundbite is something that should be done “nevermore.” 

We’re not merely stating a personal opinion here. Research firms measuring the quality of life and other residential aspects that make living in a particular place desirable are increasingly ranking Baltimore among the top place to grow families on the east coast. 

For example, the highly regarded ranking and review website Niche.com released the all-new 2019 Best Suburbs to Live in the Baltimore Area. The ranking included dozens of suburbs surrounding Baltimore ranked according to several factors, including cost of living, job opportunities, and local amenities. 

As a guide for anyone considering the prospects of raising a family near this burgeoning city, we’ve pulled the top 10 Baltimore suburbs for a deeper look into their appeal.

 

1. Ellicott City

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Howard Howard County Public School System $522,700 $124,059
  • Centennial Park, Patapsco Valley State Park, Meadowbrook Park
About 13 miles

 

With a population of just over 71,000, Ellicott City delivers a dense suburban feel with a growing number of restaurants, coffee shops, and plenty of access to parks. Ellicott City is also one of Maryland’s most historic downtown areas, with the Ellicott City Historic District planted firmly in the valleys of the Tiber and Patapsco rivers. That district includes the Ellicott City Station—built in 1830—which is the oldest surviving train station in the entire country. The Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) serves Ellicott City, with a bus line connecting the Miller Branch Public Library to the Columbia Mall, the extremely popular central shopping mall in the area. 


Local Food Tip: There’s a pronounced diversity of cuisine in Ellicott City, but one of the most popular food stops is Manor Hill Tavern. With an eclectic menu based on mouth-watering sandwiches and brick-oven pizzas, Manor Hill Tavern also serves beer from the county’s first farm brewery.

 

2. Columbia

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Howard Howard County Public School System $367,600 $103,707
  • Centennial Park, Blandair Regional Park, Lake Elkhorn Park
About 20 miles

 

One of the most popular suburban towns in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Columbia was first developed as a planned community in the 1960s. Since then, Columbia has maintained its status as a progressive, inclusive community, with 10 villages of its own cropping up in proceeding decades. With a total population of more than 103,000, Columbia boasts a dense suburban feel and is served by bus routes connecting it to other areas like Ellicott City, while other routes offer access to and from both Baltimore and D.C. The Mall in Columbia, in the town’s center, mixes anchor stores with a movie theater and more than 200 stores and restaurants. 


Local Food Tip: Ask any native of Columbia, or the surrounding area, and they’ll tell you that their fare neighborhood boasts the best Indian restaurant outside of London, or even India itself. Royal Taj, housed improbably in what was once an Applebee’s, is lauded for its tandoor oven preparations and impressive vegetarian options.

 

3. Ilchester

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Howard Howard County Public School System $383,900 $124,049
  • Patapsco Valley State Park, Worthington Off-Leash Dog Park
About 12 miles

One of the smaller communities on the list is Ilchester, with a population of less than 27,000. Sitting south of Ellicott City and sharing many of its neighbor’s amenities, Ilchester is a heavily wooded area that’s quiet and secluded—otherwise, it’s the antithesis of the bustle of Baltimore, Annapolis or even Columbia. Yet, it still provides easy access to those more populated areas, as well as the more rural spots and mountains. 

 

Local Food Tip: Technically in Ellicott City, The Trolly Shop is a rustic American eatery housed in a stone tavern from the 1830s. The definition of a no-frills neighborhood joint, locals revel in the Trolly Shop’s steaks, sandwiches, crab dip, and French onion soup.

 

4. Fulton

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Howard Howard County Public School System $623,600 $153,790
  • Westside Park, Hillside Park, T. Howard Duckett Watershed
About 20 miles

A population of less than 4,000 gives Fulton a true mix of suburban comfort and rural tranquility. Bordered by Patuxent River to the south, Fulton is somewhat known for its historic local places of worship, which include Grace Community Church, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, and St. Paul's Lutheran Church—the latter built in the 1870s by a group of mostly German families after originally meeting in each other's homes since the 1860s. These days, Fulton boasts a “Main Street”-style shopping district with an eclectic collection of storefronts and eateries.


Local Food Tip: The aforementioned shopping district’s restaurants include Lib’s Grill, a contemporary spot with New American cuisine like spicy Maryland-style crab soup among a collection of pub-inspired grub.

 

5. Scaggsville

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Howard Howard County Public School System $484,100 $145,307
  • Scotts Cove Recreation Area, Hammond Park, Granville Gude Park
About 22 miles

Counted as part of North Laurel, Maryland, with a population around 10,000, Scaggsville is another Baltimore suburb that has experienced prosperous growth in the last decade. The town is also one of the most picturesque towns in the area, sitting adjacent to the T. Howard Duckett Watershed, which affords locals the opportunity for bird-watching, boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, and horseback riding. The Patuxent River forms the southern edge of Scaggsville, as well as the Howard County line. U.S. Route 29 follows the western edge of the town, leading north five miles to Columbia and south 19 miles to downtown D.C. Interstate 95 forms the eastern edge, leading northeast 18 miles to downtown Baltimore and southwest 9 miles to Washington's Beltway.

Local Food Tip: Lucero’s Pizza has been a staple of the neighborhood since 2000 and is easily one of the locals’ favorite places to eat. Classic New York-style pizza is joined by plenty of specialty pies, along with extraordinary subs, chicken wings, tacos, and more.

 

6. Towson

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Baltimore County Baltimore County Public Schools $345,500 $82,062
  • Towson Manor Park, Riderwood Hills Park, Cromwell Valley Park
Less than 10 miles

Towson is probably one of the most well-known of the lesser-known towns in Maryland. With a population of less than 60,000 residents, Towson has several residential amenities as well as a rich history that makes it attractive to prospective homeowners. The local public transportation boasts several bus lines, linking the community to the Towson Town Center, downtown Baltimore, and other popular destinations. The Towson Bike Beltway includes bicycle lanes on many major streets encircling the downtown area, with new trails planned that will reach the Baltimore city line. Meanwhile, the vast Hampton Mansion sits on the Hampton National Historic Site and is operated by the U.S. National Park Service, while the town offers quite a bit of shopping, like the aforementioned Towson Town Center, Baltimore County’s largest indoor mall.

Local Food Tip: It’s hard to pick just one place to eat in Towson—so, we won’t. Instead, try the Chinese and Mongolian New Generation Hot Pot, the Szechuan-tinged Red Pepper, Nando’s Peri-Peri for African-style Portuguese, The Real Thing for sandwiches and cheesesteaks, Burger Bros for burgers and wings, KERB Restaurant for Mediterranean, Crafty Crab for seafood, and Spice & Dice for Thai. 

 

7. Elkridge

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Howard Howard County Public School System $339,600 $100,526
  • Rockburn Branch Park, Waterloo Park, Patapsco Valley State Park
About 12 miles

Elkridge is the oldest settlement in Howard County, owing much of its early success to its location on the Patapsco River. The history that sprouted from its origin includes a rich industrial past and the Thomas Viaduct, which is the oldest multiple-arched curved stone railroad bridge in the world. These days, Elkridge enjoys a range of recreational areas, including the vast Patapsco Valley State Park and the many trails and playgrounds of Rockburn Branch Park. Also, the community is only about an hour’s drive to the Chesapeake Bay area, which affords plenty of estuary attractions. 

Local Food Tip: For a throw-back dining experience, Elkridge Furnace Inn can’t be beat. Housed inside of an inn that dates back to 1744, this restaurant/event space creates a “garden-top-table” meal with home-grown produce, utilizes local farms for specialty meats, and does all it’s own butchering in-house.

 

8. Lutherville

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Baltimore Baltimore County Public Schools $340,500 $103,500
  • Meadowood Regional Park, Seminary Park, Orchard Hills Park
About 15 miles

 

With a population of less than 7,000, the sparse-suburban feel of Lutherville is part of its charm. Founded by Lutheran ministers (naturally) in 1852, Lutherville boasts many notable structures that were added to the National Registry of Historic Place in 1972, including two churches and two homes of Lutherville founders. As for access to and from, the Maryland Transit light-rail line serves the community with the Lutherville Light Rail Stop and there’s also bus routes providing regular service—both options are perfect for commuting to either Baltimore or D.C. Lutherville is located just north of Towson.

Local Food Tip: Locals, and not-so-locals, routinely praise Yamato Sushi. This BYOB sushi joint is family owned and has a reputation for treating customers as part of that family. Most importantly, it boasts a wide variety of fresh sushi.

 

9. Mays Chapel

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Baltimore Baltimore County Public Schools $371,900 $101,855
  • Valley Fields North Park, Meadowood Regional Park
About 13 miles

A village developed in the 1970s and named after a mid-19th century church, Mays Chapel, Maryland, has a population of around 12,000. It’s located west of Towson and is technically a part of Lutherville, sharing many of that community’s amenities, including access to public transportation. The small-town feel of Mays Chapel makes it the type of community where everyone knows everybody—which can be advantageous in terms of safety. It’s also conveniently close to a number of shopping options.

Local Food Tip: Though its mailing address denotes Lutherville, The Peppermill is a local favorite in Mays Chapel. Large portions of old-school favorites inhabit the menu, with standouts including various fish preparations, steaks, Stroganoff, and, of course, crab cakes.

 

10. Crofton

 

County School District Median Home Value Median Household Income Parks Proximity to Baltimore
Anne Arundel Anne Arundel County Public Schools $370,700 $118,197
  • Crofton Park, Swann Park, Crofton Country Club
About 24 miles

And finally is Crofton, the southernmost Baltimore suburb on our list. Originally a gated community, Crofton is planned around a scenic 3.5-mile loop that includes two elementary schools, the town hall, and a country club. The loop is popular with walkers, joggers, and cyclists. With population closing in on 30,000 residents, it’s most definitely a community that’s expanding exponentially. Crofton was named by Money magazine as one of the 100 best places to live in the entire country back in 2007—then again in 2011—and that designation still holds true today. The land includes an important archeological site, a more than 200-year old house once occupied by George Washington, as well as the birthplace of philanthropist Johns Hopkins. 

Local Food Tip: Located in a strip mall, Namaste is exactly the type of hidden gem where you’d expect to find fantastic Indian cuisine. The locals love the owner and staff, and absolutely rave about the authentic food.

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