Choosing Where to Live in Maryland
Find the perfect home for you and your family by narrowing your residential real estate search. Identify communities that are just right by discovering local information at the Maryland Real Estate Center's EXPLORE CITIES section where you will find a wealth of information on to help you focus in on where you might want to live. Plus you can COMPARE MARYLAND NEIGHBORHOODS AND COMMUNITIES with these great in-depth reports and tools:
Depending on your own particular needs and tastes, some of the following factors may be more important considerations than others:
- quality of schools
- property values
- crime rate
- future construction
- proximity to schools, employment, hospitals, shops, public transportation, prisons, freeways, airports, beaches, parks, stadiums and cultural centers such as museums and theaters
County and City Questions
- Would you characterize your present area as urban, suburban, semi-rural, or rural? Is the population density low, medium, or high? Is the population decreasing, stable, or increasing?
- What natural features are the most significant? Woods? Hills? Flat land? River? Ocean shore? Man-made lakes? Streams and ponds?
- How do you commute to work? Do you walk? Drive? Car pool? Taxi? Bus? Train? How far must you travel and how long does it take in the morning and evening? Do you use available public transportation for local trips or to visit close-by communities? Can someone reach your home on public transportation?
- Where do you do your shopping? Central commercial districts? Shopping malls? Strip malls?
- Community shops or home delivery? Imagine a list of typical stops in one week. How many miles and how much time would visiting the entire list require? Do you want greater convenience?
- What types of schools does your family attend now? From grade school to graduate school, and from day care needs to special vocational training, what facilities will you require in the next few years? Are there any special needs or plans? Although it is extremely difficult to compare quality of education, some statistical indicators can be helpful: Average class size at grade level; Comparative standardized text scores; Average salary of teachers; Percentage of high school graduates who go to college.
- What does the area offer for recreation and entertainment? Music? Movies and live stage? Sports arenas? Museums? Nightlife? What types of indoor and outdoor sports facilities are available? Are there public parks, country clubs, athletic clubs, fraternal groups? Do you require any special facilities?
The concept of neighborhood isn’t as precise as county or city. Some people consider the boundaries to be the district around a grade school. Others consider it walking distance within a half-mile radius. Wherever you draw the line, a neighborhood is the immediate area around your house.
No matter how much hard data you gather about a neighborhood, nothing compares with information from local people. Whether it is fellow workers, letter carriers, or people at a bus stop…neighbors are the best observers of a neighborhood. Talk to as many people as you can, and ask them the following questions:
- Do neighbors socialize regularly, or hold block parties, picnics, holiday parties, organize sports teams? What are the ways they have met their neighbors? Walking a dog, commuting, PTA, parties, little league, gardening?
- How much do the neighbors care for lawns and gardens? Are the houses maintained “like new”, adequately, poorly? Is there a Homeowners Association?
- Are cars parked mostly in garages, driveways, on the street? How old are the houses? More than 30 years old? 15 to 30 years? New? How far apart are the houses? Are property upgrades common? Swimming pools, tennis courts, fences, walls, patios, extensive landscaping?
- For convenience, how does the neighborhood rate? Can you walk to shopping or is a car necessary? List your five most frequent destinations. Are they clustered in one stop-and-shop location? Two stops? How much time is required for fire, police, or ambulance services to arrive in an emergency? How close are cultural centers, parks, restaurants, theaters, playgrounds?
- How do the children routinely reach their schools, play areas, friends’ homes? By walking, bicycle, bus, or do parents drive them? Is public transportation available for commuting or shopping? Do any local ordinances affect pets, parking, lawns, etc.?
- What are the disadvantages of the neighborhood? Freeway, railroad, or airplane noise? Factory pollution, heavy traffic, exposure to heavy storms, possible flooding?
Neighborhood Search Strategies for Limited Budgets
If you’re a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, it's wise to buy a home that meets your primary needs in the best neighborhood that fits within your price range. You can maximize your home purchase location by incorporating some of the following strategies into your neighborhood search:
- Upcoming neighborhoods: Look for communities that are likely to become "hot neighborhoods" in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas.
Check for planned future development such as additional transit; new community services such as pools and theatres; and chain stores planning to move in.
Look for a home in a good neighborhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If commuting is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.
- Neighborhood demand: Look at the neighborhood demand by asking whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighborhoods and see how many "sale pending" and "sold" signs there are in a particular area.
- Co-ownership: Look into purchasing a condominium or co-op, rather than a house, in a desirable neighborhood. This way you still may be able to purchase in a prime area that you otherwise could not afford.
CONTACT ME and I'll be happy to help you better understand the current trends and community information so important to making your decision on where you want to live in Maryland.