Hi Maryland Mamas,
My DH mentioned to me last night that he is considering a move to Baltimore for his work.
I am a California girl. We have also lived in Oregon. But the East Coast? I know nothing about Baltimore! Can you point me in the right direction? What are good neighborhoods to move to? Will the weather kick my sunny CA butt? Are lots of people alternative thinking?
Welcome to the board! I live in downtown Baltimore and am expecting my first this summer, so I have minimal advice pertaining to kids, but lots about the area. We would love to have you come join us :-)
I have two good friends who are California transplants. I believe both would tell you that it has been a big move, and that the weather has been one of the (if not the single) hardest part. The past two winters have been seriously rough, even for a local like me. But I believe that both of my friends would also tell you that they genuinely like living here and really enjoy Baltimore as a city. I don't know that they will stay forever, but neither is in a rush to move on. It's a good place.
As to neighborhoods, it really depends what you're looking for. What are the characteristics you want in a neighborhood? What type of home?
And finally, no, not a lot of people are alternative thinking--but some are (and growing all the time). I go to a great food co-op, farmer's markets, yoga studio, and holistic physician, and I meditate with several of my friends. My husband and I own only one car, and both have carless commutes (and we're by no means super crunchy by Baltimore standards). So it's out there, but don't expect that it is the norm.
Thank you for the response and the good info. Congrats on your pregnancy!
So, I dont really know what we are looking for. When moving to a city I am always torn between suburbs and city life. I have this quaint little image of Baltimore with larger brick houses and green lawns. I also think of tall three story apartments, which also look fun.
Is the city safe? I am sort of a scaredy cat. Okay, and one more, is there birth centers or midwives?
I live in Baltimore City, we've been in the city for 4 years, and before that we lived in Howard County for 6 years. I moved from PA, so the weather is pretty similar. I don't have any advice on that front.
We really enjoy living in the city, and in the 4 years we've lived here our car has been broken into once, and we were downtown where any tourist would be. It was totally my fault for leaving a diaper bag on the floor in the front seat. Luckily for me they didn't find what they wanted, so they left my diaper bag in a corner of the parking garage. The garage manager told me that in the past 20 years they had 22 break ins, and 6 of them had been in the previous week. We've been back several times since with no issues.
I was pretty scared of crime myself, and in my experience for any REAL crime (not smashing in a car window to get the diaper bag), there are not usually innocent bystanders involved. As long as you stay out of the high crime areas you're fine. Though I go into those areas too, but a good friend of mine is very well respected by the families there, so I get offers of help not violence.
As far as midwives, there are several options in the city as well as outside of the city. There are two freestanding birth centers in Maryland, both are about a 40 minute commute from Baltimore. I found it worth the drive with my second, but I will be looking into a homebirth midwife if we have a 3rd.
There are lots of great neighborhoods in the city, and we are very happy with the public charter school my daughter attends. You can always find like minded parents, but you will have to seek them out. There is a ton of stuff to do with kids in the city. We're very happy to live here! Well, except for the snow...I could live without the snow!
Wife to a wonderful DH, Mom to 3 amazing girls and one special boy, IBCLC, supporter of moms.
I agree with everything KatyLinda said. I have lived in the city since 2004 and the only crime I have been subject to is one breaking in of my car. But I do know other people who have been harassed (not hurt) while walking on dark streets in good neighborhoods alone at night. It's always best to play it safe and avoid those types of situations. (But I walk my dogs alone around my neighborhood every night and feel very safe doing so. This type of violence is very rare, but it is best to remember that it happens.).
From what you describe, you might want to look into Roland Park and the surrounding neighborhoods. This area has many larger, historic homes (many single family) with lots of green space and a somewhat suburban feel, while still being in the city. It's quite safe, lots of families, and very nice.
For a more downtown feel, you might want to start looking at Bolton Hill, Federal Hill, or Fells Point. I like all these areas because they still feel like neighborhoods even though they are located very close to the city center. Hampden is also an interesting place, not quite as close to downtown but definitely with a neighborhood feel and some nice crunchy options in the area.
KatyLinda seemed to cover the midwife question! I also have chosen to deliver at one of the birth centers despite the drive. In downtown Baltimore, we also have some good midwifes who deliver at the hospitals. My good friend delivered with one and was very pleased with the experience. And there are a handful of homebirth midwives too, who people really seem to love.
There are lots of other great areas to live, which maybe other people can suggest. Hopefully that gives you a little to look into for now though, as you consider whether this might be a good place for you. Oh, and thanks for the congratulations!! And good luck to you.
I'm in Baltimore City too and moved back from having lived in CA (Bay Area) for 15 years. I will paint a slightly less rosy picture. I find the poverty, segregation and crime to be a huge bummer. My DH (who never lived here before) finds it even more frustrating than I do. Baltimore does have its serious downers.
That said, Baltimore is good for someone torn between the city and the burbs...'cuz if you have kids that's probably where you'll end up. There are quite a few city neighborhoods that are "fairly" diverse that offer nice homes at affordable prices with a VERY suburban feel...to the point that, although technically in the city (with city taxes!) it almost feels silly to say you live in the city. You have to find out what's important to you and search from there. Keep in mind that you're likely to face some issues that you never really considered.
Schools are also a huge issue. Compared to CA private schools are much more popular and WAY more expensive here. Neighborhood schools may not be what you're looking for in all but a very few neighborhoods. Charter schools offer a great alternative but for many you may be looking at major stress finding spots for you kids...and middle school creeps up on you before you know it.
It is an intellectual enough city that you find plenty of like minded folks. I actually find it easier to make friends here than I did in CA. It's more diverse so certain things can create a bond here that wouldn't in parts of CA. I also think people are refreshingly down to Earth, that's for sure.
Oh where in CA are you...that may help. Moving here from Orange County would be way different from moving here from Humboldt, iykwim.
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I grew up in Baltimore ( in the city) and still live here. My DH is from Southern California, so we have a good feel for that area as well.
One of the primary reasons we don't want to move to SoCal is the cost of living out there. It is MUCH easier for us to afford life on one modest salary in Baltimore than it would be in the LA area. My DH misses the California weather during the winter, but he enjoys the seasonal changes here (fall foliage, first snow, spring flowers etc).
Living within Baltimore city does have its downsides (crime, low-performing schools), but those are also present in Los Angeles and most other major urban cities. There are a few neighborhoods in Baltimore city that have a suburban feel if you want greener spaces that are close to downtown (Roland Park, Guilford, Homeland, Mount Washington), although housing can be pricey in those areas.
There are a lot of upsides to city life too...we belong to a neighborhood playgroup and everyone lives within 4 blocks of one another. We can walk to a great playground, and we live 1/2 a mile from a grocery store and farmers market.
Good luck with your future plans!
Mom to 2 Daughters born in 2010 & 2012, and someone new Nov 2015
I moved to Baltimore last year, and I have to say it has been quite an adjustment. But I moved from the cold, cold midwest, so the weather has been a HUGE plus here, not a negative for me at all. I've lived in New England and New York, and the weather in Baltimore is much warmer and more pleasant. My daffodils are coming up in early March -- unheard of in the other places I've lived.
There is crime here, but it's a city. I used to live in Manhattan, and there was lots of crime there, but nothing ever happened to me there (I didn't own a car then). The northern part of Baltimore is the safest and IMHO the nicest, but the other areas mentioned in previous posts are nice too. You have to be street smart here, never leave anything visible in your car, lock your car and house, etc. Don't be stupid, and you are pretty safe. Laptops left on the front seat of a car are likely to be stolen!
It's not very crunchy (though neither am I), and I've had a hard time finding alternative docs, which can be a problem. But they exist, you just have to look harder for them. There are lots of farmers markets, CSAs, natural-foods restaurants, etc. Some crunchiness if you look, but less than I'd like.
People are generally friendly, and yes it's an intellectual place. Lots of doctors and university professors, tons of PhDs roaming around Baltimore doing all sorts of green and groovy things. Large artistic community here, much to my surprise. It's not quaint though. The roads are very bad (ie full of potholes) and the entire city has a slightly forlorn look to it (except for the Inner Harbor, which looks slick). I've never set foot in the really bad neighborhoods, and I don't intend to. It's a segregated city that has not dealt effectively with its long, long history of racism, IMHO.
It is expensive to live here, but probably cheap compared with CA. There are precious few SAHMs, making it harder to live on one income, especially with the so-so schools. We are in Roland Park Elementary school, which is supposed to be the best public elementary in Baltimore. It's OK, but if you have the money, private schools are better.
Living in the city is great, however. Lots of things to do, and Baltimore is small enough that everything is close. We like the museums, the inner harbor, restaurants, shopping, etc., and nothing is more than 20 minutes away when you are in the city. I never feel bored here, as I did in the suburb I moved from. It's a dynamic city that has many challenges, but many opportunities.
Best of luck, whatever you decide. Change is difficult, but it has its rewards.
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