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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys. I am trying to do some research on the cities in and around the Baltimore/Washington area. In your opinion, what would you say is the best city? Key points include city size(larger the better) proximity to either metro area, quality of life(things like parks, recreation, crime etc.) and any and all other information you can give me.

So far I have found a city called Ferndale by the Baltimore Washington airport. This city looks to be interesting. Does anybody have any further info?

And most importantly, it would be great to see pictures of these cities. If anybody could post some here or direct me to some links with pictures it would be great!

Talk to you soon.
 

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I have always thought that Annapolis, the state capital of Maryland, was just about the nicest small city in the area. At its core, it is a very well preserved colonial town, with one of the largest number of original 18th century buildings in the country. It is nearly equidistant from Baltimore (30 miles) and Washington (32 miles) and their attractions. Besides the government offices (State House, Governor's Mansion, state archives, etc.), it is home to the US Naval Academy, St. John's College, Annapolis Symphony, and Ballet Theater of MD. It is right on the Chesapeake, has a great waterfront and is a huge boating center. It also has great restaurants and trendy shops, and is a gateway to Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Here are some pictures from the city's website.

























 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Ron! Annapolis does look like a great city. It looks like it has that small city feel to it. I imagine the Naval Academy is "everywhere" in Annapolis :)

I took a look at Bethesda to, zaqattaq. Without a doubt a nice town, but what scared me a little was the median age! Most people there are over 45! Not that 45 is old, but when its the median age you begin to picture a town of "old timers" :) Alexandria looked VERY nice-on paper, I could not find any pictures- but the cost of living seemed like only high paying Government types live there.

If you guys have more pictures and info keep them coming! So far in this thread Annapolis is leading the way for me with Alexandria a close second.
 

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Well, I live in Annapolis, so from a resident's perspective, I can tell you it is a nice place to live, work, and play. It's a small city of 36,000, but if you ever get a craving for the big city, Baltimore and DC are equal distances apart from Annapolis. It's a very safe area, with some isolated parts in the city that are in need of improvement like around West Street and Clay Street, and the schools around here are top notch (Broadneck High School is one the top 500 high schools in the country) and the whole county has pretty good schools overall. Yes, we have a shopping mall, but you'd be amazed by how much foot traffic that exists no where near the chain retail areas. The retail is still pretty nice as well, as there are plenty of options for food, clothing, or whatever is on your mind. Downtown is full of life and it's hard to get bored with all the festivities that go on, especially if you're into the historic, small town like atmosphere. I will advise you, Annapolis is very expensive to live in. Inner city prices are probably lower than the outer areas, but rowhomes can cost up to $400,000 and single-family homes are often in the several hundred thousand dollar range, so be careful about your money. There are plenty of decent-paying jobs (as well as high-paying and minimum wage ones) I will add, which may make up for some of the expense. A nice area though, I only hear compliments from outsiders whereever I go, which really says something. All kinds of people live here, so it's not just yuppies and the rich; it's a pretty young area I would say with some long-time residents here.There are affordable places, so I don't want to scare you, but the housing prices are rising (while slowing down), but just look around and see what choices are possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Furiine,

You definently have me excited about Annapolis. Let me ask you this: how much on average is apartment rent? Say for a nice 1 bedroom in a nice part of town. I am a pilot, therefore employment is taken care of-I can live wherever I want so long as I can commute to my base, and with Baltimore/Washington and Regan nearby that won't be a problem. My fiance is a Nurse, so obviously Johns Hopkins is a big Plus in that area.

So is there plenty of foot traffic there? I would love to live in a city where I can walk to the corner and buy some good food, then walk a couple blocks and go to some shops etc.... After growing up in the automobile dependent world of the South I am ready for that "New York" style of living where you actually SEE people on the streets!

One thing I have always wondered about that part of the country: how are the beaches? Are there any? I know these are all coastal cities, but are there actually beaches where people hang out? Obviously that would only be practical in the Spring and Summer...but are there any?

Ok, I am really leaning towards Annapolis now. Keep the info coming...this is getting really good! Thanks for all the help. :)
 

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What would you all say about Silver Spring? Be gentle because I just got transfered to my company's Bethesda office (from Salt Lake City) and in the 1 day to find an apartment all I could find in my price range was in Silver Spring (16th & E.W. Highway). Not sure if my wife will have a job or not at first and that's why we couldn't afford to live in the district, but hopefully that will change soon :). Oh well, it doesn't seem like a terrible starting point. I mean sure it's pretty generic but the transportation options are great since we are very close to the metro stop and there is a bus stop at my front door that goes straight to my office in DC. Anyway, what's the opinion on that area? Also, any addition info would be great. Sorry, not meaning to hijack the tread.
 

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Ferndale in my opinion is pretty junky and sightless. I like the areas north of Baltimore, like Baldwin and Hydes; beautiful countryside. Neither are impressive towns; Dundalk and Bel Air are better suburban/urban areas.
 

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Aviador_BH said:
Furiine,

You definently have me excited about Annapolis. Let me ask you this: how much on average is apartment rent? Say for a nice 1 bedroom in a nice part of town. I am a pilot, therefore employment is taken care of-I can live wherever I want so long as I can commute to my base, and with Baltimore/Washington and Regan nearby that won't be a problem. My fiance is a Nurse, so obviously Johns Hopkins is a big Plus in that area.
Annapolis isn't much for condos or apartments, though there are some new ones under construction in downtown, but I'm not sure what their prices are. It's mostly just bungalows and such but let me see, I honestly don't know what the average apartment goes for here. The ones at the top of my head are either on waterfronts (and can be quite expensive) or aren't really in the city, but somewhat in the outskirts. Actually, there are a good number of condos outside the city, just not in the city. There are plenty of townhomes and 4-5 story condominium buildings around the $300,000 to $500,000 price range. I tried looking for apartment prices, but no luck. :(

So is there plenty of foot traffic there? I would love to live in a city where I can walk to the corner and buy some good food, then walk a couple blocks and go to some shops etc.... After growing up in the automobile dependent world of the South I am ready for that "New York" style of living where you actually SEE people on the streets!
Well it's far from New York LOL, but the city isn't dead when after 6 pm if that's what you're wondering. There are a few bars downtown and one is in an old timey saloon called McGarvy's. There is also the Middleton Tavern right next door. Buddy's Crabs and Ribs is a popular restaurant with classic Maryland seafood and other food as well. And those are just restaurants on the "dock" part of downtown around Main Street. There are plenty of other restaurants around town. Downtown is definitely not much for chain retail, save a Banana Republic and maybe some other stores. Most of the shops are full of people and include ice cream shops (Ben & Jerry's and Armadillo's), clothing stores, art galleries, trinkets. There are shops of all kinds of assortments. On one day everyyear, there is a little event called Midnight Madness where all the shops are open until 12 and you can just stroll around street and popping into whichever place you want. Every new year's there is First Night full of all kinds of skits, shows, music, food, etc. literally all over downtown. In summer and spring, there will be boating shows where boat owners display their sailboats, schooners, what have you. The good side is that all these events tend to get a lot of participation with people from all over the county and state. The list goes on, but it's easy to keep up with the news, because they constantly mail you stuff about it LOL. :)

One thing I have always wondered about that part of the country: how are the beaches? Are there any? I know these are all coastal cities, but are there actually beaches where people hang out? Obviously that would only be practical in the Spring and Summer...but are there any?
Yes indeed there are! The Chesapeake Bay even has some like Sandy Point State Park just north of Annapolis. Sandy Point's ok (not really much of a beach) but it's good for holding little parties and watching all the ships pass under the Bay Bridge. It's a nice little area and admission is cheap, but it's not much. Now, for coastal beaches, we do have those as well! Summer days can be extremely humid here, but luckily the Atlantic Ocean is so cold you'll quickly cool down. Ocean City is about a 3 hour drive from Annapolis and is even more busy than Annapolis. Ocean City is a vibrant place almost all hours of the day, because it's such a popular place for young people. I would seriously guess that hundreds of thousands go to Ocean City in the summer (maybe not everyday, but on a weekly basis.) There are tons of high-rise condos and hotels you can stay at as well, but it can be competitive trying to book a room if you're not fast enough. ;) The boardwalk in Ocean City is pretty long and is full of sketchy shops, heh. But there are some nice places to eat there where they haven't changed much as far as I understand. There are places to eat boardwalk fries, pizza, dessert, sandwiches, etc. that date back several decades. The lower end of the boardwalk has an amusement park. It's more laid back than Annapolis, so expect to see all kinds of people there. Ocean City is also one of (if not the most) cleanest beaches in the country. There are also some beaches in Delaware to the north like Fenwick Island, Rehobeth Beach (another nice place), and Bethany Beach. They're smaller than Ocean City, but they're still great places to see if you want beaches with solitude. Ocean City can get really crowded afterall. You don't even have to stay in a hotel there, because it's a public place and good for day trips as well.

Ok, I am really leaning towards Annapolis now. Keep the info coming...this is getting really good! Thanks for all the help. :)
Hey, there's a lot to bring up when it ups to little ole Annapolis, so just ask if you need anything. ;) I'm glad you're liking Annapolis' description, but it isn't utopia either. It's far from it, but I love living here.
 

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In VA: Arlington(including Rosslyn, Ballston, Clarendon areas), Alexandria(including Crystal City, Old Town), Tysons Corner, Vienna, Falls Church.

In MD: Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Ellicott City, Annapolis, Towson, North Baltimore

Some of these are suburbs. I don't know what your income situation is but it's cheaper near B'more. Most of the VA cities have easy access to the beltway allowing you to get to B'more in about an hour. VA has nice schools, it's more conservative then MD, but not crazy, especially not N. VA, Kerry won in every area I mentioned. And there's also subway or planned subway in every one of these places. They're all pretty very close to DC. I like VA more then MD, but they're both very very nice.

MD, all of these cities are pretty nice, the entire DC area is getting redeveloped whether it's new urbanism or with highrises and etc. IMO don't go to PG county. Montgomery County is very nice, Fairfax County, VA and MoCo are somewhat competitive with eachother. And they all have subway access. There are good schools here too. N. VA and Montgomery County are the best parts of the B'more/DC area.

Both Nova and MoCo have proximity to the potomac river and ski resorts and beaches being a little further.

IMO, Rockville is probably the furthest you want to go out in MoCo, Hagerstown is in no man's land and Gaithersburg although close to R'ville, is still a little far IMO. Just like Vienna is the furthest I think you want to be in VA.

But you're making a great choice overall in coming to the area, although the cities are some of the most divided and crime ridden, it's suburbs are among the best, with great schools, good management, low crime, and great economies. There is a lot to do, I live in Arlington, yet I'm in R'ville, B-CC, SS, B'more and Annapolis quite a bit, regardless of what many marylanders will tell you, the area is connected, and understandably, B'more is a great town that deserves it's own praise, but pretty much anywhere you can utilize the things the area has to offer.

Annapolis is very appealing. It's got a great feel, a very historic, yet still very important feel. Anne Arundel County has some nice schools, and it's close to the bay which is nice. And, it's equidistant from DC and B'more. It kinda feels disconnected from DC though. But regardless, it's still nice.

I'm pretty sure MARC service runs out to Annapolis, but it doesn't have metro service which kinda sucks. I love to visit there and I have an uncle who works there, it seems like a nice place to live.
 

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^I think that's basically what it comes down to. The whole area is really nice, from northern VA all the way into the northern suburbs of Baltimore. Where you decide to go just depends on your tastes. I think living in Maryland or No. Virginia is just a very convenient place to be. The schools are one of the best, there is a whole lot of diversity, there are plenty of transportation options, you have the US government literally in your backyard with cool neighborhoods in DC, all kinds the activity that goes on in B'More's signature neighborhoods, pleasant suburbs, and just everything else in general. The only downsides I see are crime in areas like PG county, which really isn't something most people in the area worry about too much, and bumper-to-bumper traffic plus obnoxious drivers on the highways. And as I said before, housing is really expensive, especially in Montgomery County.
 

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Many great areas of the DC/B-more CSMA, and the area is growing quite a bit too. Up sides are ocean beaches not too far away (3 hours or so), mountains not too far (West Virginia and MD skiing about the same distance), Pro sports, colleges and universities abound, good economic outlook, and many choices as far as satellite cities go. Some negative aspects are crime in some areas (mostly inner city, but there are some undesirable suburban areas too), traffic sucks-even in the outlying regions, and housing costs have skyrocketed in the last few years. Hope you find the kind of place you're looking for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I agree...the entire area seems like a very convinient place to live. Not to mention nice looking and modern. One question about Northertn Virginia: Is it still heavily influenced by the Bible Belt? That is one thing I have vowed to do: Escape the Bible Belt!

Alexandria, Annapolis, and their surrounding towns seem to be topping my list right now.

I hate not having a search engine on the forums anymore because I can't find these answers myself, but what are the cities of Glen Burnie and Ferndale like? Does anybody have links or pictures of these areas? I would be VERY happy if I could find pics of the areas around Annapolis, Baltimore and everything in between. Thanks for all your help! :)
 

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No, it is not HEAVILY affected by the bible belt. It is a fiscally conservative place, which is really the main part it is republican in fairfax, loudon, and prince william. Loudon and PW are more socially conservative, but with their growth, they aren't going to sustain it. But alexandria, arlington, and fairfax not very much, all three went to kerry, two by large margins, but that's not the best gauge.

You can look at the figures, the area has become more and more liberal over the past decade and it's not going to stop. VA has a democratic gov. and the state isn't in bad shape.

I don't think you have anything to worry about, fairfax is no more conservative than montgomery is outside of silver spring and bethesda which are more like alexandria and arlington which are both liberal.

So yeah, I wouldn't say you have anything to worry about, it's not as conservative as before, and it's still changing. I'm in college right now in Michigan and I never thought my area was all that great until I spent a lot of time out here.

Oh and, there is a very good site, it's www.beyonddc.com, it's more dc oriented, but it's got a lot of good pictures of annapolis, northern virginia, maryland suburbs and b'more. The forums which I believe are still closed, was maryland dominated, so just be aware, not a big deal.
 

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Aviador_BH said:
I hate not having a search engine on the forums anymore because I can't find these answers myself, but what are the cities of Glen Burnie and Ferndale like? Does anybody have links or pictures of these areas? I would be VERY happy if I could find pics of the areas around Annapolis, Baltimore and everything in between. Thanks for all your help! :)
Both Glen Burnie and Ferndale are near BWI airport, is that why you're wondering, out of curiousity? Linthicum is a nicer place than both of them, in my opinion. Glen Burnie is too tacky and obnoxious for me, but I don't think I've been to Ferndale too often. Ferndale is pretty close to Linthicum though, which is actually where the airport is. They're all near the Baltimore Beltway and other major highways, so you can go into Baltimore very easily. Glen Burnie is okay (maybe it could use some people who want to change things around there :p), but just doesn't work for me. It has a lot of retail and apartment complexes, both under construction and already existent. I know you were concerned about apartments, but I think the area around the airport and Glen Burnie have reasonably low prices compared to elsewhere. You won't fail to find car dealerships there as well. Baltimore is also extremely close, being just an overpass away from the city limits. Other areas very close to soutern Baltimore are Columbia (about 10-15 minutes away), Ellicott City, Halethorpe, Catonsville, and Elkridge. They're all pretty nice areas, especially Columbia. I think Columbia is a very easy place to get along, because it's a city literally built on the basis of togetherness, community, diversity, wide open parks, etc. It's like an urban-suburb in a way.

Here are some pictures I found of Glen Burnie. There really isn't a big supply of such pictures on the web, sorry to say.

Apparently a residential area.




Glen Burnie has a couple light rail stations as an alternative way to commute into the city or get to the airport


Looks more like Brooklyn, which is a couple minutes north of GB



I would also suggest maybe signing up with Baltimore Sun's online paper (free) so you can access a lot more details on the areas around and inside of Baltimore. Not to mention apartment prices all around Baltimore such as Columbia, Dundalk, Annapolis, etc etc. You won't find PG county, Mont. County, or No. Virginia on there though.
http://www.baltimoresun.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Nova Wolverine, thanks for the info! The sterotype about Virginia here in Texas is that they are just as much good ol boys as the rest of the South! Great to hear otherwise...regarding Northern Virginia atleast.

Furiine, thank you!!! After reading your post I began researching Columbia and I think I have found my new home! Seriously! When I get home on Thursday I will be showing the information regarding the city to my fiance. So far the best info I have found was from answers.com and the city website although both lacked in pictures. But they sure made up for it in facts and figures!

Columbia sounds like a GREAT place to live. Just like you said, an Urban-Suburban city close to 2 major metro areas! Can't beat that. Oh, and yes part of the appeal of Ferndale and Glen Burnie was its proximity to BWI as many of my flights go through there. But according to the mapquest map of Columbia I saw it is only about a 45 minute drive from the airport, which is about what I drive now from my house to Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

Have you ever been there? What are your persnoal opinions of the city? Any and all information you can give me would be HIGHLY valued! Pictures would be a super plus :)

Thanks once again for the help! Once I move up there to the area we are all going to have to get together for a beer!
 

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Good for you in your decision! :) I've been to Columbia a couple of times and I think it's a pretty nice area overall. It's not really a place I could really grasp from a "tourist" perspective or what have you, but it's very culturally oriented and a tremendous percentage of its size is reserved for parks and recreation. It has a fairly good size too, roughly 100k people live there. I'm aware that it has a large pavillion where people of all backgrounds sometimes come together for events and so forth. Downtown, called the Town Center, has a good amount of retail and offices; there's also the Columbia Mall. It's really not that far from the airport at all, only about 20 minutes at most I would guess.

I think there are two "official" websites, but here are both of them in case you want two references for more info.
http://www.columbia-md.com/
http://www.columbiamaryland.com/
 

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Aviador_BH said:
Columbia sounds like a GREAT place to live. Just like you said, an Urban-Suburban city close to 2 major metro areas! Can't beat that. Oh, and yes part of the appeal of Ferndale and Glen Burnie was its proximity to BWI as many of my flights go through there. But according to the mapquest map of Columbia I saw it is only about a 45 minute drive from the airport, which is about what I drive now from my house to Dallas/Fort Worth airport.
Actually, most of Columbia is a lot closer to BWI than 45 minutes.

Someone mentioned Ellicott City, which is also a very nice little city with a pretty cool, although hilly, Main St. (part of the old National Road). It's the county seat of Howard County (which includes Columbia). Here are a couple pictures.



 
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