Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are both vibrant cities with plenty of great job opportunities and fun things to do. Since these cities are so close together, they are often considered the same metropolitan area, and many people commute between the two. 

However, there are different vibes between the two cities, so the right one for you will depend entirely on your lifestyle and preferences. Factors like the cost of living, the industry you work in, your commute and the type of housing you need will all influence your decision. Read on to learn more about living in Baltimore vs. D.C. to determine which city is right for you. 

Examining Baltimore vs. D.C.

When choosing between D.C. or Baltimore, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons to determine what makes the most sense for your situation. For example, it might benefit your career to live in one city over another. D.C. is known for jobs in politics and the defense sector, while Baltimore is a science and healthcare hub in part thanks to the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital

The atmosphere and culture of each city are also worth considering when deciding where to move. D.C. is one of the largest cities in the United States and is known for its fast-paced, urban environment. While Baltimore is also a large city, it offers a slower, more relaxed pace of life. Both options have advantages and disadvantages — it just depends on the atmosphere that makes you feel most comfortable. 

Here are some more key factors to consider when deciding between D.C. vs. Baltimore

Cost of Living

Between the two, D.C.’s cost of living is generally higher. Average salaries tend to be slightly higher there though as well. 

However, the cost of living in D.C. is 40% higher than in Baltimore, whereas salaries are only 8.3% higher in D.C. than in Baltimore. This means that those living in D.C. are less likely to have money left over after standard monthly expenses like rent, transportation and food. 

Both cities impose relatively hefty local tax bills when compared to other parts of the country. The District has a standard income tax rate of 8.5%, whereas Baltimore residents pay a local tax of 3.2% as well as Maryland’s state income tax of 4.75%. 

If you’re on a budget, the cost of living in Baltimore vs. D.C. might be better for you. However, it’s possible to find affordable places to live in D.C. with a little sleuthing

Entertainment, Restaurants and Nightlife

Both cities have no shortage of excellent restaurants and entertainment, beautiful historic attractions and scenic parks. D.C. is home to dozens of national museums, many of which are free to visit, while Baltimore is known for the National Aquarium and stunning waterfront historic districts. Baltimore also may have the edge when it comes to sports, as the Ravens have racked up two Super Bowl wins since 2000 — compared to the Commander’s three total since the team’s founding in 1932.

Both cities have thriving, diverse restaurant scenes, so no matter where you live, you’ll never be far from a delicious meal. However, D.C. has a leg up when it comes to ethnic cuisines from around the world, but Baltimore’s coastal location makes it a must-visit destination for seafood. Both cities also have excellent nightlife, although many musicians will choose to play in D.C. rather than Baltimore while touring due to its larger size. 

Getting Around

Both cities have heavy traffic, but D.C.’s can be slightly more congested, making for long commute times. Parking is hard to come by in both cities and tends to be slightly more expensive in D.C. 

D.C.’s public transportation system is more extensive, which may make it a better choice for those without a car. However, Baltimore also has a reliable public transit system that includes Metro, light rail and buses. There are also commuter trains available between the two cities. 

You can be in New York or Philadelphia from either city in just a few hours. You can also be at the ocean or in the mountains in the same amount of time for quick day trips and vacations. 

Schools and Things To Do with Kids

The quality of public schools in both D.C. and Baltimore varies depending on what neighborhood you are in. However, D.C.’s public schools have received better overall ratings. Both cities have excellent private schools and higher education options as well. 

Both cities also have plenty of fun things to do with children. In addition to the aforementioned aquarium, Baltimore also has an excellent children’s museum and science center. Popular activities for families in D.C. include the Smithsonian Zoo, the International Spy Museum and the Yards water park, just to name a few. Additionally, there are plenty of national parks and beaches within driving distance of both cities for families who love exploring the outdoors together. 

Should I Live in D.C. or Baltimore?

Ultimately, both cities have plenty of positive qualities, amazing communities and fun things to do. The right city for you will depend on your preferences and your lifestyle. Southern Management has apartment communities in both the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. Contact us today to learn more about our communities. We’re here to help you find the perfect place to live in your new city.