Moving from D.C. to Baltimore -- and vice versa
The Baltimore metro area has cheaper home prices and rents than the Washington metro area, so you probably don't need me to tell you that more people relocate our way from D.C. than the other way around.
But the recession, housing slump and credit crunch have had an effect on that northward migration. Our net gain from the Washington area sunk from about 10,000 in 2006 to 5,000 in 2008, according to the newest federal numbers.
It's not just fewer D.C.-area folks coming our way that cut down on the net gain. It's also more Baltimore-area residents moving south. Jason Policastro, for instance, who took a job at American University's Washington College of Law a year and a half ago and relocated four months later.
He didn't want to leave Baltimore, "But boy, that commute, I couldn't handle it. Eventually I broke down and started looking and found something close to work."
He's so close now, he walks to campus. That takes him a grand total of 15 minutes. Before, it was taking him anywhere from an hour -- on those very rare days with no traffic -- to nearly three hours. One way.
The alternative of the MARC train didn't appeal to him because it was often delayed, he said.
Even so, "I just can't shake the thought of moving back," Policastro said. "I love it there. Everything about it. The personality of the city, the character -- the cost of living there is dramatically lower. So yes, I do think about that. The job market, though, you can't compare the two. Which is just a shame."
It's been interesting to read people's comments on the Sunday story. Several readers shared their personal experiences:
Brodeur552 says MARC makes the Baltimore-to-Washington commute less tolerable than expected: "I wish I had known just how bad it was before moving here. I have a 1.5+ hr commute on a good day, which I had come to terms with before moving here, but at least once a week, my MARC Penn Line train breaks down for no apparent reason."
Bmore09 laments that Baltimore-area home prices look great with a Washington-area salary, but "if you live and work in Baltimore and want to buy a home here Good luck. Housing prices are not at a level that will afford you to own one. and you can't just move someplace 'more affordable' to live if there is none."
Smccall64 writes, "Due to the fact that I needed to commute to the I-270 Corridor, but my wife needed to commute to Annapolis or Baltimore, we ended up in Howard County. So, yes, I'm technically part of that 'migration' from D.C. to Baltimore according to how the markets are divided. But I don't consider myself to be part of Baltimore; I'm part of the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area. I can get both Washington and Baltimore newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations. Long-time Baltimore residents don't seem to want to be linked with Washington, but D.C. is the source of wealth and prosperity that has come to the entire region. We should look at ourselves as one big mega region, with over 8 million strong."
A long discussion thread kicked off on the DCist site in 2007 about the two cities in response to Live Baltimore's various "It's Better in Baltimore" and "Get In On It" ads, which the nonprofit ran in the Washington area to add fuel to the relocation trend.
"Are these ads, and their promise of a less expensive way of life, making you think about it all?" DCist Editor-in-Chief Sommer Mathis asked.
"I was thinking about moving to Baltimore," one wit responded. "Then I remembered that it's not in Washington, which would make it a real drag to get to work and see my friends and stuff. Other than that -- totally cool, great idea."
Another reader there wrote, "They're competing with the 'West Virginia is Calling' ad blitz at Metro Center. And when I hear that WV is 'calling' by the way, I assume it's a call for help. ... Surely, this constitutes Advantage: Baltimore. I'm going to hold out, though, until I hear Fredericksburg's offer."