Full disclosure: I am a Maryland native so I might be a little biased. That being said, I have lived in other parts of the country and this list is comprised of the pros and cons I hear most frequently from native and non-native Marylanders alike.
Accessibility. Two major cities—Baltimore and D.C.—make Maryland super accessible. Since so many Marylanders work in D.C. and so much of the culture in the surrounding suburbs is dictated by this fact, we’ll include access to D.C. and the D.C. influence a few times on this list. Northern Virginia will also make an appearance! Public transportation is an option throughout much of the most populated parts of the state. We also have access to three large airports. BWI, located in Linthicum near Baltimore, is Maryland’s international airport, but many Marylander’s fly out of the nearby Reagan National Airport in D.C. and Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. Between the airports and the trains, travel to any city in the US or even the world is relatively easy. Day trip to New York? Direct flights to Europe? We’ve got you covered!
America In Miniature. Maryland has been dubbed “America in miniature” or “Little America” due to the terrain. To the west, we have the Appalachian Mountains. To the east, we have the Atlantic Ocean. Prefer to vacation on a lake? Deep Creek Lake is a popular destination. Love the beach? Ocean City and Assateague Island offer miles of beaches. Assateague Island is a State Park and home to wild ponies. You don’t have to travel all the way to the Eastern Shore to enjoy the water though. The Chesapeake Bay provides plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing, and swimming. I mean—we have 7,719 miles of tidal shoreline. When it comes to buying a home and settling down in Maryland, there is truly something for everyone. Whether you love city living, a more rural lifestyle, or something in between, there are plenty of great neighborhoods to choose from.
Cuisine. With the incredible diversity of our state, you can find pretty much any type of cuisine you desire. That being said, Maryland also has a number of regional dishes that are incredibly popular. Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? Blue Crabs are a Maryland favorite. An icon really. We love our Blue Crabs. Crab feasts, crab cakes, crab dip, crab pretzels, crab anything is really fair game here. I recommend jumbo lump crab meat for cooking. Since it is made up of claw meat, you won’t get that stringy consistency or any of those pesky shell fragments. With plenty of shoreline, it stands to reason that we have plenty of other seafood to choose from as well. Oysters and Rockfish (known elsewhere as “Striped Bass”) are often excellent. If you are eating crabs in Maryland, it is likely that there will be a healthy dusting of Old Bay on them. Old Bay is another staple. We put it on everything and it’s not necessarily an acquired taste either. Made up of celery salt, paprika, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, I know people whose families from abroad request care packages of the stuff.
When it comes to dessert, we aren’t messing around. The official state dessert is Smith Island Cake which consists of 8-12 layers of thin yellow cake with fudge icing. Yet I believe Berger Cookies are the real star here. Iconic in Baltimore and sold in grocery stores across the state, these cookies are soft and cake like with a hefty amount of fudge icing on top.
Lastly, Maryland is also home to a number of breweries, but none are more iconic than our very own National Bohemian—or Natty Boh. Heck, my dog’s collar even has Mr. Boh on it.
Education. Not only is Maryland home to some of the top rated private and public schools in the nation, it also boasts dozens of colleges. Most notably, the University of Maryland- College Park and Johns Hopkins University. No matter where you live in the state, you will find that there is a nearby campus providing higher education.
Medical Facilities. Johns Hopkins is widely regarded as one of the best hospitals in the world. I’ve known individuals who went years without a diagnosis until winding up at Hopkins. Johns Hopkins isn’t the only excellent hospital in Maryland though. The University of Maryland Medical Center also ranks in the top 100 hospitals in the country.
Job Market. Maryland has a pretty good job market and jobs here tend to pay well. Many Marylanders actually work in D.C. and Northern Virginia which helps to expand the job market for residents. Wages in Maryland average about $6,500.00 higher than the rest of the country.
The History. History buffs will love living in one of the original 13 colonies. Maryland’s recorded history dates back to 1498. There are a number of important historical figures from the state and plenty of museums and historical sites to explore. Famous Americans from Maryland include: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Francis Scott Key, Thurgood Marshall, Edgar Allen Poe, and more. Four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were also Marylanders with homes in Annapolis that are still standing today. George Washington submitted his resignation as General of the Continental Army in the state’s capital which is also home to the Naval Academy and the country’s third oldest university—St. Johns College (founded in 1696).
Sports. Where sports are concerned there is no shortage of teams to support in Maryland. Fun fact: jousting is our official state sport while lacrosse is our state team sport. If you are looking to support a professional team, never fear! You will have plenty of options. Baltimore is home to the Ravens and the Orioles. As you might suspect by now, it is impossible to talk about Maryland without mentioning the District. A lot of our sports culture is also centered around the Capitol with many Maryland residents supporting the Nats, the Wizards, the Caps, and the Redskins.
The Flag. We love our flag and, I have to say, it’s pretty cool. You will see it everywhere. On clothes, on foodstuffs, on décor. Honestly, we feel it belongs on everything—much like Old Bay. Maryland’s state flag is an amalgam of the Calvert-Crossland families’ coat of arms. George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, hailed from these families.
Horse Country. Since I specialize in horse properties, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that Maryland is horse country. Regardless of whether you prefer English or western riding, you will be able to find boarding, training, and competitions in Maryland. Pimlico Race Track hosts the second race of the Triple Crown each year. The Preakness is also known for its rowdy Infield Fest which has booked some major musical acts in the last few years. Check out my list of tack shops and my article on buying equestrian properties in Maryland to learn more about Maryland’s equestrian community.
Somewhere In Between…
Weather. We have all four seasons and many residents love that about Maryland. Our spring and fall weather is really beautiful. The winter is often mild with average temps in the low 40s though every few years we have a big snow storm. The state seems to have gotten better about allotting resources to deal with these storms and the occasional sleet that Maryland gets. That said, the summers are brutally hot and humid and many friends from Florida swear that Maryland summers are worse than what they experienced in the farthest reaches of the American South. So weather can be either a pro or a con. It really depends on what you prefer. If you like snow and hate the heat, you may be disappointed. If you can’t wait for winter to be over and you thrive in the humidity, you will be quite happy.
Politics. Again, this might be a positive or a negative aspect of living in Maryland. The government employs a lot of Maryland residents and certain folks may love being in the fold, but living so close to the District may make it a bit harder to escape the politics and debates if that is not your scene. I believe there are Google Chrome plugins for those who would like to block political ads, websites, and posts on social media from appearing.
Traffic. The traffic in any major metropolitan area is going to be bonkers and Maryland has bad traffic around two major cities, not to mention the Friday evening traffic going across the Bay Bridge towards the shore in the summer. Luckily, public transportation is an option for much of the state. If you plan to move to Maryland, it is wise to consider buying a home that would offer a reverse commute to work.
Cost Of Living. The cost of living in Maryland is no laughing matter. Maryland often makes the list of most expensive states to live in. To be fair, much of this has to do with the cost of living in suburbs of the District and there are plenty of more affordable places to live in Maryland, but the fact remains the same…on average, Maryland isn’t cheap. Our median home value is about $312,500 which is the 9th highest in the nation though it is also worth noting that our average household income is $80,776 which is the highest of any state.
Property Taxes. The property taxes, both state and local, average higher than much of the country. As of 2019, Maryland ranks 20th with an effective property tax rate of 1.03%. Our per capita property taxes are about $1,555 which places us at the 16th most expensive in the nation. Certain counties have a lower tax rate. Many residents feel this a drawback of living in the Maryland. If you plan to buy a farm, you may want to check with the county to see what the tax benefits will be.
Allergies. If you live in Maryland, you will likely feel the effects of allergy season in the spring. Luckily, the allergy season here is typically isolated to that time of the year with pollen as the main culprit. Baltimore ranked 71st on the 100 Most Challenging Places To Live With Spring Allergies in 2019. Given the fact that I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t struggle with, at very least, mild allergies in the spring, I would hate to know what it is to be ranked any higher on the list.
All in all, Maryland is a great place to live. When put to the masses, I’ve found that most Marylanders, native and non native alike, came up with more pros than cons to living in the Old Line State. If you are planning a move to Maryland, I’m sure you are doing your fair share of Googling. Before you fall down the black hole of online forums, just remember that many people who post online either love or hate whatever they are posting about. If you can, visit first or get in contact with a few people who live here. I won’t pretend that everyone who moves to Maryland will want to make it their forever home, but there are many happy Marylanders to prove that it is possible to find the right neighborhood for you. Check out my article on moving to Maryland for more information!
Want more? Here are my tips for relocating to Maryland!
Sarah is a Realtor specializing in residential and equestrian properties. She is based in Bethesda, Maryland.