From the Community:

The Costs of Living, Working and Retiring in Baltimore, MD

If you're headed to Baltimore, there are some facts and figures that you should know before you pack everything into a moving truck. As one of Maryland's busiest cities, the prices in Baltimore might be a bit higher than what you're used to, and you'll need to factor these increased expenses into your budget as you plan for relocation or retirement.

Here are some common expenses in Boston and how they might affect you.

Overall Cost of Living

The bad news is that the cost of living in Baltimore is higher than the national average. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to offset these costs if you're smart and careful with your money.

According to Forbes, the cost of living in Baltimore is six percent more than the rest of the country. This is despite the fact that Baltimore residents make less money on the whole. The average income for U.S. workers is $55,322, but the average income for Baltimore's population is $44,262.

Again, however, there are ways to overcome the gap. If you have savings, you can take your time in finding a high-paying job with plenty of benefits. If you're a retiree, you won't have to worry about salary fluctuations and how they impact the market.

Housing

The median price for a house in Baltimore is $117,100. This is a little more than the national average, and it's probably because the real estate market has ping-ponged quite a bit in the past few years.

For example, Zillow says that home values have skyrocketed 33.2 percent in 2018. They're also predicted to rise a further 10.5 percent in 2019. This means that it's going to get more and more expensive to buy a home in Baltimore over the next year, so if you're looking to scoop up some real estate in the city, sooner is better than later.

If you'd prefer to rent rather than buy, the monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Baltimore is $1,455. A two-bedroom apartment will set you back $1,718. This is an increase of 6.74 percent and 9.25 percent, respectively, but keep in mind that these figures are just estimates. Exact prices will vary depending on things like the quality of the neighborhood and the state of the building.

Utilities

While home prices have increased, utility prices are relatively stable. Today's Baltimore residents pay 13.0 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity, and that's actually down a bit from the 13.2 cents per kWh that everyone paid last year. These prices are also slightly less than the national average, so Baltimore is a good place to pay for energy.

The forecast is slightly less optimistic when it comes to natural gas. Baltimore residents pay 11.8 percent more than the national average: $1.165 per therm compared to $1.042 per therm. Of course, this is assuming that your household needs natural gas; it might be a non-issue for you depending on your property.

As for water and sewage, Baltimore has recently undergone a 13.9 percent price hike thanks to the increased demands of its aging infrastructure. However, the city is also providing credits to property owners who have their homes assessed, and a good 80 percent of these evaluations result in lower rates. You'll definitely want to get your home assessed if you buy in Baltimore.

Transportation

Gasoline prices in Baltimore are on par with the national average. Residents pay around $2.888 per gallon, and while that's higher than what they paid last year, the same is true for cities all around the country. Gas is getting more expensive everywhere. The national average is $2.970 per gallon.

If you prefer public transportation, the cost of a monthly bus pass is $72 - $90 depending on whether you need an "express" pass or not. If you're a retiree, you can enjoy a discounted senior pass for $21.20.

If you prefer taxis, a five-mile ride on a regular business day will cost you around $15.

Daily Living

It's hard to narrow down things like the cost of toothpaste since they can change by the day. However, we can take a look at certain trends and averages to figure out the general cost of day-to-day items in Baltimore.

For example, a ticket to the movies in Baltimore will cost you around $13. This is more than the national average of $9.38.

A carton of eggs in Baltimore will cost you $2.61. This is more than the national average of $1.80.

As you can see, Baltimore is a bit more expensive than the usual city. There's also Maryland sales tax to consider; it's six percent on regular purchases and nine percent on alcoholic purchases. You'll want to factor all of these things into your budget before you go shopping.

Insurance

Generally speaking, the cost of insurance in Baltimore is higher than the national average. But your exact rates, premiums, and deductibles will depend on the type of insurance that you need.

For example, car insurance in Baltimore runs about $1,813 per year. This is much higher than the $1,368 average, but since millions of people commute in and around Baltimore, accidents are more frequent. Insurance rates reflect this.

On the other hand, homeowners insurance in Baltimore is relatively low. It's around $942 a year, and that's 13 percent less than the nationwide average of $1,083.

As for health insurance, it's undergoing a series of price hikes that range from 43 percent to 67 percent. However, lawmakers are filing for waivers that will allow them to lower these costs for insurance seekers, so your wallet might be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Pay attention to this legislation if you plan on moving to Baltimore anytime soon.

These are just a few things to consider if you're planning on living, working or retiring in Baltimore. You might need to adjust your budget in some areas if you want to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in your new city, but it'll be worth the effort in the end. Baltimore is a beautiful place, and it will be lucky to have you.

This item was posted by a community contributor. To read more about community contributors, click here.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
46°