Baltimore is a rich, creative, and thriving city, as welcoming to first- time home buyers as to growing families and retirees. According to Live Baltimore, an organization that advocates for Baltimore City residency, there are nearly 250 residential neighborhoods within our city limits. Attractive homes, green space, nearby restaurants, and shopping appeal to everyone. Places like Roland Park, Homeland, Charles Village, and Fells Point will be familiar to most people, but there are other, lesser-known, but equally outstanding communities that are often more affordable. What these neighborhoods have in common is a spirit that is inspiring and resilient and amenities that will attract a range of buyers. Here, we highlight some neighborhoods worth considering, as you choose where to plant your roots.
A tiny, entirely residential neighborhood near Charles Village
This tiny community of nine square blocks in the heart of Charles Village has just celebrated its centennial. Known for its vibrantly colored “Painted Lady” townhouses, it is almost entirely residential. A close-knit, diverse community of faculty families, students and longtime residents, Abell’s wide, tree-lined streets and an active community organization are among its many charms. The Abell Improvement Association organizes a multitude of events throughout the year, including a music-filled street fair and children’s parade in September, a chili cook-off in the fall, and outdoor movie screenings each Friday in the summer. Abell is just blocks from convenient bus routes, including the free Charm City Circulator, Metrolink and the Johns Hopkins Shuttle. Less than two miles from Penn Station, the neighborhood is also home to many D.C. commuters.
Architecture: Abell’s well-preserved brick row homes were built at the turn of the century, and feature broad front porches and modest backyards. Many are painted with bright, whimsical colors, as part of the longstanding “Painted Lady” tradition.
Walk To: In the center of Abell is a small, community-maintained park and playground, known as the Abell Open Space. The park provides a center for recreation and community gatherings. Also nearby are the Barclay School, the Waverly Branch of Enoch Pratt Library, the 32nd Street Farmers Market and historic Huntingdon Baptist Church. Just blocks away to the west are the Baltimore Museum of Art, Union Memorial Hospital, and a large number of restaurants, cafes, shops, grocery stores and other retailers along St. Paul Street.
Larger homes on tree-lined streets, and lots of gardeners
Home to several generations of Baltimore’s African American elite, particularly politicians — Catherine Pugh, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Kurt Schmoke all lived here at different times in their lives — Ashburton was once the rural summer estate of a prominent Baltimore banker. Although the city has slowly grown out to meet Ashburton, it retains a country feel, with beautifully landscaped homes and an active garden club. Nearby Hanlon Park has perhaps the best view anywhere of the Baltimore skyline.
Home styles: Larger homes in brick, stone, and stucco, with good-sized yards and tree-lined streets. Another National Historic District, with great tax credits available for renovations.
Walk to: Hanlon Park, its lake, and walking path. Neighborhood walking is also nice, with lots of people working on their yards and socializing. Nearby is Mondawmin Mall. If you haven’t been to Mondawmin since the MVA closed, come again. There’s a new Target and all the usual mall favorites — Marshall’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, TGI Fridays, and more. City buses run down Liberty Heights Avenue.
Home prices: Median home price is $110,000, with a steady growth in home sales.
A welcoming vibe and an affordable option for young families and retirees
Currently moving from being completely unknown to little-known, Bayview is nestled between Eastern Avenue, the campus of Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital, and a large expanse of playing fields in South Baltimore. With a very low crime rate, flower-filled yards, and a calm, welcoming vibe, Bayview is a lovely, affordable option for lots of young families and retirees. Home styles: Mostly brick townhomes dating from the 50s, with front porches and rooftop decks — not so much architecturally stunning as solid and comfortable. Walk to: Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital (so naturally, many young doctors in the ’hood), Ikaros restaurant in nearby Greektown, and the popular J.C. Romero’s Neighborhood Café, a long-time gathering spot for residents. There’s lots of bus service to Bayview Hospital and a Baltimore Metro stop as well. Home prices: Current median is around $100,000, which is up one-third since 2012.
Life-long neighbors and quiet streets near Belvedere Square
As the name implies, this is the neighborhood behind Belvedere Square, along the east side of York Road, bordering Govans. Many residents have lived here their whole lives and cherish the timeless feeling of its quiet streets while keeping a wary eye on the increasingly popular Belvedere Square. Younger residents tend to embrace the Square and its attractions, which include a Friday night summer music series that draws families from surrounding areas. Govans Elementary School, beloved by parents, is slated to get a new building in 2019. The recently restored Senator Theatre has been a pride of the neighborhood since opening in 1939.
Home styles: Single-family houses in shingle or brick, with good-sized yards, as well as rowhouses and detached homes, all tidy and well maintained.
Walk to: Belvedere Square, with shopping, restaurants like Atwater’s and Grand Cru, the Senator Theatre, Lynn Brick’s gym, the Dutch Floral Garden, the Senator Theatre, and a small park. Lots of bus service up and down York Road.
Home Prices: Median home price is $216,000.
Craftsman and bungalow homes from the early 20th century
That’s right, Baltimore has its very own Beverly Hills. While it may not be home to as many celebrities as California’s famous counterpart, the Northeast Baltimore community enjoys a wealth of assets and amenities. This beautiful neighborhood near Herring Run Park was home to former Mayor Martin O’Malley until he took over the Governor’s Mansion. It also houses Zeke’s Coffee Roasters, which sometimes lends the neighborhood a delicious coffee aroma. On the National Register of Historic Places, homes here are eligible for multiple historic tax credits. Nearby Garrett Heights Elementary/Middle School, for which half the neighborhood is zoned, has a 10-year plan to convert to a public Montessori School.
Architecture: Craftsman and bungalow styles from the 19th century dot the community and feature pleasant, manageable yards.
Walk to: Restaurants and shops along Harford Road, including Maggie’s Farm and Koco’s Pub, home of the “best crab cakes in Baltimore.” Morgan State University is just a mile west, and I-95 is a short drive east, making possible a 15 minute trip to Canton, or a trip north out of the city, without the hassle of downtown traffic.
A planned community between Cross Keys and Cylburn Arboretum
Built in the 1970s as a planned living community, the neighborhood of Coldspring is nestled between the Village of Cross Keys and Cylburn Arboretum. The neighborhood stands out for its abundance of green space and two large condo communities: Coldspring Newtown and The Woodlands, which together comprise about 300 homes. The Newtown community boasts many amenities, including an Olympic size swimming pool, tennis courts, pedestrian walking paths and a bird sanctuary. Ideal for those commuting by highway and light rail, the neighborhood is bordered by Northern Parkway and Green- spring Avenue, with plenty of resident parking and serene, quiet surroundings.
Architecture: A combination of modern condominiums, townhomes and apartments, with plenty of inviting green space.
Walk To: Baltimore’s 200-acre urban oasis, Cylburn Arboretum, which is free to the public and open year-round. The nature sanctuary offers gardening and nature classes for all ages and hosts a full calendar of special events.
The neighborhood is also home to the Waldorf School of Baltimore and Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center and sits just across Greenspring Avenue from Sinai Hospital.
Between Mt. Washington and Pikesville, a walkable, affordable neighborhood
Cross Country is between Mt. Washington and Pikesville in the northwest corner of Baltimore City. Wide sidewalks make it a pleasantly walkable neighborhood, and many of its residents walk to their synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath and high holidays. Additionally, it is within the North Baltimore eruv, a ritual enclosure designed to ease Sabbath restrictions for observant Jews. There is lots of shopping on Reisterstown Road and also in nearby Mt. Washington Village.
Home styles: A wide variety, mostly built in the 1950s and ’60s. Split levels, ranchers, apartments, and rowhouses coexist. Lots tend to be on the smaller side.
Home prices: Since 2015, the median price in Cross Country has risen by half, to its current $143,750.
Walk to: Parks, schools, synagogue.
A short walk to the Waverly Farmers’ Market
Home to the original Oriole Park at 25th Street and Greenmount Avenue during the 1880s, the re-energized community of Harwood exists just south of the new community center at 29th Street. The tight-knit residential neighborhood is part of both the Johns Hopkins University patrol route and the Charles Village Community Benefits District, which provides extra trash collection and street cleanup. Homes in the area and surrounding businesses are decorated by mosaics created by artist and longtime Harwood resident, Tamara Payne.
Architecture: Two and three-story brick row homes built in the early 1900s with wide tree-lined sidewalks and well-maintained front gardens. Note to buyers: 11 of Harwood’s 14 city blocks are eligible for Baltimore’s Healthy Neighborhoods programs, which help strong, undervalued neighborhoods grow through grants and low-interest loans for homebuyers.
Walk To: The 29th Street Community Center, with a brand new playground, is one block away, offering classes from Zumba to Math Club, enrichment programs and family-friendly events year round. Next door is Barclay Elementary/Middle School, which benefits from financial partnerships with both Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College, and offers a comprehensive after-school program. The neighborhood is one mile north of Penn Station, walking distance from Johns Hopkins University and just blocks away from the popular Waverly Farmers’ Market.
Leakin Park and Gwynns Falls are neighboring green spaces
With Leakin Park and the adjoining Gwynns Falls Park virtually at their doorsteps, Hunting Ridge residents enjoy the large houses, tall trees and peaceful quiet of a suburban setting conveniently located near urban amenities, as well as easy access to I-695 and I-70. This attractive, multi-cultural community in West Baltimore takes pride in well-kept yards and awards a coveted “Hunting Ridge Horn” award (a yard sign) to the best-looking yard each month. The community was developed in 1926, with portions designated as a historic district today. The neighborhood association publishes a quarterly newsletter and hosts a number of events throughout the year including an annual picnic, a holiday progressive dinner, a spring cleanup and gardening days.
Architecture: Large, well-kept stone and brick colonials and bungalows — many of them historic — surrounded by ample yards and public parks.
Walk To: Over 1,000 acres of wilderness playground make up the area’s two local parks, Leakin Park and Gwynns Falls, with hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, playing fields, tennis courts, and more. Hunting Ridge’s Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is one of only four IB (International Baccalaureate) schools in Baltimore, offering students special programming to develop the skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world. The school is also a Maryland Green School, participating in “green” programming such as recycling and composting, attractive playgrounds with nature trails, eco-friendly gardens, and lesson plans focusing on local environmental issues and professional practices.
Spacious yards and colorful gardens, just east of York Road
Located on the east side of York Road north of Northern Parkway, Lake Walker was farmland just a century ago. Fittingly, an abundance of green space has been preserved, and it’s sometimes hard to remember that Lake Walker is still (just) within the city limits. Plant-filled yards attest to the neighborhood’s many avid gardeners who sponsor a popular plant sale each spring. Residents tend to be eco-conscious and work to retain and improve the natural beauty of the area. In September, this open and friendly community holds a well-attended block party.
Home styles: A pleasant mix of two- and three-story frame cottages, large Tudor townhomes, bungalows, brick townhomes, and even a few apartments. Spacious yards and colorful gardens knit together a range of homes.
Walk to: Upscale Belvedere Square with its array of restaurants and shops, including Atwater’s, Ceriello Fine Food, and Grand Cru wine bar and shop. Also, walk to the Senator Theatre and York Road shopping. Good bus service on both Northern Parkway and York Road.
Home Prices: The median price is $214,000, compared to nearby Cedarcroft, where home prices can be double that.
Homeowners love this “hamlet in the heart of town”
Near both Lake Montebello and Herring Run Park, Mayfield is often associated with its better-known neighbor, Lauraville. The overwhelming majority of homes in Mayfield are owner-occupied, and residents tend to stick around. Surrounded on three sides by green space, Mayfield is called “a hamlet in the heart of town” and boasts a neighborhood newsletter, block parties, and community projects throughout the year. Children play safely on quiet streets, and many attend St. Francis of Assisi (a top Baltimore Catholic school).
Home styles: If you ever wanted to renovate a historic home, this is the place. A variety of solid, even stately, well-maintained homes offer architectural features like inlaid wood floors, stained glass, and ornate iron fencing.
Walk to: The great outdoors. Lake Montebello has a jogging/cycling track, wildlife, and sunset-over- water views. Clifton Park has a municipal golf course. And Herring Run has miles of walking trails and playing fields. A short drive to Harford Road takes you to the Hamilton Tavern, Maggie’s Farm, Red Canoe, and more dining locations.
Home Prices: A comfortable median of $187,400.
South of Roland Park, north of Hampden, and family friendly
Medfield is a quiet, family-friendly community, tucked in west of Falls Road between neighboring Roland Park and Hampden. The Medfield Community Association keeps residents up-to-date on community activities with a lively monthly newspaper. Medfield has been identified as one of Live Baltimore’s 5 Star Family Friendly Neighborhoods in the organization’s “Way To Stay” program, which focuses on helping families to stay and grow in Baltimore City. Med eld meets the criteria by offering affordable houses, kids in the neighborhood, walkability to shops and restaurants in Hampden, and a great public school. Med eld Heights Elementary School, one of Baltimore’s top-rated public schools, has one of the most culturally diverse student bodies in the city. It offers small class sizes, onsite aftercare, many extracurricular programs and the promise of a brand new building as part of the 21st Century School Initiative.
Architecture: Medfield offers a range of home types, from brick row homes to ranch houses, bungalows and apartment buildings.
Walk To: Medfield is less than a mile from the restaurants and cafes along Cold Spring Lane in Roland Park, and Loyola University just beyond. A few blocks east up 41st Street are grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants. “The Avenue” in Hampden is also a short distance away. Nearby Woodberry hosts high-end restaurants, bars and recreation, and the soon-to-open Union Collective off 41st Street will offer craft beer, locally made whiskey and a branch of Earth Treks climbing gym
Terraced homes, a short walk from Johns Hopkins University
Built in 1916, the tight-knit community of Oakenshawe just celebrated its centennial with a Valentine’s Tea Party and plant sale. If that sounds too quaint for your taste, they’ve also partnered with a nearby brewery to produce a custom-brewed “Oakenshawe Amber Ale.” Known for its camaraderie, Oakenshawe holds an Easter Egg Hunt in the spring, a Halloween Parade in October, and a Terrace Party in the fall. Families in Oakenshawe choose among private schools, charter schools, and the newly rebuilt public zoned school — Waverly Elementary.
Home styles: Terraced rowhouses in stone and stucco with slate roofs. Old, leafy trees line mostly quiet streets, adding to the architectural appeal. The Commission for Historical and Architectural
Preservation (CHAP) offers tax credits for renovations done to a historically correct standard, which are available in this Historic District.
Walk to: Johns Hopkins University (where many residents work), the Waverly Farmers Market, the new Waverly branch of the Enoch Pratt Library, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Union Memorial Hospital, and dozens of Charles Village restaurants.
Oakenshawe is well served by city bus service on University Parkway.
Home prices: The median price for homes is just under $200,000, with a steady annual increase, in recent years, of nine percent, and proximity to much higher-priced homes in nearby Guilford.
Living here is a ma er of pride and status to South Baltimoreans
On the southern edge of the downtown business district, Ridgely’s Delight is best known for its proximity to Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium. Despite its closeness to the game, Ridgely’s Delight retains a small-scale, historic charm, and living here is a matter of status and pride to its residents, who point to its standing as one of the Baltimore Sun’s Best Niche Neighborhoods. Diverse and friendly, the neighborhood shows its abundant esprit de corps with a newsletter, local happy hours, holiday parties, and community cleanups. Dating from the mid-19th century, Ridgely’s Delight will fascinate amateur historians delving into the neighborhood’s past.
Home styles: Historic, Federal-style brick row- houses, on the small side, but with lots of charm and eligible for those historic CHAP tax credits.
Walk to: Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, the Babe Ruth Museum, University of Maryland Hospital, the Corner Bistro and Wine Bar, Quigley’s Half Irish Pub, a mini-mart, and the ever-popular, unsinkable Pickle’s Pub. There’s a close MARC train stop for DC commuters. Parking permits for residents are often rented on game days.
Home Prices: Median is $225,000, a $50,000 increase since 2012.
A family neighborhood, where stoop-sitting is a social event
When they’ve outgrown their cherished but noisy Federal Hill, many young professionals head a few blocks south to Riverside, where long-time residents have been living the good life for years. Riverside is justifiably proud of its highly rated Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School. Nearby Francis Scott Key is another public elementary and middle school, with brand-new STEM classrooms and strong community involvement. At the center of it all is Leone Riverside Park, with ball fields, basketball courts, a playground, and a public outdoor swimming pool. Stoop-sitting with neighbors is popular on evenings and weekends.
Home styles: Brick rowhouses, mostly built in the early 1900s, with parking pads in the back.
Walk To: Anything in Federal Hill or Locust Point — Ft. McHenry, Southside Marketplace, Harris Teeter at McHenry Row — plus the park. You can catch the free Downtown Circulator bus on both Light Street and Key Highway.
Home Prices: In recent years, the median price in this popular neighborhood has climbed to $319,000.
Rolling hills and streets with an old-fashioned feeling
A few miles west and a little south of downtown Baltimore, Westgate adjoins Catonsville. With the unique feature of having homes on both sides of the Baltimore City/Baltimore County border, it also has a memorable slogan, “West- gate is the best gate.” Popular with DC commuters and families working in both Baltimore and DC, Westgate’s rolling hills and narrow streets have an old-fashioned feeling popular with families. It offers easy access to BWI (a 15-minute drive) as well as the Halethorpe MARC train station. Home styles: An eclectic mix of spacious homes — bungalows, cottages, American Foursquares and Dutch Colonials — most with wide front porches and their original hardwood floors. Walk to: With quiet streets and wide sidewalks, Westgate is great for social walking, children biking, and baby strollers. On-street parking is easy and free. For dining and shopping, it’s a short drive to Catonsville or downtown Baltimore. Home Prices: Median prices are a little lower on the city side ($176,500) than the county side ($190,000). Are city taxes higher? Yes, but if you plan to stay a while, the borrowing cost on the more expensive home will put you at about the same overall cost.
Residents and houses are a nice mix of the old and the new
You probably know Woodberry for its award-winning restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen, its craft breweries, and artist studios, but did you know that it has a vibrant residential community? Backing up to the wooded slopes of Druid Hill Park and the Jones Falls Trail, Woodberry is home to TV Hill, the high- est point in Baltimore and broadcast base for many local radio and TV stations. Many of its former textile mills have been repurposed, and it is a National Historic District, with tax credits available for appropriate home renovations. Residents are a nice mix of the old and the new (average age is 34) with a strong neighborhood association and a well-regarded public elementary school in nearby Medfield.
Home styles: From old mill-worker houses to ultra- contemporary, green-certified park-side homes, to new apartments and condos featuring a jaw-dropping outdoor pool — Woodberry offers many choices when house hunting. There are some, but not lots, of freestanding houses with big yards.
Walk to: A huge network of trails and parks. Artifact Coffee, Blue Pit BBQ, Meadow Mill gym, and most of Hampden, hon. There’s a Light Rail stop at Woodberry that can have you downtown in minutes and good driving access to I-83.
Home prices: The median home price for Wood- berry is $195,000.