When I moved to Baltimore in 2008, the city’s legendary cheap rent was a major draw. Live in an artistically thriving community within a mid-size city for 200 bucks a month (in an apartment with four of my friends)? Sign me up.
Three years later, faced with the prospect of moving out of my foreclosed Waverly apartment with my wife and infant child, Baltimore no longer seems quite so cheap. There are no affordable options in Mt. Vernon, Charles Village or Hampden. Even Waverly is giving us guff; the only reasonable apartments are deeper into the neighborhood, further away from Hopkins’ Homewood campus.
The problem is compounded when you’re a full-fledged family. When we were preparing for our child, my wife and I were considering many new expenses, but we never thought that having a kid would drive up our rent. Effectively it has. Communal living is less tenable with a baby, and we’ve found many landlords will refuse to even show us their one-bedroom apartments because we’re three people.
What gives? Is the JHU expansion putting pressure on the housing market? Are landlords with dollar signs in their eyes jumping the gun on the projected revitalization of their neighborhoods, and tenants, a notoriously disempowered population, are just taking it? Sure, there are still good deals to be found if you’re willing to live with six or seven other people in a dangerous part of town. But is that for everyone?