Summer housing in Baltimore
April 24, 2014 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for accommodation in Baltimore in July/August for 5-7 weeks. I'm from the UK and I have no idea where to start, which parts of the town are safe, transport links, what normal rent is like in the area etc.

I'm a mid-20s female student from the UK. I'll be doing an informal placement type of thing at JHU (so probably not eligible for their summer housing programme). My priorities are:

- Commutable to Johns Hopkins hospital using public transport
- SAFETY: both neighbourhood and living arrangements (so would probably prefer not to go for AirBnB/craigslist etc)
- Budget: $700-1000/month (I have no idea what US rents are like, and am willing to go up for safety)

I would appreciate any help!
posted by pikeandshield to Travel & Transportation around Baltimore, MD (9 answers total)
There's nothing intrinsically unsafe about sublets offered on Craigslist. They have some helpful guidelines that you should read about how to stay safe and avoid getting scammed, but most housing situations in Baltimore do get posted on Craigslist (unless they're offered exclusively through personal/social networks), so I would definitely look there.

Hopkins operates its own shuttle that runs between the hospital and the Homewood campus, so anywhere near either of those would work well for you. Charles Village is a neighborhood near the Homewood campus that is very safe and popular among students, and I'm sure there will be many rooms available for summer sublet for that same reason. A typical share price in that area is around $500/month (I'm assuming you're open to renting a bedroom in a shared apartment, as opposed to requiring your own unit).
posted by telegraph at 12:16 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a shuttle that runs between various JHU campuses that's free for students/employees -- it'll take you to the hospital. There's an easy pickup spot in Mount Vernon, and if I were you, that's where I would concentrate on trying to find a place. It's a nice neighborhood, lots of places to hang out, get groceries, etc, within walking distance, and it's *relatively* cheap. In 2010, it was possible to get a 1br there in an alright low-rise building for about $900/mo (on a 1-year lease). I would check the sublets section of Craigslist for other places to look, though.

The area by Homewood (Charles Village or maybe Roland Park (fancier) or Waverly (less fancy)) is also nice, but not as walkable and filled with undergrads. The cheapest places to stay around there are probably in Waverly, where you'd be looking at getting a room in a rowhouse. It's slightly more dangerous than Charles Village, but the real problem over there (I think) is that a lot of those rowhouses are undergrad housing and are *dirty,* and once one house in that row has vermin, they *all* tend to have vermin. That was the main issue I had while staying over there, anyway. It's also a bit far from the shuttle stops. Back in 2008, my (nice) studio on the edge of Roland Park right by Homewood was about $800/mo, my sublet room in a Waverly rowhouse was $320/mo, and in 2007, I shared a 1br in Charles Village that had a total rent of about $1000/mo. The prices over there are a bit inflated (because of the undergrads), and are likely significantly higher now, but because there are so many students, so there might be plentiful (and cheap?) places to sublet.

Hampden is cheaper in terms of rent and relatively walkable, but transportation is a little tough from there. Hampden (also relatively close to Homewood) is pretty similar to a more UK-style neighborhood, where it feels almost like its own little village. About five years ago, you could sublet a room in a well-maintained rowhouse there for less than $500/mo.

There are other places you might want to check out, like Fells Point -- the above are just the neighborhoods where I've personally worked/lived. You might want to check out the route for the Hopkins shuttle before deciding on which neighborhoods you're most interested in, too. The city buses in Baltimore are alright, but they don't tend to run as often and they're obviously not free, so I'd personally stick with the shuttle if possible (and if you're going to have a Hopkins ID?).
posted by rue72 at 12:46 PM on April 24, 2014

Don't forget the Charm City Circulator, which is free, convenient and was safe for a large white male tourist when I visited last month. That might expand your possibilities some.
posted by Floydd at 1:08 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

The subway in Baltimore also runs to the hospital and would be a decent option for getting around (though its only one line so you have to live and want to go where it goes, such as to the hospital). But honestly, I agree that the free JHU shuttle (so long as you will have a Johns Hopkins ID) is your best bet for moving around.

The Midtown-Belvedere neighborhood would be ideal; served by the shuttle, slightly cheaper than Mt. Vernon proper even though it's next door (it gets called Mt. Vernon all the time), eminently walkable, near the train station for trips to DC and NYC, near lots of other transit to see the rest of this great city. The other neighborhoods mentioned would be good too.

Craigslist is the go-to source for apartments here. Nothing sketchy about it. Use the map view to see what neighborhoods listings are in. Don't consider any listings that don't include photos.
posted by postel's law at 1:29 PM on April 24, 2014

I would point out that a week to week or two month max rental is not a common thing. You are going to have much better luck meeting your needs by renting a room from AirBnB or Craigslist.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:08 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The neighborhood just south of Charles Village (trying to rename itself "Old Goucher" in recent years, but prior to that called "Lower Charles Village") is less undergrad-y and slightly less expensive than Charles Village proper (or at least it was five years ago).

I suspect that you're going to feel less safe in the US generally, based on other expats' friends experiences here. I know I've felt more safe (to a perhaps risky extent) in Europe than in the US. So I think you may have an adjustment there regardless of the actual crime rate in your neighborhood.

I agree with the neighborhood recommendations above, generally, but have always found Fells dicey from a safety perspective, since it's a bar district. And as someone who lived in Baltimore without a car, the transportation options in Mount Vernon/Midtown are going to be the best -- as postel's law said, Charles Village is pretty good in terms of bus lines, but doesn't have easy access to the Metro or Light Rail, which are good if you need to get out the suburbs for shopping.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:22 PM on April 24, 2014

Response by poster: That's a good point, DarlingBri. If there are specific recommendations for something short-term like this that'll be great.

I'm open to sublets and sharing kitchens/bathrooms etc. Not certain yet about a JH ID, but I think that'll be possible.

Thanks all for the advice so far.
posted by pikeandshield at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2014

The Charm City Circulator is free and opens you up to quite a few more neighborhoods. I work adjacent to the Hopkins Medical Campus, and though I drive in, quite a few of my friends and colleagues commute by bus or shuttle or just walk. For the Circulator, take a peek at the neighborhoods the Green Route runs through. Neighborhoods that are walkable or available on the circulator are Butcher's Hill, Fells Point/Upper Fells and possibly Canton (a little further). All are generally safe and Butcher's Hill in particular might be a bit more affordable.

Otherwise, the recommendations for Hamden, Charles Village and Mt. Vernon are also good, and you should be able to make your way in by bus or shuttle.
posted by goggie at 6:30 PM on April 24, 2014

Which JHU campus are you going to be at?

Edit: oh, sorry, just saw you said the hospital
posted by spbmp at 6:45 PM on April 24, 2014

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