Johns Hopkins job--where to live in or near Baltimore?
July 17, 2014 8:06 PM   Subscribe

My cousin has a job offer at Johns Hopkins (Homewood campus) and is considering a move to Baltimore--but where to live? They have a young kid and so need a good school and a short, preferably car-less commute to work, and would like a walkable, safe area--does this pretty much rule out the city? Coming from brownstone Brooklyn, which they like in most respects. Suggestions?
posted by agent99 to Travel & Transportation around Baltimore, MD (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No, it does not rule out the city, not at all. As a former Brooklynite who relocated to Baltimore back in 2006, the change in cost of living will mean there's a wealth of options available to them in this otherwise fairly expensive Northeastern city.

If they want literal brownstones, Mt. Vernon is the place to go — it really is the same exact architecture, the grand old, better-than-sex estates that used to be the homes of robber barons in the Gilded Age. (That may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the idea — they really DO look the same and ARE just as beautiful and huge.) But half of them have been split up into apartments (not unlike in Brooklyn). The rest, though, are still amazingly impressive old homes with high ceilings, incredibly beautiful detail, etc. But expect to pay near-Brooklyn prices for those places.

Mt. Vernon also isn't exactly "car-less" from Homewood, unless you're very fit and enjoy walking 30-45 minutes each way to work. Public transit is pretty decent in that area, though. And honestly, cars are not that unreasonable an option, especially if your frame of reference is Brooklyn. (For folks relocating to Baltimore from most other places I'd say it's not an option, but Brooklynites will probably find it a refreshingly easy adjustment.)

I reside in Canton and have a business in Fells Point, both of which are waterfront neighborhoods and a bit removed from JHU Homewood and the Charles Village area that surrounds it. So I'm not that much of an expert on that particular area, which is why I will, at this point, defer to others.
posted by CommonSense at 8:44 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

That doesn't rule out the city. Roland Park is a kind-of-fancy, family-oriented neighborhood by Homewood Campus. It's also relatively walkable (though life in Baltimore is often much easier with a car, because the public transpo isn't fantastic, at least compared to NYC). Technically, it abuts the campus (the area right behind the stadium is already Roland Park -- apartment buildings like the Broadview, for example, is technically in that neighborhood).
posted by rue72 at 8:45 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's a shuttle from Mt. Vernon to the JHU Homewood Campus. Peabody (JHU's music conservatory) is in Mt. Vernon.

Living in Roland Park without a car might be tough, especially with a kid. Roland Park is beautiful, though (though in a different way from Brooklyn brownstones, mostly.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:20 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

With the caveat that I know NOTHING about the school systems here, I can speak to right around Homewood. I live in the building that rue72 mentioned, the Broadview, right across the street from campus. North of campus is a bunch of high-rise apartment complexes that are primarily made up of grad school students and single adults. I've got friend in many of these (the Carlyle, Hopkins House, Halstead) and they're all perfectly fine but nothing special. West of campus is Hampden, a mix of blue collar older families and young hipster types. Highly walkable, relatively safe, individual houses are hit or miss, and the neighborhoods quirks aren't for everyone. South of campus is Remington. This neighborhood is up and coming but not quite there yet, and I don't know if I'd move there with a kid. East of campus is Charles Village, which is full of undergrads and grad students, but is also quite walkable and has some lovely homes. Crime is a bit higher here, but is primarily cell phone theft and things like that.

The shuttle that was linked to above is really helpful to get to Mt Vernon, which sounds like it might be your cousin's style. It picks up right in front of Peabody Institute and drops off along the east side of Homewood campus.

Feel free to MeMail me if you have particular questions! I just moved here to work at Homewood two years ago.
posted by JannaK at 4:08 AM on July 18, 2014

I moved to Mount Vernon from Brooklyn in 2009 and I think that's probably the best spot although be warned that there is no close grocery story in that neighborhood.
posted by josher71 at 7:13 AM on July 18, 2014

Echoing what everyone else said about Roland Park. Nice, old-suburbs style neighborhood, but not great without a car.

I lived in Mount Vernon for a few years. Lots of good bars and restaurants, but I can't think of too much to do with a young kid. My daughter's daycare is right near the Washington Monument, and occasionally we'll hang out in the park after I pick her up, but other than that, there isn't much. The Enoch Pratt Library is great, but she's a little young to be able to enjoy it.

Hampden isn't really very blue collar these days. It's more populated by 30 and 40-somethings that purchase their entire wardrobes at REI. Lots of families, wide variety of restaurants along 36th Street and there's a great area that front on Wyman Park that would be great for someone with young kids or dogs(example). There's a few apartment buildings along Beech Drive, but I can't really vouch for their quality.

I live right on the border of Charles Village and Remington (right across the street from this restaurant). Lots of young families in both neighborhoods. Charles Village has a very active parents group, and Margaret Brent Elementary is supposed to be very good. Wyman Park is within walking distance, as is the Baltimore Museum of Art. Remington is seeing a lot of new development, with a large central mixed use project planned for construction this year. We've never had problems with anything other than petty theft, but I think it depends on where you live. I probably wouldn't live west of Huntingdon or south of 27th St, partly because of crime, partly because it's just farther from anything I'd like to walk to. Remington tends to skew younger and hipper than CV, but both have strong neighborhood organizations.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:14 AM on July 18, 2014

If you're willing to drive to work, your options really open up into some awesome neighborhoods: Roland Park, Mount Washington, Poplar Hill. However, Keswick, just south of Roland Park (and sometimes considered part of it) and Tuscany-Canterbury are walkable to the Homewood campus. No matter where you live in Baltimore, you're going to want a car.
posted by spaltavian at 7:32 AM on July 18, 2014

I would say that Roland Park and Mt. Vernon are safe bets in terms of public schools for young children. There are a host of good charter school options, but that runs on a lottery and most are pysically located in kind of less accessible neighborhoods if you don't have a car. The free Hopkins shuttle is definitely a workable option and the neighborhoods that are serviced by them are generally fairly stable, safe spots. I work near the Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore, and my colleage commutes from the Guilford neighborhood here daily and has been without a car for a couple of years now. I lived in Remington until my son was born a bit over 5 years ago, and loved it, but as others have said it's definitely still a bit of a work in progress. You may want to check out Live Baltimore as a starting point to learn more about specific neighborhoods.
posted by goggie at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2014

Mt. Vernon also isn't exactly "car-less" from Homewood, unless you're very fit and enjoy walking 30-45 minutes each way to work. Public transit is pretty decent in that area, though.

It is car-less, because of the shuttle (I work at homewood and live in Mt Vernon, commuting on the shuttle). Living in Mt Vernon is great and IMO the best car-less option for someone working at Homewood (Hampden is maybe second place).

However, the biggest issue is that they have a kid. I think they'll need to focus on advice from people who have direct experience with options in the city or elsewhere (I don't personally have this), as this is likely going to have to be the main decision point in their strategy. Baltimore public schools are overall ...not great, with a few very specific exceptions. Not even remotely comparable to Brooklyn, from what I understand. For better or worse, the majority of people who work at JHU seem to either eventually move to the suburbs for school-related reasons, or eventually send their children to a private school (there are some good ones, but $$$). Most people I know with families who do live in the city are in the Remington / S Charles Village / Waverley spectrum (which is the Margaret Brent area mostly, though I can't speak directly to that school), but this might be about who I know as much as anything.

From what I've heard, a similar issue more just about demand and waiting lists etc. arises with daycare if that's relevant (JHU currently offers none).
posted by advil at 8:24 AM on July 18, 2014

JHU does have daycare, but there's very long waitlist and I think it mainly serves the medical campus so it's unlikely that you'd get a spot. They're expanding their current program to the Homewood campus soon, but I think it's still like a year out.

Margaret Brent, Hampden Elementary and Roland Park Elementary are bright spots in a generally terrible school system. I have neighbors/friends with school age kids who are pretty happy with both, but I haven't looked into it too deeply.

I know plenty of people in my neighborhood that don't have cars. Most don't have kids, or have a stay at home parent, but it's definitely do-able. Southern CV and Remington are within walking distance of a Safeway, and Hampden has a Giant, plus there's grocery delivery services from both stores. Childcare might be the deciding factor between car/no car, as there's not a whole lot of daycare centers in the area.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:34 AM on July 18, 2014

JHU does have daycare, but there's very long waitlist and I think it mainly serves the medical campus so it's unlikely that you'd get a spot.

Sorry, to be clear, Homewood does not have daycare. There's been a big furor because someone recently pointed out, in combination with an extremely successful petition, that we are the only university (main) campus in the top (20? 50? 100? something big) ranked schools that doesn't have daycare even for faculty, let alone staff; it seems like this will actually lead to daycare on homewood, but not for a while yet. My guess from what they said last fall was more like 2 years thinking realistically (and the first version is likely to be in temporary buildings), but I haven't heard more recent updates so they might be moving faster.
posted by advil at 1:01 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

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