Finding a place to sleep near the fishes...
April 11, 2007 7:35 PM   Subscribe

Should I hire someone to find me a rental in Baltimore?

I'm going to have less than two weeks to move to Baltimore. I want to live in the city, with my dog and two cats, near public transportation, for under US$1,000 a month, preferably near Charles Village, Wyman Park or Hampden (although I'm open to other areas). I'm coming from Detroit. I start work on 7 May, last day of work here is the 23rd. I will be in Baltimore from the 25th to the 28th for the physical and house hunting.

How hard is it going to be for me to find and put a deposit on a suitable place in the time I have? Should I just hire someone? I know that business folks do something like that. I don't have a ton of money, but I don't have a ton of time, either. If hiring someone is an option, how do I find these people and what should I pay them?
posted by QIbHom to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to live near Charles Village or Wyman Park, you might try the rentals part of the Johns Hopkins Gazette classifieds.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:41 PM on April 11, 2007

Best answer: In my experience, not too many people hire someone to find them a rental in Baltimore. Everyone I know up there just found something themselves. Check out the City Paper classifieds and Baltimore Craigslist and try to contact people to set something up for the weekend you'll be in town. You may not have a ton of luck with Hopkins yet, since graduation isn't until after you start work IIRC, but you might find some stuff. Just do as much legwork as you can upfront, so that basically, all you have to do is check out the place, say yes/no, and start processing any paperwork.
posted by ml98tu at 8:11 PM on April 11, 2007

Best answer: Umm . . . this is Baltimore, not New York City. (I used to live in the latter; currently live in the former.) It's not that hard to find a place to rent, especially with the real estate marketing heading into the toilet as it is now.

I own nowadays, but from what I can tell, getting something sub-$1,000 isn't terribly, horrendously difficult. If you've got a few days to go look at places, I don't think you'll have any trouble. An ex of mine found a place to BUY in about that time (admittedly in suburban Columbia, but still).

My real estate agent (the guy who listed the home I now live in) is named Carl, and he can be reached at (410) 522-SOLD or Give him a buzz and he can set aside an afternoon or two to plow through some rentals with you. Tell them that -- uhh, the guy who bought the Johnsons' place on Fleet Street sent you. (What, you think I'm posting my real name on here?) ;-)
posted by CommonSense at 8:23 PM on April 11, 2007

Best answer: are you looking for a house or an apartment? there are a lot of nice apartments in the bolton hill neighborhood (sort of adjacent to charles village... ish). it's the neighborhood MICA's located (i went to school there). it's all really beautiful row houses (many, but not all of them recently restored). tree-lined, close to the light-rail with several bus stops, and with lots available for $1000 and under. a lot of the people who live there are college students, but there's a decent number of young families and actual functioning adults who live there, too. it's within either walking or biking distance from charles village, hampden, mount vernon, and even the harbor (i've done it, though it takes awhile on foot).

the neighborhood has a website with apartment listings here. just looking over it briefly, in terms of landlords i know, jeff and norma epstein are horrible people with overpriced properties, and i would avoid them. i was hoping my old landlords brad firlie and his wife anita had a listing, as they were the best landlords one could ever hope for, but it doesn't seem they do.

hm. there actually aren't as many listings on that page as i would have expected, but may 7 is right around MICA graduation, and a lot of people will be vacating, so campus bulletin boards and craigslist will be abuzz around the time you're there for househunting (oh, and MICA students... a fair number of them tend to live in nicer apartments than one might expect for college kids).
posted by wreckingball at 9:00 PM on April 11, 2007

Response by poster: wreckingball, that sounds like a fascinating neighbourhood, within walking distance of where I'll be working. Unfortunately, I am hoping for something with a small, fenced yard.

But, I'll definitely keep an eye on that website. Thank you. I had not run across that website before, although I've seen the odd craigslist ad for Bolton Hill.
posted by QIbHom at 9:16 PM on April 11, 2007

I doubt you'll find a house in those areas at that price (though you never know) However, I believe this place rents apartments that are actually divided private homes, and some may have back yard access. If I'm remembering correctly, a few of the apartments I looked at through them were occupied by tenants with dogs.

Also, I'm not sure whether you want access to public transportation so you have that option or because you won't have a car. If you won't have a car, spend some time checking out bus routes before you commit to an apartment. I've lived in Charles Village without a car, and the Baltimore bus system is kind of shitty.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:01 PM on April 11, 2007

Best answer: $1000 should rent you a pretty decent place in Charles Village or Hampden. Keep in mind that if you're renting an entire house you may have to pay for the heat, which can be pretty pricey for some of the older places. I just bought a house in Charles Village and while I pay a little over $1000 for the mortgage, the heat is about $200 a month. If you need any additional info about the neighborhood, email is in my profile.
posted by electroboy at 7:16 AM on April 12, 2007

I doubt hiring someone is a good option. You wouldn't be paying enough (I don't think) to get someone (if you could even find someone) to put in a ton of time and make it a big priority - and who knows how trustworthy they would be. And your timeline is tight, so you're screwed if they don't come through.

A yard is going to be tough at that price, but not entirely impossible. Hampden is probably your best bet for that.

I'll ask around and see if anyone I know has any info on something open or about to open up. If you need someone to go take a photo or two for you, or see if a place is completely crappy, I can probably pitch in some time (pro bono).
posted by KAS at 7:25 AM on April 12, 2007

Best answer: I just moved to Baltimore in January, and we found a rowhouse with a small fenced yard near Charles Village (more in Waverly, really) for $1000 a month. I think that if we looked a little harder, we could've found something cheaper, but 800-1000 is about the price range you're looking at for a 2 bedroom place. It's really not going to be difficult unless you're super picky.

We found this through craigslist--we just made a list of places within our price range that we found on craigslist, called and made appointments to see them, spent a threeday weekend here in a hotel, and had a lease signed within days. There are for rent signs up all over the place, too, so if you have free time on one of your days here, walk around near Johns-Hopkins and call places.

It's also worth noting that the "suburbs" here are a lot closer than they probably sound like they are when you read about the area online. It's perfectly reasonable to live in, say, Towson and work somewhere near Charles Village, and you can often find nicer places out a little further. Just check the bus schedules.

If you want more info from someone who doesn't necessarily know the area super well, but did just go through moving here, drop me email.
posted by hought20 at 9:40 AM on April 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, gang. The consensus seems to be that I should do my homework, and chill. And, so I will.

I promise to be back to mark best answers after the move.

If anyone happens to see an interesting for rent sign, my e-mail is in my profile...

posted by QIbHom at 8:10 PM on April 12, 2007

Response by poster: I ended up renting a lovely row house in Patterson Park from a landlord who was on Craigslist, and willing to do a lot by e-mail. Basically, we e-mailed back and forth a bit, set up a time for me to see the place, and 5 hours later, we agreed I had the place. 4 days later, I moved in.

Tight enough to be scary, but you guys were right, I just needed to do my homework. I must appreciate you all calming some of my pre-move jitters.
posted by QIbHom at 3:08 PM on May 10, 2007

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