Tired of paying high rent in D.C.? Don’t mind riding the train for an hour or more? Or getting shot? Move to Baltimore!
A new ad campaign is trying to persuade Washingtonians to relocate to Maryland’s biggest city because it’s cheaper to live there.
The campaign – which was initiated by the nonprofit civic booster Live Baltimore and first reported by The Baltimore Sun — says housing prices in Baltimore are so low that you might be better off living in Charm City and commuting to D.C. The campaign’s ads compare a $669,000 house near Union Station in the nation’s capital to a comparable home costing $299,000 near Baltimore’s Penn Station.
The ads, part of a broader effort to sell Baltimore to Washingtonians, have run in social media, Washington City Paper and on MARC trains, which connect the two cities.
According to the Sun the number of people commuting from Baltimore to D.C. for work has nearly doubled in recent years, from about 3,000 to about 5,940, according to most recent American Community Survey estimates from the U.S. Census. The Maryland Transit Administration, which runs MARC, also reports a small uptick in the number of people traveling to D.C. from the city.
Ernst Valery, a developer hoping to break ground on an apartment building near Penn Station, told the Sun that Baltimore has the potential to “be a bigger city than D.C.,” that Baltimore has “grit,” and that “D.C. feels like a Disneyland sometimes.”
Eugene Poverni, a principal at Poverni Sheikh Group, also described his ambitions for Baltimore as being the next Jersey City or Brooklyn, apparently because of its proximity to Disneyland, the Sun reported.
Live Baltimore executive director Steven Gondol, who made the move from D.C. to Baltimore about 12 years ago, said he thought the city was more “easy-going,” compared with work-a-holic D.C.
“It’s not ‘Where do you work?’ or ‘What do you do?’ — but ‘What are you doing this weekend?'” Gondol said. “In Baltimore, living is just so much easier.”
If you manage to stay alive. Isn’t it also possible that Baltimore’s housing prices are so low and its residents are in short supply because the city is a little troubled?
Last year, you may recall, a section of the city erupted in riots after 25-year-old Freddie Gray died from injuries suffered in police custody. Six officers face charges in connection with Gray’s death. The riots exposed long-simmering tensions in the city’s poor communities where residents have felt ignored and left behind as other parts of the city have prospered. Last year also happened to be the deadliest year on record in Baltimore since the 1990s. A few years before that, the city’s dangerous, gang-run jail became a national scandal.
Once upon time, Baltimore was all that. In 1970, almost 906,000 people, or nearly 1 of every 4 Marylanders, lived there, and its docks and mills helped keep the lights on in a lot of other places around the state. Now it’s the other way around.
The population has shrunk to an estimated 623,000 people, and the rest of Maryland is now paying a lot of its bills. The Maryland Reporter, in one of many stories analyzing the city’s deeply entrenched woes, said 20,123 taxpayers left Baltimore and 18,361 became city residents, making for a net reduction of 1,762. That also translated into a net decline of $314,908,000 “or about -3.05% of the static tax base,” the article says.
So “grit” isn’t doing it for a lot of folks. Besides, if by “grit” you mean danger and dysfunction, D.C. still has a lot of that, too, and not just on Capitol Hill.
So, hey, Baltimore – you still have a lot going for you. You have one of the coolest museums around, the American Visionary Art Museum. You have one of the finest fish bowls in the land, the National Aquarium. Your favorite sons and daughters include John Waters and Anne Tyler. David Simon immortalized you in “The Wire.” Barry Levinson did the same with “Diner.” The city was H.L. Mencken’s playpen. It’s the home of the Orioles, Cal Ripken and Camden Yards. It was the home of writer Edgar Allan Poe. (Never mind that Poe liked Richmond, Va., a lot more. Or that Baltimore returned its affection by helping Edgar liquor up and kill himself at the age of 40.)
But still — it’s a nice place to visit. I just wouldn’t want to live there.
–This article has been updated to a correct a second reference to Live Baltimore and the time frame of its executive director’s move there, and the misattribution of a developer’s remarks.