The eastern seaboard of the United States is among the busiest, far-ranging urban regions worldwide. It’s dotted with major cities, creating one of the most significant economic outputs. The heart of this region is the section called the mid-Atlantic. The stretch contains cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
Maryland is directly in the midst of this exciting region. People know it for the Chesapeake Bay, which provides abundant fishing and a robust mining industry. While Maryland has been inhabited for centuries by Native American tribes followed by European settlers, it stands today as a bastion of opportunity for the modern American. It’s among the top 15 safest states, and even though it is a more expensive place to live, the cost of living is well worth the benefits. Young adults just graduating college and looking to kick start their careers will find plenty to like about Maryland.
With a focus on affordability, safety, and opportunity, here are the 10 best places to live in Maryland in 2023.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Rockville – Montgomery County
- 2. Columbia – Howard County
- 3. Gaithersburg – Montgomery County
- 4. Brunswick – Frederick County
- 5. Silver Spring – Montgomery County
- 6. Bel Air – Harford County
- 7. North Laurel – Howard County
- 8. Cockeysville – Baltimore County
- 9. Glenarden – Prince George’s County
- 10. White Marsh – Baltimore County
1. Rockville – Montgomery County
Early Native Americans inhabited Rockville before the Europeans arrived. The modern iteration came to be in the 1700s, owing much of its growth to the development of railroad routes during the early twentieth century. This allowed it to be connected to nearby Washington, D.C., causing a boom in population. Today. Rockville is home to 69,512 permanent residents.
Buying property in Rockville isn’t totally out of reach for young professionals. The median home cost is around $593,500, slightly higher than average. However, those are the costs that come with the safety and opportunity of the community.
Crime rates are 45% lower than the average across Maryland, and the unemployment rate is low, coming in at just 4.7%. The people here tend to be well off. The median income is approaching $100,000, so the community is generally seen as affluent. The city spends a lot of money on its public schools, adding to the allure.
Rockville is known for being the home to several technology and software companies, making it an attractive destination for recent graduates. It also has one of the region’s premiere shopping centers. Hence, retail opportunities are numerous for anyone looking into that type of work.
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2. Columbia – Howard County
Columbia is an affluent community where residents’ median income is over $100,000. It was initially planned as a community of ten separate villages, founded upon the idea that city planning could help improve life for all its residents. It worked out pretty well. The city has grown to house 108,730 residents.
Columbia’s crime rates are 16% lower than the Maryland average. Young people, especially those looking to start families, will enjoy the safety of the quiet neighborhoods. The cost of living, however, is slightly higher. A median home in a nice neighborhood goes for $416,800. It isn’t the most affordable place on our list, but it is still accessible to many people.
The federal government of the United States is the primary employer for the people of Columbia today. Still, the city is also home to a designated area of industry. Several medium to large companies are headquartered there and employ a significant portion of the population.
the state average. Still, people are paying for the desirable aspects of the community, like the opportunity and culture.
The median age of Silver Spring residents is under 35, which means the community is progressive and constantly working to improve. The economics and job market bears this out. Almost 8% of the populace works in construction, suggesting a growing community. Another large portion works in the technology industry, which is so prevalent in the area. The town is known for its culture, holding popular film and music festivals annually.
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3. Gaithersburg – Montgomery County
Gaithersburg has everything a young adult would need, with a preserved historical area called Olde Town, a fairground, and a famous shopping district. It’s a suburb of Washington, D.C., so the entire region will provide the excitement and nightlife that recent college graduates typically seek. People say that Gaithersburg offers the opportunity of Washington without the congestion. As a bonus, Gaithersburg is ranked at the top of Wallethub’s list of ethnically diverse cities.
The city of 67,741 is a relatively safe place for its size. The crime rates here are 5% lower than the Maryland average, even as the city has seen significant growth in recent years. The median home will cost an average of $441,900, and the rental prices are slightly higher here than in other areas of the state. Overall, the cost of living is a bit higher due to the area’s desirability.
Economically, Gaithersburg does reasonably well. The unemployment rate is on par with the rest of the nation, hovering around 6%. The city is the home of large companies such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Sodexo, to name a few. So new graduates should be able to find chances to work.
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4. Brunswick – Frederick County
Built upon the north bank of the Potomac River, Brunswick is just a few miles east of the famous Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, best known for its historic role in the abolitionist movement of the 1860s. Brunswick’s historic district serves plenty of shopping and nightlife for its residents, and it’s a popular commuter town to Washington, D.C.
Brunswick provides the best bargain of any of the places on this list. It has a small-town feel, with a population of just 6,652, and its cost of living is 15% lower than Maryland’s average. Real estate prices are 31% lower, with a median home price of $294,800. Renting a home is also 25% cheaper. Crime rates are about on par with the rest of the state, making them lower than other U.S. cities of similar sizes.
The economy in Brunswick is strong. Unemployment is lower than 5%, and job growth has remained positive since 2021. Many professionals work in the science and technical service industry, along with retail, hospitality, and administrative support.
5. Silver Spring – Montgomery County
On the border of the northern tip of Washington D.C. is Silver Spring, a bustling community of 80,902. With four significant creeks running through the borders, it’s known for the public parks and hiking trails that provide access to nature, even in this densely-populated region of the country.
Residents in Silver Spring love it for its safety and a crime rate 23% lower than the state average. The cost of living, however, is a bit higher owing to the proximity to Washington. A home here will cost over $495,000, and renting is 18% higher than
6. Bel Air – Harford County
Bel Air is tucked into the northeast corner of Maryland, not far from the Pennsylvania border. Despite its small area of 3.3 square miles and its relatively modest population of 10,266, Bel Air is known as the center of education, government, culture, and business for Harford County. Unfortunately, it is not the same Bel Air as the popular 90’s television sitcom.
The great advantage that Bel Air offers is an excellent balance of safety and affordability. The crime rate here is 3% lower than the state’s average, and real estate prices are 17% lower. That means the median home will cost just $385,300. That’s good news for young people who are just starting their careers. Even renting a house will cost an average of 12% less than much of the state.
Unemployment in Bel Air is just 5%, so jobs are available for new transplants. Job growth is positive as well. It’s a convenient distance from Baltimore, so that commuters will like it. Its industry is filled with people working in specific sectors of the region. There’s also a substantial amount of construction work available in the growing community.
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7. North Laurel – Howard County
For anyone looking to be close to both Baltimore and Washington D.C., North Laurel can provide that advantage. It’s a convenient town for commuters since it’s built on Interstate 95, close to many of the region’s other major hubs.
North Laurel has undergone tremendous growth in the last couple of years, holding a significant population of 25,831. The overall cost of living here is slightly higher than Maryland’s, but the population is affluent: residents’ median income is $96,000. The median home value here is $461,300, somewhat higher than the rest of the state. Renting in North Laurel is significantly more expensive than the average.
In addition to the convenient location, North Laurel is a place with ample opportunity. The unemployment rate currently sits at a low of 4.5%, and job numbers have been trending positively in recent years. Many professionals in the area work in the education, healthcare, public administration, and technical/science services industries.
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8. Cockeysville – Baltimore County
Cockeysville is a northern suburb of Baltimore founded in the 1720s by the businessman Thomas Cockey and his family. It was built upon the mining of limestone and marble, leading the area to develop further over the years. Today people know it for being close to downtown Baltimore and the “horse country” of rural Maryland. It’s an excellent choice for young people who want to access both.
Cockeysville’s cost of living is 2% lower than Maryland’s overall. Home prices follow suit. They are just about average for the state at $423,900. Renting here, however, is 11% cheaper than the state’s average. It has crime rates about on par with the rest of the state.
The city has seen a 0.7% growth in jobs over the past year, providing more opportunities for recent graduates looking to kickstart careers. The industries with the most workers in Cockeysville are healthcare, education, and retail. With Baltimore close by, there are many options for commuters as well.
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9. Glenarden – Prince George’s County
The most exciting thing about Glenarden is that it was the third predominantly African-American community to be incorporated into the state of Maryland. That heritage remains to this day. Around 75% of the town is African-American as of the 2020 census. The location is convenient too. Glenarden is located about 10 miles east of Washington, D.C., as part of the famous beltway highway system.
Glenarden’s population is 6,151, which is pretty small for a community close to the nation’s capital. It is a relatively affordable place to live. The overall cost of living is right around the Maryland average. The real estate outlook makes this an even bigger winner. The median home price is $379,300, 16% lower than the rest of the state, and rental prices are 12% lower. That means most young professionals will find Glenarden within reach financially.
Opportunity in Glenarden is abundant, mainly due to its proximity to Washington. It is considered one of the best communities in the nation for telecommuting. Traditional commuters will find jobs in all directions as well. The average household income in Glenarden is 22% higher than that of the United States. Typical jobs include manufacturing, education, and healthcare, but a diverse array of other industries are also present.
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10. White Marsh – Baltimore County
White Marsh is located about 17 miles northeast of Baltimore and about an hour and a half drive southwest of Philadelphia, making it an excellent central location to settle down. It was an undeveloped empty area as recently as the 1960s when it was marked for building and determined to be an ideal place to establish a community. Today, the population is 9,639 and growing. The town center is characterized by The Avenue at White Marsh, a commercial district with all the town’s amenities and entertainment.
White Marsh gets high ratings for its cost of living, which is 2% below the Maryland average. Buying a house here will cost an average of $456,000, which is lower than many nearby communities. Young professionals should be able to find a property in the area that fits their budget. Safety is important here too. Crime rates are 6% lower than in the rest of the state and far lower than in nearby Baltimore.
White Marsh is still growing as a community, and thus job opportunities are available. Household income tends to be high, averaging over $80,000, and the highest job share for the population is in health care. However, retail, manufacturing, and technology are also popular industries, as they are with the entirety of the state.
Almost no other region of the country offers more diversity, excitement, and opportunity than the Mid-Atlantic. Maryland, with its unique location on the eastern seaboard, has many suitable communities for young adults who may be starting careers out of college. While many factors may influence where these young people decide to settle, Maryland’s bastion of cities and towns seems to provide something for all.
It boasts a cost of living that’s 20% lower than the U.S. average. While Ohio does have some generally desirable cities, Port Clinton is one of the more attractive places to visit. Along with nearby Sandusky and the easily-accessible Lake Erie Islands, the area is fondly known as “Vacationland.”