It’s difficult to say where are the best places to live in Maryland, as the answer is different for everyone. The ideal place for one person could be unappealing for someone else. Where you should live in Maryland will depend on your situation and what you are looking for in a home. Figuring out the best place for you, therefore, means considering your unique criteria.
It is crucial to recognize from the start that it may be impossible to find everything you would like in one place. You need to determine what are the most important features for you and your family. Most of my clients have one of three main priorities. The likelihood is that one of these priorities is what matters most to you, too.
1. Commute to Work
You want a commute to work that is easy and not too long. Everyone has their own limit as to how much time they are willing to spend on a daily commute and for many, the best places to live in Maryland are the closest to their job. The problem is they are often unsure how to calculate the time a commute will take to a high degree of accuracy before they buy a house.
Just looking at distance is no good, as it fails to take traffic into account. In fact, it can often take much more time to go a short distance than a long distance in some cities. This is definitely the case if you are heading the same way as rush-hour traffic. To make matters worse, you need to consider how long your commute will take in either direction, as this can vary.
Here’s a tip I give my clients: use Google Maps. There, you can enter your route and see how long it will take you to reach work from any property.
I have a trick that few people are aware of: you can set the time of day and day of the week to check your route for a much more accurate estimate. You can also set the time at which you want to arrive rather than depart. That way, you’ll be certain that you’ll make it on time.
Using this tactic, you can confirm that a property is within the commute range you want. For example, say you want no more than a one-hour commute. You run a search from property you are interested in to check how long it will take you to both get to work and arrive home. If you find that the commute will be more than one hour, you need to decide how important commute time is for you. If it is your top priority, you’ll probably want to dismiss the property as unsuitable.
There’s one more thing to think about: flexible working hours. If your job can offer flexible hours, Google Maps is even more useful. You can compare different departure times to see how they affect your total commute time. You may find that waiting just half an hour before you leave means that the traffic decreases significantly.
2. Good Schools
Often, a top priority for families with kids, as well as couples planning to have kids in the near future, is good schools. A useful resource for assessing school quality is www.greatschools.org. In fact, Zillow uses this tool for its school ratings.
When you search for a school, you’ll see a rating of between 1 and 10. Bear in mind, though, that this is based on national test scores. It is possible that some schools with lower ratings could still be great. For this reason, it’s best to use the tool as a starting point. Before you come to a decision, schedule a visit of the school. Even talk to the principle, if possible.
3. Size of Home
The best places to live in Maryland are not just dependent on geographical location; the property itself also matters, particularly its size. If you have several kids or your in-laws will live with you, a large enough home is likely to be a top priority.
Every city in Maryland has a different average price per square foot. For instance, $30,000 in Annapolis could give you 1,500 square feet, whereas for the same price in Southern Maryland, you could gain 2,500 square feet. If the size of your home is the most important factor, consider what area will stretch your money the furthest.
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Living in Maryland
Finding the best place for your family involves balancing your priorities. You need to decide what is the most important factor and what you are willing to sacrifice. For example, if good schools are your top priority, you may settle for a home near a great school that is slightly smaller than what you wanted and with a commute that is 10 minutes longer than you had planned.
You are rarely going to find a home that is 100 percent perfect — such a home almost never exists. Instead, you should search for a property that meets your priorities to the highest extent possible, whether this is 75 percent or as much as 90 percent.