Baltimore or Northern Virginia

17 Replies

Hey everyone, new to BP, so im excited to be here!

I plan on buying my first home soon and house hacking once I find a deal. From what i’ve researched it looks like Baltimore would be a much better place to start investing compared to NOVA which is where i’m originally from.

Does anyone one house hack in the baltimore area and can share some of their experiences with it? And if anyone is familiar the two areas, do you think baltimore is the better starting point? From what i've seen the purchase price to rent in Baltimore is much better then in VA.

Rent to purchase price is not better in Baltimore. It is higher. Higher yield. Yield is a function of perceived risk in the market place. The reason that that yield is higher is because the risk is considerably higher in Baltimore.  They is neither better or worse, it is just a function of risk.

You are trying to decide whether to live in NOVA or Baltimore city ?    Have you ever been thru Baltimore ? 

Hi @Richmond Williams , I live in NOVA and invest both in Baltimore and NOVA. 

If you are buying a house hack, NOVA hands down. You can't compare the long-term appreciation (asset value and rent), among many other pros. If you are buying an investment property, you need to really look inside and see what are your goals. Once you answer this question, you may realize that one place may be a better fit than the other

Before buying something in Baltimore, you either need to work with a great agent or know the city well. Prices are lower than in NOVA, but property taxes are WAY higher. Also, management is more complicated and it is more expensive to manage (lead certs, city licenses, fees, taxes, vacancy, etc). 

Your cash flow potential in year one is higher in Baltimore, but this may not be so true after 3-5 years. If you consider property appreciation, your wealth will increase more rapidly by investing in NOVA.

It depends on the area, I have been living and investing in Baltimore and I recommend it, however, I would not recommend everywhere in Baltimore.

What is your budget ???

I am personally househacking in NoVa and I have been also researching the Baltimore market. I agree with the points made above. The quality tenant you are going to get is generally going to be better in NoVa. It is not only the numbers, you also need to account the amount of headaches you are going to get in the overall process. You need to put a price to your piece of mind as well. 

Although it all comes down to how much you are preapproved for, that is the key information we are missing. 

Hey Richmond, I've house hacked in both Nashville TN and now Baltimore MD. I'd say go where you can afford to buy your first home and where the numbers make sense, whether that's NoVA, Baltimore, or some place else. You also have to consider where you want to live since you are agreeing that you intend to live in the property for at least a year when getting an owner occupied mortgage. NoVA/the DC area is certainly a nice area that will likely continue to appreciate I would guess, but it's also not affordable for many people to live there. Baltimore has plenty of nice/safe neighborhoods (despite what you'd think if you just watch The Wire..) if you know where to look. And who knows, if the government or Elon Musk ever builds that high speed rail they were talking about at one point, that could make Baltimore even more attractive for those looking for affordable housing in this region since it's one of the cheapest cities to live on the East Coast. 

@Richmond Williams welcome to the BP community! 

I grew up in the Baltimore area and have lived in the NOVA area for the past 2 years so I know both fairly well. As a couple other people have communicated there's a lot of factors that go into answering this question.

Where do you work, are you willing to make the long commute each day if you have to go into office, what's your budget, etc. I haven't house hacked in either, but from a barrier of entry perspective typically the Baltimore area will be the better option. From an appreciation standpoint NOVA currently wins that battle, but I have high hopes that in the next 5ish years Baltimore will be a completely different city (all speculation of course).

Good luck with your decision!

The short answer is "it depends". Are you looking primarily for cashflow or appreciation? How long do you intend to hold onto the property? Do you need to live a certain distance from a workplace or train station? Whats your budget?

In general I would say that from a cashflow perspective you'll get a better ROI in Baltimore than in NOVA, but the potential for appreciation is better in NOVA. But what's right for you depends on so many other factors.

Good luck!

My parents moved out of Baltimore with us kids in 1972 . The BEST decision they ever made . Moved to Severna Park in AA county . Tripled their house payment . They made it and are still in the house they paid $64K for now its worth $650K . Home insurance and car insurance is cheaper , schools are great ( balto schools suck) water, sewer , and property taxes are lower .The list can go on .

I am in Baltimore city twice a week , and still have friends stuck there ( houses in the counties have skyrocketed in price ) . Three out of 4 neighborhoods I lived in have gone to hell . Sure some areas are better , but more are worse . 

The last 4 houses sold in my neighborhood where I live in AA county , each family fled Baltimore city . All had young kids . 

@Richmond Williams Choose wisely , if things take a downturn and you are stuck living somewhere for longer than you planned , where would you want to be ? 

Baltimore is fantastic for cash flow and residual income. 
Some areas aren’t ideal for all investors but I also have investors buying up blocks of shells and transforming neighborhoods 

If anyone remembers DC many, many years ago neighborhoods that are now high end were considered “war zones” by no means is Baltimore like DC it will take many more years for Baltimore to have that “quick equity” like DC does but it will Happen. I’m watching it happen now all over the City. 
Reach out anytime, I would be happy to guide you 

Elizabeth Leigh 




Following this thread as I live in VA and am interested in getting started in Baltimore as well. I won't be househacking but am having a difficult time getting started pinpointing a property/neighborhood. I have spent countless hours on research and have driven through neighborhoods a few times, but still dont know where to invest lol. Any realtors here who would take me under their wing? :) Hope you find what you're looking for, @Richmond Williams   would love to hear what you decide on.

I live in NOVA and invest in Baltimore. Cashflow is great but riskier. It is also very tenant friendly. NOVA houses appreciate like crazy. Our house, for example increased for more than $20k in just 4 months. But the rent to purchase ratio is not good. Rents here average around 2200-2500 whereas the purchase price is 500- 550k. I'd say if you'll use it as a primary to house hack and sell it someday, go for NOVA. Don't keep it as a rental.