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Welcome to the Old Line State: where the North, South, East, and West meet at the Mason Dixon line in Maryland (pronounced "Mer-lin".)
Maryland wants you to call one of its many affordable cities home. This blue state screams affordability. They practically give money away, here. So much that it's almost like they are paying YOU to live here.
Maryland's affordable cities really 'bring it'. Hip millennial cities like Baltimore and North Bethesda have multiple opportunities for young professionals to make the 'dolla holla'. Cities like Ocean City North and South provide inexpensive staycations. And Chesapeake Bay cities like Rock Hall and Deale provide an opportunity to offset your grocery bill with crabbing and fishing out your back door.
And with a statewide median income close to $73,000/year, who wouldn't want a piece of the Chesapeake Bay State-pie. Heck, it's no wonder Maryland's poverty rate is the lowest in the country or that its unemployment rate is down around 4 percent. If you want to live the American dream without a hefty Park Place price tag, look no further than Maryland. More importantly, take a look below at our top affordable cities in Maryland list for 2020.
We suggest you grab yourself a plate of Old Bay dusted blue crab cakes, a bag of Utz chips, a flavored snowball and read on.
The 10 Most Affordable Places To Live In Maryland
Where in Maryland can you find the most affordable place to live? The most affordable place to live in Maryland is Brunswick based on cost of living adjusted for incomes.
If you ask any Marylander, they will say, hands down, that their city is the best. Heck, there's a reason Little America is the 19th most populous in the country.
And, yes, we think it has a little something to do with the great people, strong jobs in defense and aerospace, government by proximity, and health care; not mention, just good 'ol clean Maryland livin'. But, to the economically savvy, to truly be the best, the state must have the nicest, most affordable places to call home. #TheMostBangForYourBuck
So, if you care about home values, cost of living, and gold star quality of life, take a look at the list below to see where your Maryland dollar will let you live like a Baltimore Raven on a crabber's salary.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Maryland and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Maryland For 2020
When it comes to living on the cheap in Maryland, there's basically nowhere better than Brunswick. The city may not have the cheapest homes or lowest rent in the state, but taken as a proportion of income, Brunswick has some of the most affordable housing statewide. Brunswick residents are paid quite well, with a median income of $76,708, which more than covers the median home price of $229,300 with plenty left to spare.
Brunswick is located on the north bank of the Potomac River, across from Virginia.
The median household income in Brunswick comes in at $76,708 and the median home value is $229,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.6%.
Cumberland's motto is "Come for a Visit, Stay for Life," and that might just happen to you after you realize how inexpensive the city really is. Cumberland's population has been slowly diminishing in recent years, which is great news for newcomers who can buy the cheapest homes in Maryland. And if you're a cyclist, you'll have all the free entertainment you'll ever need journeying through the Great Allegheny Passage.
While the rent in Cumberland is the cheapest you'll see on this list at at $660/month, that's not what earned Cumberland the #2 spot on this list. It's really because at a median price of $93,000 for homes and a median income of $34,750 for residents, the city has the second best home price to income ratio in the state.
The median household income in Cumberland comes in at $34,750 and the median home value is $93,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 10.7%.
Located about 30 miles north of Baltimore, Hampstead ranks as the third most affordable place in Maryland. Life is extra cheap for renters in Hampstead, who enjoy the second best rent to income ratio in the state. Hampstead residents earn a median income of $75,286 and pay a median home price of $246,300, which puts Hampstead just outside of the top ten for best home price to income ratio in Maryland.
Whether you're renting or buying, living in Hampstead won't break the bank. Especially when you can hang out at a different park every day of the week without spending a dime.
The median household income in Hampstead comes in at $75,286 and the median home value is $246,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.7%.
Thanks to affordable housing options for both buyers and renters, Glenarden ranks as the fourth cheapest city in Maryland. Because Glenarden's median income is quite high at $91,923, residents aren't phased by a median home price of $267,000 and a median rent of $1,218. In fact, both home price to income and rent to income ratios in Glenarden are among the top five statewide. As a bonus, Glenarden is also one of the safest places in Maryland, so the city hasn't cut corners on security.
Glenarden is located about 10 miles east of Washington D.C..
The median household income in Glenarden comes in at $91,923 and the median home value is $267,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.9%.
Located about 20 minutes north of Frederick, Thurmont comes in as the fifth least expensive place in Maryland. Thurmont is the fourth most economical place to rent in the state, with rent costing about $949/month on a median income of $72,868. The median price of a home in Thurmont is also quite affordable at $248,000. Not to mention that between swimming at Cunningham Falls State Park and hiking at Catoctin Mountain, Thurmont has plenty to do for folks on a budget.
The median household income in Thurmont comes in at $72,868 and the median home value is $248,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.4%.
At first glance, Poolesville's affordability might not be super apparent. I mean, at $445,400, Poolesville has the highest median home price on this list by a wide margin. And with a median rent of $1,786, Poolesville is the only city on this list where renters pay more than the average rent in Maryland. But when you remember that Poolesville is also the richest city in Maryland, with residents earning a median income of $170,093, and the city's affordability really becomes plain.
Poolesville residents pay the smallest proportion of their income towards housing of anywhere in the state, for both renting and buying.
The median household income in Poolesville comes in at $170,093 and the median home value is $445,400 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.7%.
Located 10 miles east of downtown D.C., District Heights ranks as the seventh most affordable city in Maryland. District Heights is about as affordable for renters as it with buyers, with both a home price to income ratio and rent to income ratio just outside the top ten statewide. The median home price in District Heights is $238,000 and the median income is $70,382.
District Heights scored an 8.5/10 on our overall Snackability scale, so you know it's an all-around great place to call home.
The median household income in District Heights comes in at $70,382 and the median home value is $238,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 15.2%.
Taneytown is no stranger to the Homesnacks spotlight; we already named it the second safest place in Maryland, so finding out that you can live here for next to nothing is just icing on the cake. You wouldn't know that Maryland is one of the most expensive states in America living in Taneytown, where the median home price is $252,700 and the median income is $73,457.
Taneytown is located an hour northwest of Baltimore.
The median household income in Taneytown comes in at $73,457 and the median home value is $252,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 2.0%.
The biggest city in Maryland, Baltimore just makes the cut for cheapest places in the state.
Charm City has a whole lot of charm for those trying to live on a budget and still have the best dang blue crabs in the country. Historically a working-class port town, Baltimore has kept housing affordable for all its residents. But with over 50 neighborhoods, be warned that not everywhere is going to be equally cheap. If you end up living in Riverside, Inner Harbor or Fell's Point, Baltimore's affordability might not be as noticeable to you. The median home price in Baltimore is $156,400 and the median income is $48,840, putting the city in top ten statewide for home price to income ratio. As for renters, Baltimore is actually the least affordable place on this list.
The median household income in Baltimore comes in at $48,840 and the median home value is $156,400 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 9.1%.
Rest assured that Bel Air, Maryland is in a different league from the Bel Air in Los Angeles in terms of affordability. While your average home in the Los Angeles version will set you back close to 3 million bucks, the median home price in Bel Air, Maryland is $245,200. Considering residents of Bel Air earn a median income of $71,082, paying off the mortgage is no sweat. The housing cost to income ratio in Bel Air is in the top twenty in Maryland for both renters and buyers. In other words, it doesn't cost much to be a fresh prince of Bel Air (Maryland).
The median household income in Bel Air comes in at $71,082 and the median home value is $245,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.5%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Old Line State For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Maryland to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 41 places in Maryland that have more than 5,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Maryland according to the data is Brunswick. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Maryland Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Maryland, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Maryland for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Maryland according to the data:
- Mount Rainier
- College Park
For more Maryland reading, check out:
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Maryland
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