Maryland is the ninth smallest state in the U.S., but it varies wildly in terms of everything – the demographics, the weather, its geography, social-economic status and so on.
Small it may be, but the Old Line State is one of the busiest states due to its prosperous tourism trade and diverse economy. Indeed, it is often jostling for the richest states top spot, and its residents enjoy some of the biggest incomes in America.
The cost of living in this Mid-Atlantic state is high, with above-average costs when it comes to rent and others outlays.
Maryland is drenched in history, and the state of many firsts continues to be a leader in the 21st century. If you are considering a move here, you can revel in the fact that the livability doesn’t get any better than this.
The state, whose many nicknames include Little America, has the perfect mix of low unemployment rate, diversity, star attractions and outstanding schools for young families.
Virtually every space is worthy to be called home, from the magnificent peaks of the western mountains to the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay area – with the cleanest and nicest beaches in the U.S. to boot.
If you are planning to settle in Maryland or make a move intra-state, here are our 15 best places to live in Maryland that could constitute a perfect home.
When Money Magazine drew up its list of best places to live in America in 2016, topping the reputable chart was none other than Columbia, Md.
Indeed, Niche.com ranked it the fourth best place to live in America in 2017 and the third best place in the country to raise a family.
The town of more than 103,000 residents is considered one of the most successful planned communities in the nation. Then again, that is to be expected of a town that limits everything from new constructions to the colour you paint your home.
Columbia remains a magnet for businesses in search of educated employees and families looking for good schools, with crime something the residents are not accustomed to.
But what is most surprising about this beautiful town is that somehow, the prices have managed to remain low, even in a part of the country famed for its high prices. Median home value sits at $365,500.
2. North Potomac
Speaking of Niche, the analytics company named North Potomac the best place to live in Maryland in 2017.
The area has also received numerous accolades over the years, with Forbes considering it one of the most affluent areas in America, while CNN has also called it the best place to live in the country.
So, what makes North Potomac so desirable?
The suburb of 24,100 residents in Montgomery County has an almost zero crime rate, and as with all entries on this list, it scores incredibly well on the unemployment rate category.
It has the sixth best school district in a state where quality education is a given, with a 96% high school graduation rate.
Unlike Columbia, the cost of living in North Potomac is typically Maryland high, and the median home value of $627,500 and average rent of $2,013 are testament to that.
Good thing is, the residents enjoy high salaries that skid past the $150,000 mark.
Bethesda is a posh community of 62,100 residents nestled just north of Washington D.C., with a great deal of people plying their trade in the District of Columbia.
This is another town located in Montgomery County, and it borrows its name from the Bethesda Meeting House, a local church from way back.
Bethesda has some of the best public schools in the country, a fact that at some point led Forbes to name it the most educated small town in America.
It also scores highly on health, fitness and income (average income per household is $144,772), with an almost zero crime rate.
The unemployment rate in Bethesda is lower compared to many parts of the state, while home values remain sky-high at $840,500 on average.
There is more to Bethesda than high quality of life and education, though.
The town’s beautifully landscaped downtown is truly alive. Bethesda also hosts multiple festivals and special events all year round, meaning there is always something to look forward to in town.
Olney is a town of 35,100 people that only serves to reinforce Montgomery as one of the best counties to live in Little America.
This Maryland town is one of the best employed in a jobs-rich state. Its school district is also highly rated, whether it’s the public high schools whose graduation rate stands at 96%, or the elementary level which is well represented by the likes of Grove Elementary, a holder of the Blue Ribbon School for Excellence Award.
Education matters aside, Olney is also a cultural melting pot, not just in terms of its high diversity, but also for its strong attachment to the arts. It is home to the Olney Concert Band, the Olney Big Band and the Olney Theater.
The area is also dotted with green spaces and parks for exercise and family days out.
Speaking of diversity…
With a population of 65,000 people, Gaithersburg was ranked by WalletHub as the seventh-most diverse city in America in 2017.
That’s quite a remarkable feat, especially if you are one who loves mingling with the diverse peoples of this world.
But what you are most likely to love about Gaithersburg is its affordable cost of living in relation to its status as one of the best places to live in Maryland. Houses here fetch at $366,000 on average.
Nearly half of its households are young families, and the best thing about this is that they are well-catered for in terms of boasting an outstanding public school system.
The crime rate is also pretty much non-existent, and the bustling nightlife, coupled with employment opportunities and affordable cost of living, explain why the area also appeals to millennials immensely.
Median household income stands at $80,734.
Urbana is a growing town in Frederick County whose population numbers 10,750. Compare this to a total of just 600 residents at the turn of the millennium.
What draws many to the soils of Urbana is a blend of several high ranking factors.
For starters, work opportunities around this part of the state abound. This is largely because of its ideal location next to the famous MD-355-I/270 tech corridor that holds almost 20,000 businesses and where more than 300,000 people ply their trade.
Second, the area is also minutes away from downtown Washington D.C., meaning there are even more jobs available to the residents.
Urbana is also known for its solid school district that is often considered one of the best in the Washington D.C. area. Crime rate is low, the population diversity is high, and the residents enjoy high incomes that average $137,188 per household.
The one thing that Urbana falls short in is things to do. It lacks an official community centre like many of its counterparts on this list, and the nightlife could be a lit livelier.
Other than that, c’est beau.
Located just outside of Potomac, Travilah is often considered one of the best places to live in Maryland.
The caveat is that you have to be well loaded to think of putting down roots here as this classic American suburb of 12,100 residents also happens to be one of the most expensive places to live in the Free State.
Houses here go for $1,053,700 on average. Which explains why the area is a big draw for well-paid professionals such as medical doctors and lawyers.
The average salary in Travilah is almost four times that of the nation, amounting to a whopping $206,827 per household.
If you can afford it, there are few better places in America to call home.
If Travilah sounds way out of your reach and you still want a nice place to set up your home without the hefty cost of living, then Rockville fits the bill perfectly.
In fact, the town of 64,331 residents sits only 15 miles from Bethesda (to the northwest). And it ranks highly on every little aspect.
Its public schools are among the best in the state; the crime rate is extremely low; the nightlife is pulsating (it’s one of the best suburbs for millennials in the Old Line State); and the quality of life is right up there with the very best.
Cost of living in Rockville is reasonable, with the going price for homes averaging $493,200.
9. Havre de Grace
Series lovers will recognise Havre de Grace as an episode in the critically acclaimed Boardwalk Empire which ended on a rather somber note.
But there is a community in Maryland that also goes by the same name. It is a suburb in Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland, and you will find it in Harford County.
Its location on Chesapeake Bay means it witnesses its fair share of tourists each year, and one of its biggest attractions includes the historic Skipjack Martha Lewis, what was once part of the Chesapeake Bay oyster fleet and one of its few remaining working dredge boats.
More than that, what endears many to the shores of Havre de Grace is its low cost of living that is uncharacteristic of the affluent state. Homes go for $288,900 on average, but if you are looking to rent, expect to part with monthly rent of $1,026 on average.
But that doesn’t mean the quality of life is compromised. Not at all.
Families take home $67,813 on average, and the children attend some high-performing public schools; not in the league of the other areas we have mentioned, but schools that can respectably hold their own.
10. Ellicott City
Ellicott City is another suburb in Baltimore that has it all going for it.
It is a town full of pride and dripping with charm and unique character, and it is little wonder Niche ranks it the fifth best place to live in Maryland.
Education, low crime rate, diversity, health and fitness, outdoor activities and nightlife make up for the perfect combination of desirability features that Ellicott City checks off.
But what also sets this town of 68,500 people apart is a robust economy that has even been recognized by CNN Money. As well, it scores highly in the employment category, thanks to dependable jobs courtesy of the likes of Fort Meade Army base and the NSA.
Homes are valued at slightly above half a million dollars ($508,600, to be exact) and parents earn a combined $114,916.
11. Chevy Chase
Next up on our list of 15 best places to live in Maryland is Chevy Chase, a town of slightly less than 10,000 people located in, you guessed it, Montgomery County!
This is one of the friendliest towns in the Free State, and as small as it is, Chevy Chase offers plenty to do with the added bonus of not having to travel a great distance to access it: malls, amazing restaurants, movie theatres, museums and natural parks.
When they are not enjoying the outdoors, the residents of Chevy Chase are taking their kids to some of the best schools in the state, with high schools that boast a graduation rate of 97%.
What else the residents enjoy is taking home fat paychecks that are only a handful of dollars short of a cool $160,000 per household.
Expectedly, the high quality of life comes at a cost. Rent alone averages $2,675 per month, with median home value standing at a steep $884,100. Of course, that is great news for homeowners – buyers, not so much!
12. South Kensington
South Kensington is another small town in Maryland that is no stranger to praise.
It has found itself in many best places to live lists, including CNN Money’s. AreaVibes.com also declared it the most livable place in Maryland, and for good reason.
The 8,400 residents of South Kensington don’t know much about crime as that is an almost unheard of occurrence around these parts.
The area scores highly on the outdoor activities category, thanks to six parks within its vicinity, a variety of shopping options, restaurants and coffee shops.
Parents will appreciate the high-performing schools in South Kensington which churn out some of the best minds in the state, and kids who might want to go back to work in their hometown will be completely aware of the great employment opportunities in the area which contribute to the high household income levels that average $145,125.
Towson is a town in Baltimore County near the big city with a population of more than 57,700 people. It warrants a mention on our list for, among others, a noticeably low crime rate that has seen zero reported incidences in the recent past.
The public schools in this area are considered not only among the best in the Free State, but also the whole country. There is a public university in the area (Towson University), but this is more than just a simple college town.
Towson offers its residents a lot to do outdoors, including an array of restaurants and bars, malls and shopping centres that are within walking distance, a movie theatre and, of course, the Loch Raven reservoir where you can go for hiking or mountain biking.
A three-bedroom single-family home in this town will cost you about $330,700.
Clarksburg is one of the best places to live in Maryland by a stretch. As far as crime goes, you won’t find a safer place to live than this town of 18,700 residents.
It is a bit pricey, though, with high rents that average more than $2,300 per month. If you are looking to buy a home in the area, the going price is $448,200.
But what is also high is the amount that each household takes home, averaging $135,078. The high incomes pretty much explain the smorgasbord of restaurants in Clarksburg, not to mention a grocery store and a Dunkin Donuts branch.
There is also a karate centre in the area, with plenty of trails that allow for lots of recreation.
There is little not to love about Clarksburg.
Rounding us off is Burtonsville, a small town of about 9,500 people that is just minutes away from Washington D.C.
Houses are more affordable here than most other places on this list. Median home value is $386,400, and rent averages $1,735.
Most folks in the area wouldn’t trade their town for anything because for one, Burtonsville witnesses no crime at all. That’s a biggie especially for families with kids who are also privileged to have access to some of the best schools in Maryland.
Burtonsville may be small, but it has one of the most diverse populations in Little America. Still, they have managed to live together harmoniously, as is evident in the strong sense of community which contributes to this idyllic town’s character.
One of the notable annual events is Burtonsville Day, a day held in honour of the town’s founder, Isaac Burton.
It sees the residents come together, with games, crafts, petting zoos and events popping up all over town, exhibiting an almost palpable feeling of kinship that lasts well past the big day itself.