Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where to Live: A Tangential Discussion of Neighborhoods and Later I Mention Bikes For Some Reason

One of the biggest hurdles I encountered before I even moved here was where to look for housing.  I knew absolutely nothing about this city beyond the aquarium, and was relying on what Wikipedia had to say.  This conveniently pointed me away from the Bayview region, but didn't give me any idea of the difference between the ones I could seriously consider.  Having lived here for a bit now, I know the differences are vast.  I just needed someone to tell me.  A friend of a friend from many lifetimes ago lived in the city and suggested her neighborhood to me.  That is the very anticlimactic story of how I ended up in lovely Mount Vernon - someone I hadn't spoken to in years said, "I like it!" and that was good enough for me.  Luckily, she's a great person with wonderful taste, and I love it here.  While I appreciate and love the appeal of other neighborhoods in this city, I am proud to be a Mount Vernonite and have no plans of changing that anytime soon.

If you're new to Bmore and know little about this city, know this: Neighborhoods are a big deal.  This city is essentially comprised of a ton of small towns within an incredibly close vicinity.  Hampden has its quirks and hipsters, Highlandtown has a large concentration of latinos.  Station North has the artsy hipsters and MICA kids (look mom, I made a synonym!) and your frattier post-college scenes are more likely to be found in Canton, Fells Point and Federal Hill.  I feel like I've shared this link on every possible social media site, but I wish I had this map when I first got here.  I can't accredit who made it, but I found it via the amazing City That Breeds.

Washington Monument in Mount Vernon
Think about what you enjoy, where you are in life, how close you want to be to your office, your price range, what proximity you prefer to be to violent murders, etc.  What I love about Mount Vernon that I can walk to museums, an array of great bars, have access to a free bus, and regularly decide to be lazy and not go to yoga, but know I have the option if I want to! Artscape is right outside my door, I can walk to the massive Farmer's Market (no, you can't make me shut up about the market.  My love will not be silenced!), I can hop on a Bolt Bus to New York or nab Amtrak to anywhere I don't feel like taking my car.

The cons. 
Street parking is horrible.  Well, it's not horrible per say, there is available parking.  The consequences of street parking aren't lovely.  My poor little car has had it rough since moving here.  It's been scratched up, dented, broken into, knicked, bumped and bruised.  I've only gotten one parking ticket, but I know others who have had it far worse.  Baltimore does not mess around with its parking, and I'm fairly certain this is because they need to find creative ways to pay for our newfound inundation
I dislike that the only grocery store is Eddie's of Mount Vernon, and that it took me MONTHS to discover it.  Eddie's, while wonderful, convenient  and sells wine and beer which is a rarity in Maryland grocery stores, is expensive for what they're selling you.  I have purchased more last-minute produce of questionable quality for far more than I should've paid for than I care to admit.  Look, a girl can't make a lemon torte without a lemon, okay?

My Mount Vernon complaints become null and void when one introduces a bike into the mix.  With a bike, I could get to other stores more easily and not have to worry about losing my awesome parking spot.  I could join the Bike Party every month for more than just their after-party, and not have to feel guilty about regularly skipping yoga, because my transportation would also be my exercise!  Alas, bikes are not presently in the cards for me for unexciting reasons, but you should get one!  Cut back on emissions, get fit, make fun friends, don't buy overpriced, under ripe lemons.

So you're new to Bmore?  Research neighborhoods!  Make a pros and cons list, know your price range, and find people on Twitter/the Blogosphere to ask.  LiveBaltimore has a thorough list, but I personally found it a little overwhelming when I first started the hunt.  Just stay calm, research and ask questions.  The best way to get to know these neighborhoods is to talk to the people that live in them.  The people make up the neighborhoods and help shape them into the communities they are today.


  1. And if you are into the DIY thing, Velocipede has a build-a-bike program! Get a used bike for free, repair it so you can ride it, and hang out with awesome people while you volunteer.


  2. I think a blog post about why you don't have a bike is in order.