Thanks to the economic situation in the country, real estate values have fallen sharply, for the first time in years making it possible for many gay singles and couples to consider entering into home ownership. We all know of the gay enclaves like Bolton Hill, Mount Vernon, and Federal Hill. They are cool areas, but prices can be totally out of reach. Not to mention challenging issues like parking and high property taxes. But where are the lesser known locales that offer good value and convenience without high prices? Read on community members and you just may find out.
Old Brooklyn Park
(Anne Arundel County)
Just across the southern city line from Federal Hill is Old Brooklyn Park, a small enclave of about 1,000 houses bordered by Bellegrove Road, Ritchie Highway, and 16th Avenue. Developed originally in the 1920’s, it is an area with diverse housing stock, ranging from Craftsman style four squares all the way up to new construction homes. Lot sizes are generous, and prices have remained low for the square footage offered. For those with children, the area boasts a good elementary and middle school. Anne Arundel County has the lowest percentage on the Homestead tax credit of any subdivision in Maryland, so taxes are moderate compared to other jurisdictions.
Like many neighborhoods of this vintage, there are many older residents who are now reaching the retirement home stage of life. Their relatively well-maintained, but dated homes represent a value for new homeowners, and especially those with DIY skills. The area has easy access to 695 and 95, and is still just a ten minute drive from the Inner Harbor. Shopping is plentiful along Ritchie Highway, and close by are excellent medical facilities.
(Anne Arundel County)
Also in Anne Arundel County is Ferndale, a small community straddling both sides of B and A Boulevard from 695 to Route 97. While some streets have homes dating back to the 1920’s, the vast majority of the homes are of 1950’s construction—lots of brick ranchers, and Cape Cods of medium size. Like Old Brooklyn Park, it is convenient to shopping and major roads, as well as an aging population. Quiet tree-lined streets, good quality housing stock, and lower-than-average property taxes all make it a good buy.
(Baltimore County / Baltimore City)
This dual community is sandwiched between Harford Road and Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore City, and crosses over into Baltimore County. Lots of mom-and-pop businesses still call this area home, and there is an excellent variety in housing stock. You can find everything from a small townhouse, to a huge three-story Queen Anne, all within blocks of each other. While not right at the beltway, it is a short usually non-harried drive to get there, plus major surface roads can make getting into the city relatively easy.
The area had a boom in the early 1980’s, and many homes were renovated then. Though there are still good values to be found in homes that have not yet been updated. For the bold of heart, there are many multi-unit properties, where you can supplement your income with rentals. The area has some great stuff like the unique Fenwick Bakery, and Mueller’s Deli, where they even make their braunschweiger from scratch. The area is also well served by public transportation.
Many already know of this quirky, fun, former textile mill community. It is famous for the Honfest, and the Christmas lights of 34th Street. There are some good buys still to be had along the side streets, if you are a savvy buyer. Fun restaurants, cool shops, and on the shoulder of the Jones Falls make it a hot spot for city life. Beware though, prices here have been on the upswing, and the property taxes can be a bit pricey.
This little-known area just across the city line in western Baltimore County has much to offer as well. Bordered by Edmonson Avenue to the south, Route 40 to the north, and Academy Road to the west, it really starts straddling the city line. Street after street of well maintained homes from the 1920’s and 1930’s offer large lots and huge mature trees. The feeling is like the side streets of a small town. Close to the fun dining and entertainment on Frederick Road in Catonsville, it even has that Catonsville zip code, but without the steeper Catonsville prices. It’s fairly close to the Beltway, and an easy trip into the city. Also worthy of a look, is Rock Glen, just across Edmonson Avenue. Both are right next to prestigious Ten Hills, long one of the nicest city neighborhoods on the west side.
There are many other little gems still to be found around Baltimore, but these are for sure some of the long overlooked areas, where it’s still possible to find a good quality home, at a price that won’t break the bank. Other communities worth exploring include Lauraville, Dickeyville, Reservoir Hill, Hamilton, Violetville, Beverly Hills. All these areas have a gay presence, but these within-the-beltway locales are likely to cost a little more. For the LGBT community, buying bricks and mortar, and investing in our community go a long way to improving Baltimore as a whole, and ourselves in the process.