Wednesday, March 31, 2004


This article in today's Baltimore Sun describes the exact situation Mark and I faced five years ago when looking for a home. We both grew up in Baltimore County and would have liked to buy a home in Northern Baltimore County after we got married, but unless we wanted a townhouse, which we didn't, we were pretty much priced out of the market. And we weren't kids in our early twenties just out of college working entry-level jobs. We were both making decent money and had been working for quite a while.

So, like some of the people mentioned in the article, we jumped the border and bought a house in Pennsylvania just over the Maryland line. We have a three-bedroom house with a detached 2-car garage on just over an acre of land that we bought for under $140K. The same house in most areas of Baltimore County would have been atleast $200K five years ago. The decision meant I was left with an hour and a half commute each way into Baltimore City. After a year, I found a new job in Pennsylvania only 15 minutes from home. Mark still has the commute, depending on his current job site, which is now even worse with the price of gas. And everyone in my family is about an hour away, "breaking up the family unit" as the one woman in the article lamented.

But we love where we live. The sacrifice is worth it. The houses are more than five feet apart, we can't see into our neighbors' windows and traffic is practically non-existent. Whenever I visit my parents in Carroll County, Maryland, I feel claustrophobic. There's a red light at every intersection and the houses are built on top of one another. There's a new development near them and every time I drive buy it, the starting price goes up - houses starting in the mid-$150s, $200s, $250s, etc...

Maryland is pricing itself out of the housing market for young homeowners and middle-class homeowners. And in the process, it is losing its citizens (and their dollars) to neighboring states.