Maryland, known as the “Bay State” for its position on the Chesapeake, has a long and rich history as one of the thirteen original colonies. Its largest city, Baltimore, is the 30th most populated city in the U.S., boasting over 614,000 residents.
Baltimore has no lack of attractions. For the nautical types, there’s plenty of sailing and fishing to do on the Chesapeake Bay. Other outdoor activities include skiing at Wisp Resort. For people into history, Maryland holds Fort McHenry, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, the Antietam battleground and the NASA Goddard Visitor Center. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a key hub for shopping.
Maryland’s largest industry is “finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing” which accounts for 22.8% of the state’s $393.6 billion GDP. Maryland ranks 15th in the country for total GDP but 5th for per capita personal income ($59,524).
Maryland has a solid public-school system, placing 19th on WalletHub’s ranking of the best school systems by state. But it also boasts some excellent universities, including Johns Hopkins University and the United States Naval Academy.
The variety of available activities, strong economy, and good education combine to make Maryland a great state to raise a family. But some cities within the state are more ideal than others. WalletHub compared more than 120 cities across 21 metrics in order to determine most family-friendly cities. Our data set ranges from number of attractions to median family income to the quality of the school system. Read on for the results, insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Best Places to Live in Maryland
(1 = Best)
|City||Total Score||‘Family Life & Fun’ Rank||‘Education, Health & Safety’ Rank||‘Affordability’ Rank||‘Socio-economics’ Rank|
|2||Mays Chapel, MD||69.25||15||48||26||17|
|4||North Potomac, MD||68.61||21||35||24||2|
|5||North Laurel, MD||68.55||16||45||6||27|
|10||Bel Air North, MD||67.08||57||15||28||11|
|11||Lake Shore, MD||66.89||75||39||19||5|
|15||Severna Park, MD||66.22||94||11||5||13|
|16||Ellicott City, MD||66.11||83||31||4||10|
|19||Bel Air South, MD||65.38||40||33||18||33|
|21||Annapolis Neck, MD||64.49||120||10||23||6|
|22||Maryland City, MD||64.26||39||55||20||36|
|25||Bel Air, MD||63.69||43||6||42||28|
|29||Kemp Mill, MD||63.13||17||102||45||19|
|32||Brock Hall, MD||62.39||51||98||33||12|
|36||Riviera Beach, MD||61.42||68||23||31||42|
|41||Ballenger Creek, MD||58.34||2||94||56||79|
|42||Havre de Grace, MD||57.92||109||7||37||68|
|44||Perry Hall, MD||57.80||114||5||32||48|
|45||Ocean Pines, MD||57.72||128||1||81||31|
|47||Lexington Park, MD||56.52||5||3||57||107|
|58||Takoma Park, MD||53.79||70||12||102||49|
|64||Lake Arbor, MD||52.44||64||70||54||88|
|65||North Bethesda, MD||52.40||73||114||60||30|
|66||Marlboro Village, MD||52.36||24||110||83||51|
|67||Glenn Dale, MD||52.31||107||68||58||52|
|73||Owings Mills, MD||50.28||62||71||79||76|
|75||Montgomery Village, MD||49.55||71||96||67||72|
|81||Aspen Hill, MD||47.89||29||85||104||69|
|82||Glen Burnie, MD||47.51||50||80||73||100|
|84||Brooklyn Park, MD||47.23||46||79||65||112|
|85||Silver Spring, MD||47.09||42||53||116||70|
|86||Milford Mill, MD||47.06||34||92||82||104|
|87||South Laurel, MD||47.04||10||103||109||71|
|91||Fort Washington, MD||46.36||127||115||38||67|
|96||Middle River, MD||45.61||85||72||72||108|
|101||College Park, MD||44.24||113||113||86||75|
|106||Camp Springs, MD||41.12||122||120||88||84|
|108||New Carrollton, MD||40.14||38||64||121||99|
|111||White Oak, MD||39.53||14||86||120||103|
|112||Oxon Hill, MD||39.47||118||106||95||101|
|116||Walker Mill, MD||35.72||93||91||106||122|
|118||East Riverdale, MD||34.95||3||127||123||115|
|122||Hillcrest Heights, MD||33.24||67||121||111||124|
|123||Coral Hills, MD||32.45||31||83||119||128|
|125||Langley Park, MD||30.26||7||126||128||111|
Ask the Experts
Deciding where to settle down as a family can be difficult. There are so many factors to balance in order to give children the best upbringing possible. With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts in fields such as family studies and public health to share their insight on how to evaluate Maryland’s cities. Click on the experts’ profiles below to read their bios and their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What are some tips for young families looking for quality public schools and affordable housing in Maryland?
- How can local officials in Maryland make their cities more attractive to young families?
- Looking just within Maryland, to what degree is child development and a family’s quality of life influenced by the city they live in?
Ask the Experts
To help families find the best Maryland cities in which to put down roots, WalletHub compared a sample of 128 cities in the state across four key dimensions: 1) Family Life & Fun, 2) Education, Health & Safety, 3) Affordability and 4) Socio-economics. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
We evaluated the four dimensions using 21 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most suitable conditions for family life.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample.
Family Life & Fun – Total Points: 25
- Playgrounds per Capita: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
- Number of Attractions: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: “Attractions” includes, for instance, museums, theaters and zoos.
- Share of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17: Double Weight (~8.33 Points)
- Weather: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Note: Based on WalletHub’s Cities with the Best & Worst Weather ranking.
- Average Commute Time: Full Weight (~4.17 Points)
Education, Health & Safety – Total Points: 25
- Quality of School System: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- High School Graduation Rate: Half Weight (~1.47 Points)
- Air Quality: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Pediatricians per Capita: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Share of Uninsured Children: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: “Children” include the population aged 0 to 17.
- Violent-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
- Property-Crime Rate per Capita: Double Weight (~5.88 Points)
Affordability – Total Points: 25
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Housing Costs (accounts for both rental and sale prices) / Median Annual Family Income.
- General Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Median Annual Family Income / Cost-of-Living Index.
- Housing Affordability: Full Weight (~12.50 Points)
Socio-economics – Total Points: 25
- Separation & Divorce Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Two-Parent Families: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Families Living Below Poverty Level: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Share of Households Receiving Food Stamps: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Wealth Gap: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
- Foreclosure Rate: Full Weight (~3.57 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Environmental Protection Agency, County Health Rankings, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Renwood RealtyTrac, SchoolDigger.com, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Areavibes and WalletHub research.