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The Best Places for Young Families in Maryland

You know Maryland for National Harbor, crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay, the Naval Academy in Annapolis, the quirkiness of Baltimore and historical and cultural landmarks of the National Capital Region. Now it is time to learn about Maryland from the standpoint of a young family looking to set down roots.

Priorities must change when looking for a home suitable for a growing family. Perhaps you and your spouse or partner will want to be in a community with a lot of other families. Maybe you will want to live in a town with a shorter commute to work so you won’t have to sacrifice too much family time. Whatever your requirements, a critical first step is to understand the process of getting a mortgage.

LendingTree has informative articles to help you understand the minimum mortgage requirements for getting a loan. Many of the top 10 towns in Maryland have six-figure median household incomes for families with children. Four of those towns have median incomes that exceed $209,000. Housing for that income group might require a mortgage preapproval.

Many factors go into choosing the most appropriate home for your family. Researchers at LendingTree compiled a list of best places for young families in Maryland.

Key takeaways

  • South Kensington is the best place to raise a family in Maryland, with a final score of 73.7.
  • Ilchester and Mays Chapel take the second and third spots with final scores of 72.7 and 72.3, respectively.
  • On the other end of the list, we found Glassmanor to be the most challenging place for young families in Maryland, with a final score of 38.5.
  • Temple Hills and District Heights finished out the bottom three towns on our list, with final scores of 41.6 and 42.0, respectively.

The top 10 cities to live in Maryland

#1 South Kensington

Located about 10 miles north of Washington, D.C., South Kensington lands at the top of the ranking with a score of 73.7. And it secures the top slot decisively. The median household income for families with children is $209,718, and the median monthly cost of housing is $2,479. Residents of South Kensington appear to pay up for the advantages of living there, which include a relatively easy commute to work, an average of 31.3 minutes. The unemployment rate is zero and just 2.9% of 16- to 19-year olds are not enrolled in or have not graduated from high school. Just 38.9% of households in the town have children and of those, 92.8% own their homes.

#2 Ilchester

With a score of 72.7, Ilchester comes in second as one of the best places in Maryland for young families. The median household income for Ilchester families with children is $141,733, while the monthly median cost of housing is $1,993. The unemployment rate of this Baltimore suburb among 25- to 44-year-olds is 1.4%, while virtually all 16- to 19-year olds are enrolled in high school. While 46.5% of households have children, 82.2% of those households own their homes. Last, residents of Ilchester commute an average of 27.3 minutes to work.

#3 Mays Chapel

Mays Chapel is a Baltimore suburb that lies 13 miles north of Baltimore and lands in third place in the ranking with a score of 72.3. Just 33.4% of Mays Chapel households have children, but 91.3% of that group owns their homes. The median household income in Mays Chapel is $132,733 and the monthly median cost of housing is $1,789. The unemployment rate is 0.7%, and residents’ average travel time to work is 25.4 minutes.

#4 Urbana

Urbana is a prosperous Baltimore suburb in Frederick County and makes the ranking with a score of 72.3. Located about 60 miles west of Baltimore, Urbana is a family-oriented suburb where 66.7% of households have children, and of those, 86.2% have their own homes. Among households with children, the median household income is $154,107, and the monthly median housing payment is $2,527. Urbana’s unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds is only 0.7%, and statistically all of its 16- to 19-year-olds are enrolled in high school or have graduated. Urbana’s prosperity exacts a higher price, however, as the average commute is 40.4 minutes.

#5 Linthicum

Located about 10 miles south of Baltimore, Linthicum rests on the banks of the Patapsco River and lands in the Top Five with a score of 70.8. In Linthicum, the median income for households with children is $123,114 and the monthly median cost of housing is $1,432. Just 32.9% of households in Linthicum have children, and out of that group, 86.8% own their homes. The unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds is 2.3%, which is decisively higher than the rate of any other community in the Top 10, but it is still much lower than the 3.9% rate statewide for Maryland in December 2018. Older teens neither enrolled in high school nor graduated also stand at 2.3% there.

#6 Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase sits on the borders of Washington, D.C., and Maryland and makes the ranking with a score of 70.3. Known for its affluence and its history as the so-called original streetcar suburb to Washington, D.C., according to the village’s website, Chevy Chase’s households with children have a median household income of $232,266. The monthly median household income is $2,876. Slightly more than one-third of households, 34.7%, have children and of that group, 85.8% own their homes. The unemployment rate among 25- to 44-year-olds in Chevy Chase is 1.5%, and the average commute time is 30.5 minutes.

#7 Fallston

Fallston, in the northern reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, lands in the ranking with a score of 69.5. The median household income of families with children is $132,072 and the monthly median cost of housing is $1,589. Slightly more than one-third of households in Fallston, 33.4%, have children, and out of those, 92.5% own their homes. Statistically speaking, unemployment is almost nil among 25- to 44-year-olds, at 0.1%, and the average commute to work is 35.4 minutes.   

#8 Darnestown

About four miles from the banks of the Potomac River, Darnestown makes it into the ranking with a score of 69.3. Darnestown is another particularly affluent town, where the median household income of families with children is $208,629, and the monthly median cost of housing is $2,893. About 39% of households in the town have children, where the homeownership rate among families with children is 94.5%. Unemployment is low among 25- to 44-year-olds, at 2.0%, and the average commute time is 33.3 minutes.

#9 Potomac

Potomac is one of the District’s premiere suburbs and was the sixth-wealthiest city in the U.S., according to a January 2018 study by Consumers Advocate. It makes the ranking with a score of 69.1. The median household income of families with children is $219,575 and the monthly median cost of housing is $2,723. Just 37.4% of households in Potomac have children, but an overwhelming majority of them, 85.8%, own their homes. Unemployment is far below the state average, with only 1.8% of 25- to 44-year-old residents out of work. With an average commute time of 33.6 minutes, Potomac is in the penultimate slot of LendingTree’s Top 10.

#10 Bethesda

Bethesda neighbors Potomac to the east and closes out the Top 10 with a score of 69.0. It is another one of Maryland’s premiere suburbs, and it certainly has one of the highest median household income levels for families with children, at $225,985. The monthly median housing cost comes to $2,296. Slightly less than one-third of households in Bethesda, 30.0%, have children, and among them, 75.2% own their homes. Unemployment among Bethesda’s 25- to 44-year-olds is 2.6%, and the average commute time is 29.3 minutes. Almost none of its 16- to 19-year-olds, 0.4%, either have neither enrolled in high school nor graduated.

Understanding the ranking

We chose seven indicators to rank cities and towns with above 5,000 people in the state for how good they are for young families, which were then scored to create an overall ranking of the best places for young families. The seven indicators we used are:

  • Median family income: Money isn’t everything, but a place with high family incomes suggests a place with good job opportunities and a community with more resources.
  • Median monthly housing costs for all households: For families already dealing with new childcare expenses, reasonably affordable housing is important.
  • Homeownership rate of families with children: This indicates where homeownership is both more common and perhaps important for a family looking to buy, more practical.
  • Unemployment rate of 25- to 44-year-olds: This indicates where the job market is healthy and suggests a higher quality of life, locally. We focus on 25- to 44-year-olds in particular to capture the most common ages for parents of young families.
  • Percentage of 16- to 19-year-olds not enrolled or graduated from high school: To estimate high school graduation rates and therefore school quality, we calculated the percentage of older teenagers who were not in high school yet had no high school degree. This number is not the actual high school dropout rate, but is well-correlated.
  • Average commute time: Shorter commutes mean less-stressed workers who have more time to spend with their families.
  • Percentage of households that have children: A community with more children means that other families have already decided it’s attractive. It also usually means more educational and recreational activities suitable for children and their parents and that residents are concerned about policies that benefit families with kids.

Methodology

Analysts used data from the 2017 5-Year American Community Survey by the U.S. Census. Each of the seven metrics was given a value according to its relative location between the highest and lowest values. The values were then summed and divided by seven for an equal weighting. The analysis was limited to Census-designated places with populations of at least 5,000 in Maryland.

 

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