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Howard County Maryland- Is it all it is cracked up to be?

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  • Avatar ChristopherMD20 
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    I am sure there are a few docs that search this forum who live in Howard County MD or know someone who does since it appears to be the epicenter of doctors in the Baltimore/DC Metro area.

     

    My wife seems fixated on Howard County and more specifically Ellicott City area.

    Pros: Affluent, great public schools, multi-cultural region with Chinese schools a-plenty, real estate appreciates well, lots a great parks around

    Neutral: Commute to work ok (~30mins), closer to in-laws but not close enough (45mins), middle point between parents but not an ideal distance for either set of parents

    Cons: High taxes, high cost of homes for what we desire (SFH 600-900k for what we want), suspect it will lead to lifestyle inflation, did I mention how expensive it is?

     

    Every new doc is told that they have to move to Howard County where I work. I am starting to think it is a situation where it is way over hyped. It is like someone telling you that a certain steak house is the best ever but you eat it and it is a 8/10 which is great but you were expecting a 10/10 steak. I am trying to get pumped about Howard County for my wife since I know she really wants to be there. I also think there is a element of my rebellion against “doing what all the doctors do” which is admittedly childish on my part. Is the area really worth all the hype for raising a family?

    #213622 Reply
    Avatar Peds 
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    All I saw was Maryland… So no.

    #213631 Reply
    wonka31 wonka31 
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    Crab cakes and football, that’s what Maryland does.

    So, yes.

    #213636 Reply
    Avatar ZZZ 
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    “Is the area really worth all the hype for raising a family?”

    No. But, if your alternative is Baltimore, it probably seems like heaven on earth. Your steakhouse analogy is apt. It’s a real-world 6/10, but most people rendering judgement are comparing it to the 0/10 run down hole in the wall recently shutdown by the health inspected that is Baltimore City.

    “did I mention how expensive it is?”

    Yeah, that’s one of the downsides to practicing medicine in the Baltimore area (you’re probably at U-MD or JHH), you’re generally going to be underpaid relative to what you’d make doing the same work elsewhere. The Mid-Atlantic region typically comes in at or near the bottom of physician salary surveys. Mix in high-taxes and relatively high COL and you’re left feeling that typical suburbia which most docs would consider affordable is expensive.

    With your parents and her parents nearby, you’re probably stuck with negative geographic arbitrage. So, may as well take the plunge and live where she wants if that’s what she’s got her heart set on.

     

    #213637 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
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    If you start working at a hospital and you’re told every doc must live in a certain area, there’s a 100% chance that it’s a social standing thing and will not live up to the hype.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #213660 Reply
    Avatar ajm184 
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    Joined: 07/14/2017

    I’d be all over Federal Hill/Fells Point or Annapolis, but don’t know about the schools, commute to work/in-laws.

    Crab cake

    Click to expand…

    Yes, of course I’ll have another one.

    #213671 Reply
    Liked by Hank
    Dreamgiver Dreamgiver 
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    NE is ugly and expensive so for me MD gets 1/10 (Baltimore would be 0/10). But if that’s what works for you, that’s all that matters. We get amazing authentic chinese food and full immersion Mandarin public schools in the middle of the Rockies. So go figure.

    #213674 Reply
    Avatar Kamban 
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    Status: Physician
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    You could not pay me to live in Maryland. The rural area is beautiful but the reimbursement for medical professionals is abysmal.

    We have great Chinese language teaching even in the South.

    #213677 Reply
    Avatar snowcanyon 
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    Status: Physician
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    Joined: 10/22/2018

    I’m from the Northeast/MidAtlantic, and as a physician it’s only worth it if you need to be near family or if your spouse has a job that is location-specific. Otherwise, no thank you. High taxes, poor salary, high litigation, and an ossified social structure, and with a few exceptions, the schools aren’t any better there than anywhere else.

    It’s the past, not the future.

    #213688 Reply
    Avatar pulmdoc 
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    Ellicot City is very very nice. If you are at UMM its definitely a place to consider. I would not write it off “just because everybody says to be there.” Biggest Asian community by far so if that’s important to you, you aren’t going to get the same culture elsewhere in the metro. Catonsville is a little closer commute into the city, architecture not as pretty but cheaper.

    Columbia is nice in a central planning kind of way, if being partway between Baltimore and DC is important that’s the place to be. White Marsh on the northeast side is a nice suburb if you are at JHH or Bayview. Timonium is beautiful as well but the worst commute of these options.

    Ellicot City is expensive, but not more expensive than the other options. Living in the city is even more expensive.

    Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions.

    #213692 Reply
    Liked by Tim
    Avatar FertilityDoc 
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    Status: Physician
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    I grew up in Columbia, moved away for training, and now am back in Maryland for practice but in a near DC suburb. Truthfully, all of Maryland is expensive – housing and taxes. Howard County was a great place to grow up and has really good schools. While I don’t think you “have” to live there, where would you live instead? If you end up having to pay for private school, costs will be much higher.

    #213633 Reply
    Avatar Doc Spouse 
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    I drafted up a 50 line post detailing our family’s 5-year experiences living in that area (wife did her residency and research in Baltimore), but I deleted it because it was entirely too negative, even for me.

    Short and sweet – I couldn’t wait to leave and get her away from there.  We’d never consider moving back, no matter the money.  That won’t be an issue though, because as many have mentioned, the pay tends to be subpar anyway. I did get a morbid chuckle from the recent mayor troubles which also included University of Maryland Medical System and Kaiser Permanente. That’s the Baltimore I knew.

    Still, I know other people who love it; so do what makes you (and the wife) happy.  Just stay down south and pick your house carefully.  In the DC area, you tend to pay for lot location and commute rather than the house itself.

     

    #213695 Reply
    Liked by Tim, adventure
    Avatar ChristopherMD20 
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    We are not venturing far away from Maryland for a long long time.

     

    The places outside of Maryland my wife is willing to relocate to:

    1. Northern Virginia

    2. Oahu, Hawaii

    3. Los Angelos, CA

    4. San Francisco, CA

     

    …. I like the Baltimore area just fine…

     

    I do not practice in the city, so not going to live in the city.

    #213703 Reply
    Avatar ChristopherMD20 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 157
    Joined: 10/31/2017

    I grew up in Columbia, moved away for training, and now am back in Maryland for practice but in a near DC suburb. Truthfully, all of Maryland is expensive – housing and taxes. Howard County was a great place to grow up and has really good schools. While I don’t think you “have” to live there, where would you live instead? If you end up having to pay for private school, costs will be much higher.

    Other areas to consider and not have to pay for private schools: Montgomery County/Severna Park/Arnold/Towson/Sykesville

    I’ve never actually done a cost analysis for the public vs. private school costs. I believe you can now use 529 for private school. Nonetheless I suspect it would be significantly higher cost.

    #213704 Reply
    Lordosis Lordosis 
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    It is funny how everyone wants diversity until they don’t.

    “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

    #213727 Reply

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