4 C’s to Follow When Moving to Baltimore for Medical Training! (Updated 2023)
Updated: Mar 24
Our family of three moved to Baltimore in 2015 for my husband to complete two years of fellowship training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. We loved the Baltimore area so much that we put down roots here after training ended. Here’s what we learned from moving to Baltimore as a physician family.
1. Check Out Neighborhoods
The Baltimore area, and particularly downtown, is home to a multitude of neighborhoods. The age and type of housing, along with neighborhood amenities, vary almost by the block. If you can visit the area between Match Day and the beginning of training, plan ahead. Check out our Neighborhood Guide in advance and create a list of prospective neighborhoods. During your visit, set aside an afternoon for driving around Baltimore, as our family did. You’ll get a first-hand look at the types of homes, schools, and features each neighborhood offers, as well as a feel for the commute, which I will discuss below.
Some training programs, like Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, also conduct housing fairs during the spring to connect incoming physicians with housing and moving resources. Ask your Program Coordinator for details.
Physicians-in-training move to Baltimore from all parts of the country and under tight scheduling demands. If you cannot visit Baltimore in person, you can still make an informed decision about location by consulting our Neighborhood Guide and contacting a real estate agent for assistance. Many physicians have signed rental agreements “sight unseen” based on their research and connections.
2. Consider the Commute
Proximity to work is a key consideration in any move, but especially for physicians-in-training who must be available on short notice and at all hours. Consult your training program for rules regarding the allowable distance from work.
If you stay within city limits, Baltimore’s CityLink should connect you to most points within the city. The Charm City Circulator, a free shuttle service from Baltimore City, runs between the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Campus and City Hall, as well as making other stops throughout the city.
For Johns Hopkins University employees and students, JHMI Transportation provides free Employee and Student Courtesy Shuttles connecting from the main campus to multiple points in the city, as well as to affiliate/satellite campuses. The JHMI Vehicle Escort Service (powered by JHMI Transportation) offers rides to all Johns Hopkins University and Health System faculty, staff, students, and trainees living within designated boundaries. JH SafeRide (powered by Lyft) is now offering a pilot transportation program for all Johns Hopkins pre-doctorate students in the School of Medicine, School of Nursing or School of Public Health living within designated boundaries. Johns Hopkins Corporate Security also provides 24/7 walking escorts anywhere within campus boundaries. Check with your training program for similar transportation initiatives.
Outside city limits, Baltimore area offers a variety of housing options within a short commute from downtown. From the north in Lutherville-Timonium, it’s a 25-minute drive to downtown Baltimore in normal traffic. Coming from the south, the drive on I-95 from Columbia to downtown Baltimore takes roughly 30 minutes in ideal conditions. If you like living in the suburbs but want to avoid the commuter traffic, here’s the rundown about Baltimore’s public transit.
Baltimore’s MetroSubWay - The Good: Running from Owings Mills to directly underneath Johns Hopkins Hospital, the MetroSubWay Link is scheduled every eight to ten minutes during morning and evening rush hours. The Bad: Those who reside south of Owings Mills must still drive north – and fight the traffic - to catch the Metro.
MTA Light Rail - The Good: MTA LightRail operates routes from Hunt Valley (north of Lutherville-Timonium and a short drive south of Owings Mills) to BWI and points downtown, including Camden Yards. The Bad: The MTA LightRail line stops several blocks from Johns Hopkins Hospital and requires an additional bus or Metro connection.
CityLink & LocalLink Buses - The Good: Baltimore’s CityLink and LocalLink buses will connect you to most local hospitals, including Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins Bayview and UM Medical Center, from points within and outside of the city. The Bad: Although the rush-hour bus offerings are plentiful, and MTA Bus Tracker Mobile App helps you follow the schedule, you might face long wait times and multiple connections in off-peak hours.
I suggest trying your commute by car and public transit during several times of the day, if possible, before committing to a transportation mode.
3. Commit & Save
Once you find a rental home, it’s time to negotiate lease terms. For physicians planning to remain in Baltimore longer than one year, many landlords might offer a multi-year rent discount or other benefits for the longer commitment. Be sure to ask – and check out our rental listings featuring properties offering these discounts!
Additionally, my family began our lease in mid-June, before the academic year started on July 1. Although an earlier transition might not be possible for all training schedules (or landlords), we found the extra time beneficial for coordinating our move and settling in before the busy season of training began. Without that lease extension, we wouldn’t have been able to unpack as a family. Ask your landlord to prorate the June rent if you still wish to end the lease on June 30 of the following year.
Building a support system in a new city is important, especially during the physically and emotionally demanding stages of medical training. Baltimore’s physician families are fortunate to have several ready-made groups available to connect with physician families at all stages of the medical journey – from residency to established practice. The Johns Hopkins Medical Auxiliary (JHMA), available to Hopkins physicians-in-training, current physicians, and alumni, offers numerous events and opportunities to connect throughout the year – from playgroups to adult happy hours and book clubs. The American Medical Association (AMA) Alliance and its local subgroup Charm City Physician Families Alliance (request private access on Facebook) provide similar outlets for families at all stages of medical practice.
In addition to connecting with other physicians through these groups, our family drafted a short letter and distributed it to the neighbors on our townhome block. We introduced ourselves, shared some details about our household and backgrounds, and asked neighbors to stop by and say hello. Over the next several weeks, we received multiple visits and greetings. This step helped us to reach out, and it encouraged our neighbors to do the same!
I hope these tips will ease the moving process and help make Baltimore feel like home!