Baltimore is home to 13 colleges and universities with a combined enrollment of almost 100,000 students. The world-renowned Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and Towson University are among them.
Here are the best student-friendly neighborhoods in Baltimore if you’re considering investing in a rental property to reach the area.
1. Federal Hill-Montgomery
- Median home price: $354,500
- Median price per square foot: $238
- Rental vacancy rate: 8.4%
- Closest College: University of Maryland, Baltimore
- Distance to Johns Hopkins: 3.6 miles
- Access to public transportation: CityLink Silver bus – 24 hours
- Median rental income: $1,821/month
A favorite of students and recent grads, Federal Hill is a small residential neighborhood a little over a mile south of downtown Baltimore. The area is filled with row houses and small apartment buildings, giving it a distinctly urban vibe.
Students are attracted to Federal Hill for its nightlife and walkability. Food and drinks can be found at restaurants, bars, and the historic Cross Street Market. The University of Maryland Baltimore campus is 15 minutes away by bus, and Johns Hopkins University is a 30-minute ride. Residents can take in the view of the harbor from Federal Hill Park between classes.
As an investor, you’ll like Federal Hill’s affordable real estate. Homes can be found for less than $250,000, including plenty of two- and three-bedroom options that appeal to students looking to split the cost of the rent.
- Median home price: $400,500
- Median price per square foot: $215
- Rental vacancy rate: 5.6%
- Closest College: Towson University
- Distance to Johns Hopkins: 5.3 miles
- Access to public transportation: CityLink Green & Red bus – 24 hours
- Median rental income: $1,900/month
Immediately north of Baltimore City is the community of Towson, an unincorporated area of Baltimore County that’s home to the area’s largest public college, Towson University. Suburban-style detached houses surround a small town center with a shopping mall and a smattering of mid-rise commercial and apartment buildings.
Students are primarily attracted to Towson for the school that shares its name. Roughly 20,000 students attend Towson University, almost all of whom live off-campus. Eight shuttle bus routes deliver students to and from campus, and downtown Baltimore is only 30 minutes away by city bus.
Towson offers a variety of homes to suit just about every real estate investor’s needs. You will find condos starting well below $100,000, multi-bedroom homes for less than $200,000, and even a small selection of affordable apartment buildings.
3. Charles Village
- Median home price: $219,900
- Median price per square foot: $162
- Rental vacancy rate: 9.6%
- Closest College: Johns Hopkins University
- Distance to Johns Hopkins: 0.5 miles
- Access to public transportation: CityLink Red & Silver bus – 24 hours
- Median rental income: $1,100/month
Charles Village borders the Johns Hopkins campus, a particularly student-friendly residential area. The neighborhood’s streets are lined with row houses and dotted with bars and restaurants, and apartment and condo buildings are plentiful in parts of the neighborhood closer to campus.
Students like Charles Village because of its central location. Johns Hopkins students can walk to class, while Towson students are a 30-minute bus ride away. Residents can catch up on their schoolwork at one of the neighborhood’s book shops or cafes and grab a bite to eat on their way to and from class. Those on a budget appreciate that the rent is lower than other student hotspots around town.
Charles Village may appeal to you for its low-maintenance investment options. One- and two-bedroom condos are commonly found for less than $200,000, although HOA fees are high. Some of the area’s row houses boast as many as six bedrooms but be cautious not to exceed the city’s limit of four roommates sharing a home. The neighborhood also offers a handful of multi-unit properties if you’re interested in making a more substantial investment.
- Median home price: $322,500
- Median price per square foot: $222
- Rental vacancy rate: 4.5%
- Closest College: Johns Hopkins University
- Distance to Johns Hopkins: 1.1 miles
- Access to public transportation: LocalLink bus
- Median rental income: $2,323/month
Just west of the Johns Hopkins campus is Hampden, a medium-density neighborhood with a greater share of detached homes than some of the other districts on this list (although you’ll still find lots of the city’s hallmark row houses). The area is slowly gentrifying and is often described as a small town within Baltimore.
Students choose Hampden for its relaxed, somewhat bohemian atmosphere. Residents can find a variety of restaurants and unique shopping along 36th Ave, blow off steam at nearby Roosevelt Park, and possibly enjoy a sunny afternoon in their backyard. Some students will walk or bike to class, while others can hop a ride on the Johns Hopkins shuttle.
As an investor, you’ll like Hampden for its strong property values. Rents here are higher than in other student-friendly neighborhoods of Baltimore, having risen 26% over the past year. You’ll also find a more balanced mix of prospective tenants here, including young professionals and families in addition to students.
5. Mount Vernon
- Median home price: $218,000
- Median price per square foot: $177
- Rental vacancy rate: 4.3%
- Closest College: University of Baltimore
- Distance to Johns Hopkins: 2.8 miles
- Access to public transportation: Light RailLink B Line, Express BusLink, CityLink Green, Yellow, Silver & Pink Bus – 24 hours
- Median rental income: $1,250/month
Just north of downtown Baltimore is Mount Vernon, a mixed-use neighborhood filled with mid-rise apartments and commercial buildings alongside shopping, the Peabody Library, and a handful of restaurants.
Students are attracted to Mount Vernon because it’s close to everything. The neighborhood is serviced by light rail, with several 24-hour bus routes. The University of Baltimore campus is within walking distance, and shuttle buses serve Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. Those who would rather not party all night appreciate Mount Vernon’s moderate approach to entertainment.
You may find Mount Vernon ideal to invest in because of its affordable homes and a large proportion of renters. One- and two-bedroom homes are easily found for less than $200,000, while four-bedroom homes are sometimes under $300,000. An estimated 89% of homes in Mount Vernon are renter-occupied, which means you’re likely to have an easy time finding a tenant.
The bottom line
Baltimore is an affordable city with a large student population. If you’re considering investing in real estate here, your next rental property just might be in one of these student friendly neighborhoods.
Students are often willing to share rental housing to save money, so you may find it makes financial sense to invest in a larger single-unit property than a multi-unit property. For example, a group of four students may be willing to pay $500 each to rent a bedroom in a house, but you’re less likely to find four students who are each willing to spend $1,000 on a smaller apartment. However, you should be aware that no more than two unrelated people can share a home in Baltimore County, and no more than four may share a home in Baltimore City.
Compared with other renters, students typically have less-stable incomes and are less likely to stay for the long term. Ask student applicants to provide a guarantor who will co-sign the lease. And you may want to check with your rental property insurance provider to ensure you have the coverage you need.
You can collect a damage deposit in Baltimore, but Maryland state law limits deposits to the equivalent of two months’ rent. You must provide the tenant with a receipt, pay interest on the deposit, and hold the funds in an FDIC-insured Maryland financial institution. Deposits must be returned to tenants within 45 days after they move out.