Baltimore, Maryland

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Goal: Minimize unnecessary living costs for a young professional.

Search for an apartment

Finding housing is a daunting task.  I suggest that you definitely go to see the place or neighborhoods at least once.  Before taking my first visit to Baltimore, I searched online and made a list of places that appeared worth my while based on descriptions, building photos, pricing, and reviews.  Some of those that I thought would be decent were terrible.  Most grad students stay around the Charles Village area so you can put that into Craigslist and see what results in the search

  • ApartmentRatings - Gives ratings about apartments from tenants. While to be inflated, it does not appear so and can be a very useful tool. 
  • CraigsList - A great and reliable way to check out classifieds 
  • Rentnet - Nice set. Users can put in proximity to an address (such as JHU) 
  • Rent - You have to sign up (free) but a good website that can search by university or city location and gives $100 reward for using their service if you sign with one of their listings...but I think they underestimate actual rental costs to appear cheaper
  • Realtor - Not bad. Best for locating houses than for apartments. 
  • Roommates  - Search for help on the rent 
  • RoommateClick - Sign up and get paired up. Connected to ApartmentRatings.com 
  • SouthernManagement - A few listings for the Baltimore area

Internet

There are a handful of local ISPs that are constantly trying to lower costs.

Of course, you can always find the giants such as BellSouth, Qwest, AT&T…or Comcast and Verizon if you want to do a combined package of TV and Internet. Most of the plans start around $25-30 if you already have another service with them.

Utilities

Most apartments include the cost of water and sewage.  Some include electricity.  Others include another charge for gas heating.  Since many buildings date back to the 1920s, few have AC units so you will likely have to buy a unit (~$30-$60) and have it installed in the spring.  Like expected, as summer approaches, they become more expensive.  

VOIP

Did you know that most of your telephone companies already use VOIP? I do not mean that you can buy it from them as a separate product. When you make a REGULAR phone call, companies are beginning to re-package the call using VOIP technology to cut down on their costs. You never know because technology is just that good. 

Point of the story, do not buy it from them because they are making you pay for something you already pay for with your regular phone…it is just setup differently. In fact, I do not have a regular phone nor a cell phone. All VOIP (and soon I will have WiFi VOIP…aka a “cell phone” once they come out and become cheaper than $250 on Amazon). 

  • Skype - My preferred service. While it does not give you monthly rates like Vonage, SkypeOut's rates come out cheaper than a cell phone. At 2.1cents/min for USA calls, you can get 1250 minutes for $25. It has all the thrills that come with any major company, usually with the lowest costs. 
  • Vonage - Offers all sorts of traditional plans with features like unlimited calling, virtual phone numbers, caller ID, voicemail (Skype has all of these, too). Its international rates are a little more expensive but the difference is negligble, unless you make a lot of those kinds of calls (like me!). This is a poor U.S. version of a good European service like Skype.

Work

Need to make some money, huh?