You can live that Maryland lifestyle without paying Baltimore prices.
It’s no secret that most East Coast cities and states can get expensive — Maryland is no exception. It’s routinely ranked as one of the wealthiest states in the union. According to Statista, it also has the second-highest concentration of millionaires next to New Jersey.
It’s easy to see why everyone wants to live here. Washington, D.C., is right next door, and other major East Coast cities like Philadelphia and New York are short drives or train rides away. The state has so many national and state parks that it’s called “America in Miniature,” so there is always access to outdoor activities.
From crab cakes to clam chowder, the seafood and dining are exceptional here. There is an abundant history and culture to discover at museums and around every corner of each city. Oh, and of course, the charming coastal towns easily will steal your heart.
But just because Maryland is an expensive state doesn’t mean it’s priced out of everyone’s range. In fact, there are many affordable cities and towns that are often overlooked because of Annapolis and Baltimore.
If you’re looking for the cheapest places to live in Maryland, these places will give you budget-friendly access to everything the Free State has to offer.
Maryland average rent prices
Compared to rates in some nearby cities and states, the average rent in Maryland is a steal.
In Washington, D.C., the average rent is $2,600. In Philadelphia, it’s $2,132. For a one-bedroom apartment in Maryland, the average rent is $1,748. This comes after a 6.4 percent increase over the past year.
Not only does this make Maryland a much more affordable option in the region, but it’s also in the ballpark of the national average. In April 2021, the national average price for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,610.
The cheapest cities in Maryland for renters
Although Maryland’s average rent is a bit on the high side, the number also includes higher rents in major cities like Baltimore. For reference, Baltimore’s average rent for a one-bedroom is $1,855.
Luckily, there are many other cities and towns that are more affordable. These ten cities currently top the charts as the cheapest places to live in Maryland.
Photo source: McDonogh Village Apartments & Townhomes / Rent.com
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,557
- Average rent change in the past year: 22.08 percent
With a population of 35,528, Randallstown is a suburb of Baltimore. Its average rent of $1,557 is cheaper than rates in Baltimore proper. In fact, the majority of residents own their homes — with renters being the minority.
Located roughly half an hour from the city center, it’s an ideal community for families seeking a suburban environment, young couples and commuting professionals. It’s also fairly affluent. The median household income is $83,549.
One of Randallstown’s biggest attributes is its diversity. Since the 1990s, when there was an influx of Black residents, the area is now home to many different races, ethnic groups and cultures. Some of the most predominant include Asian and Hispanic or Latino. As such, Randallstown benefits from the multicultural exchange with expansive variations of dining and entertainment opportunities.
The area is home to numerous city parks and is known for well-regarded schools. Overall, it’s a solid, comfortable suburban area with everything locals may need, from shopping to leisure activities.
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9. Windsor Mill
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,471
- Average rent change in the past year: 28.41 percent
Part of the larger Milford Mill area, Windsor Mill is a suburb of Baltimore. Located in the northeastern sector of the city, its proximity to downtown makes it a great choice for commuters.
With rental rates surging nearly 30 percent over the past year, the area is in demand among renters and homeowners. There are several reasons for this (besides access to the city center). This is an upscale district with households boasting median incomes of $85,215. A safe and friendly area, residents have lots to do from shopping to dining.
Windsor Mill’s main attraction is its urban green spaces though. The Diamond Ridge Golf Course and The Woodlands Golf Course — both close by — feature picturesque greens and entertaining hole courses.
For non-golfers, Patapsco Valley State Park has wooded hiking paths for hiking and walking and scenic river views.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,463
- Average rent change in the past year: -16.92 percent
The Howard County community of Elkridge comes with endless history. Settlements and villages in the area date from the early 1700s, so this unincorporated community is full of historic sites, classic homes and established neighborhoods. Surrounded by scenic countryside, the quality of life is peaceful and laidback.
For all its historic accolades, it has plenty of contemporary amenities. Foodies will find a robust dining scene. The Elkridge Furnace Inn, in particular, is well-known for its high-end New American cuisine.
Outdoor lovers enjoy access to nature in places like Patapsco Valley State Park. There is a strong business district, but Baltimore is also just 20 minutes away by car.
If you travel a lot for pleasure or work, you won’t find anywhere closer to Thurgood Marshall International Airport.
In recent years, Elkridge was a rapidly growing area. Over the past year though, rent prices dropped almost 17 percent. So if you want to live close to the city but love history, nature and small-town vibes — Elkridge is the place for you.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,369
- Average rent change in the past year: -11.02 percent
Work in D.C. but don’t want to pay D.C. prices? Check out apartments in Lanham. This suburban community, conveniently located just ten miles from D.C., has average rents half those in the capital city. Plus, those rates have gone down 11 percent over the past year.
In addition to being close to D.C. and everything it has to offer in terms of work and fun, there’s another big reason to choose Lanham. The University of Maryland is in the vicinity.
With average rental rates at $1,369 for a one-bedroom, there are plenty of affordable options for students and faculty alike. Being close to a university brings a wealth of neighborhood benefits like art and culture, theater and entertainment and deliciously diverse dining.
If you’re feeling a bit stifled by city life, there’s always Greenbelt Park. This large park, managed by the National Forest Service, offers campgrounds, hiking trails, walking paths and other outdoor activities.
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Photo source: Madison Gardens/ Rent.com
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,267
- Average rent change in the past year: 8.19 percent
Suitland is another great residential option for D.C. workers. It’s right outside the capital and is well-connected thanks to the Suitland Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue. However — Suitland is much more affordable.
Here, the average rent has increased over the past year but not enough to deter renters from using Suitland as a great base to commute into DC from. Its proximity to the Washington Navy Yard and Andrews Air Force Base appeals to military members.
Besides its great location, the area boasts a diverse population. There are solid schools, and three nearby universities including Georgetown.
Work-wise, Suitland is home to many federal agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau. Several Smithsonian Institute storage and preservation facilities call Suitland home too.
Dining-wise, there is a multicultural mix that reflects the area’s demographics. And last but not least, the outdoor recreation in numerous parks is easy to get to and enjoy.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,251
- Average rent change in the past year: -10.49 percent
Frederick is the first option on our top 10 list of the cheapest places to live in Maryland that isn’t directly adjacent to Baltimore or Washington, D.C.
About an hour away from both, it’s located in the western part of Maryland. This is a highly walkable place with a strong sense of community and small-town connectedness.
Over the past year, the average rent in Frederick has been in decline. With the current average sitting at $1,251, it’s an attractive option for budget-minded renters. But that barely scratches the surface of everything Frederick has to offer.
During the Civil War, it was an important crossroads. The city’s rich history and connection to the war are easily discoverable at numerous historic sites and museums.
There is a vibrant arts and culture scene, especially in theater and visual arts, as well as beautiful architecture and classic buildings.
Frederick is also close to the Catoctin Mountains, with great hiking and outdoor activities.
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4. District Heights
Photo source: The Avanti / Rent.com
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,240
- Average rent change in the past year: 4.26 percent
This affordable suburb near Washington, D.C., is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and lush greenery. The tree-lined streets and wooded neighborhoods help create a laidback oasis of calm so close to the bustling capital.
Over the past year, there was little change in average one-bedroom rental prices. Residents come here for the peaceful atmosphere, suburban comforts and access to the capital for work.
Good news, sports fans: Another major benefit of choosing District Heights is its sports scene. FedEx Field, the home field of the Washington Football Team, is only three miles away.
There are also great dining options, especially in the seafood and comfort food departments. Crab cakes, anyone?
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3. Gwynn Oak
Photo source: Gwynnbook/ Rent.com
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,182
- Average rent change in the past year: 3.74 percent
For quintessential suburban living, there’s the charmingly named Gwynn Oak. This verdant suburb is in western Baltimore, making it a popular choice for commuters.
Even with the city so close, the neighborhood is still family-friendly and safe. As such, demand is steady for this community. However, over the past year — average rates only increased by 3.74 percent. Residents can take advantage of varied housing options including single-family houses to apartment complexes.
There is both local and national shopping and dining to enjoy on the weekends, but it’s the area parks that really make Gwynn Oak stand out. There are numerous golf courses and public parks. The Maryland Zoo is also close by.
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2. Mount Rainier
Photo source: Kaywood Gardens / Rent.com
- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,091
- Average rent change in the past year: -6.60 percent
A Rainier? Outside of Washington? Indeed. Just as there’s a Rainier in Washington state, there is a town of Mount Rainier near Washington, D.C.
Great news! It’s extremely affordable, coming in second for the cheapest places to live in Maryland. The average rent even dipped over the past year.
According to local legend, the town and some of its streets were given their names by Pacific Northwest surveyors. It’s now a charming community with friendly neighborhoods and pretty parks.
Nature lovers come here to visit the nearby National Arboretum and the Mount Rainier Nature Center.
With the Gateway Arts District, the town has a lively arts and culture scene. There is fun shopping and dining in the downtown and commercial areas, all highly walkable areas.
The city also has a reputation for being extremely LGBTQ+ friendly and has a fairly diverse and multicultural population.
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- Average 1-BR rent price: $1,015
- Average rent change in the past year: 3.13 percent
It’s high time that the Eastern Shore of Chesapeake Bay gets attention. It’s often overlooked by the western shore, home to Baltimore and Annapolis. The Eastern Shore though has Salisbury, a hidden gem taking the top spot on our list of the cheapest places to live in Maryland.
Salisbury is the Eastern Shore’s largest city but still manages to feel like a small town. It’s the home of Salisbury University, which brings youthful energy and discourse. Its residents spend a lot of time out in the community, taking part in activities and events.
As for things to do, there’s something for everyone. From outdoorsy fun at parks and the local zoo to shopping and cultural events galore, life is lively here.
Foodies will find Salisbury quite an off-the-radar treat with tons of local dining and drinking options like Evolution Craft Brewing.
And to boot — the coast is not even too far away if you’re looking for an occasional beach day.
Thanks to a low average rent price of $1,015 here, this incredible community remains welcoming.
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The 25 cheapest places to live in Maryland
Curious to see what other places around Maryland are affordable for renters? Check out our list of the 25 cheapest places to live in Maryland.
The most expensive places to live in Maryland
Now that we’ve covered the cheapest places to live in Maryland, it’s time to check out the other end of the spectrum. These are Maryland’s most expensive cities and places to live.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of May 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
We excluded cities with insufficient inventory from this report.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.