View from the Marc by Elvert Barnes licensed under Creative Commons.

I just spent the past year living in Baltimore and commuting to work in DC. Since housing is so expensive in the District, a lot of people have asked me whether I would recommend commuting between the two cities.

While I can't speak for everyone, I do have some experience with being an artist, government work, being self-employed, and working in the service industry. Here's what I'd recommend for those workers.

Federal worker

Yes, especially since there are usually opportunities for working remotely at least part of the time. If you want to be a homeowner, Live Baltimore and Brioxy are geared towards finding you a house to purchase in Charm City. Plus, your benefits cover your MetroCard, and your MARC pass won’t make too big of a dent into your budget.

Artist

Yes. DCist, Washington City Paper, and other outlets have documented how hard it is to find affordable studio space in DC.

In Baltimore, there are more opportunities to find cheap studio space, and apartment buildings such as City Arts provide affordable living space amd privilege artists. (The City Arts building is adjacent to the Open Works makerspace, which offers large format machines to help you build your projects.) You may also consider living in the Station North Arts District—residents there are eligible for a special tax write-off on income from commissions, grants, and other income that you generate working and living in the district.

Self-employed or remote worker

It depends. I adored working at Impact Hub Baltimore and being able to walk right to Penn Station when I had meetings and workshops in DC. However, if you find that most of your meetings are based there, it might be better to just live in the District. I eventually found my frequent DC meetings to be a burden.

There are other considerations too. Don't forget to double check tax rates and compare the business incentives offered by the District, surrounding places in Virginia, and other counties/cities besides Baltimore in Maryland.

Service industry

No. This is ultimately what made me shut down my “live in Baltimore, play a few days a week in DC” scheme. Plenty of service industry and other hourly workers do this commute for valid reasons (family connections, also being an artist).

However, I would recommend getting a job in the city you live in or move to where your job is if you can swing it. Ultimately, the frequent long commutes required for this kind of work get expensive, and the intermittent transit schedules became quite tedious.

So should you commute?

Ultimately, it’s up to you! There are plenty of homes in need of some TLC in Baltimore, and you can get more floor space for your dollar there. Depending on your situation, be mindful of things like property taxes and how often you socialize in one city over another. However, I do think it’s doable and even recommended for some people.

Readers who have made the commute: tell us about your experiences!

Kristen Jeffers is a writer and advocate whose site The Black Urbanist shares her thoughts on land use and mobility from the perspective of a black Southern femme person, and helps other black urbanists worldwide share their story and find connections. She's a native North Carolinian, and after trying out Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood, she's returned to DC’s Park View neighborhood and plans to stay for a bit.