Here's my opinion (only an opinion) on all the neighborhoods we've lived in:
Charles village - Area: North of 28th St, South of 33rd between Greenmount and Maryland Ave
Pluses: near johns hopkins so most of the area is owned by the hospital and is therefore safe and clean. Farmers market nearby - historic houses - very close to downtown
Minuses: Parking is terrible - settled near some neighborhoods that are not considered very desirable, but that's true of most of baltimore so don't be surprised if you drive a few blocks south and see prostitutes
Mount Vernon - Area: South of Madison, North of 40, between Park Ave and Calvert
Pluses: I live here currently - Often called "Baltimore's Little Europe" - All the cool festivals take place around here (could be a minus) - Good public transportation from here - Near Peabody Music Institute, Theatre District, Enoch Pratt Library, Lyric Opera House - One of those areas that it just feels trendy to say you live in(shallow, I know)
Minuses - Parking is expensive - If you are buying it is difficult to find realestate as the area is very desired and seldom sold - Rent is some of the most expensive in the city - Very small neighborhood
Canton - Area: South of Eastern, North of Boston, Between S Chester and S Haven St
Pluses: By the water - Near Patterson Park, Canton Dog Park, Greek Town - Family and Dog friendly neighborhood - Reasonable and varied housing prices
Minuses - Not many minuses it just doesn't have as much character as other neighborhoods but is near them
Federal Hill - Area: South of Key Hwy North of I-95, Between 395 and Key Hwy
Pluses: Shopping and Restaurants - Family and Dog friendly neighborhood - Federal Hill Park has amazing views of the city and many of the nicer homes do as well - Walking distance to inner harbor but doesn't feel like you're in the city - I believe President Bushes daughter lived there if that says anything about how good of a neighborhood it is...i don't know, just thought I'd mention - Where people go to see the fireworks each year so you already have an advantage if you live there - Great walking neighborhood
Minuses - Parking can be bad any number of times each year because of festivals and fireworks
Hampden - Area: South of 40th St, North of 29th St, Between Wyman Park and Jones Falls Expy (83)
Pluses - My favorite neighborhood - Flanked by parks on three sides - reasonable housing - shopping and restaurants - better than average parking - very hip neighborhood with a lot of artsy people and shops - Easy access to the highway - Quiet during the weekdays, busy during the weekends - Charm City Cakes from the Food Network is located in this neighborhood
That's all for the places I've lived. Here are the places i haven't but would like to:
Fells Point - especially the part south of Fleet Street, cobblestone streets, very historic, beautiful!
Roland Park - If you are buying and make considerably more than me
Historic Northwood - Lots of trees and yards with quiet streets, I have friends who live here and love it
Towson - Not in the city but better schools and very nearby, My husband works in towson. If you're not looking for "city life" this would be a good choice
Bolton Hill - MICA students live here, huge brownstones
There are other "up and coming" neighborhoods but we've noticed that with the recession they've slowed a bit in their progress. Example: Washington Village (PigTown) has amazing deals on housing but is still downtrodden in areas and you will probably have to deal with drug dealers for a few more years. i hope it cleans up because it could easily be like federal hill or Canton.
I'm sure there are neighborhoods I haven't mentioned so spend time looking around. I believe that these would be good places to start and for the most part you can't go wrong in these areas. I love Baltimore and hope you make it out here!
Fairly low crime rate or crime rate that's at least decreasing. Close proximity (within 5 miles) of grocery, shopping, restaurants, movie theaters, parks...etc. I would prefer to buy something that's not new and can use some improving upon cosmetically. I lived in Brooklyn for a while and noticed that the best neighborhoods had more greenery than others, so trees and grass would be nice. i don't have any kids but I understand if I decide to sell in the future that I don't want to limit my potential buyers to singles or newlyweds so decent public schools would be nice as well. I would probably not work in Baltimore City so access to the interstate or major highways would be convenient.
I'm looking in to buy in the Baltimore City or County area.
Let me know if I can be of any help!