20 Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

When it comes to living in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the age-old debate of Maryland vs Virginia vs DC is always a hot topic. Both states offer their unique charms and drawbacks, which can make it difficult for potential residents to choose between the two. In this article, we will dive deep into the pros and cons of living in Virginia compared to Maryland, focusing on various factors such as the cost of living, job opportunities, schools, and more. So, buckle up and get ready for an engaging, fun, and informative ride as we explore the ins and outs of these two popular East Coast options!

Pros of Living in Maryland

Good Job Opportunities

When comparing Maryland and Virginia, it’s important to consider the job opportunities in each state. Maryland boasts a high concentration of millionaire households and a strong economy, providing plenty of employment opportunities in government, technology, and other sectors.

In contrast, Virginia also has a robust economy, with a focus on government and defense jobs, as well as technology and professional services. However, Maryland’s economy is more diversified, which can be an advantage for job seekers with varied skill sets and backgrounds.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

Excellent Education

Education is a critical factor for many families when deciding where to live. Maryland has some of the best private and public schools in the nation, as well as dozens of colleges and universities. For instance, schools in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Rockville areas are consistently ranked among the top schools in the country.

In comparison, Virginia also has excellent schools, particularly in Arlington and Alexandria. However, Maryland’s schools tend to be ranked slightly higher overall, making it a more attractive option for families prioritizing education.

Diverse Outdoor Activities

When it comes to outdoor activities, Maryland offers a diverse range of options. The state’s access to the Atlantic coastline, Chesapeake Bay, Appalachian Mountains, and numerous parks provide residents with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

On the other hand, Virginia also offers diverse outdoor activities, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, and the Atlantic coastline. However, Maryland’s unique combination of coastal and mountain landscapes may be more appealing to those who enjoy both beach and mountain activities.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

Proximity to Big Cities and Small Towns

Another advantage of living in Maryland is its proximity to both big cities and small towns. Maryland is close to Baltimore and Washington D.C., providing residents with easy access to urban amenities and job opportunities. Additionally, there are numerous charming small towns throughout the state, such as Kensington, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park.

While Virginia also has its fair share of big cities and small towns, such as Alexandria and Charlottesville, the convenience of Maryland’s location within the D.C. metropolitan area is unbeatable for those who frequently travel to the nation’s capital for work or leisure.

Great Regional Foods

Food lovers will appreciate the regional cuisine in Maryland, which is famous for its crab dishes and other local seafood delicacies. The state’s proximity to the Chesapeake Bay means that residents can enjoy fresh, delicious seafood year-round.

While Virginia also has a great food scene, particularly in the northern Virginia suburbs, Maryland’s rich seafood culture sets it apart from its neighbor.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

Cons of Living in Maryland

High Cost of Living

One of the most significant drawbacks of living in Maryland is its high cost of living. The state has a high median home value compared to other states and a high cost of goods and services. This can make it challenging for families and individuals to afford housing and maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

In comparison, Virginia has a lower overall cost of living, particularly in areas outside of the expensive northern Virginia suburbs. However, the difference in the cost of living between the two states is not substantial, and both states are considered relatively expensive compared to the national average.

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Excessive Tax Burden

Another disadvantage of living in Maryland is the excessive tax burden faced by residents. Marylanders are subject to income, property, sales, and death taxes, which can significantly impact their finances.

Virginia, on the other hand, has lower overall taxes, including lower income and property taxes. Additionally, Virginia does not have a death tax. For those looking to save money on taxes, Virginia may be a more attractive option.

Bad Traffic

Traffic congestion is a significant issue in both Maryland and Virginia, particularly in and around urban areas. Maryland’s proximity to Washington D.C. means that residents often face long commutes and heavy traffic, especially during rush hour.

While Virginia also has its share of traffic problems, the state has invested more in transportation infrastructure and public transit options, such as the Washington Metro system, which extends further into Virginia than Maryland. This can make commuting more manageable for some Virginia residents.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

High Crime and Homelessness

Despite Maryland’s overall wealth, crime and homelessness remain problems in certain areas. This can be a concern for families and individuals looking for a safe environment in which to live and work.

In comparison, Virginia has a lower overall crime rate and fewer issues with homelessness. However, it is essential to research specific neighborhoods and cities when considering safety, as crime rates can vary widely within each state.

Odd Laws

Lastly, Maryland has some unusual and potentially inconvenient laws for residents. For example, the state has strict alcohol laws, with most counties prohibiting the sale of alcohol in grocery stores. This can make it more challenging for residents to purchase alcohol, especially if they are used to more lenient laws in other states.

While Virginia also has some unique laws, they are generally considered less restrictive than those in Maryland. For individuals who value personal freedom and convenience, Virginia may be the better choice.

10 Cool Facts about Maryland:

  1. Maryland is often referred to as “America in Miniature” because it boasts a diverse range of terrain and climate, from sandy beaches and dunes to lush mountains and forests.
  2. Maryland holds the distinction of being the first state to designate an official state exercise, which happens to be walking.
  3. The state is home to several unusually named towns, such as Accident, Funkstown, Boring, Chevy Chase, Crapo, Savage, Pittsville, and Friendsville.
  4. Annapolis, the state capital, was once the capital of the United States and was known as the “Athens of America” due to its cultural and intellectual influence.
  5. Maryland was named in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria of England, the wife of King Charles I, who granted the charter for the colony to George Calvert, also known as Lord Baltimore.
  6. Founded by Sir George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) in 1632, the colony of Maryland served as a refuge for persecuted Catholics from England.
  7. Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the United States Constitution and join the union on April 28, 1788.
  8. In 1844, Samuel Morse established the world’s first telegraph line between Washington, DC, and Baltimore. The first message sent along this line read, “What hath God wrought?”.
  9. After witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key penned the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
  10. Maryland is home to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, established in 1845 and recognized as the country’s second oldest service academy.

Pros of Living in Virginia

Lower Cost of Living Compared to Maryland

One of the biggest advantages of living in Virginia is the lower cost of living compared to Maryland. Housing costs are generally more affordable, with real estate and rent prices tending to be around 70-80% of those in Maryland. This means that you can get more bang for your buck when it comes to finding a home in Virginia.

For instance, median home prices in popular Virginia suburbs like Arlington and Alexandria are significantly lower than those in Maryland suburbs such as Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Kensington. Lower housing costs can make a huge difference when it comes to your monthly budget and overall financial well-being.

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Additionally, the cost of living in Virginia is also lower when it comes to everyday expenses like groceries, transportation, and healthcare. This can add up to significant savings over time and make Virginia an attractive choice for those looking to stretch their dollars further.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

Walkability and Social Life

Another pro of living in Virginia is the walkability and social life found in certain areas. Suburbs like Arlington and Alexandria are known for their walkable neighborhoods, vibrant social scenes, and thriving downtown areas. These communities offer a mix of big cities and small towns, giving residents the best of both worlds.

Arlington, for example, is home to the popular neighborhood of Clarendon, which boasts a bustling nightlife, diverse dining options, and numerous shops and boutiques. Alexandria’s Old Town is a charming, historic district with cobblestone streets, waterfront parks, and a wide variety of restaurants, bars, and boutiques.

The walkability of these areas also means that residents can enjoy a variety of diverse outdoor activities without needing to drive. From walking and biking trails to parks and recreational facilities, there’s always something to do in Virginia’s walkable suburbs.

Good Schools

Virginia has a strong public school system, which is a major draw for families. Many high-performing schools can be found in Arlington County, Alexandria City, and Fairfax County. In fact, Virginia consistently ranks as one of the top states in the nation for education, with its schools frequently earning accolades for their academic performance and extracurricular activities.

In addition to its excellent public schools, Virginia is also home to some prestigious private schools and universities. This includes institutions like the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the College of William & Mary, which attract students from all over the world.

By choosing to live in Virginia, parents can feel confident that they are providing their children with access to a high-quality education that will set them up for future success.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

Cons of Living in Virginia

Personal Property Tax

One notable downside to living in Virginia is the personal property tax that residents must pay on each vehicle they own. This tax is based on the value of the vehicle and can be quite costly, especially for those who own multiple cars or expensive vehicles.

In contrast, Maryland does not have a personal property tax on vehicles, making it a more attractive option for car owners. However, it’s important to weigh the overall cost of living in each state when making a decision, as the savings from not having to pay personal property tax in Maryland may be offset by higher housing costs.

Less Pedestrian-Friendly Compared to Maryland

While certain areas of Virginia, like Arlington and Alexandria, are known for their walkability, the state as a whole is generally less pedestrian-friendly than Maryland. This means that, outside of these walkable suburbs, residents may need to rely more heavily on cars for transportation.

Maryland, on the other hand, has several walkable communities like Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Mount Rainier that offer residents a more pedestrian-friendly lifestyle. Additionally, Maryland’s public transportation system is more extensive than Virginia’s, making it easier for residents to get around without a car.

If walkability is a top priority for you, it’s essential to carefully research and select the right neighborhood within Virginia or consider Maryland as an alternative option.

Potentially Longer Commutes

Living in Virginia may require longer commutes for those working in D.C. or Maryland. While areas like Arlington and Alexandria are relatively close to D.C., other parts of Virginia may involve a longer drive or public transportation commute to reach the city.

For example, if you’re working in Rockville, a popular employment hub in Maryland, living in Virginia could result in a longer, more time-consuming commute. In this case, living in Maryland might be more convenient and save you valuable time each day.

Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia

However, it’s also worth noting that Virginia does have its share of job opportunities, particularly in the defense, technology, and government sectors. As such, some residents may be able to find employment within Virginia itself, negating the need for a lengthy commute.

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10 cool facts about Virginia:

  1. Virgin Queen’s Namesake: Virginia was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth I of England, famously known as the Virgin Queen due to her unmarried status.
  2. Colonial Roots: As one of the 13 original colonies, Virginia holds the title of the first permanently settled area in the country by the English, who founded Jamestown along the James River in 1607.
  3. Peanuts and Silk: Virginia pioneered the peanut and silk industries in the US. The peanut industry began in 1842 after a slave named Antonio planted peanuts from Africa, while the silk industry started in 1619 when King James I sent mulberry trees and silkworms to Jamestown.
  4. Presidential Birthplace: With eight US presidents born in the state—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson—Virginia is often called the “Mother of Presidents”.
  5. The Massive Pentagon: The world’s largest office building, the Pentagon, stands in Virginia as the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. The Pentagon spans 29 acres and boasts 17.5 miles of corridors within its five-sided, five-floor structure.
  6. Longest State Border: Virginia shares the longest continuous border with another state, West Virginia, stretching 381 miles along the Appalachian Mountains’ crest.
  7. Commonwealth Status: As a commonwealth, Virginia’s government is based on the common consent of the people rather than a constitution or charter granted by a king or parliament.
  8. Oldest Law-Making Body: Established in 1619 as the House of Burgesses, the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest law-making body in North America. It convenes in the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, a building designed by Thomas Jefferson.
  9. Historic College: The College of William & Mary, founded in 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II of England, is the oldest college in North America. Its famous alumni include Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler, George Washington, and Jon Stewart.
  10. Scenic Beauty: Virginia is renowned for its picturesque landscapes and attractions, such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns, Natural Bridge, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, and Virginia Beach.
Cost of LivingHigher cost of living, particularly in areas close to DCSlightly lower cost of living compared to Maryland, but still high in some areas
SuburbsBethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Kensington, Rockville, Mount Rainier, Takoma ParkArlington, Alexandria
Income TaxesHigher income tax ratesLower income tax rates
Property TaxesLower property tax ratesHigher property tax rates
Personal Property TaxPersonal property tax for businesses onlyPersonal property tax on vehicles and business property
WalkabilityVaries by location; some areas have high walkability scoresVaries by location; Arlington and Alexandria have high walkability scores
Social LifeVibrant social life in cities and towns, proximity to DCVibrant social life in cities and towns, proximity to DC
SchoolsHigh-quality public schools, particularly in suburban areasHigh-quality public schools, particularly in suburban areas
Real EstateExpensive in areas near DC, more affordable further awayExpensive in areas near DC, more affordable further away
Crime and HomelessnessVaries by location; generally lower in suburban areasVaries by location; generally lower in suburban areas
Odd LawsUnique laws, such as the prohibition of fortune tellingUnique laws, such as the requirement to honk your horn when passing other cars
Job OpportunitiesDiverse job opportunities, particularly in government, healthcare, and education sectorsDiverse job opportunities, particularly in government, technology, and defense sectors
Outdoor ActivitiesAccess to diverse outdoor activities, including state parks, beaches, and hiking trailsAccess to diverse outdoor activities, including state parks, beaches, and hiking trails
Cities and TownsBig cities and small towns, each with their own unique charmBig cities and small towns, each with their own unique charm
Regional FoodsKnown for crab cakes, Old Bay seasoning, and pit beefKnown for ham, peanuts, and oysters
Unique CultureRich history and culture, influenced by both Northern and Southern US traditionsRich history and culture, with a strong Southern influence
TrafficHeavy traffic in and around the DC area; better in other parts of the stateHeavy traffic in and around the DC area; better in other parts of the state
Atlantic CoastlineAccess to the beautiful Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic OceanAccess to the Atlantic coastline, including the popular Virginia Beach


The decision between living in Maryland and Virginia ultimately comes down to personal preference and priorities. Maryland offers excellent job opportunities, schools, and outdoor activities, but it comes with a high cost of living, excessive tax burden, and other drawbacks. On the other hand, Virginia has a lower cost of living and more lenient tax laws but may not offer the same level of education and job opportunities as Maryland.

In conclusion, the decision to live in Maryland or Virginia ultimately depends on your individual priorities and preferences. While Virginia offers a lower cost of living, walkable communities, and excellent schools, it also has some drawbacks like personal property tax, less pedestrian-friendly areas, and potentially longer commutes. By carefully considering these pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about which state is the best fit for you and your family.

By examining the pros and cons listed above, potential residents can make an informed decision about which state best suits their needs and lifestyle.


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Pros and Cons of Living in Maryland vs Virginia