Virginia vs Maryland – 2023 Update!
You are moving to the DC Area but you don’t want to live in DC. My last Maryland vs Virginia video from a year ago was very popular, but some people felt that I was more supportive of Virginia than Maryland. That’s not entirely true. I lived in Maryland for 4 years. I never lived in Virginia. I’ve been in DC now for 18 years.
This video is going to focus on the parts of Maryland and Virginia we call “close-in” or essentially the DC suburbs. If you’re living in or moving to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia or Baltimore or the Eastern Shore in Maryland, this video may not totally apply.
What makes these two states so different? Are there any similarities?
Northern Virginia has 24 of the Fortune 500 Companies here. There are a lot of corporate headquarters as well as significant regional offices. Hilton, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Accenture, NVR Builders, Boeing, Purple Heart, American Registry for Internet Numbers, Nestle, Rolls Royce, Volkswagen, Sunrise Senior Living, Deloitte, Dell, Capital One.
Maryland has 3 Fortune 500 Companies in the DC Suburbs – Lockheed Martin, Marriott and Discovery. There are other large employers like NIH, Fort Meade and many colleges and universities, but Maryland employment centers are not as robust as Virginia. The Dulles Technology Corridor in Virginia just can’t be beat.
The employment conversation is a great lead-in for traffic. You can probably guess which side has worse traffic. Parts of Virginia know traffic like no other parts of the DMV. That’s DC, Maryland and Virginia for those of you who thought I was referencing the DMV. The traffic on the beltway moves counterclockwise from Maryland over into Virginia across the American Legion Bridge. I-66 through Arlington and in Fairfax County backs up like nothing you have seen, at most hours of the day.
Maryland has traffic because they have worse drivers. Sorry not sorry. At least 5 times a week you can find me screaming in my car or on my morning power walks with my neighbor, “THAT’S A RED LIGHT/CROSSWALK/SCHOOL BUS/WHEELCHAIR YOU JUST RAN OVER, MARYLAND!”
I’m not saying Virginia and DC don’t have sloppy drivers. But that’s maybe just once a week I have to yell at one of them.
When clients contact me saying they are looking in Virginia, right now my first thought is “eek!” It’s gotten steadily more competitive and pricey – even with Amazon dialing back their hiring estimates. You can get more for your money in Maryland in my opinion.
I realize there are all types of crime, but I’m going to focus on carjacking. That’s the most prevalent right now and in my opinion, the scariest along with home invasion because of the randomness.
Direct from WaPo: “The District and Prince George’s County (MD) have accounted for almost all of the region’s reported carjackings in recent years, according to 2018 statistics. Montgomery County, Fairfax County and Arlington County have seen increases in carjackings — though raw totals aren’t as high as for D.C., where at various times during the pandemic the city averaged more than two carjackings a day.
Areas such as Fairfax and Arlington counties and the city of Alexandria tallied about 90 carjackings in total from 2020 through early spring 2023.”
As far as income taxes are concerned, Virginia has pretty much a flat tax at 5.75% and they prohibit local income taxes, so there is nothing additional.
Maryland has brackets which cap out at 5.75% and don’t kick in until you hit $250,000 in income for a single person, $300,000 married / head of household. The cities and counties in Maryland also levy an income tax, which is between 2.25% to 3.2%. All areas close to DC are at the 3.2% rate.
Before you call Virginia the winner here, note that Virginia taxes personal property. Boats, RV’s, airplanes and CARS are all taxed based off their blue book value. It’s not insignificant either, the tax runs $4 – $5 per $100 of assessed value. They don’t take your word for it on assessed value, they go with fair market value from the NADA, now J.D. Power Official Used Car Guide.
Property taxes are somewhat a wash because they are similar in Maryland and Virginia. But you’ll pay in the low $1.00 range, so $1.00 – $1.20 per mil, so, per $100 of assessed value.
Virginia has 250 options for plates to include the usual colleges and military options. The non-school related options you see most include: “Don’t Tread on Me” license plate with a snake, a yellow Choose Life plate with two cartoon kids on it, and you also see a “Kids First” plate which is similar in style to the “Choose Life.” What does this tell us in a nutshell? Keep in mind this is state-wide but: Pro-Life and We Like Guns.
Maryland offers several hundred specialty plates as well, but the ones you see the most aside from the basic Maryland flag choice? The Chesapeake Bay Trust or the Maryland Agricultural Education Plate. What does that tell us? Save the environment.
What’s Best for Families?
Because I’m a mom, I know viewers expect the mom-stamp of approval on one or the other. Honestly, this is a toss up. I generally feel that the closer-in areas of Northern Virginia are more urban. Kids have greater independence with the ability to walk places on their own and enjoy a sense of safety. Schools are run by the city or county in which they reside, so this can be hit or miss. Arlington and Fairfax schools are well regarded. Alexandria City Schools have had a tough time with questionable leadership.
In Montgomery County, unless you’re right near downtown Bethesda, it will feel much more suburban. There will be more driving to get your kids to their activities for the most part. But then, most of Montgomery County is outside the beltway so it makes sense that it’s more suburban feeling.
Montgomery County schools are very comparable to Fairfax County, with all the options being in a large county-run school system offer. I have videos on the different school districts, so check those out for more information.
Hopefully this gave you some more insight into Maryland and Virginia and it helps you figure out which is the best place for you. If you have more questions, let me know!