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    Living in Maryland vs. Pennsylvania

    Living in Maryland vs Pennsylvania

    Deciding whether to move to Maryland or Pennsylvania can be a tough decision. It’s easy to say, “it depends” because it really does depend on your personal situation. That situation might be the new job you’re getting, a particular pay level you’re seeking or maybe simply making the best of what you can already afford, then comfortably settling within your means.

    It probably also depends on your family situation. You might have relatives in one state you want to be closer to or have friends who’ve recently relocated to one side or the other of the Mason-Dixon Line. It might depend on your interests outside of work or commitments you’ve made to a spouse or significant other. No matter what, deciding to live north of Dixie, up in Pennsylvania, or down south in Maryland, the “Free State,” really does depend on what you want, and need, for true quality of life.

    Pennsylvania and Maryland are two of the oldest states in the Union, and they both offer quality of life in abundance. Like all decisions in life, relocating to either Maryland or Pennsylvania depends on comparing the pros and cons of what each state offers in giving you a high living standard while still operating within a limited budget.

    Is it possible to get the best of both worlds? Which state is the most affordable location to reside in, and which state has the best-paying wages? What is the cost of living like in Maryland vs. Pennsylvania? Which state has the lowest real estate prices? How do Maryland vs. PA compare in taxes? Should you live in one state and work in the other?

    To help you make that decision of whether to move to Maryland or Pennsylvania, it’s helpful to look at what those pros and cons of each state are. To a great degree, they depend on a brief understanding of what each state has for locations, populations, median incomes, amenities, a bit of history, some politics and what the tax implications are of each of the Dixie Land border states.


    Locations of Maryland and Pennsylvania

    Maryland is a coastal Atlantic state with much of its tidal waterway taking up Chesapeake Bay. Its sister states are Virginia and West Virginia to the west, Washington, DC to the south, Delaware at the east and, of course, Pennsylvania sharing the longest border at the north.

    Maryland’s population is just over six million, making it one of the most densely populated states, being ranked 5th in the nation. Northern and western Maryland carry a rural flavor while the south and east parts of the state are the populous regions. Annapolis is the state capital and is set in the Chesapeake area near Washington, DC, the nation’s capital. Baltimore is Maryland’s largest city and becomes part of the DC metro region. Smaller, yet very desirable Maryland cities like Westminster, Bel Air and Hagerstown offer a more affordable lifestyle near the Pennsylvania border.

    As you approach the Washington, DC metropolis, Maryland becomes heavily urban. Here the economy turns from agriculture to a highly diverse blend of biotechnology, manufacturing and related service industries. This accounts for Maryland being one of the country’s wealthiest states by income per population.

    Population in Maryland and PA

    Pennsylvania is Maryland’s bigger cousin. The state is bordered to the west by Ohio and West Virginia, to the east by New Jersey and Delaware and to the north by New York and the Canadian province of Ontario. Geographically, Pennsylvania is split by the Appalachian Mountains with a touch of coastline on Lake Erie and the Delaware Estuary. A mixture of rural and urban makes up the “Keystone State” with heavy industrial competing for space with farmland and national forests.

    Pennsylvania is the 33rd largest American state in area and the 6th most populated. Nearly 13 million people call Pennsylvania home and the state continues to grow at a steady rate. The major centers are Philadelphia and Pittsburgh followed by Allentown, Erie and Reading with the state capital located in Harrisburg.

    York County is one of the most popular places to move to in Pennsylvania. It’s centrally located along the Maryland border and is an easy commute for those choosing to work in Maryland and reside in Pennsylvania. York is the county seat, and the greater York area houses just over 100,000 residents.


    History of Pennsylvania and Maryland

    It’d be tough to make an informed choice about whether to move to Pennsylvania or Maryland without a look at the history of these two founding states.

    Pennsylvania was the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution and is home to the Liberty Bell where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The state’s name originated in 1681 when the King of England gave Willian Penn a royal land grant. Penn was hesitant to use his own name, fearing his new countrymen would see it as grandstanding, so he deferred to the old Welsh word “Penn” for “head” and suffixed it with “Sylvania” which meant “land full of trees.” Hence, the “head woodland” became “Pennsylvania.”

    Here are a few more interesting historical facts should you decide to move to Pennsylvania:

    • Pennsylvania is also called the “Quaker State” from the original Pilgrims.
    • The Civil War Battle of Gettysburg and Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech, The Gettysburg Address, took place in the Quaker State.
    • During the War of Independence, the Liberty Bell was hidden in an Allentown church basement to keep it from being seized by the British.
    • Benjamin Franklin founded America’s first zoo in Philadelphia.
    • Philadelphia was America’s first capital city on four different occasions.
    • The first gas station in the States was in Pittsburgh.
    • Philadelphia had the first American hospital, the first medical school and the first live theater.
    • The world’s first computer was built in Pennsylvania in 1946. It weighed 27 tons, had 17,468 vacuum tubes and required 150,000 watts of electricity to operate.
    • Pennsylvania has the first U.S. stock exchange and the first mint as well as the first business school, the first railroad passenger service, the first oil well and the first covered bridge.
    • Pennsylvania produced the only bachelor U.S President, James Buchanan.

    Now for a few history lessons in case your move may be to Maryland.

    Maryland was one of the original 13 founding colonies and gave a large land donation to form the independent District of Columbia where Washington, DC now stands. Maryland’s name originated from Henrietta Maria of France who was the consort of King Charles I.

    Maryland is considered the birthplace of religious freedom in America. The state was formed by George Calvert in the early 1600s as a refuge for persecuted Catholics fleeing Protestant England. The Free State still proudly boasts of Maryland’s religious tolerance and political freedom.

    Here are a few more facts about the Free State:

    • Besides the Free State, Maryland is also called Little America because it offers just about everything the entire nation has compacted into one state. That includes terrain to culture to the distinct four seasons.
    • Maryland was home to Francis Scott Key who wrote America’s national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.
    • The first public school opened in Maryland in 1696
    • Maryland has the oldest, continuously operating legislative building — The Maryland State House. It also served for a short time as the nation’s capital.
    • Maryland had the first dental school, the first female professor of medicine and the first post office in America.
    • The first umbrellas in America came from Maryland
    • The US Naval Academy is in Annapolis, Maryland. It opened in 1845 and is still the center for all US naval training, including the SEALS.
    • Baseball great, Babe Ruth, and literary great, Edgar Allen Poe, both lived in and are buried in Maryland.
    • Jousting has been Maryland’s official state sport for well over three hundred years
    • Maryland proposed the Mason-Dixon Line in the 1760’s to establish the Maryland-Pennsylvania border as the official division between North and South. It still stands today as a symbol of Civil War dispute and creates a distinct line of culture in America.

    Politics of Maryland and Pennsylvania

    Should politics be a factor in your decision to move to Maryland or Pennsylvania? Probably not, but there’s an extension of political history that trickles down today and affects the rates of employment, the cost of living in each state and ultimately the quality of life.

    Today’s American politics are not black and white. They’re more like shades of red and blue — somewhat like how the colors back in the Civil War were blue for the Union soldiers based north of the Mason-Dixon Line and gray for the Confederates posted south of Dixie.

    The reality of politics is that decisions made by parties in power have a definite influence on where people live, who employ them and what rate they’re taxed at. Taxes are a major factor in what disposable income you may have to spend in sustaining a great quality of life. Before comparing tax situations between Pennsylvania and Maryland, let’s take a quick look at the recent political powers in each state.

    America has two main political parties. The Republican party generally stands for limited government regulation and a free enterprise society. Republicans have an elephant as their party symbol and claim the color red. Democrats, on the other hand, lean more towards government intervention, especially in social programs. They’re symbolized by a donkey and take blue as their favorite color.

    Federally, both Maryland and Pennsylvania are blue states when it comes to supporting the president. Maryland’s state senate is represented by two Democratic senators. Additionally, the House of Representatives is heavily Democratic but the state governor is a Republican. Pennsylvania supports a Democrat for their Governor, has a split red and blue senate representation and has a two-thirds majority of Republicans in the House.

    You’d think this right wing-left wing blend would balance out, but it certainly doesn’t when it comes to tax policy. That’s where a crucial decision point may come in your choice in moving to Maryland or to Pennsylvania

    Taxes in Maryland and Pennsylvania

    Real Estate Tax Reform HistorySo many taxes, no matter where you choose to live.

    There are federal income taxes, state income taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, sin taxes like on alcohol and tobacco, corporate taxes, school taxes, real estate taxes and even death taxes as on estates and inheritances.

    You’d think there’d be a consistency in tax policy depending on a governing body’s political colors, but this isn’t necessarily so. The State of Maryland has often been called the “Fee State” for its-higher-than-average tax rates. The Washington Examiner and the Wall Street Journal have severely criticized Democrat-influenced Maryland for having tax rates that flushed out the affluent while forcing lower income earners to struggle.

    How fair is this criticism?

    While tax rates may not cause most people to pack up and move once they’re established, tax rates may seem like a major factor in making your decision in what state to move to from elsewhere.

    Caution needs to be exercised on making a decision on which state to move to based solely on tax rates. It’s the particular location within the state that really determines cost of living and, ultimately, what you have to spend on building a great quality of life.

    Here’s a quick comparison of various tax rates between Pennsylvania and Maryland:

    Federal and State Income Tax:
    Per capita, Maryland has higher income taxes with an average of $1,885. Pennsylvania averages $1,062 per person. It’s important to know that Pennsylvania and Maryland have reciprocal agreements regarding income tax. You may live in Pennsylvania and work in Maryland, or vice versa, and you’ll be taxed at the rate of your state of residency.

    Sales Tax:Both states have a 6% sales tax. However, Pennsylvania has no state tax on clothing, food and toiletries.

    Gasoline Tax: Maryland has a higher fuel tax rate that’s linked to the fluctuation of a dollar per gallon index. Pennsylvania has lower fuel taxes.

    Vehicle Tax: This is more of a hidden fee, where Pennsylvania has a yearly mandatory state inspection fee. Maryland does not.

    Payroll Deduction: Tax-at-source deductions in Maryland are 9%. Pennsylvania deducts 3% so you have more take-home pay to spend.

    Corporate Tax: Pennsylvania has one of the highest corporate tax rates in America at 9.9%. Maryland is half of that.

    Real Estate Tax: This is highly variable between counties and cities within each state. Here’s where you really need to examine what location you intend to move to and compare the fine print.

    School Tax: Maryland has an above-board school tax policy that also varies depending on location. Pennsylvania has school taxes attached to real estate taxes and is somewhat hidden.

    Estate/ Inheritance Tax: Maryland has both “Death” taxes. Pennsylvania has none.


    Overall National Tax Rank

    Statistics on effective overall total state and local tax rates per median U.S. households show that Maryland ranks 35th highest in America at 11.85% and Pennsylvania ranks 39th at 12.22%. Drilling down, the effective real estate tax in Maryland is 3.54%, where it’s 4.91% in Pennsylvania.

    Effect of Location on Living Costs in Maryland and Pennsylvania

    This is where “the rubber hits the road.” It’s not tax rates that dictate the cost of living, nor should they be the main influence on your decision if you should live in Maryland or Pennsylvania. It really depends on where you decide to live in either state.

    In Maryland, the closer you get to the south near Washington, D.C., the more expensive it is to live — all the way around. That includes housing, food, utilities, clothing, transportation and health. In Pennsylvania, the further east you go toward Philadelphia, the same occurs.

    York County Cost of Living


    Finding a happy medium is the answer to balancing the cost of living and your quality of life. Central areas like York County in Pennsylvania offer some of the best return you can find when doing a cost of living comparison. York is close to the Maryland border and within a commutable distance from centers like Baltimore, Westminster, Bel Air and Hagerstown. York is also centrally located between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

    Let’s do a sample comparison using a $65,000 annual income based on a cost-of-living index in York, Pennsylvania and see how it compares to living in these other cities:

    • York, Pa — 85.0
    • Philadelphia, Pa — 96.2
    • Pittsburgh, Pa — 85.1
    • Westminster, Md — 117.2
    • Bel Air, Md — 116.5
    • Hagerstown, Md — 87.6
    • Baltimore, Md — 87.5
    • Washington, DC — 154.0

    York County in central Pennsylvania stands as having the best cost of living rate, and this may be the deal breaker in your decision on whether to move to Maryland or Pennsylvania.

    At CENTURY 21 Core Partners, we know it’s difficult to make a choice between moving north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and it depends on quality of life. That’s why our real estate broker office in York, PA services both sides of the border in Northern Maryland and South Central Pennsylvania.

    Contact us today, and let one of our professional sales team members help you make that tough moving decision to find your dream home near Dixie.

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