okay, i'll give you the people are nice (very friendly blue-collar city), but there's not much to do. i like hopkins but won't rank it highly b/c of baltimore. i live there (here?) now and am excited to be moving. the restaurants here are sub-par at best, good luck if you like anything flavorful (indian, vietnamese, etc). i've never been in a place where there isn't at least one restaurant i occasionally crave. the only young professional around tend to be hopkins affiliated and from what i can tell, they don't "go out" much.
if you're set on baltimore and looking for areas to live:
canton: okay bar scene, an area of places to go out and eat
fells point: kind of a lower brow canton . . . pretty at first, but not so happening
mt. vernon: the best food options i've found along charles st., museums, monuments, etc
shopping and movies . . . the burbs (towson, columbia, etc).
As a transplant from Texas to Baaaaahl-de-mer, I live in the downtown area and walk to work every day. I live in one of the nicer apartment buildings (and as a consequence my rent is nigh on outrageous, said the Texan who has never paid more than $350 a month for rent before). But there are many other more affordable options.
The most striking characteristic is how the city can go from fairly nice to ridiculously ghetto in the span of two blocks. Baltimore is almost famous for this. But I, for one, have walked all over Baltimore by myself and have not felt any undue sense of danger. You have to be aware of your surroundings, but that is not isolated to Baltimore.
Baltimore is very much a "local pub" sort of town. If you are looking for crazy night clubs, you end up in D.C.
I've enjoyed my time here in Baltimore, because I think it has a certain charm about it. The people who are from here are (for the most part) proud to be from here.
It can be a cultural city, unfortunately you have to look a little harder for it. I get my chicken souvlaki from little Greek ladies with too much eye makeup near Maryland Street, but I never would have found them had I not happened on them by accident.
Baltimore is not New York City by any stretch of the imagination. Its just an overgrown southern city, really. It makes it a less difficult place to live, in my opinion. The natives just don't have NYC sort of expectations of themselves. I personally don't mind the lack of pretention. Baltimoreans are who they are.