The Best Place To Live In Maryland

Maryland is the heart of the mid-Atlantic region. Situated with coastlines on the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, residents and visitors can enjoy water-based activities like boating and fishing. But if the woods are more of your thing, one of the main reasons people live in Maryland is for its stunning scenery, such as the mountains, lakes, and forests where people enjoy hiking the various trails. And those who prefer cities will love the close proximity to major urban areas like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., as well as some charming small towns throughout the state.

But, the best place to live in the state has a little bit of each of its most-loved features. According to Money Magazine, Columbia in Howard County is the best place to live in Maryland. Nearly 105,987 people call Columbia home and it's not hard to see why they love living here. There are parks, lakes, and trails for nature lovers and a great downtown with restaurants and shops. The city is also conveniently located mid-way between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., making access to both major cities under an hour by car. These are only some of the reasons why Columbia is ranked as the best place to live in Maryland, and number six overall in America.

Cost of living

For many people looking to move to a city, the cost of living is one of the most important factors. According to PayScale, the cost of living in Columbia, Maryland is higher than the national average by about 38%. Average salaries and the real estate market are the major contributors to this cost, with the average home price being $979,729, while the median rent is $2,993 a month.

However, Columbia has a lower cost of living than nearby Washington, D.C., while still being in close proximity to the attractions that the city has to offer. Because of this, many people who work in D.C. commute from Columbia, particularly if they're looking for a more suburban or a small-city feel. Though the cost of living may be high, it's still less than some of the surrounding areas, and many residents feel it's worth it because of the perks that the city has to offer.

The economy

Though Columbia may be seen more as a suburb, the city still has a bustling economy. According to the Bob & Ronna Group, there has been a 17.6% growth in the economy over the past decade. Sales tax and income tax are higher than the national average, by 1.3% and 3.4%, respectively. However, the annual salary and household income are also higher than the national average.

The median household annual income is $107,000 and the unemployment rate is under the national average at 4.5%, which proves that there is a job market that is stable and offers job opportunities for residents. The job market experienced 0.7% growth in 2022 and is projected to increase by 34.2% over the next ten years.

In the city, 22.8% of Columbia residents earn between $100,000 and $150,000 individually and 15.7% earn over $200,000 individually, while only 5.6% of the residents earn under $15,000. Because of the many industries in technology, healthcare, and government contracting, there are plenty of job opportunities that allow for higher-than-average take-home pay.

Diversity and demographics

Being in close proximity to major cities, Columbia has a fairly diverse population of residents. With a population of about 105,000 in 2020, Columbia, Maryland is 44.5% white, 27% Black or African American, 27% Asian, and 9.44% Hispanic, according to Data USA. In 2020, 91.5% of the population were United States citizens. About 21.1% of the residents in Columbia were born outside of the United States, with many being from El Salvador, India, and China. The diverse demographics create a rich community with many cultural features.

The Columbia Association hosts many multicultural programs and events for residents to enjoy. The East Columbia Library hosts monthly world language café programs, which are free and offers an opportunity to practice speaking different languages, interact with other students and learn about their cultures. The city has also hosted cultural festivals for many African, South American, and Asian counties, where residents can experience music, food, and traditions from cultures around the world that are represented in their community.

Schools and education

Families are often drawn to Columbia, Maryland because of the great schools in the area. Many are part of the county school district, the Howard County Public Schools, which has 24 public schools, according to Great Schools, and 59 private schools. For example, Atholton High School in Columbia was ranked fifteenth for best public high schools in Maryland, according to Niche. moreover, the diverse residents create diverse school communities.

Atholton High School serves ninth through twelfth grades with a total enrollment of 1,472, according to U.S. News & World Report, and the student-to-teacher ratio is 16:1. About 57% of the students participate in Advanced Placement courses. Of the school population, 65% are minorities and 13% are economically disadvantaged. The school ranks high on college readiness and graduation rate in both the state and nationally.

As for activities, students at Atholton High School can stay busy with athletic teams like bowling, softball, lacrosse, cheerleading, volleyball, basketball, and football. Activities like the anime and manga club, car club, crochet and knitting club, and Green School Club, as well as theatre and musical ensembles, contribute to a vibrant student life.

Activities and entertainment

Residents of Columbia, Maryland will never have a shortage of activities and entertainment to try. Of course, Columbia, Maryland is in close proximity to major cities like Baltimore and Washington, D.C., so residents are able to enjoy the attractions of these urban areas as well. But you won't always have to leave the city to find something to do on weekends and weeknights.

Columbia is home to the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which hosts performance acts in a large outdoor amphitheater. According to Southern Management, the event venue has hosted world-renowned artists, winter holiday events, and summer music festivals. The city also has vibrant restaurants featuring a wide variety of cuisines throughout Downtown and the rest of the city. Local shops and small businesses create a close-knit community.

Get out and explore nature by taking a trip to Lake Elkhorn Park, Lake Kittamaqundi, or Centennial Park, which are all areas where you can walk, hike, rent boats, and have picnics. The Robinson Nature Center has exhibits and a planetarium where you can learn more about nature. Living in Columbia, Maryland, you're also close to parts of the Appalachian trail and mountains, perfect for those who want some peace in the wilderness.