A Local’s Guide to Living in Columbia, Maryland

Written By Malcolm Lawson

Located in Howard County Maryland, Columbia has the second-largest population in all of Maryland. The community is made up of 10 individual villages, the first of which opened in 1967 and the last in 1990. It was designed with the intention of enhancing residents’ quality of life by increasing convenience and removing segregation. This is still apparent today; for instance, four of the villages have interfaith centers that are jointly owned by several religious congregations.

Cost Of Living In Columbia, Maryland

The cost of living in Columbia, Maryland is higher than the average in Maryland The median value is $402,200, which is higher than the median of $332,500 in Maryland as a whole. Around one-third of residents rent their homes, and the median rent is $1,751.

About Columbia, Maryland

The 10 self-containing villages make Columbia feel like a small town. Each village has its own community center and recreational facilities as well as homes and businesses. The town is currently undergoing an expansion called The Downtown Columbia Plan, which will take place over 30 years. It will involve developing up to 13 million square feet for residential, retail, commercial, and cultural purposes. The project also takes sustainability requirements into account, including to save water and energy and to maintain ecology and standards of living.

Living in Columbia, MD

Columbia is rated as one of the best places to live in Maryland. Plus, it’s only a short distance from both Baltimore and Washington D.C. There are several bus routes to both cities, including a commuter bus on weekdays that connects with the Washington Metro system. The roadways serving Columbia provide direct access to Baltimore, Washington D.C., Annapolis, and a number of small towns in Maryland.

Schools in Columbia

There is a large number of schools in Columbia. A few of the largest elementary schools include Atholton Elementary, Guilford Elementary, Longfellow Elementary, and Running Brook Elementary. There are two sizable public middle schools — Oakland Mills Middle and Harpers Choice Middle — plus five public high schools: Atholton High, Hammond High, Wilde Lake High, Long Reach High, and Oakland Mills High.

Howard Community College is also located in Columbia. In addition, there are a couple for-profit colleges: Lincoln College of Technology and the Maryland campus of University of Phoenix.

Parks and Recreation in Columbia

The signature outdoor space in Columbia is Lake Kittamaqundi — a man-made reservoir named for the first Indian settlement in the county. There are two other lakes in Columbia: Lake Elkhorn and Wilde Lake.

For more recreational activities, residents can take advantage of a variety of sports facilities. These include swimming pools, roller skating rinks, an equestrian center, miniature golf, batting cages, and a skatepark. There are also clubs offering tennis, basketball, squash, volleyball, yoga, pilates, and more.

Residents who are looking for a more relaxing way to spend time outdoors can rent one of the 350 garden plots, which are located in three different sites in the community.

Shopping in Columbia, MD

At the heart of the community is The Mall in Columbia. Along with several anchor stores, it has more than 200 specialty stores, a number of restaurants, and a multiplex movie theater. In addition, most of the villages have their own smaller shopping centers. These are:

  • Dobbin Center Shopping Center
  • Long Reach Shopping Center
  • Governor Century Plaza
  • Oakland Mills Shopping Center
  • Owen Brown Village Shopping Center
  • Kings Contrivance Village Shopping Center
  • Joseph Square Shopping Center
  • Dasher Green Village Shopping Center

Things to Do in Columbia, Maryland

Columbia is a top location for arts and culture in Maryland. It is home to museums like the African Art Museum of Maryland and Howard County Center of African American Culture. It also has several historic buildings, the most important being Dorsey Hall, Woodlawn, and Oakland Manor.

Many events take place throughout the year in Columbia. Local bars often host live music in the evenings. Larger concerts take place at Merriweather Post Pavilion, whereas Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Young Columbians, and Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts hold musicals, theater productions, and even community outreach programs, lectures, and master classes.

Finally, there are plenty of options to spend time as a family in Columbia. Some top choices include the two amusement parks (Carousel Columbia and ExploraWorld), ShadowLand Laser Adventure, and Columbia FC soccer games — the team plays in Maryland’s Major Soccer League Division I.

Finding a Place to Live in Columbia

Since Columbia is divided into 10 separate villages, it’s important to receive support from someone who knows the community to find the right home for you. Contact us to work with a team of local experts.

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