Moving To Columbia, MD
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Columbia, Maryland is one of the most successful planned communities in the country and in 2016, Money Magazine named Columbia the best place to live in the USA. The list took diversity, job growth, and economic opportunity into account. In both 2018 and 2019, Columbia also claimed the top spot as the safest city in America. As the small city continues to grow and thrive, many find themselves relocating to Columbia. This is what you need to know about moving to Columbia, Maryland.
Dining. Whether you are in search of a nice night out or tasty cheap eats, there are so many excellent options when it comes to dining in Columbia. My personal favorites are Sushi King, Maiwand Kabob, An Loi, and Mango Grove (currently closed for renovations), but there are many popular restaurants in Columbia. Honestly, it’s a bit difficult to pare this section down so here are the highlights:
Commute. Commuting in and around Columbia can be a bit of a mixed bag. I do not recommend settling in Columbia if you are going to be working a 9-5 job in the District because commuting south is not fun. That being said, Columbia is located less than 20 minutes from both Baltimore and BWI Airport. The Camden Line of the MARC train between Baltimore and D.C. does have a few stops near Columbia in Dorsey, Jessup, or Savage, Maryland (I know…the name is amazing). Many residents commute into Baltimore for work and, to give you an idea, the commute from Town Center in Columbia to the Inner Harbor takes about 30-35 minutes during rush hour in the morning and may take a few more minutes in the evenings. The Downtown Columbia Partnership is currently working on an initiative to find ways to reduce traffic on the roadways by working with both communities and employers to introduce conveniences such as shuttles, rideshare, bikeshare, teleworking programs, and more.
Housing. Columbia is comprised of a number of villages where single family homes, townhomes, and apartment buildings are all a part of the same neighborhood. This unique setup allows for socioeconomic diversity and was a core design element when the community was established in the 60’s. The average home value sits at about 362k, making Columbia more affordable than some of the neighboring communities. It is important to note that the Columbia Association does levy an annual fee that will amount to 68 cents per $100 of the home’s market value as determined by the state in 2020. This number is then divided in half to produce the final number. As an example, an owner of a home valued at 400k can expect to pay $1,360.00 for the year.
Shopping. Anything. You. Could. Ever. Need. (Probably) The recently revamped Mall in Columbia is quite popular with over 200 stores and a number of restaurants, but there are many stores to check out beyond the mall. Columbia boasts a mix of big box stores and boutiques. There is also incredible variety when it comes to grocery stores. Columbia residents can choose from Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s, and a few different international food stores.
Education. Columbia is located in Howard County, Maryland and the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) is frequently listed as the top school system in Maryland. There are a number of early childhood programs and resources serving children from birth to the age of five. For older students, programs like Independent Research and the Intern/Mentor Program help students delve deeper into fields of study that interest them while simultaneously helping them prepare for college and beyond. HCPSS has recently partnered with NAMI to help support students and families affected by mental illness. Overall, HCPSS does an excellent job helping their students to succeed.
When it comes to higher education, Howard County Community College (HCC) makes access to courses, continuing education, and career training very attainable. HCC boasts multiple locations and online options so students from all backgrounds have the best chance of achieving their goals.
Entertainment. There are a number of places to take in a concert in Columbia, most notably, Merriweather Post Pavilion. The venue is quite popular in the warmer months, hosting both national and international acts as well as festivals. For more live entertainment, check out Toby’s Dinner Theatre. If films are more to your liking, there are a few ways to catch a movie in Columbia. The AMC Theater at Columbia Mall screens all the big releases in addition to hosting a few events including the recent Studio Ghibli Fest. There are also outdoor movie nights on the lake and at Merriweather Post in the summer. When it comes to visual and performing arts, Columbia isn’t lacking. Plans are in the works for a new Cultural Arts Center in Downtown Columbia while HCC is home to the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center and the renowned Rep Stage.
Recreation. Columbia is a community that was designed to allow its residents to stay active. The Columbia Association owns and operates a gyms, pools, golf clubs, tennis clubs, parks, a dog park, an ice rink, and an equestrian center. Residents have access to many well-maintained trails and parks, often in their own backyards! Sky Zone Trampoline Park and Earth Treks—a rock climbing gym—offer members a fun way to stay fit.
Undoubtedly, this small city has a lot to offer. If you are moving to Columbia, Maryland, there are a lot of reasons to get excited! Here are a few more articles to help you prepare: