According to CNN Money, the population of this city is just over the 100 thousand mark at 100,700. Though the largest of our small cities on this list, Columbia has one of the highest livability ratings according to Area Vibes, coming in at #7 for the state of Maryland.
It is our top pick for the fact that this city is an up and comer. Columbia has big plans for continued growth. In 2010, there was a 10-year master plan implemented by the Howard County Council. As stated on the Columbia website, there will be 3 phases to the plan which includes building up to 5,500 more residential housing units and 640 hotel rooms.
With sustainability in mind, the Howard County Council included feasible goals that will save the city’s energy and water in the master plan. Further efforts will be made to improve public transportation and livability for both residents and visitors. Walking and bike trails, along with green technologies will be incorporated.
Columbia offers plenty of amenities that include grocery stores and 20 dining establishments within 1 mile of the city center. With 2 parks and plenty of entertainment, Columbia offers a multitude of options for activities the whole family can enjoy.
Though the cost of living in Columbia is 14.4% higher than the national average, it is lower (8.5%) than the overall cost across the state, as quoted from Area Vibe’s listed statistics. However, the low rate of crime, 31% lower than the state, is quite appealing to newcomers looking to find a home close to the major cities of Baltimore and D.C.
Education rates high on the list at Area Vibes, with its low teacher to student ratio coming in 21% lower than the Maryland average as is posted. Weather is key to putting this city at the top of the list. Experiencing all 4 seasons of the year, residents enjoy beautiful spring flowers and fall foliage, while the summers are hot but tolerable, and the winters are cold but with little precipitation.