"One may wonder why a city only 40 years old needs a history, but Columbia, Maryland, is no ordinary place." (-- Joseph Rocco Mitchell and David L. Stebenne, "New City Upon a Hill: A History of Columbia")
The planned community of Columbia, Maryland began with a vision. Today, Columbia is Maryland's second most popular community with 10 distinct villages comprising a population of nearly 100,000. Columbia has for the most part lived up to the promising vision of its celebrated founder, James Rouse: the city consistently holds a place on Money Magazines list of "Top Ten Places to Live," most recently appearing in 2012 in the 8th slot. So come on over!
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Moving to Columbia
Enjoy the ease, convenience and affordability of life in this unique planned community. It has a small-town feel and immense livability, thanks to mindfully-designed villages with numerous amenities. People looking for apartments for rent, condos, or spacious single family homes will find no shortage of offerings in Columbia. The town's low vacancy rate of 4% demonstrates its status as a desirable place to live.
House hunting or apartment shopping in massive Columbia can be overwhelming. Between Columbia's 10 villages and neighborhoods within them, you will want to familiarize with the area and its offerings before pounding the pavement. Without the proper planning your head may be spinning as you drive around in circles.
Aside from your GPS to navigate Columbia's many similarly-named streets and identical neighborhoods, you'll want to be prepared with all of the usual materials: credit info, references, proof of employment, etc.
Neighborhoods in Columbia
Each of Columbias 10 villages is designed to provide its residents with a small town experience, thanks to community centers, recreational facilities, and plenty of other unique amenities. Most villages have everything from apartments to single family houses although some have more of one or the other. Columbia's 10 villages are as follows:
Wilde Lake: One of Columbia's more affordable villages, Wilde Lake comprises the neighborhoods of Bryant Woods, Faulkner Ridge, The Birches and Running Brook. With its own grocery store, and the famed Columbia Swim Center with its "Splashdown" slide, this is an appealing place.
Harpers Choice: Comprising the neighborhoods of Longfellow, Swansfield, and Hobbit's Glen, Harpers Choice is located in Columbia's northwest, adjacent to Wilde Lake. It is home to one of Columbia's athletic clubs, as well as a golf course, mini golf, tennis courts and a skate park. Neighborhoods are connected by a walking trail.
Oakland Hills: Located just east of Columbia Town Center, Oakland Mills comprises the neighborhoods of Stevens Forest, Talbott Springs and Thunder Hills, and is home to the Columbia Ice Rink.
Long Reach: The largest village in Columbia and one of its oldest. Long Reach includes the neighborhoods of Kendall Ridge, Jeffers Hill, Phelps Luck and Locust Park.
Owen Brown: Just southeast of the Town Center, Owen Brown includes Hopewell, Elkhorn and Dasher Green, Elkhorn and Hopewell. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy access to Lake Elkhorns 37 acres.
Hickory Ridge: Home to a variety of grocery stores, gas stations, banks and restaurants.
Dorsey's Search: Comprising just two neighborhoods, Dorsey Hall and Fairway Hills, Dorsey's Search is Columbia's furthest north village, and has a golf course and pool.
Kings Contrivance: Columbia's southernmost village and one of its largest, Kings Cross has great access to major highways. Neighborhoods include Huntington, Macgills Common and Dickinson.
River Hill: This well-manicured neighborhood comprises Pheasant Ridge and Pointers Run.
Town Center: Including the neighborhoods of Amesbury, Banneker, Vantage Point, Warfield Triangle and Creightons Run, Town Center is the most urban of Columbia's villages, offering multi-level apartments for rent as well as retail offices. Town Center features an attractive lakefront, as well as the shoppers delight: the Mall of Columbia.
Living in Columbia
Columbia's streets are named for famous works of art and literature, ranging from the works of Robert Frost to J.R.R. Tolkien. Its particularly fitting then that Howard County, of which Columbia is a part, has one of the country's top-ranked public library systems. Owen Brown and Town Center are home to Columbia's two public libraries--bookworms rejoice!
A central concept of Columbia's design is a commitment to recreation. Managed and maintained by the Columbia Association, there are a whopping 23 outdoor swimming pools and size indoor swimming pools in Columbia. Throw in water slides, batting cages, skating rinks, an equestrian center, skateboard park and numerous other offerings, and theres never a shortage of activities.
Those with aspiring green thumbs will enjoy taking advantage of Columbia's garden plot rentals, a program which has been around for 40-some years. Spread throughout Columbia, three sites offer residents use of 350 garden plots for a small fee.
Columbia has a low-key local bar scene, which plays host to popular local bands. Music lovers also enjoy convenient access to outdoor concert venue Merriweather Post Pavilion.
If you're going to live in Columbia, you will most certainly need a car. While the town is served by both Howard Transit locally and Maryland Transit Administration routes to Baltimore and Washington, it is still not feasible to rely entirely on buses unless you like walking and waiting. Bus service does give commuters a boost to the Washington Metro; there are no train stations in Columbia. Highways lead to Baltimore (a 20 minute drive), Washington (a 40 minute drive) and Annapolis (also 40 minutes), as well as historic towns like Frederick and Savage. When its time to escape the region, residents have their choice of BWI, National or Washington Dulles to take to the friendly skies.