Columbia MO Information
Columbia is consistently rated as one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. Located halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City and 30 miles from the state capitol in Jefferson City, Columbia boasts affordable housing, a cost of living below the national average, diverse cultural and economic opportunities, low crime rate, quality health care, and excellent public schools.
Most people who choose to live in this college town of just over 100,000 people think of it as having the best of both worlds - small-town convenience and warmth with big-city sophistication and amenities. Columbia's ethnic mix mirrors that of most mid-size Midwestern communities. It is a relatively young community, with a median age of 29, and 30% of the population being between 25 and 44 years old.
Nearly twenty percent of employed residents work in a health-related occupation. Home to five hospitals, multiple primary care and specialty clinics, and more than 700 practicing physicians, Columbia has one of the highest per capita rates of physicians in the nation. Higher and public education and the insurance industry are also major employers.
The arts are alive in Columbia. Columbia is home to the University's Museum of Art and Archeology. Music lovers can attend 45 live performances per week, ranging from the Missouri Symphony Society to ragtime, blues, and jazz. Community, college, and professional theater productions abound, and the arts are celebrated during several festivals including Art in the Park in June.
In fact, Columbia hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year including the Heritage Festival in September, the True/False Film Festival in February, and the Living Windows Festival in December. Parades down Broadway are a community tradition, and events are scheduled annually for Boone County Fair kickoff, Memorial Day Salute to Veterans air show, MU Homecoming, and the local high school homecoming weekends. Add to this mix nearly 300 restaurants, clubs featuring poetry jams, comedy shows and live music, coffee houses, sidewalk cafes, and hundreds of retail shops, and it is easy to see that there is much to do in Columbia.
For those interested in outdoor activities, 3,000 acres of state parklands are located within 10 miles of Columbia. The city itself offers more than 40 public parks and two state parks. Joggers, walkers and bikers can frequent nearly 45 miles of hiking trails within the city, including the MKT Trail, an urban walkway that connects with the Katy Trail State Park. Columbia offers eight scenic lakes for fishing, and the Lake of Ozarks is a short drive away.
Enjoy fitness and sports? Columbia has 10 athletic or health clubs from which to choose, including the newly-renovated and award-winning Student Recreation Complex on MU's campus, and the recently-constructed community Activity and Recreation Center (ARC). Golfers can tee off at two private country clubs' superb golf courses, two public golf courses, and the University's lovely Gustin golf course. MU offers football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball, as well as an entire range of other sports. The Show-Me State Games, an annual Olympic-style event for kids and adults and the largest such event in the country, finds its home in Columbia each July. The Columbia Parks and Recreations Department offers a long list of recreational and competitive sports for youth and adults throughout the year.
Education impacts the community. The University of Missouri is the community's largest employer, followed closely behind by the University of Missouri Health Care and the Columbia Public Schools. The Columbia Public Schools district is one of only 16 in the nation selected as a model district by a National Governors Conference panel. Several of the city's 24 schools have been recognized as outstanding by the U.S. Department of Education, including both Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools. As a group, Columbia students place between the 90th and 95th percentile on the ACT when compared to students across the nation. Nearly 90% choose to enter post-secondary education after graduation from high school, and fourteen centers of post-secondary education are available to students within fifty miles of Columbia.
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