Plenty of Places to Live, Work and Play in Columbia

By Anne Gillem on June 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm EST


Even back in the early 1800s, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark must have thought Columbia would be a good place to call home.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, initiated by President Thomas Jefferson, got a glimpses of Columbia as they floated by on the Missouri River on their way west. Another famous historical figure, Daniel Boone, who spent the last years of his life in Missouri, discovered a salt lick about 40 miles from what is now Columbia.   Ever since then, settlers – pioneer and modern-day – have come to this city, located in the geographic center of the United States midway between St. Louis and Kansas City.   Columbia, with an estimated 2006 population of 94,428, blends the sophistication of a college community with small-town appeal. The arts have a strong presence here, and there is a vibrant 43-square-block downtown area known as The District.   Affordable housing and a cost of living below the national average, abundant recreational opportunities, top-drawer schools and quality health care also are a draw for residents from college age to retirees. In 2006, Money magazine ranked Columbia on its top 100 list of best places to live. And the city has also been singled out by Where to Retire magazine and50 Fabulous Places to Retire in America, according to the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.   Multiple options for downtown living in The District, often above retail establishments, are available now or in the planning stages. These loft-style residences are attractive to young professionals, empty nesters and those just seeking an urban lifestyle. At the University of Missouri and Stephens College, new student housing is being added or renovated to accommodate increasing enrollment. There are a host of subdivisions that surround the city’s core and golf course living at The Club at Old Hawthorne, host for the 2008 Missouri Open.   Perhaps an honor bestowed by Forbes magazine provides a snapshot of Columbia’s appeal. In 2004, the city was named a Porch Swing Community, embodying family values.

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