Columbia has been 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 capital in Jefferson City, the city boasts affordable housing, a moderate cost of living, diverse cultural and economic opportunities and excellent public schools.
Most people who have chosen to live in this college town of more than 84,000 residents think of it as having the best of both worlds - small-town convenience and warmth with big-city sophistication and amenities. In addition to the University of Missouri-Columbia, the city has two private colleges - Stephens College and Columbia College - that enrich the cultural scene.
Columbia is home to the University's Museum of Art and Archeology, which houses one of the state's largest collections. Music lovers can attend performances presented by the Missouri Symphony Society and the University Concert Series. Several theater groups stage productions throughout the year.
Recreational opportunities abound. More than 3,000 acres of state park lands are located within 10 miles of Columbia. The city itself offers more than 40 public parks. Joggers, walkers and bikers can frequent numerous hiking trails, such as the MKT Trail, a 4.7-mile urban walkway that connects with the Katy Trail State Park. Scenic lakes and streams that are ideal for boating and fishing - including the Lake of the Ozarks, one of the largest recreation areas in the Midwest - are just a short drive away.
For the sports enthusiast, the University offers Big 12 Conference football, basketball, baseball and other sports. Tickets are available to employees at reduced rates. Columbia also is home to the Show-Me State Games, an annual Olympic-style event for kids and adults.