Columbia, Md., tops list of best places to live in US

The historic Benjamin Howell Homestead in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, which ranked No.5 on Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S.  (By Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD/Wikimedia Commons)
The historic Benjamin Howell Homestead is in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, which ranked No.5 on Money magazine’s best places to live in the U.S. (By Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD/Wikimedia Commons) ((By Jerrye & Roy Klotz)
The Historic Valley Junction in downtown West Des Moines, Iowa. The community ranked No. 4 on Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S. (Iowahwyman/Wikimedia Commons)
The Historic Valley Junction in downtown West Des Moines, Iowa. The community ranked No. 4 on Money magazine’s best places to live in the U.S. (Iowahwyman/Wikimedia Commons) ((Iowahwyman/Wikimedia Commons))
Granite Park in downtown Plano, Texas. The Texas city ranked No. 3 on Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S. (Danny20111993/Wikimedia Commons)
Granite Park in downtown Plano, Texas. The Texas city ranked No. 3 on Money magazine’s best places to live in the U.S. (Danny20111993/Wikimedia Commons) ((Danny20111993/Wikimedia Commons)
Bryant Lake, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which ranked as the No. 2 best city to live in the U.S. (Erlend Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons)
Bryant Lake, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which ranked as the No. 2 best city to live in the U.S. (Erlend Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons)
Columbia, Maryland, is the best place to live in the United States, Money magazine says. (Scott Saghirian/Wikimedia Commons)
Columbia, Maryland, is the No. 1 best place to live in the United States, Money magazine says. Continue scrolling through the photo gallery to see photos of Columbia attractions. (Scott Saghirian/Wikimedia Commons) (Scott Saghirian/Wikimedia Commons)
Wilde Lake, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is named after Frazar Wilde, who led Connecticut General when it invested in James Rouse's vision for a planned community. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Wilde Lake, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is named after Frazar Wilde, who led Connecticut General when it invested in James Rouse’s vision for a planned community. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
Columbia has more than 94 miles of paved pathways for people to walk, ride and bicycle. One of founder James Rouse's principles was for people to be close to nature. Columbia's pathway system brings walkers, runners and bicyclists through more than 3,600 acres of open space. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Columbia has more than 94 miles of paved pathways for people to walk, ride and bicycle. One of founder James Rouse’s principles was for people to be close to nature. Columbia’s pathway system brings walkers, runners and bicyclists through more than 3,600 acres of open space. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
Columbia, Maryland, has 23 outdoor pools, some of which also include spraygrounds where people can play and cool off at the same time. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Columbia, Maryland, has 23 outdoor pools, some of which also include spraygrounds where people can play and cool off at the same time. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
An annual event called Dog Day Afternoon is highly popular among dogs and their two-legged friends, and Columbia DogPark gives them a place to play and relax the rest of the year. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
An annual event called Dog Day Afternoon is highly popular among dogs and their two-legged friends, and Columbia DogPark gives them a place to play and relax the rest of the year. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
Lake Elkhorn, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is a picturesque place that is a favorite for people who want to walk, run, bicycle, picnic or relax. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Lake Elkhorn, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is a picturesque place that is a favorite for people who want to walk, run, bicycle, picnic or relax. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
Wilde Lake, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is named after Frazar Wilde, who led Connecticut General when it invested in James Rouse's vision for a planned community. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Wilde Lake, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is named after Frazar Wilde, who led Connecticut General when it invested in James Rouse’s vision for a planned community. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
Wilde Lake Tennis Club is one of three tennis clubs in Columbia, Maryland. Columbia Association, which manages the community, provides numerous recreational and cultural programs. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Wilde Lake Tennis Club is one of three tennis clubs in Columbia, Maryland. Columbia Association, which manages the community, provides numerous recreational and cultural programs. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
Columbia, Maryland, has 23 outdoor pools operated by Columbia Association and a neighborhood swim league in which generations of kids have participated. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Columbia, Maryland, has 23 outdoor pools operated by Columbia Association and a neighborhood swim league in which generations of kids have participated. (Courtesy Columbia Association) ((Courtesy Columbia Association))
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The historic Benjamin Howell Homestead in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, which ranked No.5 on Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S.  (By Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD/Wikimedia Commons)
The Historic Valley Junction in downtown West Des Moines, Iowa. The community ranked No. 4 on Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S. (Iowahwyman/Wikimedia Commons)
Granite Park in downtown Plano, Texas. The Texas city ranked No. 3 on Money magazine's best places to live in the U.S. (Danny20111993/Wikimedia Commons)
Bryant Lake, in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, which ranked as the No. 2 best city to live in the U.S. (Erlend Bjørtvedt/Wikimedia Commons)
Columbia, Maryland, is the best place to live in the United States, Money magazine says. (Scott Saghirian/Wikimedia Commons)
Wilde Lake, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is named after Frazar Wilde, who led Connecticut General when it invested in James Rouse's vision for a planned community. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Columbia has more than 94 miles of paved pathways for people to walk, ride and bicycle. One of founder James Rouse's principles was for people to be close to nature. Columbia's pathway system brings walkers, runners and bicyclists through more than 3,600 acres of open space. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Columbia, Maryland, has 23 outdoor pools, some of which also include spraygrounds where people can play and cool off at the same time. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
An annual event called Dog Day Afternoon is highly popular among dogs and their two-legged friends, and Columbia DogPark gives them a place to play and relax the rest of the year. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Lake Elkhorn, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is a picturesque place that is a favorite for people who want to walk, run, bicycle, picnic or relax. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Wilde Lake, one of three man-made lakes in Columbia, Maryland, is named after Frazar Wilde, who led Connecticut General when it invested in James Rouse's vision for a planned community. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Wilde Lake Tennis Club is one of three tennis clubs in Columbia, Maryland. Columbia Association, which manages the community, provides numerous recreational and cultural programs. (Courtesy Columbia Association)
Columbia, Maryland, has 23 outdoor pools operated by Columbia Association and a neighborhood swim league in which generations of kids have participated. (Courtesy Columbia Association)

WASHINGTON — A Maryland community has been rated by Money magazine as the best place to live in the United States.

Columbia, a planned community in Howard County that turns 50 next year, has topped Money’s survey based on house prices, job growth, schools and diversity.

“It ranks in the top 5 [percent] of the 823 places on this year’s list for job growth and economic opportunity,” Money writes. “The schools are among the state’s best. And in this pricey corner of the country, Columbia’s median home price is just over $300,000, 11 [percent] less than in Gaithersburg, one county over.”

Money notes that a feeling of community was built into Columbia in the 1960s: Apartments, town houses and single-family houses stand together, so as to promote socioeconomic diversity.

To be sure, planned communities aren’t usually cheap, and Columbia charges its residents plenty of fees, Money says, but the “vast communal greeneries” (36 percent of the land is set aside for open space) more than make up for it in the magazine’s eyes.

One other area community made the list: Ashburn, Virginia, came in at No. 22.

The top 10 best places to live in the U.S. ranked by Money:

  1. Columbia, Maryland
  2. Eden Prairie, Minnesota
  3. Plano, Texas
  4. West Des Moines, Iowa
  5. Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey
  6. Highlands Ranch, Colorado
  7. Clarkstown, New York
  8. Weston, Florida
  9. Beaverton, Oregon
  10. Naperville, Illinois

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