BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The best place to live in America is closer than you think– Columbia, Maryland tops Money Magazine’s coveted list.

Area residents say they’re not surprised, they’ve known all along it’s the best place to live and they’re proud of the rest of the country now knows that too.

Whether the it’s the affordable housing, high-performing schools, or 3600 acres of open space, Columbia residents say there are many perks to living in the planned community, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

“We stayed because of the schools and then we just got settled. We love the entertainment, everything that’s around; all the amenities,” said Columbia resident Louise Akerson.

Money Magazine agrees, naming Columbia the top place to live in the united states.

The annual list ranks 50 small towns based on several factors, emphasizing the economy and job opportunities. “We invest in our communities and our schools, and libraries and things like that, so we’re going to continue to work to be the best,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman.

The city’s been developing the downtown area with commercial retail and homes.

“I just can’t believe all the construction going on right here. Wow, it’s like a city on to itself,” said Richard Vert, Columbia visitor.

Columbia turn will turn 50 next year, and the start of the community began with the idea that a city could enhance its residents’ quality of life.

The town is specifically designed to promote diversity, and that’s the feature many are most proud of.

“We are stronger when we celebrate each other’s differences because eventually the differences mean that they’re likenesses,” said area visitor Francine Walker.

In previous years, Columbia and Ellicott city were grouped together on the list. The county executive says, flood damage in Ellicott City was not a factor.

Columbia will be adding a much anticipated amenity– a bike share program starting in 2017.

Eden Prairie, Minnesota and Plano, Texas also joined Columbia in the top of the list.

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  1. What absurd criteria could have made Columbia the single best place to live in the entire country? It’s not even the best place to live in little old Maryland. The laundry list of reasons _not_ to live here are too long for a single posting. Even if you put a wall around Columbia and did not include the influences of Baltimore, you still have outrageous traffic, awful weather, high costs of living (especially if you have kids), crime and political corruption. Include the influences of the metropolitan areas, where most of us commute to every day, and it’s even worse. Those who move to this area from out of state will tell you that the schools are grossly overrated, especially when you take into account the amount of tax dollars they consume. Baltimore ranks in the top 10 for cold/flu outbreaks, murders, STDs, traffic/bad driving, and yes, it was even ranked the most unattractive city in America by Conde Nast this year. With Columbia right at Baltimore’s doorstep, we feel the influence of that dreadful city everyday. And for those that have lived here 20+ years, the decline of Columbia is more visible every year.