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.

READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Muggy With A Chance For Showers & Storms

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.

READ MORE: Orioles Outlast Rangers 10-9 On Mullins' 10th Inning Double

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.

MORE NEWS: Bowie Picks Up The Pieces After Possible Tornado Leaves Trail Of Damage

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook