Columbia/Ellicott City drops to No. 8 in 'Best Places to Live' rankings

Nearly every speech County Executive Ken Ulman has given about Howard County in the past two years has included a reference to the county's No. 2 "Best Places to Live" ranking from Money Magazine.

But on Monday that ranking was downgraded, as Money Magazine released its 2012 rankings of the top 100 "Best Places to Live" and Columbia/Ellicott City dropped to No. 8.


In 2010, Columbia/Ellicott City was ranked No. 2, only behind Eden Prairie, Minn. Eden Prairie also dropped in the 2012 rankings, down to No. 3.

Neither were included in the 2011 rankings, which were reserved for towns with a population of 50,000 or less. The rankings alter every other year between the smaller towns and cities with populations between 50,000 and 300,000.

A county news release noted that Columbia/Ellicott City was the only Maryland community listed in the top 10.

"I am proud that our strong sense of community, quality of life, and commitment to innovation and job creation continues to be nationally recognized," Ulman said in a statement. "Thanks to all of the residents and businesses, and those from the public and private sectors, who invest and believe in what our community can accomplish when we work together."

The No. 1 place to live, according to the 2012 rankings, is Carmel, Ind., a Midwest town with a population of about 80,000. The town climbed in population and the rankings since 2010, when it was No. 14 with a population of about 67,000.

Also ranked before Columbia/Ellicott City was No. 2 McKinney, Texas, No. 4 Newton, Mass., No. 5 Redmond, Wash., No. 6 Irvine, Calif., and No. 7 Reston, Va.

Money Magazine described Columbia/Ellicott City in the 2012 rankings this way: "Living on the border of Columbia and Ellicott City offers the best of both worlds — a charming, historic downtown with plenty of restaurants (Ellicott City) and a thoughtfully laid-out planned community with tons of big-box stores and a giant arena (Columbia).

"Families in this pair of unincorporated cities get to enjoy living in a community with a diverse population, reasonable housing costs, terrific schools, miles of hiking trails, and a new development, Blandair Park, which will include 20 acres of forest, wetlands, meadows, and a historic farm complex."