More Than Mizzou: A Columbia, Missouri Moving Guide

Craving a small-town feel with big-city accommodations? Wondering, “Should I move to Missouri?” If so, Columbia, Missouri, could be your forever city.


Columbia — affectionately known as CoMo — has a well-known reputation as a college town. However, there’s more to Columbia than Mizzou! Educators, healthcare workers, artists, young professionals, families, and downsizing retirees alike are keen on Columbia’s charm and vibrant community. 


Before you load up your suitcases, here’s what you need to know before moving to CoMo.


Location, Location, Location: Columbia Offers Convenience


Columbia is considered one of the best places to move in Missouri due to its central location. While there’s plenty to do in Columbia and adjoining Boone County communities, you won’t be far from four of Missouri’s most prominent destinations.


Columbians are favorably situated midway between Missouri’s two largest metropolitan areas — Saint Louis and Kansas City. Your end-to-end journey to both cities is approximately an hour and 45 minutes, meaning a day trip to STL or KC is well within reach. 


CoMo is also only a quick 40-minute hop from the state capitol, Jefferson City, making it a popular home base for those with careers in and around state politics. 


You don’t have to head into the city to enjoy a change of scenery. Those craving a lake vacation will be happy to know that Columbia is just a quick hour-and-a-half hop over the Midwest’s favorite summer destination, the Lake of the Ozarks. 


Not up for a drive? Jetsetters can catch non-stop flights out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport year-round to major international hubs, including Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., and Atlanta.


Stretch Your Dollar: Below-National-Average Cost of Living


It’s easier to stretch your dollar in Missouri. Compared to coastal states, living costs are relatively low across the Show-Me State — including Columbia. As of 2023, Missouri ranks fourth in lowest overall cost of living, behind Mississippi, Oklahoma, and neighboring state Kansas. 


Compared to the state average, Columbia’s cost of living is 5% higher. However, Columbia residents will still find the city affordable as the cost of living is 5% lower than the national average. Utilities such as electricity, water, and heating tend to be lower in Columbia than the national average. Healthcare costs can vary, but Columbia’s healthcare expenses are typically in line with or slightly below the national average — it helps that the city is brimming with healthcare options.


Housing costs in Columbia tend to be lower than the national average. Many residents are renters, and the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Columbia, Missouri is $800, while a two-bedroom apartment rents for around $1,080 per month. Renters can look to the booming home rental market or sign a lease at one of Columbia’s dozens of apartment complexes. 


The median home price in CoMo is $295,386, or around $151/square foot — making homes far more affordable than the national average price of $416,100. That means you’ll have some cash leftover for a living room, bedroom, or even whole-home redecorate!


Whether renting or buying, those looking to snag a deal might want to look a mile or two out from downtown and Mizzou’s campus — pricing tends to be location-dependent, and prices are often highest close to East Campus, West Campus, and Downtown. 


Calling All Creatives: A Booming Arts and Culture Scene Awaits


The arts, music, and theater scene thrive in Columbia. The city and its universities are committed to fostering the arts and culture scene. Students, creative professionals, and critics make their way to Columbia for annual events like the Roots & Blues Festival and True/False Film Festival — just to name a couple!


Music lovers may be particularly motivated to call Columbia home. Up-and-coming and platinum-selling artists may take to the stage at The Blue Note or Missouri Theatre in Downtown Columbia. Both venues draw in major acts and provide an intimate and authentic concert-going experience where there’s not a bad seat in the house.


Learning Opportunities Abound:  K-12, Higher Education, and Beyond


Education is big in Columbia, and the city is a popular home base for educators, families, and college students alike.


Columbia’s public education system comprises 36 schools, including four high schools, seven middle schools, and 21 elementary schools. Columbia is also home to 21 private schools.


In addition to the public school infrastructure, Columbia is proud to be home to three universities, all within walking distance of Downtown. The University of Missouri is the city’s largest educational institution, spanning 1,262 acres and offering over 300 degree programs. Neighboring private institutions include Columbia College — an NAIA division I school — and Stephens College, known for its vast array of all-women’s cohort undergraduate programs and mixed-gender post-graduate opportunities.


Those who aren’t looking to snag a diploma can still reap the many benefits of living near these universities. Collegiate sporting events, weekend workshops, showcases, professor-led music lessons or art classes, and the fully-loaded MizzouRec are well-attended by students and locals of all ages. 


Outdoor Adventure: Take in The Seasons in Columbia, MO


There’s no better way to enjoy the seasons than by heading to one of Columbia’s many outdoor oases. Columbia has over 3,000 acres of city-maintained parkland, including 78 parks, green space locations, and rec facilities.


Dog lovers, in particular, will find themselves at home in Columbia: the city has three large dog parks at Garth Nature Area, Twin Lakes Recreation Area, and Indian Hills Park. In addition to three city-maintained dog parks,  there are two additional leash-free nature areas to explore with your pup. Fido has 70 acres to roam free at Cosmo Park and five miles of wildflower-filled prairies to prowl at the Grindstone Nature Area.


Those looking for a true escape into nature will find it within driving distance. Devil’s Icebox at Rockbridge Memorial State Park or The Pinnacles nearby in Boone County are popular scenic hiking destinations. There’s no better place to take in the lush fall foliage or enjoy wildflower blooms in the spring.


Job Opportunities: Education, Healthcare, and Beyond


Columbia boasts a diverse and growing job market. The top industries are education, research, and healthcare. However, the insurance, retail, manufacturing, agriculture, hospitality, arts, and technology sectors continue to grow.


Many commuters also call Columbia home. The city’s proximity to the state capitol — Jefferson City — and nearby farming communities make Columbia a popular choice for those willing to take on a daily drive.


From Bars to Barns: Day- and Nighttime Entertainment For All-Ages


There’s plenty to do in Columbia — no matter your interests. Columbia is well-known for its walkable downtown area. Take to the tree-lined streets and spend an afternoon perusing local boutiques, bistros, cafes, bookstores, art galleries, and record shops.


Whether craving an upscale dinner or a quick, affordable bite, you’ll never go hungry with the selection of downtown Columbia, Missouri restaurants. Find authentic Mexican, Turkish, Polish, and nouveau-American cuisine, all within a few blocks.  Stop into local must-try favorites Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream and Shakespeare’s Pizza for an afternoon of family fun.


After the sun sets, Columbia comes to life. Downtown Columbia is home to a variety of bars and clubs. Students and locals alike have their digs: choose from dimly lit pool halls, low key sports bars, bass-filled dance clubs, or elevated rooftop cocktail lounges.


Outside of downtown, you’ll find fine dining at Chris McD’s, multiple movie theaters, a family farm experience at Shyrocks Callaway Farms,  bowling, laser tag, and more.


Healthcare Access: CoMo Cares for People & Pets


The city boasts several healthcare facilities — including the University of Missouri Health Care System, Boone Health, RUSK Rehabilitation Center, and the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital. From emergency departments to specialists to PCP visits, Columbia is a medical hub for central Missouri.


There aren’t just excellent healthcare options in town for people, either. Pet parents will be happy to have the University of Missouri’s full-service veterinary research and care facilities nearby for routine check-ups, surgeries, or emergencies.


CORT is Here to Help When You Make Your Move to Missouri


Moving to a new city or state is a big step, but ultimately can lead to a fulfilling new path. Whether moving to Columbia for work, college, or just a change of scenery, it’s essential to be informed about your new home.


Ready to take that step and move? Consider furniture rental for your new space. With CORT Furniture Rental, you can furnish your new place with furniture that fits your needs and style. The best part, though, is that while you work through all of the intricacies of relocating, furniture won’t be on that list. All you need to do is pick a CORT package (or design a custom one!) and then decide when and where your furniture will be delivered. CORT’s team will do the heavy lifting by delivering and assembling your furniture for you. Then when you’re done with it? Simply set a pick-up date, and we’ll do the rest.


Start your new life on a solid note with a comfortable, stylish living space. Build your package online or head to your nearest CORT Furniture Rental showroom to get started.

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