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Located in the nation’s center, Columbia, Missouri sits halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City and has been named one of the best places to live in the United States due to its high quality of life by a number of news entities, including:

The Ideal College Town

The city of Columbia combines small-town comforts and community spirit with big-city culture, activities and resources, making it an ideal place to live for graduate students.

Columbia is home to over 119,000 residents and offers something for every graduate student, including:


Public Parks

Hospitals & Health Care Centers

Recreation Areas

Museums & Art Galleries

  • Places of worship for all major religions
  • Indoor & Outdoor Live Theater & Music
  • Movie Theaters for Popular, Documentary & Foreign Films
  • Walking Trails Throughout The City
  • Bicycle-Friendly Campus & Community


Living in Columbia proves to be less expensive than the national average cost of living, making it easy for students to find safe, comfortable accommodations at any price range.

Students looking for off-campus living can find apartments downtown, homes in friendly neighborhoods and in apartment communities spread throughout the city. The public bus system and shuttle services allow for convenient transportation to and from campus.



Columbia celebrates a diverse population and attracts residents from all over the world.

The city is home to more than 100 places of worship, including a synagogue and an Islamic center, and features many international grocery stores and restaurants among the local businesses.


Downtown (The District)

The historic downtown district is packed with shops and entertainment.

Music & Theatre

The District in Columbia attracts top musicians of all genres, from indie-rock to old-school blues, and venues like The Blue Note, Rose Music Hall, and The Bridge keep live music thriving downtown.

The 1938-constructed Missouri Theatre, managed by the University of Missouri, was recently restored to its original grandeur and now attracts major entertainers as well as community performers.

Art & Film

Ragtag Cinema on Hitt Street exists to champion independent film and media art and to serve film communities both locally and globally, showing independent and international films in a hipster-friendly setting.

The local art scene in Columbia continues to thrive, with venues including Orr Street Studios, the Sager Reeves Gallery, Artlandish Gallery, Bluestem Missouri Crafts, the Columbia Art League and a flourishing North Village Arts District.


Outdoor Life

In Columbia, you’ll find multiple city parks, caves, lakes, streams and cliffs for outdoor adventurers including Rock Bridge State Park, Stephens Lake Park, and the Activity and Recreation Center.

Our city has implemented a program known as Getabout Columbia that encourages cycling, walking and public transportation. The MKT Trail takes cyclists and hikers through the city, linking to the 237-mile Katy Trail that stretches across the entire state of Missouri.

Recycling for a Greener Columbia

The City of Columbia provides trash and recycling bags through the city’s voucher system as part of your monthly refuse fee. Vouchers can be redeemed at most grocery stores throughout town.


Festivals & Events

As a host to more than a dozen annual festivals, Columbia draws top-named acts and crowds of 100,000 people through art fairs, parades, pub crawls, sidewalk sales and outdoor concerts.

True/False Film Festival

Documentary filmmakers throughout the world participate in this four-day weekend celebrating nonfiction filmmaking as artistic form.

ARTrageous Fridays

Once every quarter, Columbia gets ARTrageous at The District and the North Village Arts District, coming together to enjoy special art events, artists in residence, musical performances and more.



Lifelong education is a shared community value in Columbia. From preschool through retirement, the campus and city offer diverse, high-quality educational options.

Our public school system annually produces some of the largest numbers of national merit scholars in the state, with 18 parochial and private schools, four special-needs training facilities, an adult education center as well as a lifelong learning institute.



Columbia residents receive big city healthcare with small town convenience.

University Hospital on campus offers the only Level I trauma center and helicopter service in Central Missouri. There are doctors offices located throughout town, allowing MU students and families to receive world-class healthcare treatment on and off campus.

Our Columbia Resources page features healthcare resources both on and off campus.

Additional Resources for Columbia Life

Along with the resources below, you can find a full list of city resources on our Columbia Resources page.