Howard County...Where Maryland Comes Together!

Conveniently located in the heart of central Maryland between Baltimore and Washington, Howard County offers the charm of a historic past mixed with the excitement of a cosmopolitan community. A successful melding of old and new, urban and rural, Howard County makes everyone feel at home. From the small town flavor of historic mill towns to the thriving model city of Columbia, the county’s diversity is truly impressive.

Location, Location, Location

Because of its superior location at the center of the Baltimore-Washington corridor, Howard County is the strategic location of choice for a diverse and thriving business base. Many large government contractors call Howard County their home, as well as numerous corporate and regional headquarters, a wide variety of technology firms, and wholesale distributors and manufacturers.

A Sought-After Place to Live, Work and Play

Howard County is one of the most affluent, advanced and educated communities in the United States. USA Today ranked the county as the second most technologically advanced community in the country. Howard County was ranked 9th for “best quality of life” in 2004 by the American Business Journal, has the #1 library system in the country, and possesses the 4th highest median income nationwide. The list goes on….Ellicott City/Columbia was recently named second among the “Top 100 America’s Best Places to Live” by CNN and Money Magazine as announced live on the TODAY by Matt Lauer. Howard County has also been designated an “All America County” by the National Civic League for our civic pride and community excellence. It’s no wonder families, as well as businesses, are choosing to make Howard County the place they call “home”.

Howard County’s Awards

Columbia ranked #2 as Happiest City in America according to WalletHub 2022


Columbia ranked #2 as Best City for Jobs according to WalletHub 2022


Columbia ranked #1 as the "Safest city in the U.S." according to WalletHub 2021


Columbia Ranked 2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live by

Livability 2021

Columbia Ranked #10 in Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live" 2021-22


Howard County ranked #8 on U.S News Healthiest Communities 2021. Click here for more

us news

Columbia ranked #1 as the "Safest city in the U.S."  WalletHub 2020


Columbia Ranked #5 in Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live" 2020 


2020 Fittest City in Maryland by Insurify

Insurify Logo

Columbia Ranked 36th in Top 100 Best Places to Live by Livability

Columbia ranked one of the least stressed cities in Amercia by WalletHub.


Ellicott City recognized as one of the Coolest Suburbs in America in 2019. Click here for more

Coolest Suburbs 19

Columbia ranked in top 10 Best Places for Summer Jobs. Click here for more 


Howard County recognized as one of U.S News Healthiest Communities. Click here for more

us news

Ellicott City is ranked the #1 place to live in Maryland 2019
Ellicott City has frequently found itself on MONEY’s Best Places to Live list. This is a result of its low crime rates, good real estate opportunities, culturally diverse residents, and quality of education: Ellicott City’s graduation rate and test scores are among the highest in the country. Click here for more 

America's #4 Best Place to Live 2018

Ellicott City dates to 1772, and takes great pride in its past. Locals make good use of the historic downtown area, filled with art galleries, antique shops, cafes, bookstores, wine bars and more. Click here for more. 

WalletHub names Columbia The Second Best Place To Get A New Job in 2019.
Click here for more 

America’s #1 Best Place to Live


Money Magazine – 2016
Columbia, Md., turns 50 in 2017, and it’s never looked better. One of the most successful planned communities in the country, Columbia is a magnet in the Baltimore–Washington corridor, attracting families in search of good schools and businesses hungry for educated employees. Clearly thriving, Columbia ranks in the top 5% of the 823 places on this year’s list for job growth and economic opportunity. The schools are among the state’s best. 

America’s Best Places to Live


Money Magazine – 2014
Ellicott City has quaint older homes and a charming downtown. Columbia is a planned community stocked with pools and sports facilities, plus lots of big-box shopping and other practical amenities. Though the two unincorporated places have their own unique feel, they function as a single city in many respects. For residents, that means shared access to parks, rec facilities, and a diverse and outstanding school district. The area is also rife with good jobs—many of which require only a short commute. Lorien Health Systems (Ellicott City) and Howard Community College (Columbia) are right there, and the NSA and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab are less than a 25-minute drive.

Best Place to Live for Pet Lovers


Ranked in the top ten places to live for pet lovers by the U.S. News, Ellicott City offers almost 4 square miles of green space with relatively mild weather makes it easy to walk dogs outside.

Top Amphitheater in America


Rolling Stone Magazine – 2013
Ranked #4 out of the top 10 Amphitheaters in America by Rolling Stone Magazine, Merriweather Post Pavilion is flexible enough to fit big or small concerts with ease.

Top Innovator


Urban Libraries Council – 2013
Howard County Library System was honored in the award’s Learning category for HiTech, HCLS’ unique STEM digital media initiative for teens.

Library of the Year

Gale and Library Journal - 2013
Out of 21,000 public and academic libraries, the Howard County Library System received this prestigious recognition.

A Leader in Technology


The Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo) – 2013

Among the top 10 counties in the nation to embrace technology, Howard County boasts a state of the art website, has saved money through the use of technology, and improved service to the community.

Spookiest Destination

Tripadvisor – 2012

Ellicott City has survived hurricanes, devastating floods, fires and hooligans – making it an ideal setting for ominous, history-infused tales. So ideal that Trip Advisor has just named Ellicott City to its list of 10 spooky American getaways to celebrate Halloween.

America’s Best Places to Live


Money Magazine – 2012
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.

Great Public Library Systems


Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings – 2011
Howard County was ranked 1st in the nation among great public libraries, based on an index of 15 factors including circulation, visits, staffing, materials, reference service, and funding levels.

America’s Best Places to Live


Money Magazine – 2010
Ellicott City/Columbia “has it all” and is “an economic powerhouse” therefore ranked 2nd in the nation by Money Magazine in their survey of “America’s Best Places to Live,” According to the Money Magazine: “Ellicott City, one of the nation’s oldest settlements snuggles up to one of the newest, Columbia make this duo a perennial contender on our Best Places list thanks to Historic Ellicott City’s mix of antique shops and teahouses and Columbia’s residential villages and high-powered tech companies.”

Top Amphitheater in America


Billboard Touring Awards – 2010
Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion was named the second best amphitheater in the country by Billboard magazine.

Best Place to Raise a Family


Forbes Magazine – 2008

Howard County was ranked 17th in the nation by Forbes Magazine in their survey of “Best Places to Raise a Family,” the only county in Maryland to receive this honor. According to the Forbes’ survey: “Howard County is one of the smartest counties in the country. Its average SAT score of 1,113 trails only Marin County, Calif., on our list, and Howard’s public library system holds the top spot in Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings.”

Best Educated (Adults over 25)


U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey – 2007
Advanced Degree (27%) ranked 9th in nation
Bachelor’s Degree (56%) ranked 8th in the nation

Median Household Income


U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey – 2007
Median Household Income – $101, 672(ranked 3rd in the nation)

America’s Wealthiest Suburbs


American City Business Journals – 2007
Howard County ranked 4th in a nine-part formula to determine the relative affluence of 291 suburban counties, seeking the places with the highest incomes, most expensive houses, lowest poverty levels, strongest educational backgrounds, and most extensive ownership of stocks, rental properties and vehicles.

Delivering High Performance Education at Low Cost


Forbes Magazine – 2007
The Howard County Public School System ranks seventh among school systems from across the nation that delivers high performance at low cost, according to the July 2007 issue of Forbes magazine. In an article on best and worst school districts for the buck, reporter Christina Settimi took a look at per-pupil spending in public schools and weighed it against student performance — college entrance exam scores, standardized exam participation rates and graduation rates.

Most Digital County Government


Center for Digital Government – 2007

Howard County Government ranked 3rd in the nation when it comes to counties using information technology in increasingly innovative ways and improving service to their citizens. The ranking is based on the 2007 Digital Counties Survey conducted by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government and the National Association of Counties (NACo). Howard County was compared to other counties of similar size with populations in the 250,000 to 499,999 range.

Public Leadership in the Arts


Americans for the Arts – 2007
Howard County Government and County Executive Ken Ulman were awarded this honor for leadership and dedication to supporting the arts in the community and incorporating culture into the county’s economic development plan. The award was presented by Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts in America, in conjunction with the National Association of Counties (NACo).

Median Household Income


U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey – 2007
Median Household Income – $101,672 (ranked 3rd in the nation)

Best Place to Live

Money Magazine – Ellicott City/Columbia – 2006
Ellicott City and Columbia together ranked 4th place in Money Magazine’s annual “Best Places to Live” survey. The magazine looked for small livable cities that had the best possible blend of good jobs, low crime, quality schools, plenty of open space, rational home prices and lots to do.

Technologically Advanced Community


USA Today – 2006

Howard County was ranked the 2nd most technologically advanced community in the United States.

Good Sports Community of the Year


Sports Illustrated- 2006

In partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, Sports Illustrated chose Howard County as one of only eight communities nationwide to receive this award based on it’s ability to promote values such as sportsmanship, fair play, skill development, helpful parent involvement and positive coaching methods.

Great Public Library Systems


Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings – 2005

Howard County was ranked 1st in the nation among great public libraries, based on an index of 15 factors including circulation, visits, staffing, materials, reference service, and funding levels.

100 Best Communities for Young People


America’s Promise Alliance – 2005
This annual competition which recognizes outstanding community-wide efforts that improve the well-being of youth. Winning communities are chosen because they found innovative ways to solve problems that will improve the lives of children and young people, and demonstrated a willingness to work together within their communities to make a difference.

Best Quality of Life


American City Business Journals – Top 20 Counties in the U.S. – 2004
Howard County was ranked 9th out of 3,141 counties and independent cities across the nation, based on 20 statistical categories that included job opportunities, racial diversity, low unemployment, median income, and education.

Best Educated (Adults over 25)


U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey – 2005
Advanced Degree (28%) ranked 6th in nation
Bachelor’s Degree (58%) ranked 5th in the nation

Maryland “Sports Town”


Sports Illustrated – 2003
As part of Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary issue, Howard County was named Maryland’s“Sports Town,” based on a variety of criteria demonstrating the community’s involvement in facilitating and enhancing quality sports. Categories included youth development strategies, innovations for community development, and the commitment to parks and recreation resources.

All-America County Award


National Civic League – 2001

The oldest and most respected community recognition program in the nation, the All-America City Award recognizes communities whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results, exemplifying the true American spirit at work.