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The Cost of Living Diaries: Columbia, MO

How much does it cost to live in Columbia, MO? We asked a local to give us ALL the details.

By Sarah Von Bargen on June 26, 2019

Columbia MO
Columbia / Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons under a CC 2.0 license.

How much does it cost to live in Columbia, Missouri? What’s an average mortgage, a cocktail, or a week’s worth of childcare? Keep reading because we asked a Columbia local to tell us all about the cost of living in this awesome college town!

Name: Mason

Age: 33

City: Columbia, MO

Why Columbia, MO Is a Best Place to Live

How long have you lived in Columbia?

I have been living in Columbia for 11 years. I moved here from a super small town in rural Missouri to go to the University of Missouri. I fell in love and don’t foresee leaving!

What’s your rent/mortgage in Columbia?

Our mortgage for our home, which is a two-bedroom, one-bath, is about $400 a month,. It’s on the low side for the area.

Columbia MO
Columbia / iStock/Sean Pavone

Who are the main employers in Columbia? Are jobs relatively easy to find?

The main employers are Shelter Insurance, Veterans United, and the University of Missouri System. From what I hear, people are mostly happy with these employers. Jobs are relatively easy to find, depending on the field you are in.

How’s the access to grocery stores and food in Columbia?

Access to grocery stores is pretty solid. There are a few food deserts which are actively being addressed by the city. We have an AMAZING farmers’ market and a variety of “hippie” grocery stores where you can find just about anything. In all of my strange culinary adventures I’ve never been stymied by an inability to find an ingredient.

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How family-friendly is Columbia?

Our public library is dope! The services they offer are amazing and the children’s department is great. There are great parks and every summer there are family fun fests that provide free entertainment for kiddos.

As far as restaurants go, they are pretty solid. I do wish there were a few more options, but we never feel uncomfortable going out with our daughter.

What’s childcare like in Columbia?

Childcare is pretty tight in Columbia and can be difficult to find. There are waiting lists at many centers. Most centers run around $200-300 a week.

7 Things to Do in Columbia, MO

How walkable is Columbia? Is there a good public transit system?

Walkability depends largely on where you live. We intentionally chose to live in a walkable area. The public transit system leaves something to be desired, but does exist. Columbia is pretty bike-friendly.

How diverse – ethnically, politically, religiously, economically – is Columbia?

Columbia is fairly diverse. There is currently a lot of discussion around race and racial disparities in town, including policing and the schools.

Politically, Columbia leans to the left, but the surrounding areas are definitely more conservative. There are a variety of faith communities in Columbia, largely leaning towards Christianity, but there is a mosque and a temple. As a queer person, Columbia has always felt like a safe haven.

Columbia MO
Columbia / Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons under a CC 2.0 license.

To give us an idea of the overall cost of living – how much does a nice, fancy cup of coffee cost?

A fancy coffee will run you $5-6 for a 16- ounce.

What are your absolute favorite things about Columbia?

I love hitting the trails and being outdoors. I love the friendliness of the people. I love that it has aspects of both a small town and a big city, largely because of the university (hello music and art!).

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Most cities have a ‘catch’ – San Francisco has an insane cost of living, LA has terrible traffic, NYC has garbage bags lining the sidewalk. What’s the “‘catch‒ with Columbia?

If you’re a young, single adult who’s not in college, this town might not be the best place for you. The city is geared towards families or college students, which can makes life hard in those “in-between†years.

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