Columbia is South Carolina's centrally-located capital city, situated at the confluence of the Saluda and Broad rivers. Columbia's downtown is a vibrant commercial and residential center, and home to a diverse and growing business market. Commercial buildings along the river that once housed industrial and textile manufacturing now feature an eclectic mix of shops, galleries, restaurants, and residential lofts, providing attractions for both residents and visitors. Columbia's neighborhoods are supported by a network of neighborhood councils who work closely with the city government to create a safe and enriching environment for their community members. Columbia's major industries include health care, education, and defense. Two military installations, Fort Jackson and McEntire Joint National Guard Station, make a significant contribution to the city's economic base.
Columbia was established in 1786 when the site was chosen by the South Carolina General Assembly as the location for a state capital, making it one of the first planned cities in the United States. Columbia was laid out in 400 blocks that were subsequently divided into 1/2 acre lots and then sold to investors and prospective residents with the agreement that they would build within 3 years or face a penalty. By 1850, Columbia had gained a railroad, supporting an economy based on cotton and textile manufacturing. In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union prior to the Civil War, at a convention held in Columbia. Much of the city was destroyed by fire during the final months of the Civil War. During reconstruction, Columbia returned to textile manufacturing and the city grew into a regional trade and business center. Historic preservation efforts along with new construction created a modern city that also reflects deep connections to its past.
Summertime in Columbia is hot and humid with average high temperatures in the 90° F range. Winters are mild and mostly without snowfall. Spring and autumn are nearly perfect with dry, comfortable days and cool evenings.
The Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority provides daily bus service throughout the city of Columbia and its suburbs. Columbia’s Amtrak station offers regional service to popular regional destinations. The Columbia Metropolitan Airport offers non-stop flights to Chicago, Dallas, New York, Washington, D.C. and other major cities.
Cost of Living in Columbia
The cost of living in Columbia is slightly below the national average, with housing costs that are significantly lower, making home-buying an attractive option. Use these cost of living calculators to determine your budget requirements for living in Columbia.
Five public school districts serve the Columbia metropolitan area. The largest concentration of Columbia city schools are located in Richland District 1 and Richland District 2, with a combined population of 49,000 students and 64 schools, plus several magnet centers and one alternative secondary school.
Columbia has several hospitals offering general medical treatment and specialty services to residents. Palmetto Health Richland and Providence Hospitals are two of Columbia’s largest healthcare providers. If you’re planning a move to Columbia, it’s a good idea to know the medical resources available to you:
Columbia Real Estate
The median cost for a home in Columbia is around 30% lower than the national average, with many affordable homes in North Columbia and more expensive homes in the areas of Woodcreek Farms and Forest Hills. Use the links below to explore homes and neighborhoods in Columbia.
Accommodations in Columbia are plentiful, with modern amenities and convenient locations. The Sheraton Hotel in the historic Palmetto building features a rooftop bar with great views of the city. The Chesnut Cottage bed and breakfast was home of Confederate General James Chesnut and Mary Boykin Chesnut who wrote A Diary from Dixie. Discover more overnight accommodations using the links below.
Columbia offers a variety of unique and interesting restaurants that are fun to explore. Solstice Kitchen serves up American fare with a southern flair, and the Motor Supply Company offers an ever-changing menu with country-French influence. The Blue Marlin has a great local reputation for seafood, and the Tombo Grille specializes in serving up original dishes in a casual atmosphere. Find your favorite foods in Columbia with the links below.
Things to Do in Columbia
When visiting Columbia, you won’t want to miss the Five Points neighborhood, known for its eclectic mix of shops, galleries, and cafés. The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden features one of the nation’s most inspiring botanical gardens. Your family might enjoy touring one of the many restored historic homes from the antebellum period, or a train ride at the South Carolina Railroad Museum. Kayaking is a popular sport on each of Columbia’s three rivers, and if you want to escape the summer heat, there are many recreation activities at nearby Lake Murray.