Relocating? Here Are 3 Reasons to Move to Columbia, SC
If you’re in the market to relocate, then Columbia—South Carolina’s self-professed "Famously Hot" Capital City—definitely has a lot to offer.
With affordable housing, plenty of job opportunities, an up-and-coming food and beverage scene, as well as plenty of arts, culture, and entertainment options, it’s kind of hard to beat.
Here’s a quick introduction to the city’s neighborhoods, its fun activities, its great restaurants, and more, so you can whet your appetite for a bit of southern living in the Palmetto State.
1. Neighborhoods with Character
Columbia is comprised of multiple small, cozy neighborhoods, each of which have their own unique character.
Here are just a few we found worth noting as options for those relocating to the Capital City. As with every neighborhood, there are pros and cons, ups and downs. Explore what makes each of these spots unique, then start house-hunting!
A combination of stately older homes and relatively inexpensive long-term rental units, Cottontown is an on-the-rise neighborhood in the north part of the city, just above Elmwood Avenue, one of Columbia’s main thoroughfares.
Singletons, young professionals, recent college grads, and young families will be more than comfortable in Cottontown, with its oak-shaded streets and medium-sized backyards.
Added bonus? There are plenty of tasty dining options, as well as coffee shops and cocktail bars, and all are within walking distance—from A Peace of Soul to Al-Amir on Main, War Mouth, Curiosity Coffee, Indah Coffee, and more.
Budget-conscious college student? Olympia-Granby is the spot for you.
With plentiful—not to mention affordable—student housing situated in refurbished cotton mills, and close proximity to the University of South Carolina’s campus, you’ll save heaps on transportation and housing expenses.
A word to the wise: with USC’s baseball stadium just around the corner, things can get a little crowded on game day. If you’re comfortable with crowds during sports season, and a bit of weekend partying here and there, Olympia-Granby is the spot for you.
If you’re retired, or you’re mid-career and looking for a place to settle down long-term, then University Hill might be for you.
Purchasing a home in the University Hill area will certainly require a hefty financial commitment, but its nearness to Columbia’s thriving downtown (just a brisk ten minute walk to the State House!)—as well as the University of South Carolina and the city’s lively nightlife district, Five Points—make it well worth the cost.
Don’t let the proximity to campus worry you. With huge square footage on homes in the area, plus big backyards, you won’t have to worry about noisy students. (Plus, campus police are always on patrol, which will cut down on the likelihood of any major shenanigans disrupting your peace and quiet.)
2. Great Food & Good Cocktails
With the University of South Carolina—as well as Fort Jackson, a major military base in Columbia—drawing people of all cultures and all walks of life to the Capital City, its food and beverage scene has, as a result, become incredibly varied.
Here are a few of the top contenders worth checking out when you relocate to Columbia:
- A Peace of Soul – Vegan soul food. Need we say more? Get your dairy- and animal-free fix of mac-n’-cheese, “chicken” drumsticks, and plenty more at this nationally celebrated North Main Street establishment.
- Mai Thai – Though it’s not technically in Columbia (it’s a quick 15 minute drive across the river, into Cayce), Mai Thai boasts the best Thai food in the Midlands—possibly even the state. Don’t forget to order a Thai iced tea, topped with sweet coconut milk.
- Soda City Market – Food vendors from across the Midlands arrive on Main Street each Saturday to sell their delicious wares. Enjoy smoothies, empanadas, and more here. Plus, you’re virtually guaranteed to see a cute pup or two.
- War Mouth – Seasonal, hand-crafted cocktails, plus new takes on old southern classics—from deviled eggs to grits, collards, and more.
- The Whig – Cheap booze, and the best pimento cheese fries in the Southeast. What’s not to love about Columbia’s best dive bar? Get your fried snack fix here.
3. Plenty of Fun Things to Do
There’s literally so much to do in Columbia on any given day, we had to divide up our list by interest category in order to cram it all in. Here are a few of the highlights!
Arts & Culture Aficionados
Check out the latest exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA). Or, if your timing is good, attend one of the museum’s quarterly Arts & Draughts events—an evening of live music, DIY art activities, food trucks, beer, wine, and more.
Check out a foreign film at the Nickelodeon Theatre, South Carolina’s only not-for-profit art house cinema, just a block up from the CMA. And, if you’ve got time and you’re feeling creative, take a one-day art workshop at the City of Columbia’s Art Center, just around the corner from the Nickelodeon!
From alligator and snake viewing along the Timmerman Trail, to peaceful walks along the Riverfront Park, and challenging hikes through the swampy Congaree National Park, there are plenty of options for trail runners, cyclists, and hikers of all ages and skill levels. Enjoy all the beautiful nature that the Capital City has to offer.
Last, but certainly not least, are the athletics. With South Carolina’s flagship university located in the heart of Columbia, and dozens of nationally ranked men and women’s teams playing regularly in and around the city, there are plenty of opportunities to catch a game.
Plus, Columbia’s minor league team—the Fireflies—have their own stadium, which is definitely worth checking out! Grab a hot dog and a cold beer, then enjoy the game at your leisure.
Sports fans, foodies, artists, retirees, young professionals: there’s something for just about everyone in Columbia, South Carolina. Not sure it’s right for you? Pay the city a visit to get to know it a little better in person, then—if you feel so inspired—start house hunting!
Best of luck with your move!