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Life In Columbia, South Carolina

Affordable living and southern hospitality

A highlight of our residency program is our exceptional location. Columbia is a city where steel and glass structures rub shoulders with stately homes and turn-of-the-century warehouses that now serve as modern offices; where the friendly nature of its residents is matched only by its welcoming climate. One of the first planned cities in America, Columbia is a community that's easy to get to know and love.

Finley Park - Downtown Columbia

Finley Park - Downtown Columbia

Prisma Health/USC Medical Group Graduate Medical Education - Columbia

It's also a very livable city – a beautiful and affordable place to live that offers one-of-a-kind architecture, natural scenic beauty, amazing dining options, shopping, and everything in between. Home prices in Columbia are well below the national average, making ownership very affordable. Those who aren't ready to buy will find no shortage of rental homes or apartment complexes. In addition to the University of South Carolina, Columbia boasts a nationally recognized technical college and several colleges and universities. And thanks to a diversified local economy, employment opportunities for spouses are plentiful.

"Famously hot"

Columbia enjoys a typical Southern, subtropical climate with short, mild winters that make snowfall a treat every few years. Located in the center of the state, Columbia is equally close to the mountains and the beach. Historic Charleston and the island resorts of Hilton Head and Kiawah are about a two-hour drive; Myrtle Beach and the beaches of the Grand Strand are approximately three hours away, as are the Blue Ridge Mountains. Interstates 20, 26 and 77 converge here, and Interstates 85 and 95 are nearby, putting most East Coast and many Midwest cities within a day's drive. Charlotte can be reached in one hour, and Atlanta is about a three-hour drive.

Arts and culture

Cultural activities abound in the capital city – you'll find both big-city variety and quaint, local offerings. A lively arts community supports everything from folk and performing arts to city-wide public art projects and artisanal craft fairs. The Koger Center for the Performing Arts, Township Auditorium, the Colonial Center, and other venues attract national theatrical, ballet, and musical productions. The South Carolina State Museum, on the banks of the Congaree River, is the largest museum in the South. The Columbia Museum of Art downtown houses touring and permanent collections of art from around the world.

In addition to suburban malls, Columbia is home to more intimate, local shopping and entertainment districts. Five Points is a thriving village of shops, nightlife, dining and residences. The Congaree Vista is a revitalized historic downtown that is home to an eclectic mix of restaurants, nightclubs, antique shops and art galleries. These hot spots are home to street festivals and live music concerts geared toward young adults.

Sports and outdoor recreation

Columbia is the place to be for sports. SEC sports are celebrated year-round as USC Gamecock football, baseball and basketball games commence. Football is the preferred spectator sport here, but golf has no equal as the favorite diversion of the average amateur athlete in the Midlands. Golfers have their pick of dozens of area courses, with many public sites rivaling the beauty and challenge of private clubs.

Since Columbia's moderate climate is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, rollerblading, biking and running can be enjoyed comfortably year-round. League teams for disc golf, bowling, softball, tennis, adult kickball and volleyball are also available.

Columbia's three major rivers serve as a natural playground for young and old alike. Walking trails and parks line the banks of the Saluda, Broad and Congaree Rivers downtown. The gentle flow of their waters offers numerous opportunities to float, paddle, boat and fish. Nearby Lake Murray, with its 500-mile shoreline, provides access to a recreational paradise where you can walk across the dam, cast a line, rent a boat or take a swim. There's hiking at the Congaree Swamp National Monument and several state parks. Another favorite destination is Riverbanks Zoological Park and Botanical Garden, among the top 20 zoos in the country.


For those with children, Columbia boasts a large collection of well-maintained playgrounds and city parks, and the Midlands region offers award-winning public and private primary and secondary schools. The Columbia Marionette Theatre, EdVenture Children's Museum, Frankie's Fun Park and the Plex offer opportunities for fun, learning and physical activity.

Follow these links to explore more of what South Carolina and the Midlands region have to offer:

Boating, swimming, and skiing on beautiful Lake Murray
Lake Murray Country

Fishing and rafting on local rivers
Fishing in Columbia
River access information
Congaree Riverkeeper
River Alliance

Great local walking and hiking trails
Cayce Riverwalk
Harbison State Forest
The Palmetto Trail
Three Rivers Greenway

Beautiful local, state, and national parks
Saluda Shoals Park
Sesquicentennial State Park
Congaree National Park

In Columbia

Weekly market on Main Street featuring local and regional food and craft vendors
Soda City Market

Our award-winning zoo and botanical garden
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Vibrant visual and performing arts
Colonial Life Arena
Columbia Museum of Art
South Carolina State Museum
Koger Center for the Arts
The Township Auditorium/
Columbia City Ballet
Carolina Ballet
Columbia Classical Ballet

Exciting sporting events
University of South Carolina Gamecock Athletics
The Columbia Fireflies

Local festivals and fairs
St. Pat's in Five Points (March)
Greek Festival (September)
Rosewood Crawfish Festival (May)
South Carolina State Fair (October)