Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, attracts residents of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you’re a young professional, have a growing family, or you’re entering your golden years, Soda City is a fantastic place to call home. Here are 14 pros and cons of living in Columbia, SC!

Pros of Living in Columbia

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On top of its Southern charm, living in Columbia, SC offers excellent employment options, kid-friendly attractions, fun-filled festivals, and more. Check out these advantages of relocating to Columbia!

Pro: Affordable South Carolina Living

City life often comes with a hefty price tag, but Columbia, SC is an affordable alternative! Despite being the state capital and one of the largest cities in South Carolina, living expenses in Columbia are on par with the U.S. average, and healthcare costs are significantly lower than both the national and state averages. Columbia also offers the benefit of being close to major cities like Charleston while avoiding its higher cost of living! In addition, South Carolina is one of the U.S. states with the lowest property taxes, and residents can find affordable housing in Columbia with a median home price of $259,000 and median rent price of $1,398. Columbia is also tax-friendly for retirees, with no tax on Social Security benefits and a significant taxable income deduction for those receiving retirement income, making Soda City an ideal place for those looking to enjoy their golden years without breaking the bank.

Pro: Great Jobs in the Capital of SC

Columbia, South Carolina boasts a dynamic job market with a lower-than-average unemployment rate of 3.9%. In fact, a wealth of job opportunities in major industries in Columbia like healthcare, education, government, and manufacturing makes this one of the best cities to start a career in the U.S. Looking for employment in Columbia? The State of South Carolina, Prisma Health, Lexington Medical Center, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina are some of the biggest employers in the city. You can also find jobs in education with the Richland School District and at the University of South Carolina. Additionally, Fort Jackson, the largest U.S. Army training site for Basic Combat Training, is a major employer in the area.

Pro: Top Education at South Carolina Colleges

No matter what your educational goals, there are many colleges and universities in Columbia, SC that can help you achieve them. Attend a renowned public university for programs in business, engineering and computing, or public health at University of South Carolina. Check out programs for mathematics, psychology, or social work at Limestone University, which has been educating students in South Carolina for over 175 years. For those seeking a religious higher education experience, choose from degree options in biology, health sciences, humanities, and more at Columbia International University. Major in business administration, criminal justice, psychology, and more at South University, Columbia. Participate in clubs like the African American Student Association while studying mathematics, special education, or studio art at Columbia College. Experience a vibrant campus life at Benedict College, a historically Black college with majors like mass communication, physics, and economics. Or enroll in academic programs like criminal justice, religion, and accounting at Allen University, another historically Black institution in Columbia.

Pro: Tons of Outdoor Fun

If you love fresh air and staying active, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities in Columbia, SC! Attend the yearly Synchronous Fireflies Viewing Event, go paddling on the Congaree River Blue Trail, or explore the hiking trails with your furry friend just outside of the city at Congaree National Park. Soak up the sun, observe wildlife, and get out on the water at the Broad River. Try whitewater kayaking on the Lower Saluda River, or take a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the scenic Saluda Riverwalk. Enjoy a picnic with friends or go for a run along the paved trail at Riverfront Park. Book a tee time and challenge yourself to 18 holes among ponds and rolling hills at LinRick Golf Course. Go canoeing, geocaching, or choose from ten different trails to explore at Harbison State Forest. Play tennis, try the Low Ropes Challenge Course, and play a round of disc golf at Saluda Shoals Park. Or take a short drive out of the city to go fishing, sailing, and even scuba diving at Lake Murray.

Pro: Endless Things to Do in Cola Town

When you move to South Carolina’s capital city, there will be no shortage of things to do! Browse unique antiques, exotic foods, and more at the Soda City Market. Get up close with over 2,000 animals and explore exhibits like Moon Jellies, ride the Sky-High Safari, or wander through the Walled Garden at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Learn about South Carolina’s history, journey into space in the Planetarium, or stop by rotating interactive exhibitions like Make Some Noise: The Science of Sound at the South Carolina State Museum. Stroll through collections of European, American, and Asian art, attend regular jazz performances, or sign your kids up for summer camps at the Columbia Museum of Art. Discover the state’s military history through artifacts ranging from artillery to vehicles, and stop by monthly Lunch & Learns at the South Carolina Military Museum. Or enjoy some friendly competition and aim for a strike while you listen to live music at The Grand on Main.

Pro: Lots of Family Attractions

There are tons of fun family activities to explore in Columbia, SC! Learn about fruits and vegetables in the Busy Bee Farm & Garden, slide down the fire pole at the Dalmatian Station, or learn about the human body with the help of Eddie at EdVenture Children’s Museum. Enjoy a unique theatrical experience with enchanting puppet shows like Little Red Riding Hood or Santa’s Swinging Christmas Party at The Columbia Marionette Theatre. Hop in a go-kart and race around the Rookie Track, battle your friends in Laser Tag, or put on a brave face and ride the Drop Zone at Frankie’s Fun Park. Strap on your knee pads and helmet before practicing a new trick on your skateboard or bike at Owens Field Skate Park. Cool down in the Lazy River, splash with your little ones in the Kiddy Pool, or get in line for the water slide at Palmetto Falls Water Park. Or get your groove on as you experience hip-hop culture through music, visual artists, B-Boy dance crews, and more at the Hip-Hop Family Day.

Pro: Awesome Performing Arts

Columbia boasts a thriving performing arts scene with something for everyone! Buy tickets to see traveling music acts like Polaris, Briston Maroney, and Mason Ramsey at The Senate. Attend annual events like Artists for Africa or the Miss South Carolina Pageant, sing along at concerts, and more at the Township Auditorium. Don’t miss out on seasonal performances like Nutcracker put on by the South Carolina Ballet at venues throughout the city. Encourage your kids to audition for the Youth Orchestra or experience the magic of live orchestral music with a performance by the renowned South Carolina Philharmonic at the Koger Center for the Arts. Learn how to tap dance at Camp Tap Tap Tap Away, attend pop-up workshops, and strengthen your acting skills during other summer camps at the Town Theatre. Or submit a script for the Playwrights’ Festival, buy tickets to musicals like Dandelion, and more at the Trustus Theatre.

Pro: Exciting Columbia Events

Residents love attending the many annual events that take place in Columbia. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by joining the parade, listening to live music, or participating in the 5K or 10K at St. Pat’s in Five Points. Savor gourmet food and wine and watch cooking demonstrations at the Columbia Food & Wine Festival. Feast on fresh oysters, buy one-of-a-kind pieces of art from local vendors, and see live bands at the South Carolina Oyster Festival, the state’s largest outdoor oyster roast. Taste unlimited samples of delicious shrimp and grits while listening to live music at the Columbia Shrimp & Grits Fest. Dress up or watch the fabulous Drag Pageant at Outfest Columbia, enjoy the Famously Hot South Carolina Pride Parade, and attend other events celebrating Columbia Pride with SC Pride. Check out performances from local musicians while chowing down on food from vendors at the Meeting Street Music Fest. Or experience thrilling rides, participate in the Boiled Peanut Eating Contest, and delight in a variety of fair foods at the South Carolina State Fair.

Pro: Unique Local Cuisine in Soda City

Dive into a world of deliciousness in Cola, from down-home Southern cooking to international cuisine! Kickstart your day with a Honey Vanilla Latte, Cortado, or Espresso at Drip Columbia. Enjoy breakfast with unique cinnamon roll flavors like Strawberry Cheesecake, Apple Cobbler, or Banana Foster at Columbia’s hidden gem, The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli. If you’re craving Korean food in Columbia, order Japchae, Jjambong, or Seafood Nurungi Tang at 929 Kitchen & Bar. Devour a Blue Ribbon Burger, Glazed Sugar Donut Burger, or the Tavern Hearty Chili at Burger Tavern 77. Fill up on a Rosemary Ham Panini, Triple Decker Corned Beef Reuben, or Soup of the Day at DiPrato’s. Satisfy your hunger with farm-to-table dishes like S.C. Wild Caught Shrimp, Pan Seared S.C. Grouper, and Heritage Farm’s Bone-In Pork Chop at Motor Supply Company Bistro, an award-winning local staple. Or, for your fill of seafood in Columbia, try the Crispy Gulf Oysters, Low Country Shrimp Creole, or Blackened Salmon Charleston at Blue Marlin.

Cons of Living in Columbia

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Although Columbia is an affordable place to live with lots of fun things to do, there are still some downsides to be aware of. Here are the cons of moving to Columbia.

Con: Few Public Transportation Options

If you’re looking for a city with a robust public transportation system, Columbia might not meet your expectations. Owning a car is considered a necessity for getting around the city due to its limited public transit options. This means residents may also experience high traffic and congestion, especially during rush hour. While public transportation isn’t as robust as in some other major cities, The COMET bus system in Columbia does offer fixed routes throughout certain parts of the city, and residents can also take advantage of the Amtrak train station. For those planning to travel outside the city, the nearby Columbia Metropolitan Airport provides convenient flights. Plus, Columbia has received over eight million dollars in federal funds to continue improving its public transit system!

Con: Harsh Southern Weather

Columbia’s climate includes long stretches of hot and humid days during the summer months, which can make spending extended time outdoors uncomfortable. Cola also experiences a lot of precipitation, with eight more inches of rain per year than the national average, and the city’s high hurricane risk brings its own set of challenges. Fortunately, South Carolina provides resources residents can use to prepare for hurricane season and stay safe. In addition, Columbia’s abundance of sunny days and mild winters are perfect for enjoying the city’s outdoor activities. If you want an escape from the heat or rain, however, you can also take advantage of the city’s many indoor attractions! Buy tickets to attend fun events like Soda City Comic Con, where you can meet voice actors and play a variety of arcade games. Or watch movies from decades past during the Kids Summer Movies series at the Nickelodeon Theater (also known as The Nick).

Con: High Crime Rate

Moving to a city often warrants concerns about crime. While Columbia’s crime rates are 49% higher than the national average, rest assured the city prioritizes efforts to help keep citizens safe. For example, Columbia city officials have partnered with nonprofit organizations like Serve & Connect, which works to build trust and collaboration between law enforcement and communities. The city has also allocated funds to initiatives such as the Community Safety Officer Unit in efforts to reduce violence and promote safety through community-based solutions. Additionally, there are plenty of safe neighborhoods in Columbia that offer quieter areas for you to settle down.

Con: Lack of Major Sports Teams

Though Columbia may not be home to any major professional sports teams, the city still has plenty of minor league and collegiate teams you can support! If you’re a big soccer fan, bring some friends to watch the South Carolina United FC (USL League Two) score goals at various fields in the Columbia area. Catch a Columbia Fireflies (MiLB) game at Segra Park, or support the Lexington County Blowfish in collegiate baseball games throughout the summer at Lexington County Baseball Stadium. Or cheer on the South Carolina Gamecocks (NCAA D-I) as they score touchdowns at Williams-Brice Stadium and shoot hoops at Colonial Life Arena!

Con: Limited Columbia Nightlife

While you might expect a bustling nightlife scene in a college town like this, Columbia, SC nightlife options are fairly limited. However, with several dive bars and breweries in Columbia, you can still find ways to enjoy a fun night out on the town! Check out beers on tap and try out the Korean Beef BBQ Eggrolls while you sit back for live music, karaoke, or open mic comedy at the Art Bar. Catch performances by traveling musicians or buy tickets to fun events like Anime Rave at the New Brookland Tavern. Looking for the best Columbia breweries? Find a wide range of IPAs, sours, stouts, and lagers on tap, like Purge Under Pilsner, Pineapple Express, and Limelight, at Savage Craft Ale Works. Or catch up with friends on the outdoor patio over a Citrus All-Pro Pale Ale, Alien Hat Watermelon Sour Ale, Columbia Craft Lager, and other rotating brews at Columbia Craft Brewing Company.


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