Welcome to Soda City, Cola Town. This is what residents lovingly call South Carolina’s capital city. Why? Simply because Columbia can be shortened to “cola.” (But while we’re on the subject, when you’re in Columbia, all soft drinks are called “coke.”)
Anyway, on to more important things. Columbia sits on three rivers: the Saluda, Broad and Congaree. Being the capital city, Columbia’s centerpiece is the South Carolina State House, a beautiful Greek Revival building. In front, you might recognize the Wade Hampton Statue, a 15-foot-tall bronze statue of Civil War commander Wade Hampton on a horse. Columbia is also home to the University of South Carolina — Go Gamecocks! This makes Columbia a college town in many ways. USC's campus blends into the rest of the city, creating one big community.
Here in Columbia, you know you are in the South. You’ll find pecan and magnolia trees, boiled peanut stands, BBQ joints and friendly people who greet you on the street. If you meet someone you really like, you may be in luck, as about 40 percent of residents are single. You’ll want to learn the Carolina Shag, a simple dance that originated on the beaches of South Carolina back in the 1940s. And speaking of beaches, South Carolina has a beautiful coastline that includes Myrtle Beach and the beaches along Charleston. All are under three hours away from Columbia — totally doable for a weekend escape.
So what’s it going to cost you to live in Columbia? Not much, actually. The median sales price of homes is $154,900 and median rent per month is $1,195. You’ll find a lot of charming Colonials, new construction and beautiful Southern neoclassical homes. Renters will find condos and modern apartment complexes with pools, which is a nice thing to have as South Carolina summers can be scorching. Healthcare is a big industry in Columbia; Palmetto Health and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina are top employers.
Five Points is one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods; it bills itself as Columbia's “original village neighborhood for over 100 years.” Here you’ll find tons of shops, trendy bars and restaurants and annual festivals and celebrations. St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Five Points. Each year, the neighborhood holds a big parade with bagpipers, step dancers and a Carolina Shag dance party, and residents dye the fountain green.
Other things to do in Columbia: Golf at the city’s public and private courses, become one with nature at Congaree National Park and Riverbanks Botanical Garden and check out the South Carolina State Museum and Columbia Museum of Art.
Trivia fact: Comedian Aziz Ansari hails from Columbia.