Renter's Guide to Columbia
Columbia is the capital city of South Carolina, and the state’s largest city. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbia number 46 among the top 50 “Best Places to Live,” awarding the city an overall score of 6.6 on a 10-point scale.
The city is home to the University of South Carolina’s flagship campus, which is the largest institution of higher learning in the state. Fort Jackson, a U.S. Army installation in use since 1917, is located in Columbia and trains half of all soldiers entering the U.S. Army annually.
Weather in Columbia, South Carolina, is typical of the humid subtropical climate zone. Columbia describes itself as “Famously Hot” — and for good reason: in Columbia, spring comes early, summers are very hot and humid, and warm weather lingers into late autumn. Extended periods of cold weather and freezing temperatures are rare in Columbia, and the city rarely receives snow. Overall, the climate is predictable, with average high temperatures ranging from 57 degrees in January, Columbia’s coldest month, all the way up to 92 degrees in July, its hottest month; and average low temperatures from 34 degrees in January to 71 degrees in July. Average annual rainfall in Columbia is 45 inches, peaking in the humid summer months.
Columbia, SC Demographics
- Total Population131,958
Female 68,001Male 63,957
- Median Age28.1
Cost of Living in Columbia, SC
Though personal vehicles are the mode of transportation of choice for the vast majority of Columbia residents, the COMET bus transit system services the Midlands region of South Carolina. Standard one-way bus fare in Columbia is $1.50 for an adult and $.75 for senior citizens and special needs riders, and all-day COMET passes cost $3.00.
The average commute time for the Columbia metro area is 23.6 minutes, which is lower than the national average of 25.4 minutes.
A meal for 2 people in a mid-range Columbia restaurant may cost anywhere between $29 and $50, and a regular cappuccino goes for about $4.
For a 915-square-foot apartment, Columbia, SC, residents pay on average $140 for utilities (such as electricity, heating, water, or garbage removal), which is close to the national average of $147 in monthly utility expenses.
Average Rent in Columbia, SC
- Columbia, SC Average Rental Price, March 2018$998/mo
- 1 Bedroom$790
- 2 Bedrooms$930
Columbia, SC Apartment Rent Ranges
- < $5001%
- > $2,0005%
Columbia, SC Rent Trends
|All rentals||Studio||1 Bed||2 Beds||3 Beds|
|Mar / 2018||$998||$741||$790||$930|
|May / 2017||$988||$732||$782||$924|
|Jan / 2017||$963||$706||$760||$902|
|Sept / 2016||$954||$711||$759||$896|
|May / 2016||$948||$718||$752||$892|
|Jan / 2016||$937||$699||$738||$879|
|Sept / 2015||$913||$674||$724||$853|
|May / 2015||$889||$646||$703||$839|
|Jan / 2015||$870||$647||$694||$829|
Living in Columbia, SC
Columbia is a vibrant college town known for its southern hospitality and pleasant, sunny year-round weather. Millennials, young professionals, and families alike will find themselves in good company in Columbia, where the median age is 35.9 and senior citizens make up less than 10 percent of the population. The cost of living in Columbia is lower than the national average — but the same is true of comparative annual salaries. On the flip side, cars are nearly a must-have to get around and work in Columbia; and though the city is fairly well connected to other major metropolitan areas, it is still relatively far from many larger east coast urban hubs.
Things to do in Columbia
Residents of Columbia can enjoy the many attractions and points of interest in the region. The Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the area’s most popular destinations, receiving over a million visitors each year. Located along the Saluda River, the zoo and garden encompass 170 acres and house more than 2,000 animals.
Public parks and green spaces for jogging, dog walking, recreational sports, or playtime with children are also abundant in Columbia. Some of the top attractions for outdoor activities in Columbia are the Sesquicentennial State Park, Harbison State Forest, and Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park.
University of South Carolina sports are also a uniting force for many Columbia residents, who can attend football games at the Williams Brice Stadium or basketball games at Colonial Life Arena.
Families with children will also find many things to do in Columbia, including several museums designed with kids in mind. Among these are the South Carolina State Museum, which has a state-of-the-art planetarium as well as a 4D movie theater, and the hands-on EdVenture Children’s Museum. The Columbia Marionette Theater is also a popular attraction for families with kids.
If you’re in the mood for some classic southern seafood, check out Blue Marlin in Columbia’s bustling Congaree Vista District. Mr Friendly’s New Southern Cafe and Bourbon are two of the best restaurants in Columbia; and Lamb's Bread Vegan Café is an excellent option for those who fancy vegetarian food.
Cultural venues in Columbia range in size and atmosphere but are popular among residents. Township Auditorium is a historic concert and performance venue with a capacity of up to 3,500 guests. Constructed in 1930, its Georgian Revival architecture and historical ties to Jim Crow era legislation contributed to its addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. The Koger Center for the Arts, located on the University of South Carolina Campus, can accommodate over 2,000 guests. It is home to the South Carolina Philharmonic and hosts large-scale functions and speeches, including the State of the State Address.
Employment and Economy
In recent years, South Carolina’s economy has seen steady growth, and the unemployment rate in Columbia has dipped below 5 percent. Columbia is a hub for careers in manufacturing, healthcare and health services, and finance. The University of South Carolina, Palmetto Health hospital system, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina are consistently among Columbia’s largest employers, as is Fort Jackson, where over half of the U.S. Army’s new soldiers undergo basic training each year.
Additionally, Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, and South State Bank are headquartered in Columbia; and UPS, Michelin, International Paper, and Bose Technology have regional facilities based in the Columbia metropolitan area.
Columbia, SC Households
- Total Number of Households44,506
Family 22,317Non-family 22,189
Children 11,274No Children 33,232
- Average People Per Household2.31
- Median Household Income$41,260
- Median Housing Costs Per Month$879
Education in Columbia, SC
In addition to the main campus of the University of South Carolina, whose 15 schools enroll over 30,000 students, Columbia is also home to several other institutions of higher education. Among these are: Benedict College, a private, historically black liberal arts college; Columbia College, a private college for women; the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, one of the oldest Lutheran seminaries in the country; and the Midlands Technical College, a two-year, public community college that is part of the South Carolina Technical College System.
At the primary and secondary level, there are 7 public school districts in Richland and Lexington Counties serving Columbia’s 65,000 students. Among Columbia’s 37 public schools and 54 private schools, two — A. C. Flora High School and C. A. Johnson High School — have been ranked among the nation’s top 100 by U.S. News & World Report.
Columbia, SC Education Statistics
- No High School3%
- Some High School31%
- Some College30%
- Associate Degree6%
- Bachelor Degree19%
- Graduate Degree12%
Tips for Renting in Columbia
The state of South Carolina has enacted a residential Landlord-Tenant Act that applies to nearly all leases and details landlord and tenant right and responsibilities. Columbia renters should be vigilant about the terms of their lease as well as the general provisions of this law. Under the Landlord-Tenant Act, tenants are responsible for timely rent payment, maintaining safe and clean units, and proper waste disposal. When a lease is up, the tenant is required to provide a written forwarding address to which the landlord can direct the security deposit, and if some or all of the deposit has been withheld by the landlord, he or she must provide an itemized list of damages and deductions within 30 days of either the end of the lease or from the move-out date, whichever is later.
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