Set where the Saluda and Broad rivers converge to form the mighty Congaree, Columbia, South Carolina is a midsized city known for its waterfalls, Southern charm, and college football. Columbia has more than 1,500 acres of parkland, including beautiful downtown Finlay Park and the Three Rivers Greenway trail system that meanders throughout the area. Along with a diverse population, Columbia has thriving shopping, restaurant, and cultural scenes. From downtown riverfront lofts to mid-century bungalows to a place in the suburbs to raise your family, Columbia truly has something for everyone.
Columbia has several gorgeous suburbs to choose from. With the temperate climate and beautiful scenery, outdoor activities abound, with one of the most popular being golf. Wildewood, Spring Valley, and Longcreek Plantation are all golf communities, each with its own unique offerings. Wildewood, for example, is very upscale. Longcreek Plantation has swimming, tennis, and horseback riding in addition to 36 holes of golf and large homes with manicured lawns. Spring Valley is a gated golf community that boasts waterfront homes. If golf isn’t your thing, you can consider Lake Carolina, a community with a 200-acre lake for boating, fishing, swimming, and more.
A revitalization that began in the 1980s made most of Columbia’s urban neighborhoods uniquely livable. Some of the more upscale neighborhoods include the trendy Congaree Vista lofts overlooking the river; the historic Cottonwood district in the heart of downtown, which has an eclectic mix of historic and traditional homes; and Shandon, which is close to the trendy Five Points shopping and restaurant district and happens to be one of the most sought-after areas in Columbia. Charming but slightly less upscale neighborhoods include Forest Acres, with mature hardwood trees and homes reminiscent of the Old South, and Forest Hills, which has modern homes sitting on large picturesque lots. All are within walking distance of downtown. As the home of the main branch of the University of South Carolina, Columbia also has a vibrant university scene that adds life to the city. USC is a downtown campus, and in addition to the more than 31,000 students, it is also a major employer in Columbia. One of the most popular near-campus neighborhoods is Rosewood. Rosewood borders Shandon but is more affordable for those who want a downtown location without Shandon prices. Rosewood is also close to Midlands Tech and Fort Jackson, two other employers in the Columbia area. In 2013, Kiplinger Magazine named it one of "10 Great Cities to Live In." Indeed, it is. With its picturesque charm, warm climate, and modest cost of living, Columbia has much to offer.