Columbia is the capital, the largest city, and the commercial, industrial and educational hub for the state. The city is laid out in a traditional grid along the Congaree River with a number of historic buildings, although many of the older ones were destroyed in Sherman’s famous march. Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, whose attractive and historic campus is in the south part of the downtown area adds a dose of college town feel, a few amenities, and sports-related entertainment to the area. The downtown is clean and attractive, with entertainment near the campus and in a restored waterfront area. Beautiful older residential areas extend east with a clear antebellum imprint and good home values, but this isn’t the part of town with the best reputation for education and safety.
The best suburbs spread northwest towards Irmo and Lake Murray. The economy, while soft recently, is stable with a good future outlook. Cost of living is attractive especially for what is available, and buying power is strong. While a bit far away for air service and other city amenities, Columbia does enjoy a good central location relative to Atlanta 200 miles west, Charleston and the coast 120 miles southeast, and the mountains northwest.
Columbia is located at a river confluence. Surrounding terrain is rolling and slopes gently from north to south. The climate is humid subtropical. The Appalachian ridge 150 miles to the northwest frequently retards the approach of cold weather in the winter but offers little moderating effect on the summer heat. Long summers are prevalent with persistent warm and humid weather. The mountains and the “Bermuda High” summer high pressure system block cold fronts from the north and west. Typically there are about 6 days over 100 degrees and midsummer thunderstorms are frequent. Fall is the most pleasant time of year with relatively less rainfall and plenty of sun. Winters are mild with occasional short cold outbreaks. Spring is variable, with occasional storms and cold snaps.