• $500   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $672   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $1159   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  southeast US)

38% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Most errands require a car. 5
severe humidity
commutable to more expensive city, cheapest rent, few traffic jams 6

SO, roomiematch.com's Columbia roommate rundown:

Columbia is a traditionally Southern town that's gradually getting more modern.

While previously mostly known for proximity to two larger nearby metros (Atlanta and Charlotte), Columbia is now experiencing growth all on its own. The urban core is now around 500,000, and the larger metro about 800,000.

This modernization is due to overall population growth, increasing industrialization, and all those university students.

So even though Columbia is the capital, the center of South Carolina's government, home to its flagship university, and where a LOT of Basic Training takes place . . . the cost of living for everything except healthcare is still significantly lower than the national average.

Mopeds and bicycles are common, especially around campus. Traffic is rarely a problem anywhere.

So the living is easy . . . if famously HOT.

The rest of the Columbia roommate lowdown:

  • Humid subtropical climate, very mild winters and very hot and humid summers. Columbia's unique topography involving low elevation and sandy soil warms up faster than Southern cities that are higher and more hydrated, leading to one of Columbia's famous descriptive slogans, "Famously Hot."
  • home to Benedict College, Columbia College, Midlands Technical University, Virginia College, and the University of South Carolina
  • home of Fort Jackson, the largest US Army installation for Basic Combat Training. 20 miles east is a major Air Force training base as well, McEntire Joint National Guard Base
  • Most transportation is most people driving their own vehicles most of the time, although downtown and the University area are pedestrian-friendly. There are a couple of bus services, but they run mostly between popular spots downtown.
  • Columbia's recent growth has also spurred new dining options, including a wide variety. But still most fondly known for seafood prepared according to South Carolina Lowcountry specifications, like shrimp and grits and she-crab soup.

After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience Columbia's:

  • Soda City Market: So you can shorten Columbia to "Cola" which is another word for "soda" so now some have nicknamed Columbia, "Soda City." Then in 2005 an outdoor market aggregated, now featuring about 150 vendors. So that's the Soda City Market, and it's on Saturdays. (No, it's not just for soda. Expect the same amount of soda you'd find at most urban outdoor markets, not especially more than that.)
  • If you're shopping for locally-owned, distinctive and/or trendy, go shopping at Five Points. But if you're shopping for bargains go to Dutch Square Mall.
  • Columbia Museum of Art: 25 galleries, including Italian Renaissance, Asian Art and Antiquities, Roman portrait heads, and Korean ceramics.
  • Three Rivers Greenway: A bunch of connected trails that are popular with everyone: runners, dog walkers, skaters, bikers, etc. Beautiful views along all three riverfronts.
  • Columbia Marionette Theatre: The only one in the whole country that's dedicated entirely to the art of the marionette. You and your roommates could go on a field trip, which would offer you a chance to look behind the scenery, talk to the puppeteers, and touch the marionettes. You can also learn the "principles of shadow puppetry," but you have to make a reservation for that though.
  • South Carolina Statehouse: The dome is made of copper, and bronze stars mark where Sherman's cannonballs smashed. That would be when it got tore up from the floor up then burned down to the ground, during the Civil War. But they obviously rebuilt, and now there's also several monuments and a rose garden.

Here's the city of Columbia's official .gov for their GIS division, including interactive city maps.


1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.

2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.

3.   From zumper.com.

4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.

5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.

6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.