The Columbia area, nestled in the heart of South Carolina, offers a diverse range of opportunities for those considering a 55+ active adult retirement community. Surrounded by scenic beauty and a mild climate, this region presents a blend of historic charm and modern amenities.
Lexington, a thriving suburb of Columbia, provides a peaceful residential atmosphere and easy access to recreational activities. Sumter, located to the east, offers a close-knit community with a strong sense of Southern hospitality. Further north, the city of Rock Hill boasts a vibrant arts scene and a variety of shopping and dining options.
Here are some local resources for more information about visiting or moving to the Columbia area:
Affordability and Cost of Living
Columbia provides a relatively affordable and tax-friendly retirement destination for active adults. The cost of living in the area is approximately 13 percent below the national average, which offers some flexibility for retirees living on a fixed income. Residents of the area tend to pay less than the national average for groceries and transportation, and most significantly, median home costs trend more than 40 percent below the national average. The median home price in Columbia is $225,000, and homebuyers can find properties to meet any budget.
The state income tax ranges from 0 to 6.5 percent depending on income.The state does not tax Social Security benefits or inheritances, which strengthens the finances of many retirees. The state also offers some of the lowest property taxes in the country at just 0.5 percent, according to Tax-Rates.org. Sales tax ranges from 6 to 9 percent depending on the county.
Climate and Geography
The Columbia area experiences a humid subtropical climate, characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters. Summers in this region are typically long and sweltering, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to the high 90s. The humidity levels can be quite high, often reaching around 90 percent, making the heat feel more intense. The area receives an average annual rainfall of around 45 inches, with the wettest months occurring during the summer. Winters in the Columbia area are generally mild, with average temperatures ranging from the low 30s to the mid-50s. The area is prone to severe weather events such as thunderstorms, heavy rains, and occasional hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season, which typically runs from June to November.
The Columbia area sits almost exactly at the halfway point between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, about 292 feet above sea level. Residents can reach scenic mountains or pristine beaches within two hours. Two rivers, the Saluda and the Broad, meet in Downtown Columbia to form the Congaree River. This waterway runs south into Congaree National Park. The largest nearby body of water is Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre reservoir that serves as a popular fishing and boating destination.
Recreation, Shopping, and Entertainment
The Columbia area offers a variety of recreational activities, cultural events, shopping opportunities, and entertainment options for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Golf and Racquet Sports
- Cobblestone Park Golf Club in Blythewood
- Woodlands Country Club in Columbia
- Lexington Country Club in Lexington
- Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center in Cayce
Hiking, Biking, and Boating
- Harbison State Forest in Columbia
- Riverfront Park in Columbia
- Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia
- Lake Murray in Irmo
Museums and Historical Sites
- South Carolina State Museum in Columbia
- Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia
- Lexington County Museum in Lexington
- Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site in Camden
- Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia
- Trustus Theatre in Columbia
- Town Theatre in Columbia
- Newberry Opera House in Newberry
- The Village at Sandhill in Columbia
- Columbiana Centre in Columbia
- Trenholm Plaza in Columbia
- Lexington Pavilion in Lexington
Parks and Gardens
- Congaree National Park in Hopkins
- Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia
- Finlay Park in Columbia
- Dreher Island State Park in Prosperity
Festivals and Fairs
- South Carolina State Fair in Columbia
- Lexington Wine Walk in Lexington
- Irmo Okra Strut Festival in Irmo
- Newberry Oktoberfest in Newberry
Health and Wellness
The Columbia area offers excellent health and wellness options for 55+ active adults. The region is home to reputable medical facilities such as Prisma Health Richland Hospital, which is a major hospital located in Columbia, providing comprehensive healthcare services.
For individuals seeking self-care and wellness activities, the Columbia area has an array of fitness centers, yoga studios, and wellness centers. Residents can also explore the numerous parks and recreational areas for outdoor activities like walking, jogging, and biking. For those looking to improve or maintain health through nutrition there are several farmers markets in the area which provide access to fresh, locally sourced produce and other artisanal products.
Recommended Itinerary for Visiting Area 55+ Communities
Planning a trip to the Columbia area to explore potential active adult retirement community options can be an exciting and insightful experience. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and abundant amenities, this region has much to offer. Below is a suggested 2-day itinerary to help you get a sense of the area and its potential as a retirement destination.
- Treat yourself to a memorable dinner at Terra in West Columbia, offering a farm-to-table dining experience with a focus on local ingredients.
- Catch a performance at the Koger Center for the Arts in Columbia, showcasing a variety of artistic talents.
- Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Eggs Up Grill in Lexington.
- Meet with your local 55places expert retirement community partner agent for a personalized consultation and tour of potential retirement communities.
- Enjoy a leisurely lunch at Old Mill Brewpub in Lexington, where you can savor delicious pub food and craft beers.
- Take a hike through Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve and marvel at the unique sandstone formations, including the famous Peachtree Rock.
- Indulge in a delightful dinner at Alodia's Cucina Italiana in Lexington, known for its authentic Italian cuisine and warm ambiance.
Getting to the Columbia, SC Area
Getting to the Columbia area is convenient and accessible through various transportation options. Whether you're arriving from neighboring regions or from across the country, here are directions for reaching the area:
The closest major airport to Columbia is Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE). It is served by several major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. Other options include Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), which is about a 2.5-hour drive from Columbia and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), which is approximately a 3.5-hour drive from Columbia.
Interstate 20 is a major highway that connects Columbia with other cities, including Atlanta to the west and Florence and Myrtle Beach to the east. Interstate 26 runs north-south through Columbia, providing easy access to destinations such as Greenville, Spartanburg, and Charleston.
By Train or Bus:
Amtrak offers train service to Columbia through the Crescent route, which connects New York City to New Orleans. The Columbia station is located in downtown Columbia, making it a convenient option for those traveling by train. Several bus companies provide transportation to Columbia, including Greyhound and Megabus.