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Living and Working in Columbia, SC

Living and Working In Columbia, SC 

Moving to a new city can be a bit daunting if you’re not sure what to expect. Luckily, we have all the information you need to get a feel for what living and working in Columbia, SC is like. As the capital city of South Carolina, Columbia is packed with fun activities, accommodations, and accessibility. It has the convenience and entertainment of a large city but still holds the small-town Southern feel. Columbia hosts tons of nightlife, restaurants, coffee shops, music venues, and the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Living and working in Columbia, SC allows for the perfect balance of work and play without the headaches and expenses of a major metropolis. Let’s look into what the day-to-day could be like for you in Columbia.  

Top Industries For Work In Columbia 

South Carolina is host to many major industries. Statewide, there are a myriad of industries for professionals looking to relocate and stay in their field. In Columbia proper, there are popular industries allowing for a seamless fit for you to continue to advance your career in a beautiful and inviting city.  

Office and Administration 

Office and administrative support occupations make up 18.3% of the careers in the city. This popular industry allows for easy transfer of skills and experience for those looking to continue to advance their career with a new change of scenery. Office and administrative support occupations make up the biggest industry sector in the city.  


Sales and related occupations make up the second largest industry in Columbia. With 13% of employed workers operating in this sector, the city offers ample opportunities for those in sales and marketing to transition.  


With such beautiful landscape and scenery, it is no wonder why tourism makes up such a significant industry sector in Columbia, SC. If you account for hospitality services as well, there are ample opportunities for those looking to work in tourism in this beautiful city. Many people vacation to Columbia, SC for fun things to do. Having a local offering tourism information in the city is a great opportunity for those looking to advance in this industry.  


Quite a few major healthcare companies are operating out of Columbia, SC. Healthcare is an industry with exponential growth opportunities. Some of the biggest companies in Columbia are in the healthcare sector including Palmetto GBA, Palmetto Health, and Advantage Health Systems.  


Columbia, SC is home to the University of South Carolina. This allows educators to work with one a highly esteemed university in a beautiful city. The top majors at the university include Public Health, Finance, Financial Management, and Research and Experimental Psychology. Not only does USC offer opportunities for educators and those in the education sector, but it also provides a path for those looking to continue their education while living in Columbia.  

Average Commute Time In Columbia, SC 

Knowing the average commute for a new city is often a big determining factor for those looking to relocate. This is especially true for those coming from a major metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. With an average commute time of 24.2 minutes, Columbia offers a fantastic change of pace from the fast and congested city life. The short commute means you spend more time enjoying all the wonder and beauty the city has to offer instead of driving to and from work.  

Traffic and Parking 

Like other cities, there are some slowdowns in driving times during the rush hour. For Columbia, this is usually between 7:30 am to 9:00 am for the morning commute and 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm for the evening commute home. Typically slowdowns aren’t too severe and won’t drastically impact your overall commute.  

Passport Parking App 

Parking in Columbia, SC is a breeze. With parking garages, street parking, and lots, there are plenty of options and availability for parking within the city. The city has also implemented the Passport Parking App to make parking for work or leisure that much easier. The app is intuitive and takes the hassle out of digging for change or dealing with parking machines. Simply download the Passport Parking App, find your Zone, and pay. You can add additional time and manage on the go from the app from wherever you are.  

Public Transportation 

Public transportation is a great way to be more environmentally friendly and still get to where you need to go. Columbia has a few different options for public transportation. This way you can leave the car at home, save on gas, and catch up on any work or reading you may want to take care of on the way to and from work.  

COMET Bus System and Soda Cap Connector 

It’s hard to go anywhere in downtown Columbia without seeing the brightly colored neon COMET buses transporting people all over town. With fares as low as $2, the COMET buses are a great way to commute and move around the city. The COMET website offers users the ability to plan trips, view maps, and purchase 1-Day, 7-Day, and 31-Day passes for frequent users. The COMET app is a mobile version that also allows you to track the COMET buses in real-time.  

The Soda Cap Connector offers transport between entertainment districts for just $1. The Soda Cap Connector transports you to and from some of the most happening neighborhoods and sites for all your nightlife and entertainment needs.  

Ride Sharing 

Columbia, SC has accessibility for Uber and Lyft users as well as reliable taxi services to travel around downtown. Ride sharing helps to save money and lets you relax as you commute for work or travel downtown for leisure.  


Columbia is an extremely bike-friendly city. If your preferred mode of transportation is two-wheeled, there are plenty of safe routes for you to explore the city and commute. There is even the Sprocket Bike Route App to find bike-friendly routes throughout the city. Developed by the Cola Town Bike collective, Sprocket has everything you need to bike around Columbia in a helpful app.  

If you are downtown and would like to explore the city on two wheels, there is also the Blue Bike SC bike-sharing program. With the Blue Bike app, users can ride any Blue Bike they find on the streets by unlocking the bicycle through the app. This bike share is convenient for commuters and those looking to explore the town at a different pace.  

Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Leisure, and Nightlife 

Whether you love museums, zoos, botanical gardens, chic cafes, gastropubs, or fine dining, Columbia has something for everyone and every occasion. There is a myriad of cuisines and offerings from local restaurants and coffee shops as well as tons to do for date night, social events, and family-friendly outings.  

Coffee Shops 

Everyone loves a good cup of Joe. Whether you’re grabbing a hot coffee to fuel up for the workday or indulging in an iced coffee on a summer morning, there are many celebrated cafes and coffee houses in downtown Columbia. Here are a few of the most popular and loved cafes in Soda City.  

  • Drip Coffee 
  • Indah Coffee Company 
  • Curiosity Coffee Bar 
  • The Local Buzz 
  • Cool Beans 


Columbia has a wide variety of cuisines and dining options for those exploring the city. Whether you’re looking for good old-fashioned Southern cooking, Thai food, pizza, or a delicious burger, there is a top-rated spot in the downtown area. Here are some of the must-eats of Columbia: 

  • Duke’s Pad Thai (delicious street food and noodle bar) 
  • Terra Restaurant (weekly and seasonal menu changes with highlights on local produce) 
  • Black Rooster (French-inspired cuisine with inspirations from all around the world) 
  • SmallSugar (an all-day cafe to indulge in decadent pastries and baked goods) 
  • The War Mouth (Southern-style gastropub) 


There is truly so much to do in Columbia, SC. After a long week of work, there is nothing better than traveling within your city to have an exciting and fun time. After all, living in Columbia, SC means you live where many people vacation. Here are a few of the exciting things to do during your downtime: 

  • Explore the botanical diversity of the gardens and tap into your wild side at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. 
  • Picnic at Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park and take a stroll through the beautiful landscape on the extensive paved trails.  
  • Take the kids on an educational and stimulating trip to the EdVenture Children’s Museum. 
  • Tap into your inner nature lover and explore the 1000-acre Sesquicentennial State Park and observe the beauty of towering trees and expansive greenery.  


Columbia has an extensive selection of bars and clubs. The city hosts everything from arcade and ax-throwing bars to rooftop lounges and dance clubs. Whether it’s girls’ night, guys’ night, or date night, Columbia has the perfect bar to give you and your group an entertaining and lively evening.  

Columbia, SC In A Nutshell 

Columbia offers a fantastic balance of work and play for those looking for a new place to call home. There’s fun for all ages and interests hosted in this small-town feeling city in South Carolina. The soda city also offers career opportunities for many industries without the lengthy commute of a larger metropolis.  

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