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I'm an NC native and know a few people from Cola. They report that it's a bit insular, but there are definitely liberals in Columbia and even a Unitarian church downtown in Rose Hill. I think the grad school environment will be similar to other schools.

I'll be moving down there this fall and plan to spend somewhere between 450 to 550 to share a 2 or 3 bed/1 bath house with one room mate plus utilities (assuming I can find a room mate). Craigslist is a great place to get a handle on costs for the area. I saw garage apartments in the Shandon neighborhood for around 600-700.

I can't give you much input on the public transit situation. I have a car, but I'm planning to bike/walk to class if possible.

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Hey, 1500 is def. doable in Columbia. It is very hot there in the summer and the campus is pretty hilly, there is a ton of housing within a mile or two of campus, which is where you'll most likely liv

Columbia is sort of a blend of mid-size city and college town. I really liked living there when I went to S. Carolina for undergrad. Disclaimer: I still visit Columbia a couple times annually for 4-5

Columbia is not big and scary- I think it's just right, actually. There is not a "grad student" neighborhood per se, but quite a few live in the Rosewood area (google map the Publix on Rosewood Dr. f

Bumping this thread up as I might join USC this fall for my PhD. How is the city in general? Is it like a urban place or a college town of sorts? I am an international student, so is there any specific location foreign students prefer to live in general and how is the rent like? Are there hangouts, clubs and diners in the city and maybe Indian restaurants? :P

And most importantly, the $1500 monthly stipend I have been offered, will that be good enough for me to survive there?

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Columbia is sort of a blend of mid-size city and college town. I really liked living there when I went to S. Carolina for undergrad. Disclaimer: I still visit Columbia a couple times annually for 4-5 days at a time and I have a lot of friends there, but my info may be dated, as I haven't lived there in about seven years.

 

Rent: fairly cheap. In 2005-ish, I rented a whole house (2 bedroom, 1 bath, garage, office, living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, fenced in back yard, 15 min. bike ride to campus, right across from a park) in Rosewood for $600, but I'm sure rents have gone up some. Check padmapper.com, perhaps. If you want to live in biking distance to campus, I'd check out the following neighborhoods, in order from "nicest" to "less nice but fine": The Vista, Arsenal Hill, Elmwood (varies by street), Old Shandon/Shandon, Rosewood, West Columbia (technically a different city, but right over the river from campus), Olympia. There are also tons of apartment complexes near campus these days, concentrated around the stadium area. If you are commuting, you could go a little further out in West Columbia, up to Earlewood (street-by-street here, look before leasing), or out to Forest Acres. I personally wouldn't go all the way out to Fort Jackson, Harbison/St. Andrews, northeast Columbia, Garner's Ferry, etc., simply because there is no compelling reason to be that far away from campus.

 

Politics: Yes, there is a confederate flag at the statehouse. It's awful. That being said, Columbia is the most liberal city in South Carolina, and there is a strong counterculture to be found there. I doubt you'll find the political attitudes intrusive during your graduate studies. And you can always visit one of the flag protests for fun.

 

Outdoors: Strolling around the beautiful Horseshoe area. Kayaking on the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree rivers, which run right through the city. Walking, running, or biking on the now large and ever-expanding Riverwalk. Visiting the huge swamps and cypress trees at Congaree National Park, about 15 minutes out of town. Heading upstate or to western NC for backpacking trips on long weekends.

 

Culture: Cool cats and good vibes at Papa Jazz Records in Five Points. Awesome theatre at Trustus and awesome cinema at the Nickelodeon - the Nick has some amazing stuff going on for a town the size of Columbia. The visual art scene in Columbia has really been picking up, but I'm out of the loop on that. Pick up a copy of Jasper. I know there are some good comics stores too, but I don't know enough about that to make a recommendation. The Columbia Art Museum is surprising good and has a lot of programs. The Richland County Library has won a bunch of awards. They have a great film & sound collection. There is a children's museum too. WUSC, the college radio station, is pretty darn good.

 

Food: Yelp.com can help with this, but here are my favorites: Fantastic, traditional-style (as far as the local choices go) sushi and Japanese food at Camon on Assembly Street. Mediterranean food at the Mediterranean Tea Room, Lebanese Al-Amir, Indian at Punjabi Dhaba and Delhi Palace, Thai at Baan Sawan. Be Bim Bop and other Koren goodness at the Blue Cactus in Five Points. Cheap sandwiches and great cookies 24/7 at Beezer's, right next to USC's Horseshoe. And, of course, there are plenty of amazing southern food options. Southern cuisine is the heart of American food, in my opinion.

 

Drink: Microbrews and food from Hunter-Gatherer, just a couple of blocks from campus. Dive-bar/funky atmosphere with good drinks at the Whig, underground near the statehouse. The Vista has a lot of more "grownup" bars. In Five Points, places that aren't swarming with undergrads include Jake's (iffy?), Tavern on Greene (iffy?), Speakeasy, and Goatfeathers, which also has good eats. Drinking + dancing with the alternative crowd at the Art Bar. 

 

Coffee and cafes: Cool Beans, Immaculate Consumption, Cafe Strudel (amazing breakfast), House Coffee and it's various new-name permutations on State Street, and a new, awesome one: Drip in Five Points.

 

Road trip options: Appalachains/Great Smoky Mountains, Charlotte (2 hours away), Atlanta (3-4 hours, hit the DeKalb Farmers Market to stock up on international food), Charleston (2 hours, great historical stuff and beaches), Savannah (beautiful old city), miscellanous beaches.

 

Groceries: Columbia has Publix grocery stores, which are totally awesome.  :-)   Although Bi-Lo and Food Lion are cheaper for some items.

 

Transportation: As far as I know, the city bus system remains sub-par. It's possible to live close to campus and meet your needs by bike.

 

Sports: I don't know a lot here. Gamecock football and basketball are king. There is also a professional ice hockey team and a minor league baseball team.

 

What am I forgetting?

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@tuckerma: Thanks for such a wonderful description of the place! I can really see myself living at Columbia now.

But you forgot one thing, is my $1500 good enough for a month there?

 

Sorry! I had that question in mind when I started talking about rents, then got carried away.  I think it is doable, if you find an inexpensive place to live and are frugal about eating out, entertainment, etc.

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One more thing, are there any big software firm offices at Columbia or SC for that matter? Or how far is Columbia from the nearest industrial belt? I know there's one at NC and I ask this as I plan to apply for internships during summer and full time positions after doing my PhD? So, how's the location industry wise?

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One more thing, are there any big software firm offices at Columbia or SC for that matter? Or how far is Columbia from the nearest industrial belt? I know there's one at NC and I ask this as I plan to apply for internships during summer and full time positions after doing my PhD? So, how's the location industry wise?

 

I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that, but I imagine you'd be able to find something in Columbia, Charleston, or Greenville. So sorry!

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Anyone else hear back from them yet? If so what are your interests? Got advance notice from the DGS a few days ago, TAship and full funding package, super stoked. Looking forward to meeting some of you at recruitment weekend in March! My main areas are 19th and 20th C AfAm lit and cultural studies & cultural rhetoric.

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Hi Everyone! I'm from Boston, MA and starting grad school at SC State in the Fall. My boyfriend and I will be looking for an apartment off campus but I'm not familiar with the area. I heard that most SCSU students live near Columbia but some also live in Orangeburg. Any suggestions?

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I'll most likely be heading to USC in the fall. I'm really not too into socializing so I don't care about bars or anything, but I would prefer to rent a small house with a yard for my German Shepherd to play in.

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Hi guys,

I'm a student from England and I've been accepted into the maths PhD program this fall, I was wondering if anyone can comment on the off campus housing that they advertise through the university website?? I'm tempted by it since it seems easier to go that route than trying to find a private place, since I'm not in the country and all. But is it worth it??

Thanks

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On 2/28/2016 at 4:43 PM, ilikenumbers said:

Hi guys,

I'm a student from England and I've been accepted into the maths PhD program this fall, I was wondering if anyone can comment on the off campus housing that they advertise through the university website?? I'm tempted by it since it seems easier to go that route than trying to find a private place, since I'm not in the country and all. But is it worth it??

Thanks

I'd actually like to know this, too

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  • 10 months later...

Hello all!

I've recently been accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of South Carolina. I will be doing a campus tour within the next month. I am hoping anyone who has knowledge of the area could provide some information about what it's like to live there, costs, etc. I looked at some previous forum posts, but it looks like the bulk of the info is from a few years back.

Questions-

What are the best areas for grad students to live? What places should I avoid? (Pet friendly is a must!)

They are offering me a living stipend that works out to slightly under $1,500/month. Does this seem like a doable amount considering rent prices close to campus, food prices etc.?

How is the campus environment?

Things to check out while I'm down there? Popular places for grad students?

Thanks!

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Hey, 1500 is def. doable in Columbia. It is very hot there in the summer and the campus is pretty hilly, there is a ton of housing within a mile or two of campus, which is where you'll most likely live. 

I was an undergrad there for a year, so I can't really speak to where grad students hang out. Things to check out: the Fall is super fun there, starts cooling down and the football games are great. I'm not even really into sports but there is nothing like tailgating/the atmosphere at the games. 

There is also a decent music scene and the campus radio station is really really awesome.

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Columbia is really quite affordable. As far as places to live, you have plenty of options. My boyfriend and his roommates lived at a complex called Pavilion Towers and I think they paid about $350 a month (I think... I could be wrong on that one, but I know it wasn't much more than that). If you're looking for a furnished place, you can also try Riverside in Cayce (which go for $1200/mo for a 2 bed). Places/neighborhoods to avoid: Eau Claire, Broad River Rd, areas close to Ft Jackson, the area around Benedict-Allen. 

If you're looking to avoid the undergrads, I recommend hitting up the Whig. It's a great, somewhat dive-y bar just downtown. There's also a bar in 5 points called Speakeasy with a great happy hour ($4 cocktails, $3 beer), and the Gourmet Shoppe has a fantastic brunch. I also recommend the adult milkshakes at Kaminsky's. There's also a bar on the roof of the Sheraton that is lovely, though overpriced. 

Food wise- Burger 77, Miyo's (asian fusion), Kiki's Chicken and Waffles, and Zesto's are not to be missed. Oak Table is great (but expensive) if you're looking for a place to take a date. Cantina 77 (Mexi-Cali) is also really delicious, but it is small and usually very busy, so go at off-times. 

There's also a farmers market on Main St every Saturday from 8am til noon, and there is a Publix (aka God's gift to humanity) right downtown as well. 

Couple of other sundry things:

1) Gentrification/ extreme poverty alternate from street to street. Before you settle on a place to live, make sure you scope out the rest of the neighborhood. 

2) You will be running your air conditioner non-stop during the summer (last year it was over 95 every single day of July) so budget accordingly.  

3) Always make sure you keep change in your car because parking downtown is ALL metered during the day- though it is free on weekends and on weekdays after 6. 

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1 hour ago, joneskie said:

Hello all!

I've recently been accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of South Carolina. I will be doing a campus tour within the next month. I am hoping anyone who has knowledge of the area could provide some information about what it's like to live there, costs, etc. I looked at some previous forum posts, but it looks like the bulk of the info is from a few years back.

Questions-

What are the best areas for grad students to live? What places should I avoid? (Pet friendly is a must!)

They are offering me a living stipend that works out to slightly under $1,500/month. Does this seem like a doable amount considering rent prices close to campus, food prices etc.?

How is the campus environment?

Things to check out while I'm down there? Popular places for grad students?

Thanks!

Ok, so I went to USC as a undergrad and I actually spent time in Lexington Kentucky as well so I can give you some perspective between the two places. 

Columbia is the typical capital city in the south. USC is in downtown which is surrounded by suburbs and exurbs.You might want to explore these areas for shopping and such.  As far as where grad students live, I didn't really interact with many when I was an undergrad but I can imagine they lived downtown close to campus. I know that many professors who were not SC natives mentioned they lived in the rosewood area.  Now pet friendly is going to be something I am not sure of as I lived in the country as a child where pets were not an issue. I would ask about your pets and I would assume its easier to have cats than dogs. 

As far as your stipend, you will be fine. Columbia is very cheap even compared to Lexington. The sales tax up until the mid 2000s was 5%. Its 6% right now as far as I know. Food and gas will definitely be cheap as well. 

The campus seems to have grown by leaps and bounds since I last visited. Its a really pretty campus and its built into the downtown not unlike the University of Kentucky. I would imagine your experience would depend on the department you are in.I still keep in touch with a few faculty there and the ones that left did not leave because they were happen it was  more of an offer they could not refuse. 

As far as things to do, Columbia is a lot slower than Lexington in my respects. I would say socially it depends on your department but you have a lot of options such as going to the wetlands, the zoo, some folks raft on the broad river, college football is big there as well no matter how well they do or  not do. You are only 2 hours or so from Charleston, Charlotte and about 3 hours and come change from Atlanta.   .. Please remember this is the bible belt so Sunday is still very much dominated by Church and church activities. SC  has blue laws i.e. you cant buy anything outside of food from the store on Sunday until noon. Also the sale of alcohol stops at  5 or 6 pm on Saturday( watching folks rush to get it is always amusing).

I would say the people are very friendly in comparison to other states that i have lived including Kentucky. I would think your greatest resource for very specific details would be from graduate students currently in the program. I was hesitate to reach out to them but the few I talked with from prospective schools were very insightful. Hope this helps you. Good Luck. Oh, remember its very wet in the spring and summer, much hotter than Lexington, with mostly mild winters but if snow does occur things will totally shut down. Also sleet and hail are common. So get your umbrella and rain boots ready. 

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On 1/24/2017 at 2:27 PM, SG_SC said:

Columbia is really quite affordable. As far as places to live, you have plenty of options. My boyfriend and his roommates lived at a complex called Pavilion Towers and I think they paid about $350 a month (I think... I could be wrong on that one, but I know it wasn't much more than that). If you're looking for a furnished place, you can also try Riverside in Cayce (which go for $1200/mo for a 2 bed). Places/neighborhoods to avoid: Eau Claire, Broad River Rd, areas close to Ft Jackson, the area around Benedict-Allen. 

If you're looking to avoid the undergrads, I recommend hitting up the Whig. It's a great, somewhat dive-y bar just downtown. There's also a bar in 5 points called Speakeasy with a great happy hour ($4 cocktails, $3 beer), and the Gourmet Shoppe has a fantastic brunch. I also recommend the adult milkshakes at Kaminsky's. There's also a bar on the roof of the Sheraton that is lovely, though overpriced. 

Food wise- Burger 77, Miyo's (asian fusion), Kiki's Chicken and Waffles, and Zesto's are not to be missed. Oak Table is great (but expensive) if you're looking for a place to take a date. Cantina 77 (Mexi-Cali) is also really delicious, but it is small and usually very busy, so go at off-times. 

There's also a farmers market on Main St every Saturday from 8am til noon, and there is a Publix (aka God's gift to humanity) right downtown as well. 

Couple of other sundry things:

1) Gentrification/ extreme poverty alternate from street to street. Before you settle on a place to live, make sure you scope out the rest of the neighborhood. 

2) You will be running your air conditioner non-stop during the summer (last year it was over 95 every single day of July) so budget accordingly.  

3) Always make sure you keep change in your car because parking downtown is ALL metered during the day- though it is free on weekends and on weekdays after 6. 

 
 

Oh, great! I was expecting rent prices to be much more, but they seem pretty comparable to where I live now. Are those 2 you mentioned w/n walking distance to campus?

I'll have to keep all of these places in mind. I love a good farmers' market! We don't have a Publix here, but the way people talk about it I assume it'll become a new favorite.

Those are good tips. I'll probably try to limit using my car unless absolutely necessary. I absolutely hate dealing with parking.

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