Moving to Columbia, SC. Seeking housing advice.
May 23, 2017 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I'll be moving to Columbia in June. I'd like your opinions about the safest/best parts of town to live in.

I don't know Columbia at all.

Where can I rent an apartment or house (only 1 bedroom necessary) for no more than $600 a month (utils included) in an area that's safe and close (bikeable) to Riverbanks Zoo? Quieter parts of town are preferred. It would be nice to have the option of biking to downtown.

This Metafilter post from 2007 gives the impression that West Columbia tends to be OK, Olympia is iffy, and south of Rosewood should be avoided (that's a little far from the zoo anyway, it seems). What is it like north of the city and west of the Broad River? Has anything changed in the 10 years since that post?

I'd appreciate any recommendations related to where you've lived before, landlords / rental companies you've used or know are good, and communities that fit the mold described above. Feel free to send any personal-ish information such as individuals' names and phone numbers to my Memail.

Thanks for your help.
posted by mr_bovis to Travel & Transportation around Columbia, SC (3 answers total)
That's a fairly tight budget for much of the area and you'll probably be looking at a small duplex or apartment rather than a house.

Most of Cayce and West Columbia are still pleasant, tidy neighborhoods. Is the West Columbia entrance of the zoo a possibility for your commute needs? There are homes butting right up to it and this neighborhood ranges from new construction to pleasant Brady Bunch neighborhoods.

Earlewood is pleasant but suffers from some petty crime and is adjacent to some worse-than-petty crime. It's close to the zoo (3 miles, one bitchin' hill) and is about a 2 mile ride on mostly paved greenway to The Vista / Downtown. Cottontown is across Main Street just north of Elmwood and is flush with hipster coffee shops and barbecues and stuff and is close to the baseball stadium if that's interesting to you. This is just north of the downtown; further north of the city gets fairly run down fairly quick.

There are a lot of large apartment complexes just west of the Broad River at Broad River Road, mostly north of Broad River Road but some south ("Reserve at River Walk", "Broad River Trace", etc). I'm not sure what prices are like but they are typical large apartment communities with good safety and amenities. This is <2>
Just south of Rosewood is hipsters and mixed; Olympia is students and mixed and will not prove to be quiet for you especially on game days.

Columbia (and SC) has a crime problem but depending on where you're coming from it may or may not hit your radar. People do not tend to be concerned about getting mugged, etc, although carjackings and stuff happen and as a dude I'm sure there are safety things I can take for granted.

The bike situation is less than great but a recently passed tax has meant a lot of new funding for bike lanes, sharrows, intersection improvements, and greenways. The slower city streets are fine, the 40mph arteries (Huger Street, Assembly Street) I don't see people cycling.

I moved here from Maine 20 years or so ago. I happen to live in and love Earlewood (and its adjacent neighborhoods Elmwood Park and Cottontown) but there's a lot of good options all around the metro area. Sorry I couldn't be more specific with prices etc but please don't hesitate at all to memail me if you should have any questions big or small or want a sanity check on anything.
posted by ftm at 1:37 PM on May 23, 2017

A fellow Mefite pinged me to check this question out because I live on the zoo exit! There are several nearby apartment complexes near Broad River Road and Greystone (check Skyland Drive and Stoneridge Drive too). I don't know if your budget is possible in this area without a roommate though. I lived in one set of those apartments over 10 years ago and our rent was over $700 for a 2 br/1 ba. Another possibility is looking further in to St. Andrews for some cheaper apartments close to a bus stop. I know there's definitely a bus route or 2 that goes straight to the zoo.

You might look for studios in the back of or above some of the houses in Earlewood or Elmwood Park. Some of those homes are divided up into smaller rental properties too.

Welcome to town! I've been here over 15 years now and I'm also happy to try to answer any questions about things or even just do a drive by of somewhere nearby to get the feel of the neighborhood if you want before you get here. Use the email in my profile as I don't check memail often.
posted by chiababe at 6:08 PM on May 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I left a few years back, but my memories of the areas on the west bank of the Broad in Lexington County may well fill those requirements. It's mostly older neighborhoods, with a mix of retirees and diverse newcomers. You'll want to look at home/duplexes in neighborhoods off of US 378, south of I 26 in West Columbia and Lexington Co. You do want to be careful as there are some... emerging neighborhoods... between US 378 and US 1. Nothing really dangerous, just not the sorts of places you want to leave your car overnight. It can really be block by block in these areas. For these, you'll want a knowledgeable local realtor, which sadly, I don't have have connections for any more.

Another possibility might be Cotton Town / Aresenal Hill/ Edgewood / Park Street area off of N. Main, but that's gonna be a killer bike. But much closer to downtown.

Out along I 126 and along Broad River Road/St Andrews Blvd, you might find a few complexes that are within your budget but, DAT HILL. Be warned, the river is far below a lot of the surrounding country on the west side and it's quite a bike. Downtown is on a ridge of its own, on the east.

Again, I'm a bit gone from the area, but happy to answer any general questions, as I go back on a regular basis. Have a burger at Rush's for me, when you land, and plan to have barbecue at Hite's at some point. It's a great city and is a small little bastion of insanity in a state suffering from terminal seriousness due to a massive inferiority complex.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:39 PM on May 23, 2017

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