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The Cost of Living Diaries: Columbus, GA

Get the inside scoop on what it's like to be a local in Georgia's second-largest city.

By Lindsey Hyde on January 13, 2023

The Food Mill in Columbus, GA
Lizzie Gemes Photography

Welcome to The Cost of Living Diaries. How much does it cost to live in Columbus, Georgia? What’s it like to own a business here? Keep reading because we asked a Columbus local to tell us all about the cost of living in this thriving city!

As soon as you enter Columbus, Georgia, you quickly realize that this city offers the best of the South. Located in the west-central part of the state, Columbus boasts a variety of housing options, great jobs, excellent eateries, a phenomenal arts scene, cute shops, fun outdoor recreation options and, of course, Southern charm.

Mac McKnight grew up in the area and recently moved back with his wife and two young sons. He left Columbus in 1999 to attend the University of Georgia, moved back for about 10 years in 2003, and then lived in Rome and Athens, Georgia, before returning in 2021. He’s worked at Synovus bank since 2003 and currently holds the title of senior vice president of commercial real estate.

Mac McKnight for Cost of Living Diaries in Columbus, GA

Mac McKnight

What made you want to come back to Columbus?
The primary driver was the job. I was doing a similar function in Athens as I am in Columbus, but our headquarters is here for Synovus, so I’m able to work around the main office. In addition to that, Columbus was very appealing because of the community that we have here. We have a lot of built-in friends and family. It’s extremely convenient to get around anywhere, and then there’s also a lower cost of living in Columbus as opposed to the Atlanta metro area and other parts of the state.

How would you describe the Columbus community?
Columbus is surprisingly progressive for its size. There are two Fortune 500 companies headquartered here – Aflac and Global Payments. Synovus is also headquartered in Columbus. There are some significant families that we are very fortunate to have in Columbus and companies that really want to continue to invest and make Columbus better. Over the last 10 years, there’s been a total revitalization of downtown, with hotels and restaurants and whitewater rafting.

What was it like buying a home in the area?
We moved back in a very difficult market – obviously, the real estate market was extremely hot then, as it is now. We ended up buying a home, and we felt very fortunate to end up in the home that we bought. It’s in the Midtown area. I would say the dollar goes further in Columbus. When we moved from Athens, we sold our house for more money and bought a better house here for less.

What’s your favorite local restaurant, and about how much would dinner be for your family?
Our absolute favorite right now is The Food Mill. It has excellent food. They source all their meats and produce from local farms … so it’s very fresh, very healthy. I would say altogether [dinner would be] $50.

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Array ( [0] => 153434 [1] => 153456 [2] => 153472 [3] => 153465 [4] => 153446 [5] => 152424 [6] => 88732 )

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