Thinking About Making the Move to Rhode Island? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- Where Are The Best Places To Live In Rhode Island?
- How Is The Job Market In Rhode Island?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Rhode Island?
- How Is The Rhode Island Real Estate Market?
- Is Rhode Island A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like In Rhode Island?
- Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Rhode Island
- The Pros And Cons Of Living In Rhode Island
- Rhode Island Fun Facts & Strange Laws
The New England state of Rhode Island may be small (just 48 miles long and 36 miles wide!), but don’t let that fool you, the so-called “Ocean state” has a heck of a lot to offer.
For starters, the state is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on two sides, and its coastline is packed with picturesque inlets, coves, and bays that are a firm favorite with both locals and tourists during the long hot Rhode Island summers.
Since it’s so itsy-bitsy, the Ocean State’s other nickname is ‘Little Rhody’. Being so little, yet so popular, means that Little Rhody is actually the 2nd most densely populated state in the nation, second only to New Jersey. And it’s getting even denser; recent figures suggest that around 2000 people are moving into the state every year.
If you’re considering relocating to the Ocean State, you’ll want to know what you’re in for before making any final decisions. This guide will cover everything from the best places to live, to what the real estate and job markets are like, to the cost of living as compared to the rest of the country.
Without further delay, let’s dive right in and take a closer look at everything you need to know about moving to Rhode Island.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 25, 2020)
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Rhode Island?
Considering Rhode Island is our nation’s smallest state, you might be under the impression that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between one location or the next. That’s not quite the case. Although it’s always hard to choose “favorites”, below we’ve included several “top picks” of places to live in the Ocean State.
Which will be best suited to you and your family is, of course, a personal decision you’ll need to weigh against your needs, budget, style of living and more.
Rhode Island’s capital city is also the most populous city in the state, with over 180,000 residents at last census count. It’s a city to rival any of the North East’s major hubs, and while it may not be as big as the likes of Boston and New York, it’s compact size means it’s got a kind of a small-town vibe that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Providence is packed with historic architecture and romantic cobblestone streets, and the city plays host to thousands of tourists every year. There’s always something exciting going on here, from cultural celebrations to fantastic nightlife and a noteworthy music scene.
The median home value inside Providence’s city limits is $241 k, which despite being above the national average, is quite low compared to the average home price across the state.
Just seven miles from downtown Providence is the scenic town of Barrington. With just 16,000 residents, there’s a close-knit community feel here, and it’s the kind of place where people tend to know their neighbors.
This waterfront community is a great place to be in the summer months when people flock to the Barrington River for sailing, fishing, and kayaking, or head to Barrington Beach to relax in the sun and play in the waves.
The median home value here is considerably higher than Providence, at around $457k, although it’s by no means the most expensive place to live in the Ocean State.
This small and charming village on Conanicut Island is about 25 miles south of Providence, so it’s close enough to the city to be popular with commuters. It’s one of the most affluent areas in Rhode Island, with some incredible waterfront properties and plenty of fine dining options and upscale shopping areas. In fact, Forbes has named Jamestown the 44th wealthiest town in America, so it holds it s own on a national scale. As you may have guessed, property is naturally pretty expensive here, with the average home price costing a whopping $664,000.
This Providence suburb has a great balance between being close to the big city while having a much more relaxed urban feel than downtown. Around 35,000 people call North Kingston home and the majority of residents take the short 20-minute commute in and out of the city on a daily basis.
The town boasts its own beach, numerous marinas, and even a highly rated golf course. Another major bonus of living in North Kingston is the convenient rail connections both with Providence and also Boston, which is only an hour away.
House prices are relatively affordable considering everything this area has to offer. The average median home price is $373,000, with lots of options both above and below that price point.
Portsmouth is another suburb of Providence that ranks as one of Rhode Island’s best places to live. This relaxed community is home to around 17,450 people and is especially popular with retirees.
It’s proximity to the city center also makes it a great choice for commuters, since it’s less than a 15-minute drive to downtown. Despite its convenient city location, Portsmouth is surprisingly green, with plenty of parks and open community spaces for jogging, cycling and walking. As for median home values in Portsmouth, they come in right around $364,000 leaving plenty of room in the market both above and below that price point to explore.
The charming village of Ashaway is home to around 1,500 people, so if you enjoy a small-town vibe and like getting to know your neighbors, then this is the place for you. The picturesque Ashaway River runs right through the center of town and is a great spot for picnics during the warmer months.
Ashaway boasts a super low crime rate and a fantastic elementary school with great staff, so it’s a popular place for families who are looking to relocate to a quieter pace of life.
The average price of a home in Ashaway is around $253,000, which by Rhode Island’s standards is a bargain.
Narragansett is a popular little tourist town that sees visitors from not just Rhode Island, but the entire country during the summer months. Tourists come to enjoy the numerous pristine beaches, dine at the wide selection of high-quality restaurants and relax in the sunshine while taking in the coastal views.
There are 16,000 permanent residents in Narragansett, so during the off-season, the town is much quieter, but still has a friendly community feel. The average home price here is relatively pricey, at $501k.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
How Is The Job Market In Rhode Island?
The job market in RI has improved over the last few years and continues on an upward trend. The current unemployment rate in the Ocean State sits at 3.6%, which is right in alignment with the national average.
- Average salary $52,220 ($1600 more than the national average)
- Minimum wage $10/hour
Providence Named as One of the HOTTEST Job Markets in 2020
According to a recent ZipRecruiter report, Providence is the FOURTH hottest job market in the entire United States for 2020, with the fastest growing sectors including healthcare and education. As home to four Fortune 500 companies, as well as several major universities and hospitals the area is well-poised to offer a wide range of employment opportunities in 2020 and beyond.
High Minimum Wage and a Thriving Service Industry
The great news for those who work in low-income jobs (especially for those in the service industry) is that the state boasts a higher than average minimum wage at $10 per hour.
In fact, the service industry is one of the leading economies in the state. A large chunk of the population is employed in hospitality roles, which also ties into the thriving tourism industry here. Around 50,000 people are employed in a tourism-related role, bringing in over $5.75 billion to the economy every year.
Healthcare, Education and Government Opportunities
Health care is another booming industry in Rhode Island, and is currently the largest job provider in the state. Lifespan Hospital group alone employ over 14,000 people, and many other healthcare systems are also operating within the state.
Another major employer in Rhode Island is the United States Navy Department, which employs over 8,000 people, as well as the Ivy League Brown University, which has around 5,000 staff.
Top Employers in Rhode Island (by # of employees):
- United States Department of Navy (8000)
- Rhode Island Hospital (5754)
- Corp Office Brown University (4629)
- Lifespan Finance (4000)
- General Dynamics Electric Boat (3750)
- CVS Health Corp. (3000)
- University of Rhode Island (2500)
- Kent Hospital Acute Rehab (2301)
- Miriam Hospital (2221)
- Woman & Infants Hospital (2038)
- Dave’s Corporate Marketplace (2000)
- Our Lady Fatima Hospital (1800)
- Butler Hospital (1500)
- Kent Hospital (1433)
- Amica Mutual Insurance Co (1400)
- Memorial Hospital-Surgery Service (1400)
- Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI (1100)
- Citizens Bank (1100(
- IGT (1100)
- ACS Industires Inc. (1000)
How Much Does It Cost To Live In Rhode Island?
So aside from housing, what does it cost to live in the Ocean State? Across the board, it seems that Rhode Island is one of the more expensive states in the nation. The good news is that wages tend to be quite high, so this offsets the high cost of living.
Both utilities, transport, and groceries cost more than most places in the USA, but there is some good news; Rhode Island is significantly cheaper when it comes to health care costs, with no sacrifice on quality; Little Rhody is home to some top quality hospitals and medical facilities.
Quick Breakdown of The Cost of Living as Compared to the National Average:
- Groceries = 6.5% higher
- Healthcare = 18.1% lower
- Housing = 23.4% higher
- Utilities = 15.9% higher
- Transportation = 6.1% higher
- Miscellaneous = 9.8% higher
How Is The Rhode Island Real Estate Market?
There’s no getting around it; Property in Rhode Island is pricey. The median home value in the Ocean State is $302,500, whereas the national average is right around $200,000.
Prices are also on the increase; last year average home values went up by 3.4%, and this year experts are predicting a 4.1% increase. While this means prices are trending towards the higher side, it also indicates you’ll be getting a good return on your investment if the trend continues.
Although Rhode Island is densely populated, there’s no need to worry about a lack of housing- there’s a lot of development happening all over the state, especially around the greater Providence area, meaning that there are still plenty of options, even if you are on a tight budget.
- The best month to buy a home at a discount: February
- The worst month to buy a home based on price: May-June
What About Renting?
If you’re looking to rent your home, figures from Zillow.com suggest that you’ll also be paying much more than you might elsewhere in the country. The average monthly cost of a rental home in the Ocean State is $2000, whereas the national average is $1,650.
Of course, it all depends on where you live. Renting in some of the less affluent parts of Providence is going to cost a lot less than renting in, say, Jamestown, for example.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
Is Rhode Island A Good Place To Retire?
Let’s start with the bad news first; Rhode Island is not a particularly tax-friendly state for retirees. Withdrawals from retirement accounts are taxed at the full rate, and Social Security income is also partially taxed.
But looking at the bigger picture, if you’re willing to compromise a little on your retirement income, then Rhode Island is a great place to spend your retirement years. One major plus point is the location; Providence is connected by high-speed rail to Boston (which takes just 1 hour) and also to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. This means residents can have all the benefits of the big city, without paying the high costs of living.
Rhode Island also has some top-class hospitals, and accessing them is pretty easy as the cost of healthcare is much more affordable than in other parts of the country.
And let’s not forget the fact that if you retire in the Ocean State, you’ve got super easy access to some beautiful coastline, Since Rhode Island is so small, come summertime, you’re never too far away from a weekend at the beach.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 25, 2020)
What Are The People And Culture Like In Rhode Island?
Though you might not expect religion to have a heavy influence in the lives of people in the north-eastern state, Rhode Island has the highest percentage of Catholics in the nation. The First Baptist Church also has its roots in Providence, and the city of Newport, RI, is home to the oldest Synagogue in the North American continent.
In terms of Rhode Islander’s personality traits, people report that the locals can sometimes be a little ‘stand-offish’. Perhaps this is more of a New England thing, than just a trait of Rhode Islanders, but it’s not the kind of place where people often strike up a conversation with strangers passing by on the street. For people coming from the South, this might come as a bit of a surprise, but if you’re already a northerner, it might not feel much different from your own home town.
Politically speaking, the majority of Rhode Islanders tend to vote Democrat. This doesn’t mean it’s a super liberal state though, as many residents tend to be quite conservative when it comes to social issues.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Rhode Island
Although Rhode Island is only little, it packs in a heck of a lot of fun things to do and see. We’ve picked a few of our favorite activities to try once you make the move to Little Rhody.
Newport, Rhode Island, has a seriously impressive collection of Gilded Age mansions, and none are as impressive as “The Breakers’; a summer cottage built-in 1895 in the Italian Renaissance style. A trolley tour around the neighborhood includes entry into the mansion, where you can marvel at its ornate mosaics, opulent ceiling paintings, and luxurious statement artifacts.
This beautiful little island just 10 miles off the mainland is the perfect summer vacation spot. There are beautiful beaches, a cute little town filled with boutiques, restaurants and art galleries, as well as plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling, horse riding, and bird watching.
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory
This weird and wonderful sculpture garden was once a working farm dating back to the 1760s. Nowadays the old barns serve as interesting and offbeat shops selling handmade artifacts, food, and goods. There’s also a sculpture garden, a petting zoo, and even a delicious cafe so you can stop for lunch.
One of Rhode Island’s traditional local delicacies is a ‘Stuffy’, a stuffed Quahog (hard-shelled clam), and there’s no better place to try it than at Aunt Carrie’s. Try to visit in the summertime when the clams are hauled straight from the nearby Narragansett Bay.
This world-famous art museum at The Rhode Island School of Design in Providence has a huge collection of textiles, photography, paintings, and sculptures, from the historic era right through to modern contemporary designs. This museum is an absolute must-visit for anyone with a passion for aesthetic design.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 25, 2020)
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Rhode Island
Now that we’ve taken a look at everything Rhode Island has to offer, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of moving to America’s Ocean State so you can decide for yourself if it’s the best fit.
Everything is Nearby
Since Little Rhody is just 48 x 37 miles, it’s super quick and convenient to reach just about anywhere in the state; the vast majority of destinations will all be under an hour away.
Rhode Island’s capital city of Providence is home to the world-famous Ivy League Brown University, which makes for some seriously smart local residents. One of the most famous and well-regarded design schools in the world, The Rhode Island School of Design, is also here.
Come summer, you’ll be so glad you moved to the Ocean State; you’re on the doorstep of the beautiful Atlantic Coast, and spending time sunbathing, surfing, sailing and fishing is second nature to most Rhode Islanders.
Money Magazine recently named Rhode Island’s T F Green Airport as one of America’s most convenient airports in the country. Wherever you live, you’re super close to it, and there are tons of reasonably priced flights to destinations all over the country.
A High Cost of Living
Property prices are way above the national average, and day to day expenses like transport and utilities are also pretty pricey. CNBC placed Rhode Island at number 9 in ‘America’s Most Expensive States to Live’ list in 2018.
Rhode Island is the 2nd most densely populated state in the nation, right after New Jersey. It’s not generally a problem during the winter months, but when summers arrive and tourists flock into the state from elsewhere, it can feel like a bit of a squeeze. Which brings us onto our next point…
In this sometimes claustrophobic state, it’s no surprise that the traffic can get pretty bad. Rhode Islanders are also prone to bouts of road rage, and residents in neighboring states will often tell you that the Ocean State is home to the nation’s worst drivers.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
Rhode Island Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Strange Laws Still on the Books in Rhode Island
Every state has a few strange laws that are still on the books today, and Rhode Island is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the weirder ones from The Ocean State…
No Sex Before Marriage!
But if you’re caught, it’s only a $10 fine; a lot of money back in the day, but worth every cent by today’s standards.
No Wasting Water.
If the date is an even number, it’s illegal to water your plants, lawns or gardens.
No Beers in the Back.
Even if it’s not opened, you can’t carry beer in your car…then how on earth will you get it home?
Protect Your Modesty.
It’s illegal to wear an item of clothing that is transparent in any way.
No Smoking in the Evening.
At least not from a pipe, anyway. It’s illegal to take a puff after sunset.
No Maiming Your Fellow Man.
You’ll be sent to prison if you bite off another person’s limb, ear nose or lips. We can’t really argue with this one…
Fun Facts About The State
To wrap up our overview of moving to Rhode Island, let’s take a look at some of the more fun and interesting facts from America’s smallest state.
- There are more Dunkin Donuts per capita in the Ocean State than any other state in the nation.
- On the highway just outside of Providence, you’ll find the state mascot, the “Big Blue Bug”. At Christmas time, residents dress him up in fun festive outfits.
- As well as donuts, Rhode Islanders also love their coffee, in fact, ‘coffee with milk’ is the official state drink.
- Rhode Island gets its name from the Greek island of Rhodes.
- Remember George Washington on the $1 bill? The artist was Rhode Island native, Gilbert Stuart.
- Rhode Island officially has a longer, official name; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
- Ivy League Brown University is named after Nicholas Brown, the man responsible for ratifying the constitution.
- Rhode Island is the home of two sporting firsts; the first-ever outdoor polo match, and the first open golf tournament in the US.
- Rhode Island was one of only 2 states that never approved the controversial 18th Amendment, also known as prohibition.
- The state is also home to the first-ever circus in America, opened in Newport in 1774.
- Rhode Island is one of the original thirteen colonies, but it was the last one to become an official state, way back in 1790.
- The state of New York shares a water border with Rhode Island
- The birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution is believed to be in Rhode Island; The Slater Mill cotton-spinning factory in Pawtucket.
- The oldest veteran’s memorial in the nation is in Rhode Island; the Nine Men’s Misery memorial, erected in 1676 to commemorate the nine colonists tortured here during the King Philip’s War.
What do you Think About RI – are you ready to make the move?
As far as the Eastern Seaboard goes, Rhode Island has a lot to offer. Scenic landscapes, higher than average median salaries, great school systems, and a thriving job and housing market.
That said, it is not without its faults. Homes tend to be on the expensive side, as is the cost of living. These are partially offset by higher than average incomes, but are worth considering if thinking about making the move.
Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Rhode Island Resources? Check These Articles Out!
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.