As the biggest city in the nation’s tiniest state, Providence certainly offers a lot! Quaint & historical yet fantastically creative, Rhode Island’s capital city is one of the most dynamic and diverse communities in New England. Home to several acclaimed institutions, including Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, the City of Providence is both a top college town and starter city for all sorts – from wicked smart college students to growing families longing for East Coast living.

Nestled at the head of Narragansett Bay (as well as close to Massachusetts and Connecticut), Providence has a long list of benefits: central location, stellar colleges & universities, thriving art scene, fantastic nightlife, charming neighborhoods, amazing (sea)food, museums galore, the list goes on. Yes, the weather is notorious, as are the potholes. But if you’re okay with cold, snowy winters, or always wanted to live in an actual four-seasons area, then it’s worth it for such a gem of a city!

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Living in Providence, RI: What to Know Before Moving to Providence

As the most populous city in Rhode Island, with a population of about 180,000, Providence is a highly diverse & lively capital city. Home to some of the top schools in the United States, as well as rich American history and a plethora of cultural, artistic, and social touchstones, the city is an enriching place to live for college kids, families, and everyone in between!

Pros and Cons of Living in Providence

Pros: 

  • High diversity: Unlike neighboring areas like Warwick, the City of Providence is not only one of the most culturally diverse cities on the East Coast but arguably in the United States.
  • Great food scene: Whether you’re in the mood for Indonesian, Mexican, or some of the finest seafood around, you’ll find it here! Downtown Providence is a great starting point.
  • Top schools & wicked smart folks: When people think Providence, Brown University usually comes to mind. This place is full of artsy, creative, and intelligent individuals.
  • Central location: Want to visit Boston or visit Hartford, CT? How about Martha’s Vineyard or New York City? Providence offers convenient travel to these areas and more!
  • Rich history & architecture: From Colonial history to America’s oldest indoor shopping mall, the city (founded in 1636) is a treasure trove for history buffs and architectural lovers.
  • Beaches & outdoorsy fun: Beaches? Yes, you heard that right. Providence sits along Narragansett Bay, and residents have access to gorgeous RI beaches and spacious green spaces.

Cons:

  • New England weather: If you’re coming from a milder climate, be prepared for pretty frigid winters with lots of snow. Good idea to invest in plenty of winter gear to keep warm!
  • Potholes: Along with cold winter weather comes some pretty hazardous potholes. The City of Providence, as with most parts of Rhode Island, is notorious for tire-popping potholes.
  • College kids everywhere: This is obviously is a matter of preference, but if you’re not into a college-town vibe, you may want to reconsider moving to this vibrant college town.
  • Growing drug problems: A growing issue in US states, drug overdoses have skyrocketed in Rhode Island over the years. It’s ranked among the Top 10 states with drug-related deaths.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: According to the Overview of Property Taxes by SmartAsset, the average county tax rate is 1.809%. Average property tax is $4,523 (assessed home value of $250,000).
  • Sales tax: The state of Rhode Island has a base sales tax rate of 7%. There is zero Providence County sales tax, so the 2020 combined sales tax rate in Providence is 7%.
  • State income tax: Rhode Island currently has a progressive tax system. Rates range from 3.75% to 5.99%. The rate depends on income and filing status (single or married).

Housing Market

The median home selling price in Providence is currently $240,585. Compared to the national average selling price of just $237,000, it’s a tiny bit more expensive. 65% of residents rent their homes. As for rentals, the median rent price is $1,932 per month for an 817-square-foot apartment (or $23,184 per year).

Here are the cheapest neighborhoods to live in Providence, RI:

  1. Manton
  2. Mount Pleasant
  3. Reservoir
  4. Hartford
  5. Elmhurst
  6. West End
  7. Charles
  8. Elmwood
  9. South Elmwood
  10. Wanskuck

Cost of Living

According to the Cost of Living in Providence by BestPlaces, the Rhode Island city has a cost of living index of 105.1. This index is slightly higher than the national average of 100.

Here are some examples of individual costs (relative to the average of 100): Groceries (105.1), Health (84.4), Housing (91), Utilities (115.5), and Transportation (111.4). The median household income in Providence is $40,366 per year. This income level is lower than the nationwide average of about $62,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the average monthly expenses in Providence for a family of four:

  1. Housing = $1,014
  2. Food = $798
  3. Childcare = $1,659
  4. Transportation = $1,112
  5. Health Care = $793
  6. Other necessities = $731
  7. Taxes = $901
  8. Total = $7,008 per month or $84,095 per year

For comparison, let’s take a look at the monthly costs in Boston for two adults + two kids:

  1. Housing = $1,740
  2. Food = $877
  3. Childcare = $2,225
  4. Transportation = $1,103
  5. Health Care = $837
  6. Other necessities = $1,056
  7. Taxes = $1,626
  8. Total = $9,463 per month or $113,558 per year

As you can see, there is a big cost difference between the two cities. The City of Providence is a lot more affordable than living in the Boston metro area – over 25% cheaper!

Weather & Natural Disasters

As part of the Ocean State (with neighbors in Connecticut and Massachusetts), the City of Providence has a humid continental climate that borders a humid subtropical climate. As a result, the city experiences warm to hot summers and frigid winters with high humidity all year long.

Providence sees the hottest temperatures in July and August, with July having an average high of 83°F and a low of 64°F. On the flip side, the coldest months are January and February, with an average high of 37°F and low of 21°F in January. If you’re not used to cold winters, grab warm coats and boots!

The city receives about 49 inches of rainfall and 36 inches of snow annually. On average, there are about 200 days of sunshine. When it comes to seasonal variation, Providence not only provides four seasons (and gorgeous fall foliage) with varying weather but also daily changes that can be quite abrupt.

As for natural disasters, Providence is prone to Nor’easters, snowstorms, thunderstorms, flooding, extreme heat, and so on. To be prepared, check out the city’s Preparedness Guide.

Economy & Job Market

As the biggest city in the nation’s smallest state, Providence serves as the economic (as well as cultural and educational) hub of Rhode Island. According to US News, Rhode Island has one of the Top 20 best economies in the nation, and it owes this in large part to the power of Providence.

As of March 2020, the unemployment rate in Providence is 5.1%. Experts project future economic growth of nearly 29% over the next ten years. Major industries include healthcare and social assistance; retail trade; manufacturing; educational services; and accommodation and food services.

Here are the Top 10 major employers in Providence, RI:

  1. Textron Inc.
  2. Citizens Financial Group
  3. Nortek
  4. United Natural Foods
  5. NTK Holdings
  6. Brown University
  7. Rhode Island Hospital
  8. GTECH
  9. Johnson & Wales University
  10. RI Catholic

Looking for a job in Providence, RI? Here are some handy online resources: CareerBuilder, CollegeRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and the City of Providence Jobs.

Traffic and Transportation

Interested in public transportation in Providence, RI? There are several options in the city. These include the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), Amtrak, and Bonanza Bus Line. The transit systems help connect the city with the rest of the East Coast (and travel the entire state for just a few dollars). As for air travel, there’s T.F. Green Airport and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

Mass transit is pretty efficient in Providence, but if you want to travel with ease (particularly commuting or visiting neighboring states), you’ll want to drive. Providence is where all the main routes in the state meet, including Interstates 95 (north-south), 195 (east-west), and 295 (north-south). Interstate 95N, for instance, gets you to Boston in under an hour.

According to Living in Providence by Walk Score, the city scores the following: 78 (Walk Score), 48 (Transit Score), and 62 (Bike Score). Along with being a highly car-friendly area, the City of Providence continues to take great strides to make it a safe, secure place for walking and biking.

Now it’s time to address traffic and road conditions. According to WalletHub, Rhode Island ranks second to last in driving (just behind Hawaii). Winter weather, potholes, and year-round humidity also wreak havoc on vehicles, leading to higher ownership & maintenance costs. One saving grace is that the state as a whole does score high in safety, and that extends to the City of Providence.

What to Do

Diverse, vibrant, and creative, Providence is a top place to visit in New England. And when combined with its artistic leanings, cerebral pursuits, and deep historical roots – it was founded by those trying to get free from Puritan Massachusetts – it makes for an eclectic & refreshing variety of things to do!

  • Parks: The city is known for its beautiful, spacious parks. Our top pick is Roger Williams Park (aka The People’s Park of Providence), which is home to a breathtaking botanical garden, the Museum of Natural History, and the Roger Williams Zoo. It also offers everything from a bike park and ball fields to hiking and boating. Another top pick is Waterplace Park, which sits along the Woonasquatucket River. Located downtown, it offers a cobblestone walking path and a Venice-style pedestrian bridge.
  • Events and Attractions: One of the biggest draws is a unique event called WaterFire, which takes place between May and November. Part work of art and part community engagement, this is a must-see! Are you a history or architectural buff? The John Brown House is considered one of the most elegant homes in Providence, dating back to 1786. RISD Museum of Art presents a wide range of exhibits – from ancient Egypt to French Impressionism.
  • Sports: As for sports, Providence (and Rhode Island as a whole) is known its love of soccer, baseball, and hockey – the city is home to the Providence Bruins, an AHL team – but there isn’t much in the way of major pro teams here. If you’re looking to satisfy your sports craving, Boston is less than an hour north. It’s home to the Boston Celtics (NBA), Boston Red Sox (MLB), and more. Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, is even closer at just under 30 minutes north of Providence.
  • Other Destinations: As for other popular destinations and activities, Downtown Providence is a great place for shopping, dining, and exploring! The Culinary Arts Museum is home to 250,000+ items, preserving the heritage of hospitality and culinary arts. If theater is more your speed, the Providence Performing Arts Center offers world-class Broadway shows and contemporary programs. Last but not least, Brown University is home to John Hay Library, David Winton Bell Gallery, and the Plant Environmental Center.

Schools and Universities

Providence Public School District (Providence Public Schools) is the primary K–12 school district for the City of Providence. It provides education to more than 24,000 students. The district’s student-teacher ratio is 15:1, and the average graduation rate is 75%. Students score an average of 1060 and 28 on the SAT and ACT, respectively. Overall, schools in the city receive an average rating.

Top public schools include Classical High School, Achievement First Providence Mayoral Academy Elementary, Times2 Academy, Metropolitan Career Tech Center, Paul Cuffee Charter School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, and Highlander Charter School. Top private schools include The Wheeler School, Moses Brown School, Lincoln School, La Salle Academy, and School One.

As for higher education, the City of Providence is home to Brown University (#14 best national university according to US News & World Report), Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence College (#1 regional university in the north), Johnson & Wales University – Providence, and Rhode Island College.

Crime

According to Crime in Providence by BestPlaces, the city has a property crime rate of 53.1 (includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson). This rate is significantly higher than the national average of 35.4 and the Rhode Island state average of 27.5. The violent crime rate is 30.4, which is higher than the average of 22.7 and the Rhode Island state average of 15.4.

Utility Providers

Before you move to Providence, RI, you’ll want to get your utilities up and running by the time you arrive at your new place. Here are the primary providers:

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Best Neighborhoods in Providence, RI

Wondering what area of the Renaissance City to call home? Check out these top neighborhoods:

Blackstone

Considered the #1 neighborhood in Providence, Blackstone is an affluent residential community located in the East Side (about 3 miles northeast of Downtown Providence). This neighborhood is ideal for established families and professionals, and it also has the highest percentage of homeowners in the city – 69% of residents own their homes.

Nestled between Interstate 95 (west) and Seekonk River (east), Blackstone is home to several facilities built by Brown University, including Brown Stadium and Ladd Observatory. Along with Blackstone Boulevard Park (a 19.3-acre green space) and Butler Hospital, the neighborhood offers single-family homes that are distinctive from typical offerings. It also has a sizeable Jewish population.

  • Population – Under 6,700 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $455,900
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $132,200
  • Rent Prices – $1,000 for 1BR and $1,700 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing & Visual Arts, Times2 Academy, Francis J. Varieur School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School

College Hill

College Hill, located just one mile northeast of downtown (and just east of Providence River and north of Seekonk River), is one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Providence, RI. Home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), it’s bordered by Olney St (north), Arlington Ave (east), John St (south), and N Main St (west). 58% of residents rent their homes.

Home to many cultural and historical sites, College Hill, offers a blend of affluence and vibrant college-town energy. Thayer Street is where the college crowd and residents roam, offering 70+ businesses that include lively bars, cafes, shops, and restaurants. Homes range from 900 to 5,700-square-feet, with 1 to 6 bedrooms (primarily built between 1870 and 1983).

  • Population – Under 9,400 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $593,100
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $82,900
  • Rent Prices – $1,100 for studio and $2,200 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Times2 Academy, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School, E-Cubed Academy

Downcity (aka Downtown)

Looking for an urban setting right in the middle of everything? Downtown Providence is where it’s at! Also known as Downcity, Downtown offers all the hustle & bustle any urbanite can fall in love with, including stellar music venues, shops, and restaurants. 83% of residents rent their places.

Bordering N Main Street and Providence River (east) and Interstate 95 (west), reinvigorated Downcity is a vibrant area with a metropolitan flair. Popular points of interest include Providence Place Mall, The Superman Building, Providence Children’s Museum, and the Trinity Repertory Company (and Providence Performing Arts Center). It’s also home to the Rhode Island State House.

  • Population – Under 4,800 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $304,900
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $58,200
  • Rent Prices – $1,880 for studio and $2,250 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Times2 Academy, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School, E-Cubed Academy, Reservoir Avenue School

Elmhurst

Elmhurst, situated about two miles northwest of Downtown Providence, is a residential neighborhood offering an assortment of nice homes, restaurants, bakeries, and shops. It borders by Admiral St and Douglas Ave (northeast) and Academy Ave and Smith St (west). About 58% of residents own their homes.

Home to Providence College and Roger Williams Medical Center (as well as just east of Rhode Island College and Triggs Memorial Golf Course), Elmhurst offers an assortment of single-family and multi-family homes. Popular spots include LaSalle Bakery and the Smith Center for the Arts.

  • Population – Under 11,200 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $201,200
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $56,100
  • Rent Prices – $850 for studio and $1,200 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Times2 Academy, North Providence High School, Dr. Edward Ricci School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School

Federal Hill

Home to a wide variety of socioeconomic levels, Federal Hill, offers affordable housing, tons of things to do, and many shops and restaurants. The neighborhood is less than a mile west of the downtown area, and it’s popular with college students and foodies. 85% of residents rent their homes.

Bordered by US 6 (north), Interstate 95 (east), and Westminster St (south), Federal Hill is a historic neighborhood known for its Italian-American community. Home to several amazing Italian restaurants, this area also boasts Franciscan Park (dog park), Knight Street Park, and several other green spaces, as well as DePasquale Square (aka “the heart of the community”).

  • Population – Under 7,300 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $210,400
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $32,500
  • Rent Prices – $1,200 for studio and $1,325 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Times2 Academy, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School, E-Cubed Academy

Fox Point

Nestled in the East Side, Fox Point is a great pick for both history buffs and so-called hipsters. It’s part of the charming collection of East Side neighborhoods and sits 1.5 miles east of downtown. It’s cradled by the Providence River (southwest) and Seekonk River (southeast) with Pitman St forming its northeastern border. Approximately 80% of residents rent their places.

Home to eccentric shops and deep history, Fox Point maintains a historical charm with many homes dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Brown University practically shares the neighborhood’s northern border, and there’s a substantial Portuguese population here. You can also find India Point Park along the Seekonk River, as well as a marina popular for maritime adventures.

  • Population – Under 5,000 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $380,800
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $46,200
  • Rent Prices – $1,250 for 1BR and $2,175 for 3BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Times2 Academy, Myron J. Francis Elementary School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Kent Heights Elementary School

Hope

Hope, located in the northeastern part of the city, is a popular neighborhood for families and professionals. It’s less than four miles north of downtown, bordered by Hillside Ave (north), East Ave (east), Rochambeau Ave (south), and Interstate 95 (west). About 61% of residents are homeowners.

Just west of Seekonk River, Hope (or more commonly called Summit by locals) is equal parts close-knit community and bustling center of activity. Three Sisters is a popular café, while Wurst Window (home of the famous meatball sandwich and cured meats) and Chez Pascal (French) offer delicious dining. It’s also home to The Miriam Hospital, Collyer Park, and borders Lippitt Memorial Park.

  • Population – Under 3,400 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $333,400
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $82,600
  • Rent Prices – $975 for 1BR and $1,400 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Jacqueline M. Walsh for the Performing & Visual Arts, Times2 Academy, Francis J. Varieur School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School

Wayland

Rounding out our list is Wayland. One of the Top 3 best neighborhoods in the City of Providence, and arguably the best depending on who you talk to, the community is found less than three miles northeast of Downtown Providence. About 62% of residents rent their homes.

Bordering Lloyd Ave and Irving Ave (north), Seekonk River (east), Pitman St (south), and Arlington Ave (west), Wayland is just northeast of Brown University. It shares its western border with Erickson Athletic Complex; and is home to Blackstone Park, and Lincoln School, and Whole Foods Market. Overall, Wayland exudes the classic charm of a quintessential New England neighborhood.

  • Population – Under 3,900 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $535,300
  • Household Income – Median yearly income over $75,300
  • Rent Prices – $1,000 for studio and $1,925 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Classical High School, Times2 Academy, Myron J. Francis Elementary School, Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Kent Heights Elementary School

Quality Moving Services from Providence Movers

Great Guys Long Distance Movers connects you with top Providence movers at the best rates.

Interstate Moves

Congrats on your upcoming move! Whether it’s for work, family, or a fresh start, this is an exciting but stressful time. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Our interstate movers are fully vetted, licensed, insured, and experienced. Let someone you can trust take care of your relocation.

Intrastate & Local Moves

Moving to a new street, neighborhood, or county? Whether you’re staying in Providence or writing a new chapter in another part of Rhode Island, our trustworthy & affordable local movers are ready to provide you with a stress-free, pleasant relocation. It’s never been easier to move.

Small Load Moves

From small apartments and studios to college dorms, we can hook you up with quick & cheap small load movers in your local area. Wherever you need to go (from local moves to cross-country relocation), we’ve got you covered. Great Guys makes it super simple to move in and out of smaller places!

Furniture Shipments

Whether you need help moving a heavy couch or your entire household, we’ve got the perfect fit. Our group of furniture moving companies have everything covered – from local and interstate shipping to in-home furniture arrangement. Moving delicate or bulky items is a breeze with our pros.

Piano Transport

Need to move a vintage organ out of a church building? Have to relocate a concert piano to a new venue or home? It sounds like you could use some help. We work with only the best piano moving in the area, ensuring smooth and damage-free delivery of your highly valued instrument.

Art & Antiques

Standard relocation services are excellent for most moves. When dealing with antiques or fine art, however, you should definitely call in the specialists. From family heirlooms to art installations, our art shippers provide the white glove services needed to safeguard your collection.

Storage-In-Transit

Over the years, storage has become a lot more convenient. From PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage) to on-site storage rentals, we offer an assortment of storage options for personal and commercial use. Enjoy boosted flexibility, higher savings, and more free time. Contact us today.

Car Shipping

When it comes to car transport, it can save you a lot of time and money. But who are you supposed to trust with your dream car or the family vehicle? We take all the guesswork out of the process. Within minutes, you can lock in an excellent rate from one of America’s top auto transport companies.

Packing Services

Packing is exhausting. Packing plus making sure your cherished belongings are properly protected is a massive undertaking. To reduce the risk of damage, hire our friendly & skillful movers and packers. From partial packing to a full-service move, these reliable experts make it look easy!

Residential Moves

Without the right assistance, your relocation logistics can get out of hand. Not to mention the amount of time, effort, and funds you’ll need to adequately pack, empty, unload, and set up all your stuff. Our residential movers take the stress off your shoulders to help you move quickly and efficiently.

Commercial Moves

Don’t want to experience delays or downtime? No business does. That’s why it’s imperative to source highly reliable and experienced professionals. We can connect you with just the right commercial movers for your office relocation or retail expansion for a successful transition.

Same Day/Emergency/Short Notice

Feeling the pressure? A sudden move can be particularly overwhelming. Great Guys knows how stressful this time can be, so we’ve made the process of sourcing moving services as easy as possible. With our short notice moving partners, you can breathe a sigh of relief. We’re here to help!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More

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