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What’s Living in Providence Like? | 🏆 ULTIMATE Moving to Providence Guide

Dreaming of living somewhere with a rich history, amazing cuisine, and excellent cultural attractions? You’ll love living in Providence, Rhode Island! Providence, nicknamed the Renaissance City and the Creative Capital, is one of America’s oldest cities. The city was founded by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in 1636 and named to honor “God’s merciful Providence.” Providence was an early leader in textile and jewelry manufacturing, but today Providence is known for its medical industry and education.

After moving to Providence, you’ll see that there’s always something fun and unique right around the corner. It’s one of the best small cities in America with beautiful waterfront parks, world-class dining, museums, and historical architecture to fall in love with. Find out why Providence is one of America’s quirkiest cities and one of the best places to live for foodies.

Providence Population & Demographics

Providence is the capital and largest city of Rhode Island. The population of Providence is 179,000 but the metro population is 1.6 million which includes Warwick and Fall River, MA.

The racial and ethnic composition of Providence is 50% white, 38% Hispanic, 16% Black or African American, and 6.5% Asian. The average age in the city is 30, quite lower than the U.S. average. The median household income in Providence is $42,158.

This diverse city has a large Italian-American population with a Little Italy in Federal Hill. About 5% of the population belongs to the Jewish community. Major Asian groups in Providence include Cambodians (1.7% of total population), Chinese (1%), Indians (0.7%), Koreans (0.6%) and Laotians (0.6%). A large share of people also come from Portuguese-speaking nations like Portugal and Brazil, mostly concentrated in the Fox Point and Washington Park neighborhoods. Providence is also known for its LGBT community with one of the most active and growing LGBT communities in the Northeast. It became the first state capital to elect an openly gay mayor in 2002 and has a self-reported rate of gay and lesbian relationships 75% higher than the U.S. average. It’s even been called one of the Best Lesbian Places to Live.

One of the most famous residents of Providence is influential cosmic horror author H.P. Lovecraft whose commemorative headstone features a phrase from one of his many letters: “I am Providence.” Providence is even home to an annual NecronomiCon convention every year to explore Lovecraftian work.

“I am Providence” -H.P Lovecraft AKA (26 Providence Offering) from r/magicTCG

Providence Climate – What Is the Providence Weather Like?

What’s living in Providence like? Climate plays a big role in how you’ll enjoy living in a new city. Providence has a humid continental climate and gets 49” of rain every year and 36” of snow, both far above the U.S. average. Spring, summer, and fall are usually very pleasant with an average high of 83 degrees in July and 9 days a year with high temperatures over 90.

Winters can be very harsh, however. You’ll experience the classic New England winter in Providence with 120 days per year with nighttime lows below freezing.

The best time to visit Providence is from June and August and from September to November. Along with comfortable temperatures, you’ll enjoy a packed calendar of public events.

What Is the Cost of Living in Providence, RI?

Is living in Providence expensive? Like most cities in New England, Providence does have a high cost of living, but still nothing compared to Boston. The Providence cost of living index is 119.2 which means it’s 19.2% more expensive than the national average.

Healthcare and groceries are less than 10% higher than the U.S. average, but housing and utilities both push the cost of living in Providence higher.
According to the BLS, average annual expenditures in the Northeast are:

  • Housing: $23,646 (35.8%)
  • Transportation: $9,324 (14.1%)
  • Food: $8,401 (12.7%)
  • Personal insurance and pensions: $7,775 (11.8%)
  • Healthcare: $4,992 (7.6%)
  • All other items: $11,938 (18.1%)

This is just a general guideline for the region, but it can be helpful to compare to what you pay now.

Providence Typical Living Expenses

According to Numbeo, here’s what you’ll pay for common living expenses in Providence.

  • Steak: $12.12
  • Gallon of milk: $3.09
  • Dozen eggs: $1.82
  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: $13
  • 1 pound of apples: $1.99
  • Movie ticket for an international release: $12.50

The estimated monthly expenses for a family of four, without rent, is $3,544. The cost of living in Providence is 62% lower than New York and 32% lower than Boston.

The average monthly utility bill is $243.34. By comparison, the U.S. median is $160. A monthly RIPTA pass for public transportation is $70.

Providence Tax Rates

Don’t forget to consider taxes in Providence, a major component of the Providence cost of living. Be sure to compare the tax rates in the city and Rhode Island before moving to Providence to best assess how affordable the city will be.

  • Rhode Island a progressive income tax. Providence income tax rates range from 3.75% to 5.99%.
  • The Providence sales tax rate is 7.0%.
  • The property tax rate in Providence is now $24.56 per $1,000 of assessed value. There are multiple exemptions including a homestead exemption. Learn more about the city’s property tax exemptions here.

Providence, RI Real Estate

Are you going to rent or own a home while living in Providence? The real estate market in Providence is fairly hot with homes spending a median 24 days on market. You’ll find a large selection of homes with classic New England architecture like the characteristic Providence Federal homes, Cape Cods, Colonial homes, and split level homes built more recently.

The median home price in Providence is $319,500, well above the U.S. median. Depending on the neighborhood you choose, you can find affordable 3- to 5-bedroom historic homes for $200k to $300k. In high-cost areas like College Hill, expect prices to start in the high $800s. Get started by searching for Providence, RI homes for sale within your budget.

What can you expect if you rent after moving to Providence? Average rent in Providence is $2,284, up from $1,948 in 2019 according to RentJungle. A two-bedroom apartment is $2,627 on average.

Of course, where you choose to live will play a big role in housing costs. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods include:

  • Wayland
  • College Hill
  • Blackstone
  • Elmhurst

Top Neighborhoods in Providence

What are you looking for while living in Providence? Do you want an affordable, family-friendly neighborhood? Do you want to be close to the action? Here are some of the best places to live in Providence, RI that should be on your list.

Downtown – Best Providence Neighborhood to Be Close to the Action

Downtown Providence isn’t just for young professionals. This exciting neighborhood is packed with history, great amenities, and some of the best schools in the state like Classical High School. While living downtown, you’ll be within walking distance of art galleries, great restaurants, the Performing Arts Center, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, and more. You’ll find plenty of exciting condo buildings in this fun Providence neighborhood like The Residences, a luxury property with private elevators and indoor access to attractions like the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

 

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College Hill – Best Neighborhood in Providence for College Students

College Hill is home to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Located across the Providence River from the downtown area, College Hill is notable for its low crime rate, amazing attractions, and Prospect Terrace, one of the best parks in Providence. The neighborhood is expensive, however: the median home price in College Hill is $750,000, more than twice the average for the city.

Wayland – Safest Neighborhood in Providence

Looking for a safe place to live in Providence? Consider Wayland, a small community along the Seekonk River. Named for a former Brown University president, Wayland has a very low crime rate and tons of great parks like Waterman Street Dog Park. This is one of the best neighborhoods in Providence for families, although homes here are on the expensive side.

Blackstone – Affluent Providence Neighborhood

Blackstone is a mostly residential area of the East Side. Known for its affluence, Blackstone was one of the last parts of the city to be developed because it was fairly remote and mostly marshland. As one of the city’s most affluent communities, Blackstone has a median family income of $117,000 with a low poverty rate. The community is noted for its large Jewish population and it’s home to the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island.

Amazing Places to Eat in Providence, RI

Providence is known for its amazing seafood, including clam cakes and clam chowder. Ready to explore some of the best restaurants in Providence? Here are three iconic restaurants you’ll need to visit after moving to Providence, RI.

Hemenway’s Restaurant

Enjoy local seafood and a great wine list at Hemenway’s Restaurant with beautiful riverfront views. Hemenway’s Restaurant is an icon of Providence with dishes created by Chef Max Peterson.

Hemenway’s Restaurant, 121 S Main St, Providence, RI 02903 (401) 351-8570

Los Andes

You’ll love the unique Bolivian and Peruvian cuisine at Los Andes, one of the best places to eat in Providence. Pair your meat or seafood meal with a cocktail or wine and enjoy the seasonal outdoor dining.

Los Andes, 903 Chalkstone Ave, Providence, RI 02908 (401) 649-4911

India Restaurant

You’ll love visiting one of the best Indian restaurants in New England. India Restaurant is an elegant restaurant that combines traditional and contemporary Indian favorites with a fireplace in the winter, a garden patio in the summer, and Bollywood movies.

India Restaurant, 1060 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906 (401) 421-2600

Fun Things to Do in Providence, RI

With its rich history and beautiful scenery, you’ll never run out of Providence activities and attractions to enjoy. The city is one of the cultural hubs of New England with fun things to do in Providence for families, couples, and more. You’ll find something unique to do every time of the year, from the annual Waterfire art installation along the rivers to Venetian-style gondola rides. Here’s what you’ll love to do in the Renaissance City.

Top Attractions in Providence

 

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  • Roger Williams Park Zoo is one of the top tourist attractions in Providence. It’s the country’s 5th oldest zoo with 150 animals.
  • The Botanical Center is located in Roger Williams Park and features four greenhouses and an outdoor garden. It’s one of the top affordable things to do in Providence!
  • Brown University. Be sure to explore the grounds of this historic research university which is home to the Brown University Herbarium and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology.
  • Rhode Island State House. This Providence landmark is a beautiful white marble building with the 4th largest self-supported dome in the world.
  • Downtown Providence is an historic area of Providence worth exploring for its preserved buildings, including Beaux-Arts, Art Deco, and Victorian structures.
  • WaterFire, a seasonal art installation of 100 bonfires above the surface of the three rivers passing through downtown combined with world and classical music.
  • Providence Rink, a year-round venue downtown with ice skating, ice bumper cars, and more. It’s a great place for family-friendly fun in Providence in the winter!

Providence Parks & Outdoors

  • Roger Williams Park, home to a zoo and botanical garden, is the centerpiece of the city and one of the best free things to do in Providence. The park covers 435 acres with greenhouses, lakes, gardens, and the historic Betsy Williams Cottage.
  • Waterplace Park where two rivers meet offers gondola rides and amazing views. It also hosts the WaterFire festival every year when the river is alight with braziers.
  • India Point Park is located in Fox Point where two rivers meet. This pet-friendly park has water views and rolling hills to enjoy.
  • Prospect Terrace is a small, hilltop park with some of the best views of Providence at sunset.

Providence Entertainment & Arts

Shopping in Providence

  • The Arcade Providence is America’s oldest indoor mall. Built in 1828, it has tons of fun things to explore like the “weird emporium” from the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council.
  • The Providence Flea isn’t a typical flea market; it’s a great place to enjoy the unique Providence vibe with local art, music, and goods.
  • Providence Place is a huge 1.4 million-square-foot shopping center, the largest in Rhode Island.

Providence Museums

 

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Map of Things to Do in Providence

Sports in Providence, RI

While Providence isn’t known for its professional sports, the city does have professional and semi-professional teams. The city is home to the Providence Bruins American Hockey League team which plays at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

College football is popular in Providence, particularly games between Providence College, Brown University, and the University of Rhode Island.
You can also see the New England Patriots (NFL) and New England Revolution (MLS) play in Foxborough, MA, halfway between Boston and Providence.

How to Get Around Providence – Guide to Public Transportation & Driving

While living in Providence, you’ll be served by I-295 which encircles the city, I-95 which runs north to south through the city, I-195 which connects the city to the eastern part of the state, and RI 146 which connects you to Worcester. Unless you’re coming from a city known for its traffic, you’ll find that Providence traffic is one big drawback to moving to Providence, RI. Rhode Island ranks 2nd as the worst state to drive in the U.S. thanks to congestion and poor road conditions.

The main airport is the T.F. Green Airport (PVD) in nearby Warwick which is a less congested alternative to Boston’s Logan International Airport 43 miles away.

Planning to use public transportation? Downtown’s Kennedy Plaza is the public transportation hub. Providence is served by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) which mostly offers traditional bus service plus a Rapid Bus line that connects Cranston and Pawtucket to downtown Providence. The city also has four traffic-free bicycle paths with on-road bike lanes in the city.

Providence Crime – Is Providence a Safe City?

Ahead of moving to Providence, you probably have an important question. Is Providence a safe place to live? The Providence crime rate is comparable to the national average, but it does have a higher-than-average rate of property crime. The violence crime rate in Providence is 496 per 100,000 residents, according to the FBI. How many murders are there in Providence? In 2019, there were 13 homicides with a murder rate of 7.2 per 100,000 people.

You can check the City of Providence crime statistics to see police case and arrest logs for the last 180 days.

In 2020, the percentage of property and violent crimes in Providence is down 21% and 18% compared with the five-year average. However, the city has experienced an uptick in shootings, particularly in Smith Hill, Silver Lake, Elmwood, and South Providence. Dangerous neighborhoods in Providence include Olneyville, West End, Charles, and Wanskuck.

Providence Economy

The city has been a major center for silverware and jewelry since the early 1800s. Services make up a large share of the economy today, particularly finance, healthcare, and education. Government services also contribute to the local Providence economy. With its deep-water seaport, Providence offers many jobs in manufacturing and shipping as the economy has shifted more from maritime to manufacturing.

Unfortunately, Rhode Island has not ranked well in terms of business. It frequently ranks at the bottom of CNBC’s list of America’s Top States for Business due to its poor infrastructure and high tolls for trucks.

Jobs in Providence

What type of jobs can you find after moving to Providence? While Providence has a robust and diverse economy, most jobs, particularly high-paying jobs, are in three industries: healthcare, education, and finance.

Major employers in Providence include:

  • Brown University
  • Rhode Island Hospital
  • Lifespan
  • Women & Infants Hospital
  • Roger Williams Medical Center
  • Miriam Hospital
  • Providence College
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Butler Hospital

Some of the largest employers in Providence are also the best. According to Glassdoor, the following are the best places to work in Providence based on employee feedback:

  • Brown University
  • Fidelity Investments
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Schneider Electric
  • Bank of America
  • Hasbro
  • Tata Consultancy Services

The average salary in Providence is $67,000 or $19.44/hour according to Payscale. That’s higher than the U.S. average salary of $48,600 and wages have trended upward 1.8% most recently.

Healthcare in Providence, RI

Providence may be fairly small, but it’s home to an excellent healthcare system. There are eight hospitals in Providence including Rhode Island Hospital, a major general acute care hospital with a Level 1 Trauma Center that serves parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut. This facility is located in a large complex that’s also home to Women and Infants Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

Providence Schools & Colleges

University Hall, Providence, RI.

While living in Providence, RI, you’ll be served by the Providence Public School District. The district has more than 30,000 enrolled students and two magnet schools: Classical High School, founded in 1843 and ranked as one of America’s Best High Schools, and Nathanael Greene Middle School.

There are several private schools in Providence mostly in the East Side and North Side like La Salle Academy and the Lincoln School. In the South Side, you’ll find Community Preparatory School, a private school mostly serving low-income students.

Providence is known for its highly-rated colleges and universities. The city is home:

  • Brown University, an Ivy League university and one of the country’s nine colonial colleges
  • Rhode Island College, the oldest public college in the state
  • Providence College
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Rhode Island School of Design, founded in 1877

There are satellite campuses for the University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island, and Roger Williams University in the city.

Setting up Providence Utilities & Getting a Rhode Island Driver’s License

After moving to Providence, you’ll need to get your Rhode Island driver’s license and set up utilities to officially become a resident.

To transfer an out-of-state-license to Rhode Island, visit a DMV location and complete the License Application, provide a list of accepted documents, and pay the $44.50 fee. This must be done within 30 days of moving to the state.

Natural gas and electricity in Providence are provided by National Grid while water is provided by Providence Water. Click here to start service with National Grid by providing your new address.

Excited to get started relocating to Providence? Contact the friendly movers at Correira Brothers’ Moving & Storage today to request a free moving estimate. We look forward to helping you settle into your new city without the hassle and stress on moving day.

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