Moving to Providence, RI? 10 Things to Know

Providence is a city of around 180,000 people, located in the heart of the smallest US state. For a medium-sized city, it has a lot going for it!

If you’re thinking about moving to Providence, there’s a lot you need to know about this medium-sized city packed with history and charm. Here’s where to know about living in Providence, RI!

Building in downtown Providence
Tallest buildings in Providence, RI
CategoryScore (1 to 10)
Cost of Living8
Job Opportunities7
Schools (Public & Post-secondary)7
Public Transportation5
Access to Other Cities7
Natural Conservation8
Average Score6.9

1. The City Is Affordable

When we say “affordable”, we mean by the regional standards. If you’re looking for a cheaper and less crowded alternative to Boston, then Providence is the perfect city for you. It has all of the charm and history of Boston at nearly half the cost.

For a personal example, I lived in Providence from 2019 to 2020 while my brother lived in Boston, in the furthest west neighborhood (Brighton). We had nearly identical apartments with hardwood floors, two bedrooms, and similar square footage. I paid $1,200 a month with hot water included and he paid $2,300 a month plus utilities.

However, the cost of living on most else is comparable to the rest of New England. If you want to save even more on rent, we suggest moving to Pawtucket, which is just northwest of Providence, directly on the MA border.

2. Everything Is Close

We all know Rhode Island is the smallest state, but do you know just how small? Everything you need is within a few hours of driving or via train ride.

Many residents in Providence commute to Boston and its surrounding cities daily, and it’s easier than you think. If you’re not from New England, you’d be surprised to learn you can comfortably visit four state capitals with a 4-hour drive.

The commuter rail from Providence to Boston on the Providence/Stoughton line only has 5 stops, making it much quicker than traveling between Worcester and Boston. From the main station, it will only take 45 to 50 minutes.

Boston is less than an hour’s drive, New York City is 3 hours, Worcester is 45 minutes, and nearly anywhere in Rhode Island is less! A trip from Providence to southern New Hampshire won’t even take more than an hour and a half without traffic.

View of Providence from the other side of the Providence River

3. There’s a Lot to Do

Moving to Providence is a lot more exciting for young people than many comparable cities. Worcester, MA, by comparison, has more than twice the amount of colleges with roughly the same population as Providence. However, Providence embraces the term “college town” far more than Worcester.

On College Hill, you will find plenty of delicious restaurants, shops, beautiful architecture, and wonderful bookstores. There is also plenty of nature parks, tourist destinations, and excellent nightlife all around the city.

For such a small city, there is a lot to do, regardless of your preferences. Young adults, college students, and families will find plenty of great ways to spend their time.

If you don’t already know, the city organizes its biweekly event known as WaterFire, where they light fires along the river downtown and have local restaurants and vendors cater. During the busy season, WaterFire can draw crowds of over 100,000 people!

4. You Won’t Miss Nature

If you love the city lifestyle but miss the country scenery, don’t worry. There is enough nature in and around Providence to ensure you never miss out.

Roger Williams Park is the largest in the city, but there’s even more outside the city, especially if you head south toward the beaches!

For our recommendations nearby, try out Lincoln Woods State Park, which is only a few miles up from the start of RI-146 at the Twin River Casino exit!

5. The Food Scene Is Amazing

If you don’t already know, Providence is known as the “food capital of New England”, and for good reason. While there may not be as many restaurants as there are in Boston, the restaurant scene is enormous for such a small city.

While there are several reasons for this, it can largely be traced back to the Mafia presence in Providence starting in 1917. As a more modern contribution, the widely successful Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts program has introduced plenty of talented chefs into the community.

It isn’t just gourmet food, either. Whether you want a quick bite to eat on College Hill or a sit-down feast on Federal Hill, you will find what you’re looking for.

In the downtown area, we recommend U-Melt for one of the best, most unique grilled cheese sandwiches you’ve ever had!

“I’ve lived here for 4 years. I love the food, the cost of living is affordable, and I don’t see myself moving to any other city!” – Paul (30)

6. You Can Get a Free Workout

If you love to eat on Federal Hill but you want to burn off the extra calories, you’ll be happy to know that Providence has multiple calisthenics parks where you can work out for free. 

These outdoor community gyms were designed to promote public health, and they have become staples of the community with more than four public parks around the town. Our favorite is at Corliss Park located on Virginia Lane right near the RI School for the Deaf.

7. The Climate Is Fair

We all know New England is cold in the winter, but Providence is surprisingly mild compared to other towns in the region. Even coming from Massachusetts, winters in RI felt noticeably milder. However, if you’re from further north, it will get hot in the summer, so be prepared! 

Providence River and downtown area

8. The Beaches Are Great

Rhode Island easily has some of the best beaches in New England. If you’re used to Hampton Beach, Old Orchard Beach, or any comparable beaches in the area, you’ll be surprised by the lack of large crowds and the beautiful water in southern RI.

However, we have to offer our recommendation, even though we want to save this hidden gem for ourselves. Our favorite is easily Colt State Park, also known as Bristol Town Beach.

9. The Traffic Gets Bad

Okay, it’s time to address the elephant on the road. The traffic in southern New England is already brutal, and it isn’t helped by the terrible potholes and poor infrastructure in and around Providence.

Rhode Island is ranked number 42 of the US states on infrastructure, and while driving there, you will wonder how bad those other 8 states really are. If you aren’t driving, then this won’t be a problem, but it is something to keep in mind otherwise.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving within the city, there are buses available, but most residents will agree that Uber is more reliable.

10. Providence Can Be Noisy

Again, for a small city, a lot is happening. If you live downtown or in certain neighborhoods around the city, it can get loud with motorcycles and WaterFire in the summer, but nowhere near as bad as larger cities like Boston.

Honest Review of Living in Providence

If you’re considering moving to Providence, please remember not to take our word for it. You may have completely different needs, ambitions, or preferences. We encourage you to see the area for yourself before making your decision.

However, we loved our experience in Providence and would wholeheartedly move back there. We aren’t city people at all, but Providence is one of our favorite places to visit when we have the chance now, and we always look back fondly at our times there.

Whether you’re with a family or by yourself, there is something for everyone in Providence, and Rhode Island as a whole. It’s a truly underrated location in New England, especially if you love the beach.

Enjoy Your Move!

Now that you know more about moving to Providence, Rhode Island, you can make an informed decision for yourself. It truly is a great city with a lot of rich character, but we understand that it isn’t for everyone

As always, feel free to share your experiences with living in Providence in the comments below, and keep reading our blog for our latest reviews of your favorite New England destinations!

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