Article Overview: List of the Pros & Cons of Living in Rhode Island
Here there, my name is Dave Bennett. Having lived in Rhode Island for a decade, I’ve experienced firsthand the unique blend of charm and challenges this Ocean State offers.
Known for its stunning coastal scenery and rich historical heritage, Rhode Island is more than just the smallest state in the country.
It boasts a vibrant cultural scene, from bustling food markets in Providence to serene beaches in Narragansett.
However, living here also means navigating a higher cost of living, particularly in housing. This helpful list will explore the realities of daily life in Rhode Island, reflecting on both its allure and the practicalities of residing in this beautiful New England gem.
Living in Rhode Island
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Perks of Moving to Rhode Island
Access to Beaches
Did you know that Rhode Island, despite its size, has 400 miles of coastline? I guess that takes the guesswork out of why we’re called the Ocean State, yeah?
There’s a refreshing coastal lifestyle that comes with living in Rhode Island, even if you don’t live on the coast. The state’s small size means most beaches are just a quick drive away (40 minutes or less), so spontaneous beach days are totally in the cards.
This means you can easily plan a variety of beach outings, whether you’re into surfing at Narragansett Town Beach or prefer a more laid-back vibe for swimming and sunbathing at Easton’s Beach in Newport.
All this to say, there’s never a shortage of great beach-centered activities while living in Rhode Island, which is a nice addition to daily life.
Proximity to Large Metro Areas
While Rhode Island is relatively small, a lot of folks choose to call this state home because of its proximity to large metro areas.
Depending on where you live in the state, you’re about an hour’s drive to Boston and roughly three hours to NYC. This gives you access to a wider job market, big city entertainment (think Broadway, concerts and sports) and phenomenal food scene.
The best part? You’ll get all the benefits of these large cities without giving up the charm and tranquility that Rhode Island living offers.
The State is Compact
As mentioned earlier, Rhode Island, the smallest state in the country, is quite compact. How is this a perk? For starters, everything in the state is relatively close.
You can get from urban areas to picturesque countryside or beaches in no time. This compactness means less time commuting and more time doing what you actually want to do.
But, being on the smaller side has disadvantages as well. Turns out, Rhode Island is the second most densely-populated state in the country.
There’s 4 Distinct Seasons
Not many places in the country offer 4 distinct seasons. Think of the states like Texas where 6 months of the year are spend living under an oppressive heat that few can tolerate.
Or the Pacific Northwest, where winter is marked by ominous gray skies and constant rain. Thankfully, those moving to Rhode Island will be privy to 4 beautiful seasons, each with something interesting to offer.
Spring, my favorite season, arrives with mild temperatures averaging around 50°F, which is ideal for outdoor recreation. Summer temps dance around the 80s, perfect for beach-going and enjoying the breathtaking coastline.
Fall brings cooler, comfortable weather in the 60s, along with spectacular foliage, making it a great time for outdoor exploration and seasonal festivals.
But winter? Whew. This is a tough season to come to terms with. If you’re into winter sports, you’ll probably enjoy living in Rhode Island way more than someone that doesn’t partake.
Anyways, I’d delve into the winter weather in depth shortly, because it’s one of the biggest disadvantages of moving to Rhode Island (in my opinion).
High Life Expectancy
Did you know that Rhode Island has the 12th highest life expectancy in the country? A testament to the high quality of life offered in this glorious state.
There’s a few key factors at play, chief among them is the state’s healthcare system. We have access to top-tier healthcare facilities, there’s a strong focus on preventive care, and healthy lifestyle choices are no-brainers when beautiful nature is easily accessible on a daily basis.
Cons of Living in Rhode Island
The High Cost of Living in Rhode Island
According to a recent study, the cost of living in Rhode Island is the 11th highest in the country. Ouch.
There’s no sense in sugarcoating it. Rhode Island, with all her perks, won’t come cheap.
This is especially true if you’re looking to live in areas close to the coast or in cities like Providence. Housing costs in those areas are well above the national average.
Additionally, residents contend with higher-than-average expenses for healthcare and education. These economic challenges reflect the balance between the state’s unique appeal and the financial realities of living in a sought-after region along the east coast.
There’s Also a High Tax Burden
Let’s talk about taxes, because they will become apart of your daily life in Rhode Island in no time.
- Property taxes? The 8th highest in the nation.
- State income tax? Can be as high as 5.9%, depending on income.
This higher tax load impacts the overall cost of living in Rhode Island and often gives you less disposable income to put towards savings and expenses.
Admittidely, living in a highly taxed state does have benefits, like a high quality of living, but still, high taxes are worth considering in details before moving to Rhode Island.
Limited Job Market
If you’re moving to Rhode Island for a job, this disadvantage may apply to you.
The state’s limited size and lack of economic diversity presents a unique set of challenges. While Rhode Island boasts a range of industries, from healthcare and education to tourism and manufacturing, the job opportunities can be somewhat constrained when compared to larger states.
While the state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Speaking from personal experience, there’s fewer options for career advancement, especially within certain sectors.
The state is densely populated, which means there’s a ton of folks vying for the same positions and promotions. As such, folks get pigeonholed into certain careers for longer than necessary (again, my opinion).
Likewise, the smaller job market impacts salary levels, which might not match those offered in larger metropolitan areas for similar roles.
For professionals, particularly those in niche industries, this can necessitate a wider job search, potentially looking beyond state borders.
Public Education Leaves Much to be Desired
So, here’s a bummer for anyone that plans to move to Rhode Island with children — our schools leave much to be desired.
Perhaps it’s more highlighted because we neighbor Massachusetts and Connecticut (which both have some of the best public education in the country), but our schools don’t rank very highly on a national level.
Don’t get me wrong. The state spends above the national average per student, reflecting its commitment to education. However, academic performance and resources vary significantly across districts.
This means the quality of education a child receives can depend heavily on their specific school district, making it important for parents to research schools when considering where to live in Rhode Island.
Despite these disparities, Rhode Island’s small size facilitates a centralized approach to education reform, leading to innovative programs aimed at improving student outcomes.
Additionally, the state is home to several prestigious universities, offering quality higher education opportunities for graduates. But, if your kids are still in school, you may find the public education tricky to navigate.
Winters Are a Bit Much
Alright, as promised, let’s talk about our harsh winter conditions.
If you’re not a fan of freezing temperatures and shoveling snow, living in Rhode Island might be a bit of a downer for you.
On average, Rhode Island gets about 35 inches of snow each year (up to 55 inches in the western part of the state).
As for temperatures, it’s not uncommon for them to dip below freezing. Coastal areas are particularly susceptible to nor’easters, bringing strong winds and heavy snow or rain.
Locals know to prepare for these severe conditions, which require robust heating systems, winterized homes, and often, a resilience to navigate the cold, snowy months.
So, if you’re a fan of winter sports or just love the sight of a winter wonderland, you’re in for a treat. And if you’re not? Think twice about moving to Rhode Island because winters are brutal.
Retiring in Rhode Island FAQ
Is Rhode Island a good place to live?
Rhode Island, despite its small size, offers a diverse and appealing living experience. Known for its stunning coastal landscapes and rich history, it boasts a high quality of life with access to excellent healthcare and education systems.
The state’s cultural vibrancy is evident in its array of festivals, arts, and culinary scenes. While the cost of living, particularly in housing and utilities, is above the national average, many find the trade-off worthwhile for the unique lifestyle it offers.
The community spirit and scenic beauty, combined with proximity to major cities like Boston and New York, make Rhode Island an attractive place for many.
Is Rhode Island a good place to retire?
Rhode Island can be an appealing retirement destination for those who appreciate its unique offerings. It offers scenic coastal towns, a rich cultural scene, and a relatively mild climate compared to other New England states.
The state has quality healthcare facilities, essential for retirees. However, it’s important to consider the higher cost of living, particularly in real estate and taxes, which might stretch retirement budgets.
For those seeking a charming, small-state feel with easy access to urban amenities and natural beauty, Rhode Island can be a desirable choice for retirement.
Is marijuana legal in Rhode Island?
Marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use in Rhode Island. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2006, and in May 2022, Rhode Island passed a law to legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and over.
What’s the cost of living in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island’s cost of living is higher than the national average, primarily driven by housing costs. Real estate prices and rents in Rhode Island tend to be significantly above average, especially in desirable coastal areas.
Utility costs are also higher compared to many other states. However, grocery and healthcare expenses are more in line with the national average.
The state’s small size and desirable New England location contribute to these higher living costs, making it more expensive for housing and utilities but relatively average in other areas of daily expenditure.
Is Rhode Island a tax-friendly state?
No, with some of the highest property taxes in the country couples with high state income taxes, Rhode Island has a high tax burden.
Things to Know About Living in Rhode Island (Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the benefits of living in Rhode Island, along with the disadvantages.
- Access to Beaches
- Proximity to Large Metro Areas
- The State is Compact
- There’s 4 Distinct Seasons
- High Life Expectancy
- The High Cost of Living in Rhode Island
- High Tax Burden
- Limited Job Market
- Public Education Leaves Much to be Desired
- Winters Are a Bit Much
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