16 Pros and Cons of Living in Rhode Island

Updated On November 29, 2023
Rhode Island

Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the U.S., but it also is perfectly positioned in the northeast.

Knowing the pros and cons can help you to discover if living in the state is right for you.

The more you learn about Little Rhody, the more you may decide if the state has what you need for your career, your family, and your overall lifestyle.

Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island

Pros of Living in Rhode Island

You will find that there is a lot to love about Rhode Island.

It is no wonder why over 1 million people call it home, despite there being limited space for everyone and everything.

1. Great Schools

Schools are an important part of the equation – not only for higher education but also for starting families.

The Department of Education is dedicated to a premium learning environment.

The Rhode Island Kids Count program also believes that education is a lifetime process.

The public school system is one of the best in the country.

Rhode Island is also home to Brown University, one of the top Ivy League schools there are in the U.S.

2. Plenty of Cultures

You will find that there is a lot of culture in Rhode Island, and much of that has to do with the heritage found in the state.

Residents are Italian, French, Irish, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Guatemalan, and more.

It allows you to explore the art, the food, and more from each of these exciting cultures.

There are various festivals to celebrate the culture, too, which is a great way to practice diversity and learn more about other nationalities.

3. Lots of Natural Beauty

There is a little bit of everything in Rhode Island.

One thing you will notice is that there is a lot of natural beauty along the coast and throughout the entirety of the state.

The parks and recreation are abundant, offering everything from bike paths to state parks to family orchards.

You can explore the beauty on the land and on the water.

Choose boat tours to see the lighthouses on the water, trails to see the natural flora and fauna, and simply spend hours exploring what the state has to offer.

4. All 4 Seasons

You will experience all four seasons when you’re living in Rhode Island.

The summers are mild, so you will be able to enjoy plenty of outdoor activities.

The fall is also home to some beautiful foliage, and many people travel from all over the U.S. to experience the leaves changing colors.

The mild weather is found throughout most of the year.

Even when it rains, it is never a torrential downpour, so it is very easy to work around.

5. There are Lots of Things to Do

You will find that there is a surprising number of things to do for a small state.

Much of it is because of the rich history found in every city.

You will find museums that will tell you all about the history – and even more museums for art and science.

When you are tired of museums, there are theaters, galleries, and plenty of other things to keep you busy.

6. Cost of Housing is Low

The cost of housing is low in comparison to many of the other northeastern areas.

If you compare a home in Rhode Island to a home in Massachusetts or Vermont, you will be pleasantly surprised that you can save $100,000 or even more.

Many people choose Rhode Island so that they can get more homes for their money.

Then, they simply commute outside of the state for work.

7. There are Beautiful Beaches

Most people who do not live in Rhode Island find it hard to believe that there’s a lot of beachside living throughout the state.

There are miles and miles of Atlantic coastline, allowing you to find some incredible beaches for suntanning, watersports, and splashing around in the waves.

Some of the top beaches found in the state include Goosewing Beach, Misquamicut State Beach, and Easton’s Beach.

Essentially, there is a beach for every occasion.

8. It’s LGBTQ Friendly

Rhode Island has continuously been identified as one of the most LGBT-friendly states in the United States.

Civil unions have actually been allowed since 2011, which means that many people traveled to RI so that they could become an official “couple.”

Same-sex marriages have been allowed since 2013.

Same-sex couples can even adopt in the state with no issue.

You will find plenty of bars, restaurants, and other establishments that are open and accepting of any kind of alternative lifestyle.

Love is love in Rhode Island.

Cons of Living in Rhode Island

The smaller state has its downsides, so it is best to know what you will not love about the state.

Rhode Island’s cons can be overlooked, but it is a good idea to know what they are before you decide to move.

1. It’s a Small State

Rhode Island only consists of 1200 square miles – considerably smaller than many of the neighboring states.

As a result, you will find that much of what you want to do isn’t actually located in the state.

Instead, you will be wandering to some of the neighboring big cities when you want to go shopping, clubbing, or enjoy a nice restaurant.

Boston, MA, and Hartford, CT can be some of your favorite places to go – and those are at least a few hours’ drive from anywhere you might be in Rhode Island.

2. Sales Tax is High

The sales tax is relatively high in Rhode Island, which makes so many things that you want to buy more expensive.

Any tangible personal property at retail stores in the state is taxed.

Even beyond the sales tax, there are all sorts of other taxes that you will encounter throughout the state – motor vehicle tax for every vehicle that you own, property tax for every home that you own, and much more.

3. Taxes are High for Retired Individuals

Retired individuals often choose to move out of Rhode Island because the state is not very retiree-friendly.

In fact, you will find that most retirement income is taxed in Rhode Island, which is not very agreeable to those who are on fixed incomes.

Even Social Security benefits are taxed.

Other states have better tax structures for retired people.

As a result, you will not see as many retired people in RI as you will in other states without such taxes.

4. Cost of Living is High

The cost of living is high in a number of areas, including home costs, groceries, utilities, and transportation.

When you look at the U.S. average on an index of 100, Rhode Island is at 110.6 overall, which shows that the cost of living is much higher.

Your paychecks will not go as far, so you will find yourself spending more on the basics.

It may leave you with little to no money left at the end of every month.

5. Lots of Traffic Congestion

Rhode Island is a small state with a large population.

There are actually more people living in Rhode Island than in larger states like Oklahoma and Nebraska.

As a result, you will find that there is a lot of traffic.

It is not uncommon to find traffic delays of an hour or longer.

It can be difficult to navigate the roads – and the Claiborne Pell Bridge is a toll facility that can make it expensive to travel between the City of Newport and the town of Jamestown (located on Conanicut Island).

6. Utility Bills are High

You will find that your utility bills are higher than in many other places in the U.S.

Even if you do not use the AC in the summer, you will spend a lot during the winter months on heating your home.

There’s not much that you can do to reduce the bills.

The utility companies set the prices, and they are definitely looking to earn a profit.

7. Winters Can Be Brutal

The winters in Rhode Island can be brutal – especially if you are not used to it.

On average, the state gets about 35 inches per year, which is about 8 inches more than the average in the United States.

Every so often, Rhode Island may also encounter what’s known as a “nor’easter,” which is a storm that blows in from the northeast.

It can lead to blizzard-like conditions.

8. Many Areas are Overly Populated

Although most of the cities in Rhode Island only have about 40,000 people or less, they still tend to be overly populated.

This is because there are simply too many people living in a very small state.

Everything is crowded – the roads, the grocery stores, the schools.

It can lead to lots of crowds, lots of stress, and lots of people being rude because they want to get in, get what they need, and get out.

Even finding homes can be difficult as homes in popular neighborhoods sell quickly.

Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island

Pros and Cons of Living in Rhode Island – Summary Table

Pros of Living in Rhode IslandCons of Living in Rhode Island
1. Great Schools1. It’s a Small State
2. Plenty of Cultures2. Sales Tax is High
3. Lots of Natural Beauty3. Taxes are High for Retired Individuals
4. All 4 Seasons4. Cost of Living is High
5. There are Lots of Things to Do5. Lots of Traffic Congestion
6. Cost of Housing is Low6. Utility Bills are High
7. There are Beautiful Beaches7. Winters Can Be Brutal
8. It’s LGBTQ Friendly8. Many Areas are Overly Populated

Rhode Island Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Rhode Island Safety Review

Safety Index:
Rhode Island

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top employers in the state of Rhode Island?

Some of the top employers within the state of Rhode Island include CVS Health, United Natural Foods, Cohoes Fashions, and Citizens Financial Group.

What is the sales tax for the state?

The sales tax for Rhode Island is at 7%.

The sales tax stays the same regardless of the city and county you are in, which can make it easier to calculate as you travel around the state.

What is the average crime rate?

The violent crime rate in Rhode Island is slightly higher than the national average.

Providence has a 30.4 with the U.S. average being 22.7.

Property crime is also slightly higher than the national average.

What is the price of the average home in Rhode Island?

The average home in Rhode Island is $429,000.

Property values have been climbing in the state, and the national U.S. average for homes is approximately half of that.

What are the most populated cities in Rhode Island?

While Rhode Island is not very large, there are some bigger cities.

Providence is the only one that is over 100,000.

Some of the other heavily populated areas include Cranston, Warwick, and Pawtucket.

2 Comments on 16 Pros and Cons of Living in Rhode Island

  1. J
    Joyce Simon says:

    Hello. I moved to RI in 2001. I was divorced and my daughter was living here. I was a Nurse Practitioner working at a Veterans Hospital in NewYork. I transferred to the Providence VA.
    RI has shocked me with the amount of negativity I have experienced.
    People in RI seem to love to report their neighbors and fellow workers for the stupidest things. The past 20 + years of my life in RI I have seen and experienced
    rude,cruel neighbors and mean cruel fellow employees.
    I have never experienced or seen behavior like this in my entire life living in the Bronx and Westchester County New York.

    1. If you are a senior citizen Rhode Island is not a good place to live. Our taxes are high and they do nothing to freeze or lower our property tax in Providence. The $600 elderly exemption is nowhere near enough. Governor McKee gave money out to everyone but nothing to the seniors. We got no stimulus from the state of Rhode Island at all even though we are struggling on a fixed income. They don’t force the utility companies to drop the customer charge for seniors which adds $38 to my utility bill before I even use any energy at all. They don’t force the cable companies to give senior discounts. These are things that could easily be done to help seniors live a better life in Rhode Island and be able to make ends meet, but our government doesn’t seem interested. Perhaps they don’t want any seniors living in Rhode Island, but it is one of the most senior unfriendly states, and Providence is the worst, Even though I’ve lived in Providence most of my life.

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