Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, is home to 179,883 people. It’s the biggest city in the country’s smallest state – an area of only 1,214 square miles. You can drive across the entire state within an hour.
Preacher Roger Williams founded Providence in 1636 after he was forced to flee Massachusetts because of religious persecution. He bought land from the Narragansett tribe to start a new settlement that would allow religious and political freedom. He was grateful for “God’s merciful providence” in leading him to his new home. Hence, he named it Providence. The city became a major seaport. By 1781, local merchants were financing expeditions to the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Far East.
Explore the historic Jewelry District where merchants manufactured mass-produced costume jewelry in the 18th century when Providence was known as the Jewelry Capital of the World. You’ll see the old site of Brier Manufacturing Co., one of the largest costume jewelry maker in the city. Take the family to the Museum of Natural History, which has the only public planetarium in the state. The museum features an exhibit celebrating Rhode Island’s parks and wildlife refuges.
Providence is home to Brown University (10,257 students), one of the world’s leading research universities. The Ivy League school boasts of two Nobel Prize winners in their faculty, both in physics. Brown was a trailblazer for admitting its first female students in 1891. There are four other colleges in the city and 90 universities within 50 miles. The city has 63 public schools with an enrolment of 30,735 students. Its student-teacher ratio of 14:1 is higher than the state’s 13:1 average.
Just like most cities in the Northeast, Providence has a high cost of living – 20.7% higher than the national average. Likewise, food cost in the city is 11.4% higher than the national average. At least housing costs are 0.1% lower than the national average. Median gross rent in Providence is $972; median two-bedroom apartment rent is $1,862. Rhode Island’s income tax rate of 3.75% to 5.99% and its sales tax of 7% are close to national averages.
Downtown Providence is a magnet for young professionals and empty nesters alike. It offers housing options for every budget, from upscale condos to affordable apartments. An overwhelming majority of downtown residents are renters. If you prefer to be outside of the epicenter of action, Barrington and East Greenwich both have outstanding schools, and are within commuting distance of Providence. Barrington is known for its marinas and an excellent golf course. East Greenwich is a lovely waterfront town with an active social hub of great restaurants and shops right on Main Street.