Skyline of Downtown Providence RI from the Providence river with blue sky and clouds

11 Things to Know About Living in Providence

Moving to Providence? Rhode Island’s capital might seem like a small city, but it has big offerings! With interesting local history, a growing job market, affordable housing, and tons of fun things to do, you’ll love living in Providence. Check out these 11 things to know before moving!

An Affordable Place to Live on the East Coast

Providence RI from a drone skyline with Providence River in view photo by Instagram user @hankvzn
Photo via @hankvzn

Providence is one of the top 25 best places to live on the East Coast, thanks to its expanding job opportunities. With an unemployment rate of 3.2% and major employers like Roger Williams Medical Center, Citizens Financial Group, and Textron, finding a new career here is easy. But jobs aren’t the only reason why people move to this Rhode Island hot spot! Providence has a similar look and feel to other New England cities like Boston and New Haven, but it offers more affordable living. In fact, the city’s cost of living is only 8% higher than the national average, and its cost of housing is 5% lower than the national average.

Higher Education at Its Best

Brown University campus in the fall at sunset with leaves changed colors photo by Instagram user @brownu
Photo via @brownu

Home to several universities and colleges, Providence has plenty of options for students seeking higher education! Brown University, one of eight Ivy League schools, has more than 80 undergraduate degrees to choose from and is a leading research institution. Johnson & Wales University has everything from culinary arts and sports management to psychology and teacher education available as fields of study. Catholic university Providence College has been recognized as a top school for undergraduate teaching and among best value schools. Rhode Island College offers more than 30 health-related degree programs, making it a go-to for students seeking education in nursing, social work, and health care administration. And, of course, there’s Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), a favorite among students who plan to study apparel design, graphic design, photography and other creative fields.

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Experience New England Seasons

colors on the trees changing colors in the fall to red photo by Instagram user @redbarberry
Photo via @redbarberry

One of the things residents love about living in Providence is its weather! From April to October, the average temperature ranges from 58 degrees to 83 degrees, so you can enjoy mild springs, summers, and falls. In addition, Providence has an average of 200 sunny days a year, meaning you won’t have to worry about too many dreary days. Of course, being in New England, Providence does get snow during the winter, with an average snowfall of 36 inches—you can expect winter temps around 19 degrees on average, too. But all in all, if you’re looking for an East Coast city with decent weather year-round, Providence may be the place for you!

Get Around with Public Transportation

amtrak train at blue line station in Providence photo by Instagram user @lindsaybach
Photo via @lindsaybach

One question you may have about moving to Providence is “How do I get around?” While driving your own vehicle is an option, there are affordable public transit options available in the metro! Travel throughout the city with Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA)‘s bus service. Make your way back and forth between Providence and TF Green Airport—or even Boston—with Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)‘s daily rail service! Need to go farther? Providence has an Amtrak station available for those needing to travel into New York City, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC!

Explore the Outdoors

Roger Williams Park at sunset in Providence RI photo by Instagram user @kylemcdonaldphotography
Photo via @kylemcdonaldphotography

Looking for things to do outside in Providence? The city is full of outdoor recreation opportunities! Visit the enormous Roger Williams Park—named after the founder of Rhode Island—where you can spend time in the Botanical Center, take a swan paddleboat out on the water, go hiking or biking on the trails, or stop by the Museum of Natural History & Planetarium. Check out Roger Williams Park Zoo, which is home to more than 160 animal species, including red pandas, komodo dragons, and more! Go jogging, walk your furry friend, or take the kids to play at one of Providence’s many neighborhood parks. Or make your way out to Snake Den State Park, where you can spend an afternoon hiking in the woods.

Discover Providence’s Local History

Benefit Street in Providence historic area old homes photo by Instagram user @akays
Photo via @akays

Established in 1636, Providence is the oldest city in Rhode Island, and it played an important role in the early days of American history. Want to learn more about this New England city and its beginnings? Tour the Victorian-styled Lippett House, home to textile manufacturer and Governor Henry Lippett. Visit John Brown House Museum to see 18th-century furniture and hear more about revolutionary figure John Brown. Check out The Stephen Hopkins House on historic Benefit Street, which was once the home of Declaration of Independence signer Stephen Hopkins. Or take a stroll through Swan Point Cemetery, a 200-acre garden cemetery established in 1846 that’s now on the National Register of Historic Sites. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to discovering Providence’s history, you can always follow one of these recommended self-guided walking tours through the city’s districts!

Visit Little Italy

Federal Hill in Providence Little Italy with fountain and brightly painted buildings photo by Instagram user @federalhillri
Photo via @federalhillri

Located in the heart of Providence is Federal Hill—also known as Little Italy—which has a rich Italian-American culture that started in the early 1900s and continues today. Particularly along Atwells Ave, you can find bakeries, coffee shops, food markets, boutiques, and some of the best Italian restaurants in Providence! Try the original Wimpy Skippy at Caserta Pizzeria. Visit Gasbarro’s Wine to pick up a bottle of Chianti or Rosso. Stop into Scialo Bros Bakery for delicious treats like Biscotti, Macaroons, and Fruit Cake. Dig into hearty dishes like Gnocchi al Forno, Fettuccine alla Bolognese, or Ravioli Ripieni di Burrata at Massimo Ristorante. And don’t forget to toss a coin in the fountain at DePasquale Square!

Attend Providence’s Annual Festivals

people outside at PVD Fest in Providence on bright blue sky day with buildings in background photo by Instagram user @matthewtwhuang
Photo via @matthewtwhuang

No matter the season, Providence has a variety of community events and annual festivals that are fun for everyone! From May to October, you can gather to watch more than 80 bonfires light up Waterplace Park during WaterFire. Dress up as your favorite characters and meet some of the biggest names in voice acting, animation, and comic books at Rhode Island Comic Con. Enjoy live music, food vendors, dancing, and more at PVD Fest, a four-day summer festival in June that takes over the city. Celebrate the city’s local LGBTQ community by attending parades, concerts, and more during Rhode Island Pride. Or get tickets for the whole family to see more than 200 films at Providence Children’s Film Festival!

Get a Taste of Providence

Shrimp bucatini in a white bowl from Waterman Grille in Providence RI photo by Instagram user @watermangrille
Photo via @watermangrille

Providence might be a smaller East Coast city, but its food scene continues to grow! Start your morning off at West Side Diner with Hash and Eggs or Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast. Pop into East Side Pockets for a Falafel Wrap or Gyro. Make a dinner reservation at Waterman Grille, where you can try the Mushroom Risotto, Pan-Seared Salmon, or Wood-Grilled Pork Chop. Pick up a hot sandwich like the Havana or a cold sandwich like The Indy from Hudson Street Deli. Get Asian vegan dishes like Kung Pao Eggplant, General Tso’s Soy Protein, or Malaysian Curry Stew at Veggie Fun. Or schedule date night at Cafe Nuovo, where you can get Crab Risotto or Diver Sea Scallops with a bottle of wine.

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Try Some of the Best Donuts in Rhode Island

Donuts topped with fruity pebbles, cream cheese frosting and cherries from PV Donuts photo by Instagram user @pvdonuts
Photo via @pvdonuts

Did you know the Providence area has 23.25 donuts shops per 100,000 people? It’s true—Providence is the top donut city in the U.S.! Get your fix at PVDonuts, Rhode Island’s first speciality donut shop, where you can expect to find unique takes on donuts like the Raspberry Tiramisu or Hot Fudge Cruller. Head over to Knead Doughnuts to order classic donuts like Vanilla Glazed or filled donuts like the Boston Cream. Check out Glaze n Daze Donuts, where you can dig into a Fruity Pebbles donut or a Strawberry Cream Cheese filled donut. Or swing into local chain Honey Dew Donuts, which offers everything from cake donuts and crullers to glazed and frosted donuts!

Have a Night Out on the Town

beer from Trinity Brewhouse in Providence RI photo by Instagram user @pippy_pepin
Photo via @pippy_pepin

Looking to have some fun when the sun goes down? Providence has great nightlife spots that are worth checking out! Enjoy a night full of laughter with standup comedy shows at Comedy Connection. Grab a pint of Guinness and Fish & Chips at Murphy’s, the oldest running pub in Providence. Swing by Trinity Brewhouse for a Kolsch or an IPA and get a stamp in your Rhode Island Brewery Passport. Play classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Dragon’s Lair while sipping on craft beers at Free Play Bar. Go dancing with friends or catch incredible drag shows at LGBTQ hot spot EGO Providence. Or find your way into local speakeasy Justine’s for hand-crafted cocktails in a moody atmosphere.

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