What's it like to live in Providence, RI?

Profile written by local expert:

Liz Lee

Providence is a culturally diverse metro area home to young professionals and artists, characterized by a quaint New England vibe. Providence has a budding economy fueled by the health care, education, tourism and financial sectors. Over the past several decades, Providence has undergone a dramatic facelift following a period of industrial decline. Providence's renaissance is now evident throughout the metro area, from the carefully restored urban landscape of downtown, to the hip coffee shops and thriving community gardens of the trendy West End.

In more recent years, this renaissance has helped foster an exceptional culinary scene, numerous arts venues and thoughtfully planned urban spaces throughout the city center. Factor in the presence of top-notch institutions like Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, and a proximity to some of New England's most beautiful beaches, and you'll see what has made Providence an appealing place to live.

Close-knit communities in the metro area's various neighborhoods – whether it's the artsy 20- and 30-somethings of the West Side, the families of the East Side or the students on College Hill – are just one of many reasons folks find it easy to call Providence home.


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Providence, Rhode Island is ranked:

#91 in Best Places to Live

#107 in Best Places to Retire

#5 in Safest Places to Live




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Providence, RI Quick Stats

  • 1,613,154

    Metro Population

  • $52,220

    Average Annual Salary

  • 60.6° / 42.5°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 40.2

    Median Age

  • $228,804

    Median Home Price

  • 47.2 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.1%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $925

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 25.8 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Providence, RI?

The metro area's residents enjoy close proximity to many cultural attractions, from exhibits at the RISD Museum, lectures hosted by Brown University, meals at the celebrated restaurants of Federal Hill and performances at the historic Columbus Theatre.

Flea markets, food festivals and outdoor concerts take place along the Providence River during the summer months, outdoor and indoor farmers markets happen all year and public libraries and nonprofits regularly host events like artist talks and film screenings.

There is also no shortage of bars and clubs to keep the night owls occupied in the evenings.   

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Providence, RI

What's the cost of living in Providence, RI?

The cost of living in Providence is slightly higher than the national average. Although the median home sale price is lower than what you'll find in other major East Coast metro areas like Boston, it has been climbing for a few years. 

Value Index

Index Score: 5.7 /10

How we calculate this.

Providence offer a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2016



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Providence, RI.

What's the weather like in Providence, RI?

Providence is subject to the warm, sunny summers and cold, snowy winters typical of any New England town. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

4.2 in


5.0 in


3.6 in


4.5 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Providence, RI?

Providence is very car-centric, even though most parts of the metro area are easily accessible by bus services offered by the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, or RIPTA.

The city is relatively small, however, which makes walking an easy alternative for many. Meanwhile, the last decade has spurred the desire to improve Providence's bike-friendliness, though there's still room for improvement. 

Train and bus service to nearby metro areas like Boston and New York City is available via Amtrak and Greyhound. Providence is serviced by the Green Airport, which accommodates a number of national and international airlines, including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Condor Airlines. For more options, Boston's Logan International Airport is about an hour away by car.

Commuting in Providence, RI

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

25.8 minutes

0.6 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Providence, RI?

A high concentration of colleges and universities lends a young and energetic atmosphere to the Providence area. It's not a bad place to be single either, as more than half of the population is not married.

While Providence is a very family-friendly community in many ways (a fantastic children's museum, plenty of urban green space and public parks, kid-friendly events, etc.), rising housing costs can create a financial barrier for those wishing to raise children.

Providence is quite ethnically diverse and has an active LGBT community as well. In 2002, it became the first state capital to elect an openly gay mayor. When it comes to religion, Rhode Island is a majority Catholic state and Providence follows suit. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Providence as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.