11 Pros and Cons of Living in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is home to natural beauty and epic utility bills, and these are only some of the pros and cons of living in the smallest state.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Pat Roache
Hundreds of miles of amazing coastline, a diverse population, and proximity to some of the nation’s best cities are big pluses for Rhode Island. But on the other hand—winter blizzards, high population density, and bad driving conditions mean points off for the Ocean State.
Thinking about moving to Rhode Island? There’s a lot to love in the nation’s littlest state! But just like anywhere, there are pros and cons to living in Rhode Island, so we’ve compiled a list of things you might want to take into account before you call the realtor. Don’t forget to consider certain costs like
home insurance
before you make your decision!
MORE: Homeowners insurance in Rhode Island

Pro: Abundant natural beauty and gorgeous beaches

Most folks might not think of beautiful beaches when they think of Rhode Island, but denizens of Rhode Island know better. Bordered on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean, Rhode Island offers an impressive variety of truly gorgeous beaches. Inlets, bays, and coves abound, not to mention several lovely small islands off the coast. 
The natural landscape in Rhode Island is primarily lush rolling hills, which are verdant in the summer and bright with color in the spring and fall months. U-pick farms offer everything from berries to pumpkins to tulips and provide a nice slice of rural life. 
As beautiful as it is, there’s one thing the landscape lacks—mountains. So if you’re a skiing fanatic or just like to have mountains to look at, living in Rhode Island might be less than ideal for you. Otherwise, there’s a world of natural wonders waiting for you in the Ocean State.
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Con: A little personal space, please?

Rhode Island is quite small—everyone knows that. What most newbies don’t know is that there are quite a lot of people who call Little Rhody home. This means you’ll find Rhode Island to be quite densely populated, no matter where you go. 
If you’re the type who likes a quiet, meditative hike in solitude, then this could be a little challenging. Rhode Island might also grate on you a bit if you prioritize privacy and anonymity, as some residents report that you start to see people you know everywhere you go—and everyone always seems to know everyone’s business. 
If you’re the personable small-town type, you might relish this. But if you tend more towards a Sartre-esque “hell is other people” mindset, Rhode Island might not be the state for you. 

Pro: Low crime rate

But here’s the good news: for a state with a relatively dense population, most everyone seems to be behaving themselves. Rhode Island has one of the lower crime rates in the nation. Whether or not this is connected to the fact that everyone allegedly knows each other is a matter for the sociologists, but it makes for a nice safe place to call home. 
Like most states, larger cities like
Providence
and
Warwick
tend to have the highest crime rates in the state, but even these are still below the national averages. 

Cons: Don’t look at your utility bill

Rhode Island residents have some of the highest utility bills in the US, and they continue to increase. The average rate for electricity in Rhode Island is about $0.22 per kilowatt hour. The average US cost is about $0.16 per kilowatt hour, with some lucky states going as low as $0.12 per kilowatt hour. Even if you don’t use your A/C in the summertime, you’ll still be looking at a hefty bill when the weather’s cold. 
Energy companies point to factors like “market demand” or the ongoing war in Ukraine to justify expensive rates, but a concrete reason is hard to come by. In the fall of 2022, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission approved a whopping 47% increase in residential electricity bills. Needless to say, Rhode Islanders were less than thrilled. 

Pro: History comes alive!

As one of the original thirteen colonies, Rhode Island traces its roots to the beginning of American history. Rhode Island was the first state to declare independence from the British—a few months before the Declaration of Independence was officially penned. 
Another fun fact: Rhode Island was one of only two states to reject the 18th Amendment for prohibition. It wasn’t enough to stop the passage of the amendment, but we’ll still raise a glass to the feisty spirit of Rhode Islanders of old. 
Speaking of Rhode Islanders of old—take a trip to
Newport
to visit the gilded summer “cottages” of some of the most preeminent families of the day. These opulent mansions were all the rage during the late 1800s with the Breakers (built by the Vanderbilts)being the most famous of them all.

Con: Traffic is intense

Traffic in Rhode Island is ranked as some of the nation's worst. Not only is there a lot of congestion, but the roads in Rhode Island are ranked among the nation’s worst as well. A recent study cited 41% of Rhode Island’s roads as being in poor condition, with abundant potholes and cracked pavement among the most frequent complaints. 
This is a bit subjective, but many sources also attest that Rhode Island drivers leave much to be desired when it comes to both skills and demeanor. This can mean bad news when you go to update your
car insurance
.
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Pro: Diverse and welcoming

Rhode Island may be small, but it contains a very diverse and open population. A recent study ranked Providence as one of the
top 20 most ethnically diverse cities in the US
, with an abundance of languages and cultures represented. Traditions and cuisines of a wide variety can be found here, and lively festivals of all walks of life are a frequent occurrence in the warmer months.
Rhode Island is also considered to be a safe and welcoming place for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013, and same-sex couples can adopt children with no issues. Providence in particular is known for having a strong LGBTQ-friendly vibe. Love is love in Rhode Island!  

Con: Winters can get quite cold

Rhode Island winters can be harsh, particularly if you’re not used to the cold. The state sees about 35 inches of snow a year, which is higher than the national average. 
January is statistically the coldest month, with lows in the 20s. Ever heard of a nor-easter? These Rhode Island storms can bring high winds, lots of precipitation, and dangerous blizzard conditions in the winter months—so make sure you brush up on how to
drive in the snow
!

Pro: Proximity to New England

While there are plenty of things to see and do in Rhode Island, there may not be something for everyone. But the good news is, some of the liveliest cities in the US are not too far off
Boston
is less than an hour away, and
New York City
is a three-hour train trip. You could spend a long weekend playing in the Big Apple, and then leave the hustle and bustle behind to come home to your cozy Rhode Island home. 

Con: Taxes, taxes, everywhere

For living in such a small state, residents of Rhode Island face one of the largest tax burdens in the US. The precise ranking range depends on the source, but the Ocean State always makes the top ten.  
While sales taxes and income taxes are fairly moderate, taxes in other categories more than make up the difference. Property taxes are high in Rhode Island, and the state levies high “sin taxes” against things like alcohol and cigarettes. Social Security benefits can be taxed as well if they are above a certain threshold, and many consider Rhode Island to be less-than-senior-friendly when it comes to tax structures.
MORE: Rhode Island gas tax

Pro: Get some of that fancy book learning!

Rhode Island residents take pride in their public schools and consider them to be among the nation’s best. 
Several prestigious institutes of higher learning can also be found in Rhode Island, such as Brown University and the University of Rhode Island. Founded in 1877, Rhode Island School of Design attracts some of the best artistic talents in the nation and boasts alumni like filmmaker Gus Van Sant and artist Shepard Fairey. 

Is Rhode Island a good state to live in?

Yes, Rhode Island is a good state to live in—but it might not be for everyone! A lot of people comment that you’ll either love it or hate it, but that’s really up to you.
Rhode Island is a fabulous place to call home if you like miles of stunning beaches, a low crime rate, and an independent yet accepting vibe. But if you can’t tolerate harsh winters, high utility bills, or you just won’t stop hurling pickle juice at trolleys, then Rhode Island may not be a good fit. 
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FAQs

At just around 1,000 square miles, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US. For a sense of scale, about 220 Rhode Islands could fit in Texas. You can drive across the entire state in an hour (and still have time for a coffee and a pit stop), and an experienced hiker could trek across it in about 3 to 5 days.
Winter in Rhode Island is generally milder than in some other New England States, but that’s not saying much. Be prepared for plenty of snow and average winter temps below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
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