Rhode Island is home to a huge amount of attractions. It's got miles and miles of beautiful beaches, a legendary food and music scene, cultural attractions galore, and plenty of things to do, see, and experience. But nowhere is perfect, and the Ocean State is very far from that.
While it's got plenty of great towns and cities to explore, it's also got plenty that are best avoided. In its worst areas, unemployment, crime, and poverty are real concerns. If you want to avoid the worst and stick to the best, don't miss our round-up of the 20 worst places to live in Rhode Island.
Tiverton is a small city of 7,804 people. It's not the worst place to live in Rhode Island by any stretch, but it's a long way from the best. The unemployment rate of 6.4% is the 11th worst in the state, while the median home value of $258,800 is the 15th lowest in the state.
The crime isn't as bad here as it is in some of the state's bigger cities, but it still ranks high enough to be a concern.
19. Valley Falls
In fairness, there are worst places to live in Rhode Island than Valley Falls. Crime isn't appalling, and in general, it scores OK on things like unemployment and poverty. So, why is it deserving of a place on our list?
First of all, there's the median home value. Considering that home value usually indicates desirability, Valley Falls' median of $239,000 speaks volumes about just how little people want to live here.
Secondly, the median income of $83,090 is, while decent enough compared to the national average, still the 18th worst in the state. Finally, there's really not a lot to do here. If you want a well-paid job and things to do on your weekends, you might want to avoid Valley Falls.
Pawtucket is a decently sized town of around 71,844 people. Despite its size, there's really not a lot to do here: amenities are lacking and the range of recreational opportunities on offer is pretty dismal.
With a lack of anything else to do, it's perhaps not too surprising that a growing element of the city is turning to crime. Live here, and your chance of being the victim of a property crime is 1 in 43.8. The violent crime rate is even more concerning: according to FBI data, the city averages 293 violent crimes over the course of a year, which includes 57 rapes and 47 robberies.
The picture doesn't get any prettier: the unemployment rate of 7.1% is one of the highest in the state and the schools are some of the worst-funded. If all that wasn't bad enough, it's got some of the worst weather in Rhode Island.
Harrisville is a tiny town of just 1460 people. But forget all your pre-conceptions about small-town charm. Of all the things Harrisville is, charming it isn't. Kicking off its troubling statistics is a median home value of just $180,300, a sure sign of just how lacking in desirability the town is.
The crime rate and unemployment rates are equally concerning. Considering it's one of the least densely populated areas in the state, it probably won't surprise you to learn there's not much to do here except hanging around your sofa hoping for better things.
Harmony... sound's a nice place, right? But nice it most certainly isn't. Not only does it have one of the longest commute rates in Rhode Island, but it's also got one of the worst unemployment rates, with a massive 7.6% of the population currently out of work.
Thanks to the lack of jobs and slow job growth, the poverty rate is becoming an increasing concern. Unsurprisingly, 1 in 5 homes in Harmony are vacant, attesting to just how little people want to live here.
15. North Smithfield
North Smithfield isn't the kind of place you'd recommend to your friends. For a start, it's got a crime rate that's earned it a place on Only In Your State's 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Rhode Island For 2020.
Live here, and you have a 1 in 959 chance of being the victim of a violent crime. Amenities are short on the ground, as are well-paid jobs. Unsurprisingly, its real estate prices are 34% lower than the Rhode Island average.
If you've never heard of Pascoag, you're not the only one. Not only is this little city of 4,594 set, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere, it also has no noteworthy features... or none that the city wants you to know about, anyway.
Not only is the very little to do here (and very little within driving distance), there's also a worrying amount of crime. Unemployment is sky-high at 6.6%, while the lack of job growth in the area is becoming an increasingly pressing problem.
The state of the city's schools is just as depressing as everything else: although Rhode Island has a good record when it comes to school funding, Pascoag seems to have missed the memo. Unsurprisingly, the median home value of $221,700 is one of the lowest in Rhode Island.
As much as you can trust day to follow night, you can trust low median home values to accompany low desirability. If you want to see how that plays out in practice, look no further than Woonsocket.
The city's median home value of just $173,300 is well below the average for both the US and Rhode Island. The unemployment rate of 7.9% is the 4th highest in the state, while the crime rate is equally high (so high, in fact, that it's 50% higher than the state average).
In contrast, the median income is much lower than average. The one positive thing about the city is that the amenities are plentiful... although considering how little income most of the residents are drawing, you have to wonder who's using them.
Our next addition might come as a bit of a surprise to some people. As home to the legendary Newport Jazz Festival and some of the state's most beautiful beaches, the seaside resort of Newport has long been a popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, all of those tourists have turned the city into a hotspot for crime. Simply put, Newport is the place criminals go to make their livings.
The violent crime rate of 276 crimes per 100 thousand residents is shocking; the property crime rate of 2,184 per 100 thousand is equally terrible. On the plus side, the tourist trade gives the economy a nice little seasonal boost each year.
Warren is a city that needs a lot of love. Crime is high, the unemployment rate is no one's idea of reasonable, and poverty is becoming an increasing problem. It may have a great heritage and some charming historical sights, but for modern-day living, it's not the best.
If you value your safety, you might want to give Cranston a miss. The city, which boasts a healthy population of 81,471, ranks as the 8th most dangerous place in the state, with a violent crime rate that equates to 155/100k people and a property crime rate that equates to 1,362/100k people. According to Area Vibes, only 33% of the city's residents feel safe at night, which is probably understandable.
Lincoln is a suburb of Providence with just a little under 22,000 people. Located just a short drive from both Boston and the state capital, it's considered a great place for commuters. It's not, however, a great place for people who prioritize their safety. With a violent crime rate of 114 crimes per 100 thousand and a property crime rate of 1735 per 100 thousand, it's one of the most dangerous places in Rhode Island.
8. Narragansett Pier
Narragansett Pier has a lot going for it. With its gorgeous seaside location, it's a popular destination for tourists. So, what's so bad about it that it deserves a shout-out on our list? For a start, the poverty rate, which at 21.7% is one of the highest in the state. The huge discrepancy between income levels and housing prices is also worthy of derision: while most households are only earning the modest annual income of $58,875, the median home value is a massive $542,200.
7. West Warwick
West Warwick is one of the many suburbs that circle Providence. Unfortunately, some of the problems of RI's biggest city seem to have made their way over. The property crime rate isn't too terrible (last year, there were just 238 reported thefts) but the violent crime rate is a cause for concern. Last year, it experienced 54 reported murders, rapes, or aggravated assaults. Considering the city has only 28,847 residents, that's a huge number... and more than enough reason to steer clear.
With 80,749 residents to its name, Warwick has a decent enough sized population. It's just a pity that's the only decent thing about the city. Crime is rife (the violent crime rate stands at 94 crimes per 100 thousand residents; property crime stands at 1,534 crimes per 100 thousand), neighborhoods have a downbeat, run-down vibe, the schools are some of the worst-performing in the state, and the job market isn't what anyone would describe as buoyant. On the plus side, the median income of $66, 602 isn't too shabby.
Road Snacks ranks Harrisville as one of the worst small towns in Rhode Island. Thanks to its tiny median income of $29,663, its appallingly high poverty rate of 35.3%, and its depressingly low median home value of $180,300, so do we.
Chepachet is small. With just 1530 residents to its name, it ranks as one of the smallest cities on our list. But size is no obstacle to problems. And make no mistake, Chepachet is a city with some big problems. Despite its tiny population, crime is rife. Residents have a 1 in 201 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, and a 1 in 33.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime.
For a city as small as this, those kinds of numbers are extraordinary. The bad news doesn't end there. Unemployment stands at a massive 4.1%, while a depressingly high number of people live below the poverty rate. All in all, it's not the kind of place you want to visit, let alone live.
Home Snacks doesn't think a lot of Bradford. With a poverty rate of 15.8%, an unemployment rate of 17.6%, a tiny median home value of $227,400, and an equally low median income of $72,428, it's easy to see why.
2. Central Falls
Central Falls doesn't have the biggest of populations (it was 19,423, by the last count), and neither does it have a lot of space. Its residents are packed into an area of less than 1.3 square miles, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the states.
If there's one thing that accompanies densely populated areas more than anything else, it's trouble. And Central Falls certainly has that. 24/7 Wall Street named it the worst city to live in Rhode Island in 2019. Little wonder.
The violent crime rate is through the roof, with 422 reported crimes per 100 thousand residents. The property crime rate of 1,487 crimes per 100 thousand doesn't exactly inspire confidence either.
If all that wasn't bad enough, its economy is in dire straights (although considering the city filed for bankruptcy back in 2011, that's not really surprising). As a sign of just how bad things have got into the city, the entire teaching staff at the city's high school was fired in 2020... less than ten years after its mayor was reported to be indulging in corruption and fraud.
With 179,494 residents, Rhode Island's capital, Providence, is the state's biggest city. But while it's got all the amenities, shops, restaurants, and recreational opportunities you could wish for, it's also got a heap of troubles.
For a start, congestion is a huge problem - so bad, in fact, that CBS News has ranked it as the 33rd worst traffic city in the entire US. Unemployment is also a massive concern - with a rate of 7.8%, it's one of the worst in the state.
The average household income of $45,610 is significantly below the national average, while the median home value of $200,300 is one of the lowest in the state. In terms of crime, the picture is no prettier.
Last year, the city reported 892 violent crimes, 106 of which were rapes and 13 of which were murders. The property crime rate of 3,011/100k people is equally depressing.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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