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Big Cities vs. Small Towns in Rhode Island
From 2020 to 2022, it’s estimated that two million people left America’s largest cities and retreated to smaller towns and suburbs instead. And while big cities in Rhode Island like Providence offer great benefits such as a strong job market, many entertainment options, and a lower cost of living compared to other large U.S. cities, some of Rhode Island’s small towns are even more affordable and truly shine as the hidden gems within the state.
Pros of small Rhode Island towns include:
Small Towns in Rhode Island - FAQs
Q: What is the most beautiful town in Rhode Island?
A: Known for its stunning rocky coastline, Jamestown is considered one of the most beautiful towns in Rhode Island. It’s also been called the most peaceful place to live in the U.S.
Q: What is the smallest town in Rhode Island?
A: With a population of around 3,600, Little Compton is one of the smallest towns you can find in Rhode Island.
Q: How many villages are in Rhode Island?
A: There are over 400 villages in Rhode Island.
Q: Is Providence, Rhode Island, a small town?
A: You will not see Providence, Rhode Island’s capital city, featured on our best small towns list, as it has a population of around 190,000 people.
Best Small Towns in Rhode Island
The fun and lively energy in Rhode Island’s small towns and suburbs is hard to deny, and there is truly something each place has to offer for all walks of life! From beautiful beach views to displays of some of the state’s proud history, here are some of the nicest towns in Rhode Island — as well as some suburbs — with populations of no more than 15,000.
Richmond, Rhode Island
(Source: Ingrid Mathews, posted to Rhode Island via Facebook)
1. Richmond, RI
Located just 35 miles south of Providence, the small town of Richmond was first established on August 18, 1747. It was named after Edward Richmond, who served as the state's Attorney General from 1671 to 1680. The town is only 30 minutes away from both T.F. Green International Airport and Westerly State Airport.
The city of Richmond is a great spot for nature lovers (Be sure to check out the Carolina Management Area!). It also hosts The Washington County Fair, which features a variety of entertainment such as carnival rides and local farms/livestock.
2. Chepachet, RI
The small town of Chepachet is great if you’d like to live in a town with a spooky history. There’s a local legend that some of its old buildings are haunted — one of them being the Tavern on Main. This establishment has been considered the most haunted place in the entire state.
Not so much into scary stories? People from all around Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island also love to visit the town's many antique shops, among other businesses.
3. Little Compton, RI
The natural beauty of Little Compton is truly remarkable, and it's one of the cutest towns in Rhode Island you can find. Residents enjoy strolling along the village green, stopping at the nearby Commons Lunch for delicious meals, and heading over to the Art Cafe for coffee and to view some fine art work.
The local Wilbor House is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the history of Little Compton. And if you’d rather spend a day in nature, Little Compton is also surrounded by water, with two great beaches to explore: South Shore Beach and Goosewing Beach. The Sakonnet Lighthouse is another must-see in the area.
Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, Rhode Island
4. Narragansett, RI
The small town of Narragansett is known for its fun beachside living, as it’s one of the best coastal towns in Rhode Island.
One of the most popular beaches in the area is Narragansett Town Beach, and there are also other popular state beaches nearby such as Scarborough North State Beach and Roger W. Wheeler State Beach. After a fun-filled day at the beach, head over to the Coast Guard House for a drink or a meal, which serves a variety of seafood dishes and has a great view of the Bay.
Residents of Narragansett are also quite active, and the Whale Rock and Black Point Trails are great places nearby to take a stroll. (And they’re both under five miles!) The South County Bicycle Path also starts in Narragansett.
5. East Greenwich, RI
East Greenwich is a wealthy community in Kent County known for its spectacular waterfront restaurants, art galleries, shopping, and more. According to Niche, East Greenwich is ranked as the second best place to live in Rhode Island and is also one of the safest towns in Rhode Island.
One of the most popular educational facilities in East Greenwich is the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum, which features a vast collection of military equipment and artifacts. Another facility is the New England Wireless & Steam Museum, which explores the history of steam and radio power.
Main Street in East Greenwich is more than shops and art galleries. In fact, it’s full of local establishments that serve delicious food and drink options. If you're craving a hearty breakfast, you should head over to Jigger's Diner. Lunch or dinner time? Stop at Dante's Kitchen to try their famous chicken and waffles.
6. Jamestown, RI
Jamestown is situated on Conanicut Island, and it’s home to various attractions, such as local farms, restaurants, and art galleries. The area is also known for its state parks: Beavertail State Park, an area of beautiful vistas along the rocky coastline, as well as Fort Wetherill State Park and Fort Getty Park, where residents love to take strolls.
Scituate, Rhode Island
7. Scituate, RI
The area of Scituate is home to a unique history, as it was instrumental in several U.S. wars. Today, the town of Scituate is located in the heart of Rhode Island's rural region and is easily accessible to Providence. It's also home to a good school system in more of a tranquil environment, making it one of the best towns in Rhode Island for commuters to travel quickly to Providence while raising children in a great area.
8. Exeter, RI
Located in Washington County, the small town of Exeter is known for its idyllic countryside and proximity to a variety of outdoor activities. Some of these include fishing and hiking in the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, as well as going kayaking on the Wood River.
Residents have access to some of the best local stores in the county, like Hallene Farm. The town’s school district comes with a rating of A- on Niche. And it’s even been ranked at #11 on Niche’s list for “Best Places to Raise a Family in Rhode Island.”
9. Hopkinton, RI
Located in southwest Rhode Island, the small town of Hopkinton is known for its historical significance. It spans more than 40 square miles and was established in March of 1757. Notable communities in town include the villages of Bradford, Hope Valley, Ashaway, and Rockville.
Located just 40 minutes away from Providence, Hopkinton has many attractions for families, like the Tomaquag Museum and the Yawgoog Scout Reservation. The Hopkinton public school district is also rated highly and placed 14th on Niche’s list for “Places with the Best Public Schools in Rhode Island.”
Charlestown, Rhode Island
10. Charlestown, RI
The town of Charlestown is one of the best beach towns in Rhode Island and known for its beautiful coastline, making it an ideal location for a variety of water activities. The entire coast is made up of East Beach, Blue Shutters Town, and Quonnie Beach. This means that you'll never need to travel far to enjoy the ocean, making Charlestown one of the many great towns in Rhode Island on the water.
On Labor Day, the park hosts the annual Rhythm & Roots Festival. Another event that's commonly associated with the town is the Charlestown Seafood Festival held during the first week of August. It, of course, features seafood, but there’s also music, rides, raffles, and more.
11. Warren, RI
The small town of Warren is situated on the eastern portion of Rhode Island's beautiful East Bay, between the Providence area and the city of Newport. It’s characterized best by its rolling farmland and sandy beaches, and you can easily explore its various attractions by biking on the East Bay Bike Path, which goes from Bristol to the neighboring city of Providence.
If you're interested in learning more about the area's colonial history, the Warren Public Library is a must-visit.
Let PODS Help You Get to Your New Hometown in Rhode Island
When you’ve found yourself a new home in one of Rhode Island's beautiful small towns, it’s time to start thinking about how exactly you'll move there, regardless of whether you’re moving from far away or somewhere close by. With a portable storage container from PODS, you can easily pack and load your belongings on your own schedule. And when you’re ready to move, your container will be picked up by PODS and transported to your new home. The best part? One month of storage is included in every move to give you some extra time, if needed.
Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.
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