U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Covid-19 Information Page
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Rhode Island
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
 
 
Old 07-19-2016, 12:10 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia
259 posts, read 172,684 times
Reputation: 669

Advertisements

My wife and I, originally from Pennsylvania, recently relocated to Tampa after several years near San Francisco. We also had our first and likely only child about six months ago. In addition to being a little closer to family, Tampa offered the prospect of much lower housing costs than California, but we’re not finding the prices low enough to justify the oppressive summers or the culture (or lack thereof) in Florida.

I would love to get back to the cities I grew up around in the Northeast, and despite my wife’s reluctance to endure winters once again, I think she might be close to turning that corner as well. She might be more willing to move north if we were near New York or Boston, but with stratospheric housing prices in both cities, I began to look for a “satellite town” where we could take a train to either or both cities in an hour or two. (Here are the threads I posted for NYC and Boston.)

Both my wife and I are self employed—she as a writer and I as a graphic designer. We’re pulling in a fairly decent income, but budgeting conservatively considering our self-employed status, we’d probably want to keep a home purchase to about $500K or less. Ideally, we’d like to have a single family home or perhaps a townhouse/rowhouse in an established and reasonably safe neighborhood where we could walk or bike to a coffee shop or two, maybe a park, library, or somewhere else when we want to escape the home office for a while. It would also be nice if we could walk or bike to the train. In the other threads, I also asked for a town with a functioning Main Street, some semblance of a creative scene (something I miss from my art school days), and a sense of community.

On the NY and MA boards, In addition to receiving suggestions of various Metro North line towns in the Hudson Valley (Beacon, Peekskill) and various rail suburbs of Boston (Lowell, Beverly), multiple posters on both threads suggested I look at Providence. But this sparked some disagreement: Some said it’s a charming city that’s transformed a great deal; others claimed crime and schools in Providence were too problematic for a young family to consider living there.

Clearly, there’s a very active art community in Providence—the RISD’s reputation precedes itself—and it’s much larger than any of the NY or MA towns that have been suggested, but how does it score on the other counts? If I should look into Providence, do you have any advice on neighborhoods I should either investigate or avoid?
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message

 
Old 07-19-2016, 04:47 AM
 
1,117 posts, read 2,243,793 times
Reputation: 1268
Brian:

Given your constraints, I would definitely consider Providence, but no more than I'd consider Worcester. Job opportunities in RI are very constrained (much more so than Metro-west MA), and housing prices are pretty low. But, Providence is a decrepit mess once you leave the confines of the East Side and Downtown. Even once nice areas, like Mt. Pleasant, haven't benefited from the kind of redevelopment you routinely see in places like Dorchester or Roxbury in Boston.

Other areas, like Elmwood, South Providence, Olneyville, et. al., are in serious decline (and have been pretty much unabated for decades). You can consider the West End or Federal Hill, but they're sketchy too.

I wish I had better news for you, but Providence is a definite mixed bag (the endless hipster, foodie, etc. cheerleading notwithstanding). Providence public schools are pretty typical for an medium or large sized city, with all that that implies (low test scores, etc.) Worcester public schools, OTOH, are much better - particularly at the high school level. Worcester Tech is considered a model school of its kind nationally. So, I guess your willingness to deal with urban public school issues will dictate your willingness to consider PVD for your child.

I hope this helps. Providence is a very interesting city, rich in history. But, it isn't "Portland East" (as some would have us believe). Having grown up there, I'm willing to give PVD much more slack than I would give other places of its kind (Springfield and Hartford come to mind). But, I don't think it's useful to someone like you to put on the rose-colored glasses either.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 05:18 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
7,523 posts, read 11,993,694 times
Reputation: 7546
So many people want the type of lifestyle you describe and it is not going to come cheaply! Having established that, I would certainly investigate the East Side of Providence if I were you. I live here happily taking advantage of the local convenience, the walkable neighborhood, the libraries, restaurants, and all the arts events the city offers. Check RILiving.com. Lower prices (even some in the 200s on the East Side usually designate less desirable areas- the East Side is made up of multiple neighborhoods) Your budget is somewhat on the cusp of the better properties on the East side but there are some nice houses in the upper 400s.

Half the houses on my block in the Blackstone neighborhood have babies and young children. Some go to private schools, some to the public.

The city continues to improve with developments to the India Pt park area, the downtown river walk, a newly reopened Newport ferry service, and so on. Like all urban areas, it has its downsides with crime, mostly thefts. Our property taxes are not cheap by any measure.

There are alternatives, such as the Oak Hill section of Pawtucket, the Elmhurst section of Providence, but none offer quite the same level of amenities as the East Side since it is anchored by Brown and RISD. The presence of schools tends to encourage walkable districts and the arts. Several other colleges & universities have branches downtown.

The poster who mentioned Worcester- it's an alternative but I don't see it as a distinctly better alternative to Providence at all and I have been there a number of times and gone through the neighborhoods. The downtown area there is much worse than Providence.

There are, of course, other cities in New England that might suit, and there are plenty of threads in other forums.....
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 05:37 AM
 
Location: Earth, a nice neighborhood in the Milky Way
2,593 posts, read 1,807,512 times
Reputation: 1138
I think Providence should be on your list and I would put it above Worcester. Providence has a vibrant art scene and if you have a $500k budget you'll have no problem finding housing in a suitable and reasonably safe neighborhood where you can drop by a coffee shop by bike or car. The train to Boston is fairly convenient and I have taken it to NYC multiple times as well. Employment can be an issue for some, but it sounds like you have that covered.

I disagree with the earlier poster who said that Federal Hill and West End are too sketchy--these came to mind when I read your post. I would also say that I see several pockets in Elmwood and Olneyville where newcomers are purchasing and rehabbing, increasing the size of the pockets where others have already rehabbed their own piece of glorious old architecture. There are lots of artists in each of these neighborhoods. Upper and Lower South Providence haven't yet seen the same level of investment.

You say young family, and invariably someone is going to bring up the schools as a negative to Providence. I don't have kids so I don't have first hand experience. I often hear that the schools are deficient, but I do know people with kids who say the pessimism is overblown.

It's always best to explore the neighborhoods first hand.

Are we Portland East? Maybe not, but I can say that there are many things about Providence that remind me of Portland.

Last edited by ormari; 07-19-2016 at 05:50 AM.. Reason: dropped verb
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 08:19 AM
 
Location: Beautiful Rhode Island
7,523 posts, read 11,993,694 times
Reputation: 7546
It is true that if someone wants a rehab job house in a sketchy/up'ncoming? neighborhood they can find it in this area. There are even financial subsidies being offered to do these things such as SWAP. I was just admiring an enormous Victorian on Broadway in Providence that is crying out for rehab. However, I'm no longer at a time of life where I would consider it. Think I'll stick to the 02906 area code. Hopefully more enterprising people will go into sketchy areas like Olneyville and do these things.

But, having young kids in school is another consideration entirely. That's why a lot just go to Barrington and East Greenwich- cleaner and more suburban- not especially hip.

Last edited by Hollytree; 07-19-2016 at 08:28 AM..
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia
259 posts, read 172,684 times
Reputation: 669
rranger -

Thanks for the insights. I’ll check out the East Side. A mixed bag is OK as long as we can at least find a neighborhood where we’ll be safe and contented living on a daily basis...and also that we generally feel positive with the community as a whole, even if it has its shortcomings and less desirable areas. We understand we won’t be getting a utopia.

Worcester had been suggested a few times on the Boston thread, so I’ll check that out as well.


Hollytree -

Thanks for the added information. It looks like rranger was on target in recommending the East Side, and I’ll pay attention to note the variable quality of those neighborhoods within it. My description of the ideal scenario—walking down the block to get a coffee—would be quite nice but isn’t absolutely essential, so I’ll consider the other areas you mentioned, too.


ormari -

Thanks for the additional vote for Providence; I’m relieved I haven’t gotten any “don’t come here” posts yet.

Rehabbing an old property has a certain appeal to me, particularly if that means some of my neighbors are also more creative or entrepreneurial types who are adventuresome yet have enough respect for history that they wanted to preserve a small piece of it. But that said, I wouldn’t consider doing that if the neighborhood as a whole was still more blighted than not, crime ridden, etc.

As far as schools are concerned, my wife and I consider ourselves as primarily responsible for our daughter’s education and development, and the school is an addition to environment of education that we create ourselves. In other words, I’d rather our daughter attend acceptable schools and have two very involved parents rather than go to the best-scoring schools and have uninvolved parents. Even so, I wouldn’t want her to go to schools that were unsafe or dysfunctional. We’d have to consider the trade off between the cost of the property and what we’d have to spend for tuition at a private school—and also where that school is and how taking our daughter there fits into all of our lives.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 11:05 AM
 
17,462 posts, read 9,758,078 times
Reputation: 31416
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollytree View Post
But, having young kids in school is another consideration entirely. That's why a lot just go to Barrington and East Greenwich- cleaner and more suburban- not especially hip.
This is exactly what I was going to write. Once they get to age 6, you kind of have to eject to the short list of towns with the good school systems unless you're such high income that you can pay for private schools.

The advantage is that housing in the top school system towns in Rhode Island is a heck of a lot more affordable than metro-Boston or metro-NYC. You also don't have anything like the traffic/congestion issues of metro-Boston and metro-NYC. Outside of rush hour, Barrington to Providence is 15 to 20 minutes. It's a half hour bus ride. You can go sailing after work.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Earth, a nice neighborhood in the Milky Way
2,593 posts, read 1,807,512 times
Reputation: 1138
Quote:
Originally Posted by briantroutman View Post
Rehabbing an old property has a certain appeal to me, particularly if that means some of my neighbors are also more creative or entrepreneurial types who are adventuresome yet have enough respect for history that they wanted to preserve a small piece of it. But that said, I wouldn’t consider doing that if the neighborhood as a whole was still more blighted than not, crime ridden, etc.

As far as schools are concerned, my wife and I consider ourselves as primarily responsible for our daughter’s education and development, and the school is an addition to environment of education that we create ourselves. In other words, I’d rather our daughter attend acceptable schools and have two very involved parents rather than go to the best-scoring schools and have uninvolved parents. Even so, I wouldn’t want her to go to schools that were unsafe or dysfunctional. We’d have to consider the trade off between the cost of the property and what we’d have to spend for tuition at a private school—and also where that school is and how taking our daughter there fits into all of our lives.
The "west side" has seen enough reinvestment that it is well beyond the tipping point. There are a lot of young, creative people concentrated in the area referred to as West Broadway/Armory District, where you will find a vibrant restaurant scene, bakeries, a bike shop, and urban farm store, a small cooperative grocery with another moving in soon, etc.

As an aside, while there are still a few extremely large Victorians on Broadway that are in need of renovation, those are really more than an individual would take on… the two that come to mind are "Barnaby's Castle", which is in fact undergoing renovations on the interior, and The Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi aka "The Wedding Cake house", which is in limbo. But the area is hot enough that it is more question of when than if these jewels are restored to their former glory.

Elmwood has lots of investment but doesn't have the same amenities--notably higher quality restaurants/bakeries/bars--that Armory/West Broadway has. But in Elmwood you can still bike for coffee, go to the stunning-but-in-need-of-love Knight Memorial Library, enjoy the park at nearby Roger Williams Park (a stunning piece of landscape architecture) which the Rhode Island Foundation is helping to rehab at long last, etc.

Some still call Olneyville sketchy, but there is plenty of investment going on in Olneyville.

I love your responsible, enlightened attitude about your daughter's education and development! More than anything else, parental involvement is the key to a child's success. I wish you luck no matter where you land.

The East Side is nice--I used to live there--but there is more to the city than the East Side.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 12:00 PM
 
9,982 posts, read 7,256,398 times
Reputation: 5624
East Side of Providence, or Newport, maybe Wickford, or East Greenwich.
They have walkable Main street areas.
Providence and Newport your most enigmatic.
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
 
Old 07-19-2016, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Earth, a nice neighborhood in the Milky Way
2,593 posts, read 1,807,512 times
Reputation: 1138
Another note: to my knowledge, most of the artists I know of on the East Side are either RISD students or, in limited numbers, professors. But most working artists, including profs, are in the neighborhoods I suggested (West Broadway/Armory/Elmwood and Olneyville), downtown, or in various spots in Pawtucket. It is worth mentioning that there does seem to be an arts scene in Warren, RI, which is on the East Bay and really is a charming little old town, and worth a look if you are inclined to look outside the city. I prefer the city, but Warren has a lot going for it.

And on the crime front, in the grand scheme of cities across the US, almost nowhere in Providence is "crime ridden". We are fortunate/blessed(?) that we don't have the same crime problems that other places have. That is not to say that there is not crime, because there most certainly is. But in general Rhode Island isn't scary when it comes to crime; perhaps because of this, parts of Providence are interepreted as 'sketchy' by locals when an outside observer knows otherwise. We continue to improve on the crime front, as well we should, but there are far worse places than the worst of Providence.

Last edited by ormari; 07-19-2016 at 03:03 PM..
Rate this post positively Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


 
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Rhode Island
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2020, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top