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Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island; and what the state lacks in size, it makes up for in affordable places to live.
The trick, however, is to know how to navigate this New England state's above average cost of living. This is why HomeSnacks set out to determine the top ten most affordable places in Rhode Island for 2020. How did we determine the most affordable places in Rhode Island? We took a look at the US Census and cost of living data for the state. We were especially interested in home and rental prices in places with more than 1,000 residents.
We discovered that whether it's hip millennial cities like Cranston, family oriented cities like Westerly, or great places to retire to like Woonsocket, Rhode Island has plenty of affordable places to live for every stage of life and every budget. And that's a good thing, because the less you spend on your bills, the more you'll have to spend on the fun things to do and see in the Ocean State. Like, a beach vacation in Newport or scoring tickets to the Rhythm and Blues Festival in Charleston.
So want to know where to find the most affordable place in Rhode Island? Grab a plate of Middletown stuffies, find a sunny spot on Easton's Beach, and read on.
If you ask any Rhode Islander, they will say, hands down, that their city is the best. But if you're the good people in our most affordable place in Rhode Island for 2020, you know you live in Rhode Island's best of the best.
So, what's the cheapest place to live in Little Rhody where you can live like a Boston Bruin on a Providence Bruin's budget? That would be Pascoag.
So, if you care about home values and affordability, take a look at the list below; and if you don't see your favorite there, head to the bottom.
And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Rhode Island and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Rhode Island For 2020
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.7x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 85.2x (4th cheapest)
More On Pascoag: Real Estate
We kick off our list of most affordable places to live in Rhode Island with Pascoag, a charming little village in the northwestern part of the state. Pascoag has the eighth least expensive homes on this list, with a median price tag of $217,300. More importantly, thanks to a high median income of $79,745/year, folks in Pascoag pay the fourth smallest percentage of their salaries on homes statewide. On top of that, Pascoag has the fourth best rent to income ratio in Rhode Island.
If you're looking for a cheap day out in Pascoag, a picnic at White Mill Park is always a good idea. Just be sure to pick up all the goodies you'll need at the Burrillville Farmer's Market before you go.
The median household income in Pascoag comes in at $79,745 and the median home value is $217,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.8%.
You'd have a hard time believing that you're living in one of the most expensive states in America if you call Valley Falls home. That's because homes in Valley Falls are the ninth least expensive statewide, with a median price of $224,000. And the fact that residents of Valley Falls pay the second smallest portion of their income on rent statewide. That's with a median rent of $839/month and a median income of $76,004/year.
Valley Falls is located just north of Pawtucket, on the Massachusetts border.
The median household income in Valley Falls comes in at $76,004 and the median home value is $224,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.0%.
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.3x (8th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 87.2x (3rd cheapest)
More On Chepachet: Real Estate
We'll take a short drive west to another Glocester village to arrive at our fifth most affordable place in Rhode Island, Chepachet. Chepachet makes the cut thanks to having the lowest median rent on this list at $818/month; that's much less than half the average rent in Rhode Island.
With all that extra cash, you can splurge to your heart's content at The Town Trader, or one of the four other antique shops in Chepachet. If your love of antiques leads you to settle down in Chepachet for good, you can snag a home for about $232,800.
The median household income in Chepachet comes in at $71,359 and the median home value is $232,800 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.6%.
You may wonder why we included Cumberland Hill as the sixth cheapest place to live in Rhode Island. After all, Cumberland Hill does have the most expensive homes you'll see on this list, with a median price of $251,300. But when you consider that Cumberland Hill is the richest place in Rhode Island, everything falls into place. Because with a median income of $88,199, Cumberland Hill has the fifth best home price to income ratio in the state. And with an unemployment rate under 1%, you better believe nobody's getting left out of the party here.
What's more, Cumberland Hill is an absolute godsend for renters; with a median rent of $917, residents pay the smallest portion of their income on rent statewide. As a savings bonus, living in Cumberland Hill will give you the opportunity to use the wonderfully-maintained Blackstone River Bikeway, thus cutting down on your travel costs.
The median household income in Cumberland Hill comes in at $88,199 and the median home value is $251,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 0.4%.
We turn now to Warwick, the seventh most affordable place to call home in Little Rhody. Homesnacks has already given Warwick a 9/10 on our overall SnackAbility scale and named it one of the best places to live in Rhode Island, thanks to its safe streets, good schools, and rock-solid economy. Getting all that for some of the lowest prices statewide? Yes, please! While Warwick is the least economical place to rent on this list, with a median rent of $1,132, the city more than makes up for it by having the sixth cheapest homes in the state. You can grab a home in Warwick for about $213,300, which combined with a median income of $70,490 gives the city the seventh best home price to income ratio in Rhode Island. There are too many things to do in Warwick to report here, but a top choice for versatility would be Goddard Memorial State Park; a beach, a golf course, BBQ grills, and trails for runners, cyclists, and horseback riders alike all make this park a destination you're sure to come back to over and over.
The median household income in Warwick comes in at $70,490 and the median home value is $213,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.2%.
Rank Last Year: 8 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.3x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 69.8x (8th cheapest)
More On Bradford: Real Estate
Bradford earns the title of eighth least expensive place in Rhode Island thanks to strong economic numbers across the board. While neither the cost of homes nor rent in Bradford is in the top ten cheapest statewide, a median income of $70,748 keeps the relative cost of housing down. For both renters and buyers, Bradford IS in the top ten for housing to income ratios. In any case, once you start kayaking down the Pawcatuck River, we're pretty sure financial concerns are going to be far from your mind.
The median household income in Bradford comes in at $70,748 and the median home value is $232,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 17.8%.
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.7x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.3x (11th cheapest)
More On Hope Valley: Real Estate
The principal commercial center of Hopkinton, Hope Valley ranks as the ninth cheapest place in Rhode Island. Home to Festival Farm, a year-round operation complete with plants, fresh food and pony rides, Hope Valley is your quintessential charming Rhode Island village. Fair warning: Hope Valley has the second most expensive homes ($248,200) and most expensive rent ($1,442) on this list, so the village doesn't seem so cheap at first glance. However, Hope Valley has a high median income of $91,250, so residents don't really notice the higher prices. In fact, folks in Hope Valley spend the third smallest proportion of their income on housing statewide.
The median household income in Hope Valley comes in at $91,250 and the median home value is $248,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.7%.
We turn from the very small to the second biggest city in Rhode Island, Cranston, to wrap up our list of most affordable places to live in the Ocean State. Cranston is home to one of the best kept-secrets in New England tourism, Pawtuxet Village, an enchanting area for harbor views, grand old homes, restaurants, and Mom-and-Pop shops. Cranston has the tenth lowest home prices in Rhode Island, at a median cost of $228,300. If you're not ready to settle down just yet, though, the median rent in Cranston is $1,021. When considered with Cranston's median income of $66,283, Cranston is the tenth most affordable place for renters in Rhode Island.
The median household income in Cranston comes in at $66,283 and the median home value is $228,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.4%.
Tiverton is a town in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 15,780 at the 2010 census.
The median household income in Tiverton comes in at $68,850 and the median home value is $247,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 6.9%.
East Providence is a city in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 47,037 at the 2010 census, making it the fifth largest city in the state.
The median household income in East Providence comes in at $57,384 and the median home value is $215,100 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.9%.
How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Ocean State For 2020
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:
- How much do money do I make?
- How much do I have spend to live there?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.
For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.
With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
- Median Home Price
We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).
You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Rhode Island to figure out which is the least expensive.
What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.
So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 22 places in Rhode Island that have more than 1,000 people.
The place with the lowest cost of living in Rhode Island according to the data is Pascoag. You can download the data here.
There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Rhode Island Cheapskate
If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Rhode Island, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Rhode Island for 2020.
Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Rhode Island according to the data:
- Narragansett Pier
- Newport East
For more Rhode Island reading, check out:
- Most Dangerous Cities In Rhode Island
- Best Places To Buy A House In Rhode Island
- Richest Cities In Rhode Island
The Most Affordable Places To Live In Rhode Island