As most Rhode Islanders would agree, The Ocean State is a pretty awesome slice of America. It’s home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, some of the wealthiest and brightest Americans, and crime, in comparison to the rest of the country, is relatively low.
But, like any other state, there are some crummy areas here. Places that, if you were to move to, or consider visiting, you might want to avoid. We’re not here to argue for or against which places in Rhode Island stink. Instead, we use scientific data to decide that for us.
After analyzing all 60 cities, we came up with this list as the 10 worst places in Rhode Island:
- Foster Center
- Central Falls
- Watch Hill
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers or scroll to the bottom to see how each place ranked.
How do you decide if a place is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst places to live in Rhode Island, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, and it spit out the answer. Like magic.
How we crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- High Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Low expenditures per student and low Student Teacher Ratio)
- Long Commute Times
- High Crime
- The Worst Weather
If you’d like to see the complete list of cities, from worst to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.
1. Foster Center
Median income: $27,900
Population density: 4th lowest in Rhode Island
Commute time: 3rd highest in the state
Tiny Foster Center is actually a village and a census designated place in the town of Foster, located near the Connecticut state line. It has one of the lowest household incomes in the state,
a higher-than-normal unemployment rate, and residents have very long commute times.
And, since lower population densities usually mean lack of amenities, you can expect a long drive if you want to do anything exciting to do. Additionally, the comfort index, a unit used by BestPlaces.Net to measure rain, sunshine and humidity, is one of the lowest you can expect here.
Crime: 14th worst in Rhode Island
Household income: $49,880
Unemployment rate: 8.3%
Another census designated place, Pascoag is located in the middle of nowhere in the northwestern corner of Rhode Island, in the town of Burrilville. Almost 10% of residents here are without jobs, and crime is abnormally high here.
The education system (dollars per student and teacher-to-student ratio) is 40 of 60. Meaning, while the schools in Rhode Island might be exceptional, the schools in Pascoag are far below the state average.
House vacancy rate: 65.8%
Household income: $51,719
Crime: 13th worst in Rhode Island
Tiny Weekapaug is a pretty little area along the shore in southwestern RI, but it’s certainly not a place you’d want to move to . On paper, 320 people live here, but two-thirds of the homes here are vacant, and if you’re looking for excitement, besides the fact that Weekapaug is almost in the top 10 for number of crimes per capita, all you really have to do here is stare at the waves.
Which isn’t so bad. Unless you actually have a life.
Household income: $38,356
Crime: 7th highest in the state
Unemployment rate: 8.8%
Woonsocket is by far, the largest city in the top 10, making a case that arguably, this is the worst actual place to live in Rhode Island, considering that the three places above it are tiny blips on the map.
Residents who live in Woonsocket, located on the Massachusetts border, have the 7th most crimes in the state committed against them. Factor in a much-lower adjusted income level–per resident–and a 12% house vacancy rate, and you’ve got yourself a crummy place to live. In terms of comparing it to the rest of Rhode Island, that is.
Side note: Woonsocket is the birthplace of former NHL goalie Brian Boucher.
Crime: 11th highest in Rhode Island
Unemployment rate: 8.3%
Harrisville is a small city located not too far away from Pascoag. Three of the top 5 worst places to live in Rhode Island are on the northern part of the state. You can make your own assumptions from there.
Harrisville has a very-high crime rate, is respect to the state norm, an unemployment rate of more than 8%, and it’s one of the least densely populated places in the state, meaning there’s probably not a lot to do except cheer on the Sox and watch hockey.
House vacancy rate: 20%
Commute time: 7th highest in the state
Population density: 10th lowest in Rhode Island
Harmony is a village and census designated place located in the city of Glocester. Residents have one of the longest commute rates in the state, and its one of the least densely populated areas in the entire state.
Additionally, 1 out of 5 homes in Harmony is vacant.
7. Central Falls
Unemployment rate: 10.4%
Median income: $29,268
The city of Central Falls filed for bankruptcy in 2011. If that’s not enough to steer you away, back in 2012, the entire teaching staff at the city’s high school was fired, and in 2010, it was reported that Mayor Charles D. Moreau was acting in corruption and fraud.
Central Falls is the 25th most densely populated areas in the entire country. In fact, it’s more packed in Central Falls than in Boston.
Education: 12th worst in Rhode Island for spending
Comfort Index: 8th worst in the state
Warren, Rhode Island is a small town with below-average spending in education, higher than average crime, and an unemployment rate above the national average.
On the bright side, it’s a popular place to live, since only 1 in 25 homes is vacant.
Warren is located just outside of Providence on 195.
Crime: 10th worst
Comfort Index: 20th worst in the state
The last two places on our worst places to live in Rhode Island list are tiny. In fact, they have a combined 600 residents between them. Crime here in Misquamicut is almost as bad as it gets in the state, and residents have a long commute time and lower-than-average income.
Misquamicut is basically a tiny beach community with bad weather, in relation to the rest of the state.
10. Watch Hill
School expenditure per student:
House vacancy rate:
Watch Hill is considered a teeny tiny affluent beach town on the southwestern tip of Rhode Island. According to the numbers, it’s a teeny tiny, overpriced place with almost the worst crime rate in the state. And there’s nothing to do there. Because almost 70% of the homes are not occupied.
If you’re going to overspend for a place to live, you might as well live in a big city.
There You Have It
Like we said earlier, naming the worst places in Rhode Island sounds silly, since many of the places here would rank really high in other states. But if you’re analyzing places in Rhode Island with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and there’s not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best places to live in Rhode Island, according to science.
- North Kingstown (Pop. 26,416)
- Portsmouth (Pop. 17,327)
- Carolina (Pop. 1,394
- South Kingstown (Pop. 30,468)
- Middletown (Pop. 16,151)