Rhode Island is best known for being the smallest state in the nation. However, this state has much to offer beyond the novelty of being petite and there are plenty of places to retire in Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is not likely to be on everyone’s list for places to retire since it has a couple of significant drawbacks. The most notable issue retirees have with Rhode Island are the taxes. The Ocean State taxes all retirement income, including 401ks, IRAs, pensions, and social security, at a rate between 3.75%-5.9%.
Additionally, Rhode Island has the 10th highest property tax rate in the country. And their sales tax rate is nothing to scoff at either, though they have three major sales tax exemptions that appeal to many seniors, such as exemptions on most groceries, prescription medications, and medical equipment.
Another reason retirees may find Rhode Island less desirable is due to the overall cost of living, which is 25.5% higher than the national average, with property values being fairly expensive compared to the rest of the country.
The last reason seniors may choose to pass on settling down in this tiny state is the climate. Rhode Island embraces all four seasons with hot summers and cold winters, making it not as attractive to those looking for fun in the sun and more moderate weather.
Still, New England residents already acclimated with the east coast climate may find Rhode Island very appealing since it is cheaper than some of its neighbors like Connecticut and Massachusetts.
But there are several reasons that this small state is the perfect place for some to retire to. One of the best things about living in a small state is that traveling within the state is fast and convenient. Most residents can get anywhere in the state within an hour and visit other states in less than two hours.
Plus, those who enjoy the outdoors will love the 400 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, the hundreds of beaches, the 100+ miles of bike paths and nature trails all across the state, and the 100 acres of forest.
Also, retirees interested in history, art, and continued education will appreciate the many colleges, including the Ivy League school Brown University.
Where to Retire in Rhode Island
- Percent of Senior Population: 10.8%
- Overall Population: 179,883
Providence is the most populated city in Rhode Island, as well as being the state capital. It is ideal for retirees looking to settle down in an active city, especially if they are art enthusiasts.
Providence has many local art and cultural venues, partly because it is full of colleges, like Brown University, the world-famous Rhode Island School of Design, and many other smaller colleges. Some of the top attractions include live performances, art galleries, and the Museum of Art, which is home to 80,000 various works of art from historical to contemporary pieces.
Other cultural attractions include:
- RISD Museum
- Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
- Lippitt House Museum
- Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology
- The John Brown House Museum
The presence of the schools has also added to the city’s restaurant scene. Providence features every imaginable cuisine and dining experience, from five-star restaurants to charming cafes.
And retirees looking to stay active will have no problems finding things to keep them busy. Just north of Providence is the Lincoln Woods State Park, ideal for retirees looking to enjoy time on the water or hitting the trails. Within city limits, residents can stroll the cobblestone paths in Waterplace Park or take in one of the many festivals hosted at the park.
The crime rate in Providence is about average for a large city. But, what many retirees like about this place is the ample medical centers, including eight hospitals.
- Percent of Senior Population: 48,479
- Overall Population: 20.2%
Just south of Providence, surrounded by Mount Hope Bay and the Narragansett Bay, sits Bristol, a charming marine town, often referred to as American’s Most Patriotic Town. Bristol earned this nickname from its long history of having one of the country’s biggest 4th of July festivals, starting in mid-June.
Bristol is rich in history, having been the site for multiple battles, including the first battle in King Phillip’s War in 1675. Bristol was also part of the Revolutionary War and was attacked twice by the British Navy.
Active retirees are attracted to Bristol since it is a very walkable town. Plus, Bristol has several local parks like Colt State Park, which has walking trails of various terrains, bike trails, and picnic areas. There is also Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum with five gardens, perfect for an afternoon outing. Of course, residents love having easy access to the East Bay Bike Path that runs 14.5 miles through multiple towns, including Providence.
For those looking to go shopping, residents and tourists generally head over to Hope Street. Hope Street is full of fun boutiques, galleries, antique stores, and restaurants all of which sit along the water.
The low crime rate and lower than the national average cost for healthcare and groceries in the area tend to attract many retirees. And though Saint Anne’s Hospital isn’t in Bristol, it is just a 30-minute drive over to Fall River, Massachusettes.
- Percent of Senior Population: 24,334
- Overall Population: 18.4%
Further south of Bristol on Aquidneck Island, Newport resides with ocean views on three sides of this historic town. Plus, Newport features an abundance of inviting beaches along most of its coastline.
History buffs will love living in Newport. Today, Newport features one of the largest collections of colonial-era buildings, including many of the Gilded Age Mansions built during that time.
In the 19th century, Newport’s natural beauty attracted many local wealthy residents to build summer mansions on the island. Some of the more famous former residents included the Rockerfellers and the Vanderbilts.
Several of these mansions still exist today and offer tours open to the public. The Breakers, former summer residence to the Vanderbilts, is the most impressive of the area’s estates.
Residents and tourists can shop at Long Wharf Mall, which has cobblestone walkways lined with clothing boutiques, gift shops, specialty stores, and restaurants. Plus, after an afternoon of shopping, you can head over to Newport Craft Brewing and Distilling Co. for a drink.
Though homes in Newport are on the spendy side, the oceanfront and low crime rate make this town very appealing. And although Newport is not a large city, it does host a full-service hospital.
- Percent of Senior Population: 21.3%
- Overall Population: 22,381
Westerly was once best known for its granite and stonecutting industry. And it is still a picturesque town. Though far from the smallest city, Westerly has an intimate, small-town feel.
This historic town was founded in 1661 and is located in the southwestern corner near the Connecticut border. The downtown area still features historic buildings, adding to the charm of the city.
Not only will historians like Westerly, but those who enjoy the outdoors will also enjoy settling down here. Westerly gives residents and tourists alike plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. The Pawcatuck River is perfect for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. And Misquamicut State Beach is one of the most beautiful parks in the area and is ideal for those who enjoy relaxing on the beach.
And being a tourist town, Westerly has other great attractions such as:
- Jonathan Edwards Winery
- Atlantic Beach Park
- Babcock-Smith House Museum
- Tapped Apple Cidery & Winery
- Wahaneeta Preserve
Westerly also boasts a crime rate of less than half the national average. Also, Westerly Hospital is conveniently located near the downtown area.
- Percent of Senior Population: 5.5%
- Overall Population: 6,513
Kingston is a small town, home to the University of Rhode Island, which contributes to the local economy and the students add another 11,000 people to the community.
One of the best things about this quiet town is that it is centrally located within an easy drive to the ocean, Newport, and Providence, perfect for fun afternoon outings or day trips.
But you don’t need to leave the town to find entertainment. Kingston is home to the Theatre By the Sea that offers live performances, a restaurant, and a bar.
Plus, Kingston is also perfect for those who love the outdoors with its beautiful parks, beaches, and gardens like the Dr. Everett Christopher Memorial Arboretum and the URI Botanical Gardens.
Kingston’s small size helps to maintain a low crime rate. Also, the cost of housing is less than many of the oceanside cities in the area.
Although Kingston does not have a hospital within city limits, there is one just four short miles away in Wakefield.