The most populous neighborhoods, however, are The “North End”, “South Side” and the “East Side,” all of which are larger, collective groupings of individual neighborhoods. The “North End” is comprised of Wanskuck and Charles; the “South Side” of Elmwood, South Elmwood, Lower South Providence, Upper South Providence and the West End; and the “East Side” of Blackstone, Hope, Mount Hope, College Hill, Wayland and Fox Point.
The other individual neighborhoods are College Hill, Elmhurst, Federal Hill, Hartford, Manton, Mount Pleasant, Olneyville, Reservoir, Silver Lake, Smith Hill, Valley, and Washington Park. Yes, yes, we know, that’s a lot to choose from. And no, don’t worry; we won’t cover all of these spots with a fine-tooth comb (We don’t want to bore you to tears, here). Here’s a bit of a rundown on what you’ll find in each of these three areas.
The majority of Brown University is located in the “East Side” neighborhood as well as much of the Rhode Island School of Design, giving it a predominantly collegiate feel. If you’re looking for an Animal House experience living here, we’re sorry to report that you won’t find many empty beer bongs and topless coeds roaming the streets. This is “Ivy League” country, after all, so think more brown cardigans, scarves, brick homes and wrought iron fences. The East Side is the most affluent part of Providence, which also makes it a more expensive place to find an apartment. Since it is the oldest section of an already old city, it is also the most densely populated, with 20% of the city’s residents living there.
Surviving in the South
The “South Side” is unfortunately the poorest part of the city; the median family income of just over $23,000, about $10,000 less than the average for the rest of Providence. As such, one third of the residents live below the poverty line… ouch! You won’t be finding any luxurious locations, and the apartments are far cheaper in this part of town, but the crime rate is higher and the area just isn’t as nice. While you’ll save some money living around here, it comes at the expense of quality and safety. You might want to reconsider if you have a steady cash flow.
The Northern Collection
The “North End” is almost a combination of the “East Side” and “South Side” in a microcosmic form; the Charles section has more money, less crime like the “East Side”, while the Wanskuck neighborhood is more similar to the poverty stricken “South Side”. And, when you say “Wanskuck” aloud to your friends to describe where your new apartment is, everyone thinks you are saying “Wan-SUCK”. Or at the very least, “Wan-Skunk”, as in, “I heard if you get sprayed by a Wan-Skunk, you need to take a bath in tomato sauce, Dude.” Choose your living arrangement wisely, or test the neighborhood out first by wandering up and down some streets near your potential digs. If you feel safe, you’ll most likely be fine.
What Are You Willing To Spend?
As always, cash is king. So it’s a good thing you’ve got that side business/faux charity based loosely off George Costanza’s “Human Fund”. But, if you do happen to have some coin and prefer the “finer things”, then check out the “East Side” neighborhood. The absolute cheapest amount you could spend on a one bedroom apartment in the “East Side” is $675.00 (very rare) but the general average for something solid is $850.00 per month which would increase based upon desired amenities and creature comforts, like a bidet for instance, easily the most underrated invention of our generation.
If you want to spend the “bare” minimum, you’d have to live on the South Side where $600.00-675.00 is the expected rent for a one bedroom dwelling. But if you do, remember, one third of that part of town is on government assistance of some kind; just sayin’.
Availability of Apartments
Apartments are obviously available year ‘round in all areas of town, but to get prime choice on the apartment of your dreams, May is the ideal month to look and book as college students are vacating, especially in the “East Side” neighborhood. The standard term for a lease is a year, but some of the apartments a bit closer to a campus are more flexible.
Providence is a hub for healthcare professionals with three of the top five employers in the city being hospitals, making up roughly 15% of the cities workforce. With so many colleges in the city, another 10% of the cities workforce is engaged in secondary education. Bank of America and Verizon are also prominent employers and have a hand in determining local resident’s economic fate, just like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons or Scrooge McDuck of Ducktales fame.
How Do I Get Around?
The RIPTA (Rhode Island Public Transport Authority) has been operating bus lines in and around Providence for almost 50 years, so the routes are well established and dependable. The RIPTA also runs a trolley service which specializes in routes throughout the downtown area. Since the interstate in Providence has been expanded and upgraded significantly over the last 20 years, more and more residents utilize private vehicles for travel. But since it is such a densely populated city, parking can be expensive and challenging.
All in all, Providence, Rhode Island is as close to an ideal city to rent an apartment in anywhere in the country. As a renter, it provides you literally every conceivable option as far as a living situation with varying prices and neighborhoods that can fit into any budget. Sure, you may want to rent that sweet brownstone on the “East Side”, but if necessity due to financial limitations dictates otherwise, you have plenty of options and neighborhoods to explore.
And hey - at least it isn’t Cleveland!