Providence, Rhode Island is one of the oldest cities in the United States, having been founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, an exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It also has a long history of leading the pack, and being ahead of the curve – Providence was one of the first cities to industrialize and was once known for its jewelry, silverware, and textile manufacturing.
You might think “small town” when you think of anywhere in Rhode Island, but that’s just not true. There are nearly 180,000 residents living in Providence itself, making it the third-most populous city in all of New England.
Some of the safest, and nicest, neighborhoods in Providence include Blackstone, Wayland, and College Hill. Providence is a city with a ton of history, and many of these neighborhoods feature some of the most incredible – and fun! – historic sites in the US, like the Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the US, and the Mile of History, located in one of our safest neighborhoods with some of the most beautifully restored period homes around.
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The Safest Neighborhoods in Providence, Rhode Island
When it comes to crime? Providence has a crime index of 10, meaning it is only 10% safer than most cities in the United States. This isn’t great news, but don’t fret! If you’re thinking of making the move, we’ve covered all the safest and best areas below. This data is backed up by FBI statistics on violent and property crime, and takes into account a lot of things, including population density, unemployment rates, and more.
Our 8 safest neighborhoods in Providence include:
- College Hill
- South Elmwood
- Mount Hope
Providence is a beautiful, historic city with a lot to offer if you’re considering moving. But don’t make the jump until you know for sure where you’re going to land – because some areas are certainly better than others!
The Safest Neighborhoods in Providence: The Ultimate List
These are the 8 safest neighborhoods in all of Providence, why they are safe, and what makes them great. Which one is right for you?
- Population: 6,336
- Median Income: $107,880
- Crime Per 100k: 1,398
- Unemployment Rate: 3%
In the northeast corner of the city tucked against the Seekonk River is the neighborhood of Blackstone, a mostly residential area with plenty of diversity. Interestingly, due to the location and the wetlands it’s built upon, Blackstone is one of the ‘newer’ neighborhoods in Providence – it’s a lot harder to build on the marsh, after all. As you might be able to tell by the median household income, it is one of the area’s more affluent neighborhoods.
Blackstone is directly next to College Hill (stay tuned!) and tends to absorb some of the college overflow. Because of this, there is plenty to do in the Blackstone neighborhood, with lots of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and small stores to spend time in. The neighborhood itself is also very walkable, and it’s easy to get around without a car, a big plus for many people.
Butler Hospital, the state’s only private mental health hospital, is also located in Blackstone. It was built in 1847 and remains a cornerstone of the community. The median home price in Blackstone is over $440,000, significantly higher than average, and most single-family homes are larger, on a good-sized lot.
- Population: 3,028
- Median Income: $63,196
- Crime Per 100k: 1,584
- Unemployment Rate: 1.1%
Located just south of Blackstone is Wayland, a smaller area that is also known for its low crime rate – and extremely low unemployment rate. It sits along the curve of the Seekonk River with lots of green space, including Blackstone Park and Gladys Potter Park.
There are also numerous shopping and restaurant options, including several places along the water to grab a bite with a view. The neighborhood is just next to the Terrence Murry Baseball Stadium, which is great for those into college baseball and want to support Brown University.
The majority of homes in this area are older, historic single-family homes or smaller apartment buildings. Those looking for large apartment complexes might not find Wayland as welcoming.
3. College Hill
- Population: 9,005
- Median Income: $61,154
- Crime Per 100k: 1,602
- Unemployment Rate: 3%
Is it any surprise that our top 3 safest neighborhoods are clustered together so closely? Just west of both Blackstone and Wayland is College Hill, a relatively large and densely populated neighborhood that ranks highly when it comes to safety.
University Hill is home to Brown University, a private Ivy League research university founded in 1764. This has been a cornerstone of the community ever since. The Rhode Island School of Design is also in College Hill. Because of the school’s location, there is a lot to do, see, and experience in College Hill. Don’t miss the John Brown House Museum or the Providence Athenaeum (A library located in an 1838 Greek Revival building).
University Hill also has an overabundance of green spaces, including the Brown Street Park and Playground, Prospect Terrance, and Memorial Park on the river. There is a good mix of apartment complexes and single-family homes in the area.
- Population: 4,362
- Median Income: $47,800
- Crime Per 100k: 1,860
- Unemployment Rate: 4.5%
Finally, we’re moving outside of that one section in Providence! Manton is located along the Woonasquatucket River (yes, that’s the real name!) just west of the downtown area. As opposed to the busier neighborhoods we looked at previously, Manton has a slower pace, with larger lots for homes and a suburban feel to it. There are a handful of apartment complexes, but many of the homes are single-family dwellings.
There is a grocery store and a variety of shopping and restaurant choices along the river, giving residents plenty of choice as to where they want to go. Just barely east of the neighborhood is Rhode Island College, a public college founded in 1854. The campus is 180 acres, and many of the residents in Manton work or go to school there.
The unemployment rate in Manton is a little higher than the previous neighborhoods we’ve looked at, but not so bad that those moving should be concerned. It is still lower than the national average by quite a bit. The median household income, however, is lower than the national average as well.
5. South Elmwood
- Population: 2,308
- Median Income: $47,276
- Crime Per 100k: 2,179
- Unemployment Rate: 12.2%
South Elmwood has a small population but a relatively big footprint – and that is because it’s mostly taken up by lakes, green space, and public land! Some of the best features in South Elmwood include outdoor activities, like being out on Cunliff Lake, or walking along Deep Spring Lake or Polo Lake. There are numerous walking trails in this area.
The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is here, along with the Roger Williams Park Botanical Gardens and the Victorian Rose Gardens. The Roger Williams Park Zoo, the country’s third-oldest zoo, is also in this neighborhood.
The majority of housing in this exclusive neighborhood is single-family dwellings or smaller apartment complexes. Most of the area has sidewalks and is very walkable when it is warm out.
- Population: 2,944
- Median Income: $57,307
- Crime Per 100k: 2,424
- Unemployment Rate: 13.3%
Located in the southwest area of Providence is Reservoir, a small neighborhood with Mashapaug Pond as the true centerpiece. This is a great neighborhood if you love living by the water – this is the largest freshwater pond in all the city. Unfortunately, though, you cannot swim or fish in the water, as industrial discharge and surface water run-off have left the water toxic.
The Reservoir neighborhood is a cozy, charming neighborhood full of older houses, single-family dwellings, and smaller apartment buildings. There are not many larger apartment complexes. Plenty of locally-owned shops line street corners, but for larger shopping options or major grocery chains, residents will have to leave the neighborhood.
One big thing to keep in mind with Reservoir is the unemployment rate, which is over double the national average.
- Population: 10,503
- Median Income: $61,335
- Crime Per 100k: 2,660
- Unemployment Rate: 2.4%
Northwest of downtown and east of Manton is Elmhurst, a residential neighborhood partially in the Historic District of Providence. The biggest draw to Elmhurst is Providence College, a private Catholic university. Over 4,300 students are enrolled each year.
Because of the college, there are many restaurants and coffee shops within the area, and plenty of things to do or see. There are also several green spaces, like Davis Park and Fargnoli Park, for families or those looking to get outdoors.
The majority of homes are single-family dwellings on small to moderately sized lots or smaller clusters of apartment buildings for college students. Many homes and buildings in the neighborhood are historic, dating back to when the college was built. The Nathanael Greene Middle School, for example, is a Tudor Gothic school that was built in 1929.
8. Mount Hope
- Population: 6,083
- Median Income: $52,539
- Crime Per 100k: 2,924
- Unemployment Rate: 2.5%
No shocker here, but we’re moving back into the Blackstone and College Hill area. Mount Hope is just west of Blackstone and north of College Hill, with interstate 95 going through the center of the neighborhood. The centerpiece of Mount Hope is North Burial Ground, a historic cemetery that dates back to 1700 – it is the first public cemetery in all of Providence.
Like other neighborhoods in the area, there are a lot of shopping and dining options for residents, including major grocery chains like Whole Foods and locally-owned restaurants.
There is a good balance of apartment living and single-family homes in Mount Hope, with many residents living in older, historic homes on small, tight lots with little yard space. It’s not uncommon for homes in Providence to have been converted from one large, historic home to multi-family living. It’s not just called Mount Hope to sound nice, either – this area is quite hilly, and some homes have a great view.