The Best Towns in Rhode Island for Young Families

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Young families in Rhode Island choose a home for reasons beyond its cost – they look for a community that will support them with a healthy income and good schools. With that in mind, we asked the following questions as we analyzed cities and towns across the state to identify the best for young families:

  1. Does the town have good public schools? We measured schools’ academic performance with ratings from GreatSchools. This non-profit compares a given school’s standardized test scores to the state average to obtain a rating on a 1 to 10 scale (10 representing the highest score). Higher ratings led to a higher overall score.
  2. Can you afford to live there? We looked at both median home values in each town and ongoing monthly home costs, including mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance costs, utilities, fuel and other bills. Lower costs led to a higher overall score.
  3. Is the town growing and prospering? We assessed a town’s economy by looking at average household income and income growth over the last decade. Higher income and greater growth led to a higher overall score.

The Best Towns for Young Families

1. Ashaway

Ashaway is an unincorporated village in the town of Hopkinton. The community is home to excellent schools. In 2010, Ashaway Elementary students were top performers in the state in science. Every year, the larger area also celebrates with an annual Washington County fair, which features live music, exhibits, rides and a poultry show – the fair happens to be the largest agricultural event in the state.

2. Hope Valley

Like our number one, Hope Valley is a village in the town of Hopkinton. It, too, is served by the Chariho Regional School District, which includes a Rhode Island Commended School in its ranks. The designation is given to all schools in the state that achieve at a high level, with a 95 percent participation rate on tests and no achievement gaps.

3. Greenville

Greenville is a village in the town of Smithfield, a part of the Providence metro area. The town is largely residential, with some commercial and industrial development along Routes 7, 116 and 44. The schools here are excellent, having earned a perfect 10 out of 10 rating from GreatSchools. One instance of their success: middle-school students in town were among the top performers in a statewide assessment of students’ technological proficiency.

4. Kingston

Kingston is a village in the town of South Kingstown, and it is one of the fastest-growing communities in the state. Its population grew by 28 percent in the last decade, and although the community offers nearly as many jobs as there are working people, most residents commute outside South Kingstown’s borders. Major employers in the area include the University of Rhode Island – located right in Kingston – as well as Schneider Electric and South County Hospital.

5. Westerly

Westerly is a waterfront community on Rhode Island’s southern shore. Many come to the town in the summers to enjoy its beaches – seven miles of sand, including one beach that is open year-round. Residents in Westerly are active in supporting their school system, too. A citizen-supported Westerly Education Endowment Fund has raised $155,000 in grants, which helps finance programs in literacy and music education.

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6. Harrisville

Harrisville is a town in Burrillville, in northwestern Rhode Island. Income in Harrisville has grown significantly, by 61.3 percent between 1999 and 2011. Investors have been working on developing the town, too. Pascoag, another village in Burrillville, with a historic village center, has seen new businesses arrive and, soon, residential development as well with the construction of the 105-unit Pascoag Village.

7. Cumberland Hill

Cumberland Hill is a part of the larger Town of Cumberland. In the last two years, three Cumberland School Department principals have received statewide recognition. Ashton School Principal Nidia Karbonik, for example, was named Rhode Island Elementary Principal of the Year this past May. Also this year, Cumberland’s Community School was named a Commended School because of student performance on standardized tests.

8. Tiverton

Tiverton is located on Mount Hope Bay, in Newport County. The town’s waterfront includes Fogland Beach – a less crowded alternative to some of the other beaches in Rhode Island. Earlier this year, Fort Barton Elementary was recognized as a Rhode Island Commended School. In 2012, the school was also one of 145 nationwide to receive an award in the HealthierUS School Challenge, an initiative led by Michelle Obama to encourage nutrition and wellness at schools around the States.

9. Bradford

Bradford is the historic district in Westerly and Hopkinton. In the larger area are several large manufacturers, including Ashaway Line & Twine, which produces tennis-racket strings as well as fly-fishing lines and employs 80 people in the community. For fun, too, residents can enjoy freshwater fishing in town.

10. Warwick

Warwick is the second-largest city in Rhode Island, after Providence, which is 12 miles away. The city’s largest employers include Kent Hospital and MetLife, the insurance company. Warwick also includes over 850 acres of recreational space, spotted with baseball fields, tennis courts, bike paths and 39 miles of coastline.

Rank City Nearest big city GreatSchools rating Median home value Monthly owner costs Median household income Growth,’99-’11 Overall score for young families
1 Ashaway Providence 9 $256,200 $1,669 $73,846 56.2% 78.6
2 Hope Valley Providence 9 $290,200 $1,889 $67,917 57.0% 75.6
3 Greenville Providence 10 $293,600 $2,078 $79,263 41.5% 75.2
4 Kingston Providence 9 $351,500 $1,905 $70,417 25.4% 65.5
5 Westerly Providence 8 $290,700 $1,901 $56,650 32.2% 62.7
6 Harrisville Providence 5 $233,500 $1,994 $65,202 61.3% 60.3
7 Cumberland Hill Providence 7 $256,100 $1,885 $74,026 28.3% 60.7
8 Tiverton Providence 7 $272,400 $1,839 $59,656 30.6% 59.4
9 Bradford Providence 5 $258,900 $1,965 $66,250 57.3% 59.0
10 Warwick Providence 6 $228,500 $1,769 $59,973 29.0% 56.3

Methodology

The overall score for each city was derived from the following measures:

  1. GreatSchools city rating. GreatSchools city ratings are calculated by averaging the weighted overall rating for each school in the city (weighted by the number of students enrolled at the school)
  2. Median home value from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
  3. Monthly homeowner costs from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP04, half-weighted)
  4. Median household income from the U.S. Census (2011 ACS, data set DP03, half-weighted)
  5. Income change between 1999 and 2011 from the U.S. Census (data sets P053 and DP03, half-weighted)

28 Rhode Island cities and areas designated as places by the U.S. Census were included in this analysis. Only places with a population greater than 500 were considered.

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