Living in Rhode Island is about as expensive as it is on average across the U.S. as a whole. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, goods and services in the state cost just 0.7% less than they do on average nationwide. Compared with all other states, Rhode Island has the 17th highest overall cost of living.
In general, living in dense, urban metro areas is more expensive than living in more rural areas. Rhode Island is home to just one metropolitan area. In the Providence-Warwick metro area, the cost of goods and services is 0.1% lower than the national average and 0.6% higher than the statewide average.
Rhode Island Housing Costs
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Rhode Island, the typical home is worth $249,800, $44,900 more than the national median home value of $204,900. Across the state, the median price of a home built in 1939 or earlier is $222,800, while the median value of a home built in 2014 or later is $386,600.
The typical renter in Rhode Island spends $981 a month on housing, $42 less than the $1,023 national median monthly rent. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom in the state is $775, while the typical rent for a unit with five or more bedrooms is $1,404.
Across the state, 39.7% of occupied homes are rented, more than the 36.2% national average and the fifth highest renter rate of any state.
Rhode Island Transportation Costs
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Rhode Island, 88.7% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. On average, the typical motorist in the state drives 7,573 miles a year. Taking into account average fuel economy and the average cost of gas -- regular fuel cost an average of $2.17 a gallon in Rhode Island in mid-2020 -- the average motorist in the state can expect to spend $679 on gas alone in one year.
Other transportation costs, like car insurance premiums, can vary by state. In Rhode Island, the average car insurance premium is $1,449, less than the $1,517 national average, according to data from Insure.com. And according to data from the EPI, the average single adult in the state spends $9,216 a year on transportation.
Rhode Island Health Care Costs
Out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums for health care -- assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage -- are relatively low in Rhode Island. Average health care costs for a single adult in the state total $3,072 per year, compared to the national average of $4,266. For a family of four, average annual health care costs total $9,427 -- $3,523 less than the comparable national average of $12,950.
Rhode Island Food Costs
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on the overall cost of living in an area. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from state to state.
In Rhode Island, a single adult spends an average of $3,414 on food annually, and a family of four spends $9,859 on average. For context, the nationwide average annual food expenditure is $3,240 for a single adult and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at home preparation.
Rhode Island Child Care Costs
For families, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. The average annual cost of child care for a 4 year old child in Rhode Island is $9,955, well above the national average of $8,903. Similarly, it costs an average of $17,651 to care for a 4 year old child and an 8 year old child per year in Rhode Island compared to the national average of $15,853.
Rhode Island Taxes
Few expenses vary as much from state to state as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll, the average adult working in Rhode Island pays $6,014 annually in taxes -- slightly below the national average of $6,542.
Excluding federal taxes and incorporating state and local taxes such as property and sales taxes -- the state and local tax burden in Rhode Island is in line with the average across the U.S. as a whole. Per capita state tax collections in Rhode Island come out to $3,294 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
Cost of Living by County or County Equivalent
Just as cost of living varies from state to state, it also varies from place to place within states. In Rhode Island, Newport County, home to the city of Newport, has the highest overall cost of living for a family of four at $94,300 per year, well above the statewide average of $83,472 per year.
Meanwhile, Providence County is the least expensive place in Rhode Island. The average annual cost of living for a family of four in the area is just $77,839, $5,633 less than it is across the state as a whole. Providence is the most populous community in Providence County.
Note that monetary figures are rounded to the nearest dollar and calculated differences may not always add up perfectly to the nearest dollar.
Read More About Cost of Living
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