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10 Things to Know Before Moving to Newport, RI

Written by Leigh Cooper

Newport, Rhode Island, is a stunning coastal town on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay. Newport is a wonderful place to live because of its central location and high quality of life, and it is only 35 miles southwest of Providence and 74 miles south of Boston. 

In addition to its status as a significant port city in the 1700s, Newport is famous today for its historic homes, sailing, and reputation as a summer resort town. This city of 25,000 people has a typical household income of $65,500. It is home to wonderful community activities, delicious seafood, and limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation, in addition to its beautiful scenery and traditional New England way of life. Have you been considering making Newport your new home? Here are ten things to know first!

1. Newport has a wide variety of good schools

The Newport Public Schools district serves the Newport area, and it contains both Rogers High School and the Aquidneck Island Adult Learning Center. Nearby private schools include the Episcopal St. George’s School in Middletown and the Catholic residential school at Portsmouth Abbey School, in addition to the private elementary school in Newport known as St. Michael’s Country Day School.

There are a number of universities and colleges in and around Newport that you can choose from. There are several colleges and universities in the area, including the Naval War College, the Naval Academy Preparatory School, and the International Yacht Restoration School. Salve Regina University and the Rhode Island Community College Newport Campus are also excellent options.

2. The city’s history as a major slave port makes it quite diversified

Dating all the way back to 1639, when Aquidneck Island was still called Rhode Island, Newport has quite the history. Two waves of Jewish immigrants from Spain and Portugal helped it become one of the largest original communities in the region throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Many free blacks and abolitionists made Newport their home by the 18th century when it had become one of Colonial America’s major slave ports. 

As merchants fled to New York, Boston, and Providence, the city’s population and economy were devastated by the Revolutionary War. This began to change in the 1850s when some of the wealthiest families in the country started constructing grand vacation residences on the island.

Even today, Newport’s diversified population is a result of the city’s long and eventful past. There were a lot of Irish people who moved to the area in the 19th century, so St. Patrick’s Day is still a big deal here.

3. The Naval Station contributes significantly to the city’s economy

The departure of the U.S. Navy’s Cruiser-Destroyer fleet in the 1970s had a devastating effect on the economy, lowering property values and contributing to a significant population decline. However, things have since picked up. The Naval Station employs more than 4.200 people, making it the largest single employer in the city. The unemployment rate in Newport is only 2.3%, and the city expects considerable job growth in the future. Overall, Rhode Island has the ninth-best economy in the United States.

Some of Newport’s most notable employers are Naval Station Newport, the City of Newport, Newport Hospital, Newport Harbor Corporation, and Salve Regina University.

4. Visit the yacht clubs, the parks and the beaches

The city of Newport is known as the “Sailing Capital of the World” due to the abundance of yacht clubs such as the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club. It also serves as the starting place for the Newport Bermuda Race and hosts a number of other races. 

However, Newport is not just a sailing destination; there are many more sights to see in this picturesque town. Long Wharf Mall, Bowen’s Wharf, Bellevue Gardens Shopping Center, Stop & Shop, Newport Mansions Store, and Walmart are just a few of the many convenient shopping options in Newport.

Check out some of the city’s popular attractions, like Bailey’s Beach, Newport Cliff Walk, Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling Co., Brenton Point State Park, Newport Art Museum, and Fort Adams State Park, amongst others.

5. Summer highs of 80°F

The climate of Newport is humid continental, with chilly, snowy winters and hot, muggy summers. Around the national average, It rains about 48 inches a year in Newport, and the city gets 31 inches of snow, which is about typical for the United States. 

With average highs of 80 degrees, July is the hottest month of the year. On average, there are just three days a year when temperatures exceed 90 degrees, yet there are 96 nights a year when they drop below freezing.

6. The cost of housing contributes to the high cost of living

The cost of living in Newport is pretty high, much like the rest of New England and especially seaside communities. The cost of living in Newport is 141, which is 41% higher than the U.S. average.

Although groceries and utilities are around 10% more expensive than the national average, healthcare costs are significantly lower. It’s housing that has the most significant impact.

Newport has a median home price of $776,944, almost double the national average. Houses in Newport typically receive many bids due to the city’s competitive real estate market. Some homes in the neighborhood cost around $400,000, while the majority are luxurious mansions that cost several million.

7. You’ll find everything from Lobster rolls to Italian cuisine

Get your taste buds ready to discover the new flavors that await you in Newport. There are many great places to eat in this coastal city, and several of them have won awards.

Among Newport’s many excellent dining options, Brick Alley Pub and Restaurant is sure to win your heart. The lobster rolls and the more than 250 different wines make this restaurant a local hotspot. Located in a historic meat-packing facility from 1898, the Red Parrot is well-known for its cocktails, pizza, and surf ‘n’ turf. The Fifth Element, Mamma Luisa Ristorante Italiano, and The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar are other popular restaurants in the area.

8. There are lots of potholes on the roads

Road maintenance in Newport is notoriously challenging, most likely due to the state’s extreme seasonal temperature changes. 

The roads are filled with potholes, and you might have a hard time navigating the roads when you first move to the city. People ahead of you suddenly swerving is something you should expect and get used to. 

9. Newport is a culturally diverse city

Culture abounds in Newport, and much of that is thanks to the area’s rich history. There are people of many different cultural backgrounds living in the area, such as the French, Irish, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Guatemalan, and more.

It’s a great way to learn more about these fascinating civilizations by experiencing their art, cuisine, and more.

10. City tax rates are high

Newport has a somewhat high sales tax, which increases the price of nearly everything you buy there. The sales tax rate is 7%, while the property tax rate is 1.30%, one of the highest in the country.  

Taxes are charged on the sale of all movable, non-exempt property within the state. In addition to the sales tax, residents of the state must pay various extra levies on a wide range of goods and services they purchase within the state.

In Summary

There are a lot of great things about Newport; the thriving economy, excellent schools, rich history, and abundance of things to do. On the other hand, it’s also important to consider the cons, such as the high cost of living, high tax rates, and poor state of roads.

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