Welcome to Providence!
New to the area? Here are a bunch of resources to help you get settled in.
Utilities in Providence
Electric is provided by National Grid in RI, and there are a few good internet options (Cox, Verizon, Clear, and FreedomPop, to name a few). The best option will depend on your exact building.

How do I set up my electricity and heat?

First, ask your landlord whether your building has gas or oil heat, so you can tell National Grid to start gas service and electric all in one call, if you need it. If you have oil you shouldn't have to do anything when you move in, but grab the company name from your landlord so you can call them if anything goes wrong.

In theory, you should be able to request to start service online at National Grid's New Customer website, but their address matching can be finicky, and in some cases, a document from your landlord will be required, or even a faxed copy of your signed lease. See if the web form works for you, and if not, call 1.800.322.3223 and say "I'm not a customer."

How will I get my TV and internet fix?

All houses in Providence are covered by Cox Cable company, and some lucky souls can also access Verizon FiOS. There are some other providers but these are by far the most popular. FiOS is generally much faster internet per dollar, but Cox's basic cable offerings have somewhat more popular channels. This is a nifty comparison tool for seeing what plans are available at your address.

Will my cell phone work?

Verizon Wireless and AT&T have the best cell coverage in Providence (though MetroPCS and T-Mobile are also fine). In general, Providence has pretty good reception. If you're worried about whether your current carrier will suck in Providence, check out this website to see a full coverage list.

Getting Around Providence/RI

For commuting within Rhode Island, you can make good use of the RIPTA bus network. RIPTA costs $2 per ride, $26 for a 15 trip pass, and $62 for a monthly unlimited. Most RIPTA buses are based out of Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence, which actually makes the system pretty easy to navigate. RIPTA's schedule is on Google Maps, so use Google Maps as your ideal trip planner for finding schedules and buses near you. You can also see the bus schedules in a printable format. Each RIPTA line stops running at it's own time when night comes, but roughly speaking things slow down after 8PM and stop shortly before midnight. On Sundays most buses stop running by 9PM.

Biking in Rhode Island can be a great option and is relatively safe, though some areas can be challenging to bike around if you don't have lots of gears/legs of steel. There are some great, scenic bike paths through Barrington, East Providence and Pawtucket. Bike theft is common enough, so splurge for a U-lock. The city is looking to make serious investments in biking and pedestrian infrastructure over the next few years, so there's a lot to look forward to in Providence on the biking front. A full plan will be released in November 2013.

Car Related Stuff

Within Rhode Island

If you are moving to Providence from within Rhode Island, you legally have ten days to let the DMV know of your address change. There's no need to schlep to the DMV itself - just mail this form to Division of Motor Vehicles Attn: Address Change, 600 New London Avenue, Cranston RI 02920. There's not even a fee!

Out of State Transfer

You must move your license to RI within 30 days of moving to the state. To do so, you'll need to head to a physical DMV branch (there's no way to do it online) with your out-of-state license, as well as several other documents. You'll need:

  • proof of residency (utility bill, bank statement, or payroll stub)
  • a signature document (like a passport, social security card, or work/school ID)
  • another identity document (passport, birth certificate, or naturalization document)
  • $31.50 in cash, or a credit card
It's easiest to fill out the form when you are AT the DMV and waiting- don't bother printing it out at home to fill it out in advance. Super top secret tip: Go to the Cranston, RI DMV right when it opens (9AM) and you'll only have to spend around 30-90 minutes on this. It's worth mentioning that your first RI license will only be good for 2 years, as opposed to 5.

Changing your vehicle registration

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WaterFire

WaterFire is a public arts event that takes place on/along the Providence River on summer and fall Saturdays. About 80 metal basins built into the River are filled with wood and lit on fire, providing a pretty spectacle to the hundreds of Rhodies (and visitors!) who gather to gawk at the fires, listen to live music, and eat street food.

Here is the official WaterFire site, where you can learn more about this incredibly unique event and see the lighting schedule (the last one in 2013 is on November 9th).

The only lukewarm thing about WaterFire is that it absolutely kills the flow of traffic through downtown Providence on nights when it's going on. Even if you don't care about actually seeing WaterFire, check the schedule out so you can remember to avoid driving through the heart of downtown on WaterFire weekend nights. But really, don't just be a scrooge, and go see it.

Roger Williams Park and Zoo

Providence has a fabulous park and zoo called Roger Williams Park. Check out the zoo website here, or get directions here.

Providence residents get in free the first Saturday of each month! Just bring a utility bill, or driver's license with a Providence address.

Help With Home Bills

Weatherization

The state will weatherize your house for free if you meet certain income requirements. This means a greener environment, and lower energy bills for you. If you're interested call the Providence Community Action Program at 401.273.0882 to start the application process.

Heating

The Providence Community Action Program also offers a program called LIHEAP that helps low-income families pay their heating bills in the winter. Call them up at 401.273.0882 around the first of October to schedule an appointment at their offices, which is the first step in the application process.

Electricity

If your household receives government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or SSI, you automatically qualify for a reduced rate on your electric bill (it's called the A60 rate). To enroll in the A60 program, find and Xerox proof that you receive one of these benefits (like a letter from the Department of Human Services or SSI Bureau) and fax it to National Grid. Write your name and 10-digit National Grid account number on the piece of proof before you fax it over. Average savings are $7/month.

Home Phone

If your household receives government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or SSI, you automatically qualify for a $7/month discount on your home phone service. The catch is that you have to receive phone service through the provider Cox, which is actually not that much of a catch since they're one of the most popular providers in RI anyway. Check out eligibility info and the application here.

Internet

Cox also cuts low-income households a deal on internet. Unlike the phone deal though, they extend it only to families that have at least 1 kid currently receiving free lunch via the National School Lunch Program. It's confusing, I know, but basically if you have a kid that eats lunch for free at a public school you should check it out.

Help With Home Bills

Weatherization

The state will weatherize your house for free if you meet certain income requirements. This means a greener environment, and lower energy bills for you. If you're interested call the Providence Community Action Program at 401.273.0882 to start the application process.

Heating

The Providence Community Action Program also offers a program called LIHEAP that helps low-income families pay their heating bills in the winter. Call them up at 401.273.0882 around the first of October to schedule an appointment at their offices, which is the first step in the application process.

Electricity

If your household receives government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or SSI, you automatically qualify for a reduced rate on your electric bill (it's called the A60 rate). To enroll in the A60 program, find and Xerox proof that you receive one of these benefits (like a letter from the Department of Human Services or SSI Bureau) and fax it to National Grid. Write your name and 10-digit National Grid account number on the piece of proof before you fax it over. Average savings are $7/month.

Home Phone

If your household receives government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid or SSI, you automatically qualify for a $7/month discount on your home phone service. The catch is that you have to receive phone service through the provider Cox, which is actually not that much of a catch since they're one of the most popular providers in RI anyway. Check out eligibility info and the application here.

Internet

Cox also cuts low-income households a deal on internet. Unlike the phone deal though, they extend it only to families that have at least 1 kid currently receiving free lunch via the National School Lunch Program. It's confusing, I know, but basically if you have a kid that eats lunch for free at a public school you should check it out.

4 Obvious Questions About Moving To Providence
1. Do I need a moving permit?

In a word: No. In Providence, parking a huge moving truck on the street is fine during the day and finding a spot will only be tricky in some areas (student-heavy College Hill, or the denser parts of downtown and the West Side). If you can get all your stuff out of the truck in an afternoon, you'll be fine. If you end up needing to keep the truck overnight, you're gonna have to find a driveway or parking lot because it can't stay on the street overnight.

2. What if I have no driveway?

If you need permanent overnight parking for your normal vehicle (ie. you don't have a driveway), the Providence Overnight Parking Permit site has some great options. A permanent permit is $100 per year, and a 5-night-per-month guest pass is $25 per year. When you head to City Hall to take care of this, you should head to the Board of Licenses at room 104 (it's not intuitively where one would head so we thought we'd include it).
Overnight is defined as 2AM-5AM, and you will absolutely get ticketed for parking on the street during those 3 hours if you don't have the permit. Providence parking enforcement officers are excellent at what they do.

3. How do I set up electricity, internet, and phone?

Electric is provided by National Grid in RI, and there are a few good internet options. Try to set up your account with National Grid before you move, though realistically, you'll usually have a few days before the lights turn off. Setting up internet and TV is easier to get done on the first day after things are moved in. Read our utilities section for more info on utilities and internet/TV options in Prov.

4. How do I forward my snail mail?

A few days before you move, you can use the US Postal Service change of address form to forward your mail. If you do it shortly before you leave, hopefully no mail will fall through the cracks. You'll have to update magazine/newspaper subscriptions yourself, though.

Roommate Fairness Tools
Organize bills, groceries, and rent

Make sure you create a good system for tracking who owes who and making sure bills and roommates get paid. I work on Splitwise, a website/iPhone/Android app which does all the math and tracking for you. Please give it a try! If you hate it, you can always go back to using a spreadsheet.

Split the rent fairly

If your bedrooms are of disparate quality (ie. one is much smaller than the rest), or if you are living with a couple, Splitwise also makes a tool called the SplitTheRent calculator to calculate a fair rent differential based on quality and size of rooms.

Value used furniture

If you need to put a fair price on your old furniture, or are trying to sell your share of a group couch from your last roommates, give the Splitwise furniture calculator a try. It uses age and condition to estimate a depreciated value.

Map of Providence

Click on the map to see demographic, economic, and other data on Providence and its neighborhoods. Courtesy of The Providence Plan.

Health and Safety
Here is a handy list of emergency contact information for Providence.

All Emergency911
Poison Control800.222.1222
Gas Leak/Emergency800.640.1595
Power Out (Nat. Grid)800.465.1212
Fire Department401.274.3348
Police Department401.272.3121

Info on hospitals, urgent care, pet hospitals, and crime below the fold.

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Trash and Recycling

Providence has weekly curbside trash pick-up. You can check here to see which day of the week your trash will get picked up (it's organized by street). If you have bulky items or old computers, pickup is free, but you need to call 1.800.972.4545 at least 24 hours in advance to give them a heads up.

Providence has single-stream recycling (everything can go in the same bin). To see exactly which items are recyclable, you can read the Providence recycling FAQ. Make sure you don't get any trash in your recycling bin, or it'll be a $50 fine.

If you don't have enough trash cans at your apartment, you can mail a request to get an additional trash bin for $50 each.

Taxis, Uber, and Zipcar

Once the RIPTA stops, it's good to have a way to get home after a night on the town. A cab will be your best bet. Unfortunately, you can't hail cabs in Providence like you can in New York City- you must catch them at a taxi stand (in Kennedy Plaza and by the train station), or you can call one. Calling any old taxi dispatcher can be quite unreliable, however. MovingToRI's creators have for years trusted Providence Coach at 401.525.0365. You can also use the Uber iPhone or Android app to call a black car at the push of a button, as Providence became an Uber-supported city in August 2013.

Providence is also a Zipcar city, and Zipcar is a superb way to avoid buying a car or second car as a Providence resident. Coverage is great near Brown and RISD and downtown, and only OK in Federal Hill and the Wayland area of the East Side. You can see their Providence coverage map here.

Registering Your Doggy

If you're moving to Providence with a dog, you gotta register your furry friend with the city. First step is to make sure they have a rabies vaccination. Then, complete this form and mail it to:

Providence Animal Shelter
200 Terminal Road
Providence, RI 02905

Include proof of rabies vaccination and a $5 check/money order in that letter.

If you have a pit bull, you'll also need to mail in proof that you have liability insurance, and the licensing fee goes up to $20 (instead of $5). The best way to get liability insurance is to get renters insurance, which includes liability coverage.

Downtown Providence

Providence Skyline

The Providence River runs right through downtown.

6 Facts About Renting In Rhode Island You Don't Know
We read the RI landlord-tenant handbook for you. But we are NOT lawyers, and this is not legal advice. Just one citizen's understanding of how renting should work.
1. Your landlord can't ask for a deposit that's greater than the monthly rent.

They can, however, require you to pay a deposit + the first month's rent in order to lock down the lease.

2. You can make repairs yourself and deduct costs from your next rent payment.

If your landlord doesn't fix something in 20 days, you can just take care of it yourself and deduct it from your rent. But make careful records: you HAVE to notify your landlord of what you're doing, save all the receipts, keep a copy of the letter, and don't spend more than $125 per fix.

3. The state will weatherize your home for free.

A weatherized home means a greener environment and lower energy bills for you. If you meet these income requirements give the Providence Community Action Program a call at 401.273.0882 to start the application process.

4. You can ask the government to allow you to break your lease.

If you notify your landlord of an issue in your home and they don't fix it in 20 days, you can call Providence Code Enforcement at 401.680.5350 and they can determine if your house violates codes that allow you to break a lease.

5. You should really get Renters Insurance.

Your landlord's insurance will not cover any stuff (clothes, furniture) that you lose in the event of a fire, flood or burglary. Renters insurance in RI is dirt cheap (about $19/month) and will help you pay to replace these things without going broke/crazy. You should definitely get it.

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Contacting Your Local Government

Providence City Hall is at:

25 Dorance Street
Providence, RI 02903

Main Line: 401.421.7740
Mayor's Office: 401.421.2489

A general hub for finding city services is ProvConnex, where you can find a host of city links, calendars, etc. If you can't find what you are looking for and need to speak to a human, call the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services at 401.421.7768.
Getting To Boston, Airports, and Suburbs

The commuter rail (MBTA) is a reasonably priced and comfortable way to get to the northern suburbs of Providence, as well as Boston South Station and two airports: The TF Green Airport (RI) and The Boston Logan Airport (via a transfer to the Silver Line T). A one way ticket to South Station costs $10 each way, and a one way ticket to TF Green from downtown Providence is $2.50. MBTA trains to the TF Green Airport are somewhat infrequent, but you can also take the #20 and #14 RIPTA buses from Kennedy Plaza for $2.

The easiest way to purchase MBTA tickets is with a credit card by downloading the MBTA app on an iPhone or Android. There are no credit card terminals in Providence Station - you have to buy MBTA tix from the station cafe (Cafe La France) with cash. There's a station ATM, so if you have neither the app or cash it won't be the end of the world.

At the same train station, you can get on an Amtrak train to South Station as well. Some of these tickets will be $15-$22 for the Northeast Regional trains, which only take 50-60 minutes to get to Boston. Others will be Acela trains, which cost $40-$50+ for the same service and timing. If you want the fastest and most comfortable way to Boston, a $15 Amtrak train can be a lifesaver, but buy in advance for the best price and don't waste money on an Acela train unless you are desperate. The Amtrak station is the same as the MBTA station, so you can show up and figure it out there. There is an Amtrak ticketing booth as well as a QuickTrak printer, and you can always buy online.

There are also cheap Peter Pan and Megabus tickets to Boston and regional cities of interest, but the trains to Boston are only slightly more expensive and much more reliable. However, Peter Pan runs a $20 bus from Kennedy Plaza to Boston Logan which can be useful in some situations/flight timings. It's also nice if you have a ton of luggage and don't want to schlep it from the MBTA/Amtrak train to the T train.

Trains And Buses To NYC and Beyond

To get to and from non-Boston major cities by train, Amtrak trains will be your most convenient and expensive option. The Amtrak runs from the Providence Station (the same as the MBTA station), southwest to Kingston RI, New Haven CT, New York, and even Washington DC (as well as many stops in between). For Amtrak tickets that go past New Haven, expect relatively high prices, say between $50-$100+ to NYC. It depends on the specifics of when and how you purchase, so buy online as far in advance as you can. Amtrak has a relatively generous cancellation policy.

Peter Pan, Greyhound, and Megabus offer more competitive prices than Amtrak (around $20-$40 to NYC) and often include (unreliable) Wi-Fi on board. Peter Pan runs the most frequently and has the most convenient times, but Megabus will usually be the best deal if you get the ticket in advance.

Registering to Vote

If you're headed to a DMV to do any of the car related stuff talked about above, you can register to vote while you're at the DMV. If you're not headed to the DMV anytime soon, go ahead and fill out this form and mail it to:

Providence City Hall
25 Dorrance Street
Providence, RI 02903


You'll need to enter your RI drivers' license number or your Social Security Number, so dig those cards out if you need to.

Send Feedback!

Know something we don't know about Providence? Send us feedback by email here.