I won’t try to quantify the qualities of these two cities, because both of them have been second biggest next to Boston at some point in the last 20 years. I spent some time in Providence, Rhode Island last weekend for my birthday. It was gorgeous; actually much prettier than most of Worcester, MA, but it had a sense of hollowness to me. Lots of great restaurants and culture, but not too much diversified commerce going on at any point. You can’t build and maintain a great city on retail and tourism alone and it seems that Providence is running on reserves as it’s unemployment rate stays above 10%, among the highest in the nation.
I know people who are planning on, or have already moved to Providence for it’s proximity to Connecticut, Massachusetts and it’s low cost of living. It’s astounding how little the amount of money you could spend is on a beautiful loft compared to Worcester, Hartford and ESPECIALLY Boston and New York. We’re talking $1200 a month for a 1300 square foot loft in a art district wasn’t hard to find for a young couple looking to move in about a month. How about that? The nice, downtown area of Providence seems pretty clean and civil. I did wander outside of the downtown area and it’s pretty hood if I may say so myself. Nothing worse than Worcester, but definitely nothing I’d like to stroll around on a late night.
Worcester is comfortable for me. I grew up here, I know where the bad areas are, I know what areas have good food, good music, good art, etc. Framingham and towns of the like are decent in the way of cost of living, but they definitely lack most of the urban charm associated with smaller metros like Worcester and Providence. Boston doesn’t seem to be an option unless I magically made a bunch more money at my gig(s) or unless I took a completely different approach to where and how I wanted to live.
What do I take away from my bit of time spent in Providence? It’s beautiful, cheap to live and has lots and lots to do at night. Do I want to live there? I don’t know! I don’t there is much of an economic scene to be had for a marketer and writer such as myself. You never know, though. I hope the couple I know moving down there really likes it. Maybe they’ll convince me to follow suit!