People Are Fleeing Rhode Island. Here’s Where They’re Plotting to Move to

Photo of author
Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team



Rhode Island, the smallest state in the US, is confronting a significant challenge: a drop in population due to residents moving away.

As per the most recent census data, from 2019 to 2020, Rhode Island saw a decline of 2,625 residents, equating to a 0.25% decrease in population. This consistent trend has consistently placed Rhode Island among states experiencing the highest rates of outward migration. The question arises: what prompts people to leave Rhode Island, and where do they choose to relocate?

High Taxes and Cost of Living

One of the primary reasons for people leaving Rhode Island is the burden of high taxes and living expenses. Rhode Island stands out for having the fourth-highest state and local tax burden in the nation, accounting for 10.8% of income.

Moreover, it ranks sixth in property taxes, ninth in sales taxes, and tenth in income taxes. These financial strains make it difficult for residents to afford necessities, especially housing. Rhode Island boasts the eighth-highest median home value in the US, at $334,900, and the tenth-highest median rent, at $1,200.

As a result, many individuals opt for more affordable living options in neighboring states such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, or New Hampshire, which offer lower taxes and housing costs.

Lack of Economic Opportunity

Another significant factor contributing to Rhode Island’s population decline is the lack of economic prospects. With the second-lowest labor force participation rate in the US (61.9%) and the third-highest unemployment rate (7.3%), Rhode Island presents an image of an economy that is stagnant and weakened.

The state also ranks fourth-lowest in GDP per capita, at $54,948, and fifth-lowest in median household income, at $64,340. Faced with these economic challenges, many individuals seek better opportunities in states like Florida, Texas, or North Carolina, where there is higher GDP growth, lower unemployment, and a variety of industries offering better job prospects and wages.

Declining Quality of Life

A third significant reason for the exodus from Rhode Island is the declining quality of life. The state holds the unfortunate distinction of having the third-worst infrastructure in the US, as reported by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Additionally, its public education system ranks fourth-worst according to US News & World Report. These factors negatively affect residents’ well-being, as they contend with inadequate roads, bridges, schools, and public services. Consequently, many individuals seek an improved quality of life in states like Vermont, Colorado, or Utah, which boast higher scores in infrastructure, education, health, and the environment.

Where Are They Going?

So, where are the departing residents of Rhode Island relocating to? According to the US Census Bureau, the top five states that received the most migrants from Rhode Island in 2019 were:

Massachusetts: 8,494 people Florida: 4,779 people Connecticut: 2,984 people New York: 2,216 people North Carolina: 1,819 people

These states offer advantages over Rhode Island, including lower taxes, warmer weather, increased job opportunities, or greater cultural diversity.

However, they also present their own challenges such as traffic, crime, natural disasters, or political polarization. Consequently, the decision to relocate from one state to another is nuanced, contingent on individual preferences and circumstances.


Rhode Island is grappling with a decline in population as more residents leave than arrive. This exodus is primarily attributed to high taxes and living costs, a lack of economic opportunities, and a diminishing quality of life.

Popular destinations for Rhode Island migrants include Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina. Nevertheless, each of these states has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Ultimately, the ideal place to live is one that aligns with individual needs and goals, and for some, that may or may not be Rhode Island.

Leave a Comment