As a local in Narragansett, Rhode Island, you'll learn that there are two versions of the town: Summer Narragansett and Rest-of-the-Year Narragansett. In fall, winter, and spring, Narragansett has a population of fewer than 16,000 people, so it's quiet, peaceful, and uncrowded. In the summer, however, the population swells to 34,000 people, making it livelier, busier, and more exciting.
The good news is that living in Narragansett provides you with the best of both worlds because you can enjoy your peace and quiet for over three-quarters of the year, before seeking out fun and adventure in July and August.
As a result, once you buy real estate in Narragansett, you’ll open yourself up to a community that offers so much more than most small towns because of the big city lifestyle that arrives each and every summer.
A Quick History of Narragansett
The inhabitation of what is now Narragansett goes back over 30,000 years, as archaeological research suggests a sizable Native American population called the region home for centuries. These longstanding tribes were first documented in 1524 by explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who noted large groups of people living around Narragansett Bay and reported them prevailing as an organized society.
In 1635, the first Europeans started arriving in this area, and they were granted land-use rights by the chiefs the following year. Relations between the European settlers and Native American tribes weren't always friendly, however, eventually leading to a war in 1675.
Following the war, European settlers took full control of the land, and the town of South Kingstown, of which present-day Narragansett was a part, was incorporated in 1723. In 1888, Narragansett left South Kingstown and was incorporated into its own town in 1901.
Villages and Neighborhoods
Narragansett is broken down into a number of villages and neighborhoods, with each having its own charm. Before buying a home in Narragansett, research and visit the various areas of town to ensure you end up somewhere that matches your desired lifestyle.
Saunderstown is a historic village shared with North Kingstown that sits at the very north edge of Narragansett. The community has an old district that is on the National Register of Historic Places, with much of the architecture dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.
Just south of Saunderstown is South Ferry, which is home to the University of Rhode Island Bay Campus. There's a lot of forest in this part of town, but also some businesses and a residential area with some waterfront lots.
Bonnet Shores is a small neighborhood that is mostly residential in nature, but it does have Kelley Beach, which is a very attractive summer destination. The Bonnet Shores Beach Club is located on the beach and provides all of the amenities you'll need to relax in comfort.
Narragansett Pier is the main village in town, with a population of over 3,000 people. It is also where the schools, town hall, and shopping mall are located. Here, you'll find Narragansett Beach, with its surrounding area makes up much of the town's entertainment district, especially in the summer.
Point Judith is a village on the west side of Narragansett Bay and has a few residential neighborhoods that stretch down the coast to Judith Point Lighthouse. It is also home to Scarborough State Beach, which is a popular summer destination, and Fisherman's Memorial Beach.
Galilee is a fishing village that features the state's largest fishing fleet. It is also where the Block Island Ferry is located, in addition to Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, some summer beach clubs, and amazing waterfront restaurants. Homes to buy in Galilee are extremely limited and in very high demand because of the number of nearby amenities.
Great Island is accessible via a bridge in Galilee and is pretty much fully residential. Many of the homes on the island are waterfront, as you might expect, with most of them having a private dock. If you plan on spending a lot of time on the water, this neighborhood might be for you.
Mettatuxet is just west of Bonnet Shores and is made up of streets named after trees and bushes. The neighborhood backs onto Narrow River and has its own yacht club, while also being minutes from the ocean.
Jerusalem is a mostly residential area that is across the harbor from Galilee. There is a marina there, as well, along with direct beach access. Keep in mind there is no bridge connecting Jerusalem to the rest of Narragansett, so it takes about 20 minutes to drive all the way around the harbor. As a result, you'll use the services and amenities in South Kingstown more often than the ones in Narragansett when living there.
Much of the recreation in Narragansett centers on the beaches, as they are the places to be in the summer. Fishermen's Memorial State Park is the site of a former military fort but has been a state park since 1953. There is a public campground there, and you can still explore the old army bunkers and batteries. The beach is a popular fishing area, as well.
Narragansett Town Beach hosts as many as 10,000 people daily, and its location in the center of town makes it easily accessible. As a local resident, you'll have special parking privileges, including the chance to buy a $25 season's parking pass. Non-residents must pay $200 for a pass, which has been done in an attempt to thin out the crowds and provide better access for locals. Favorite summertime events at the beach include the Gazebo Summer Concert Series, an annual concert by the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Movies on the Beach Series. Special events for the Fourth of July and the Christmas season also take place at the beach.
There are three popular state beaches in Narragansett: Roger Wheeler State Beach, Salty Brine State Beach, and Scarborough State Beach. Roger Wheeler State Beach has a concession, pavilion, lifeguards on duty, and a playground area. It is 27 acres in size, providing plenty of space for everyone. Salty Brine State Beach features concessions, a pavilion, and has lifeguards. It uses solar power to heat the water in its showers and a wind turbine to power the pavilion. Scarborough State Beach has a boardwalk, two pavilions, and an observation town. It is also home to picnic areas, and there are lifeguards on duty.
Education and Employment
There are three schools in town: Narragansett Elementary School, Narragansett Pier Middle School, and Narragansett High School. As a result, students can complete their entire education without leaving town. There are 17.5 students per teach in the community, while $20,273 is spent on education per student, which is far above the national average. The area is also home to the Narragansett Bay Campus of the University of Rhode Island.
The top employers in town include the Town of Narragansett, the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus, Stop & Shop. The current unemployment rate is 3.6%, which is below the national average, with future job growth estimates being above average, as well.
Moving to Narragansett
As you can see, there’s lots to think about if you’re considering buying a home in Narragansett. The best thing you can do is take a couple of visits to town, once in the summer and once any other time of year, to see if you enjoy the lifestyle.
It’s also a good idea to check out the beaches and neighborhoods in Narragansett because they will become a large part of how you entertain yourself and spend your time in the coming years if you do decide to relocate.