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Living in Westerly, Rhode Island

Sunset and beach in Westerly

If you've been researching places to live in South County, Rhode Island, Westerly has no doubt come up in your search. That's because this town of about 23,000 people has everything you could ever want when selecting a place to settle down permanently.

Westerly is a beachfront community that was first settled by colonists in 1661 and became a municipality in 1669. Since that time, the town has unmistakably undergone significant changes, but its main attraction, its access to water, remains. In fact, in addition to its oceanfront beaches, the center also features saltwater ponds and freshwater rivers, so there are water and water-based activities everywhere.

If you're looking for a slower-paced way of life in a town with beaches and scenic views, while only being 44 miles from the heart of Providence and 60 miles from Hartford, Westerly might be just the town for you if you like the serenity of Washington County, but appreciate the amenities offered in large cities.

Neighborhoods in Westerly

Central Westerly is where much of the town’s industry sits and where you’ll head if you’re looking for a night out or a choice meal. The downtown area rests on the Pawcatuck River, and once you cross the river, you’ll be in Pawcatuck, Connecticut. The central part of town also has a major residential area with lots of homes.

Bradford is the least populated neighborhood in Westerly and sits in the far northeast part of town. Bradford is known for its green spaces, as there are tons of trees, making the neighborhoods quiet and the homes private.

Watch Hill is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Westerly, featuring large houses and plenty of beachfront property. In fact, Taylor Swift owns a home in Watch Hill and spends portions of her summer in the area most years. Watch Hill Beach is a favorite place to head in the summer, as well, while the Watch Hill Carousel is always a hit with the kids.

Misquamicut has a small residential area along the water and is mostly known as the home of Misquamicut Beach. The neighborhood also has Atlantic Beach Park and the Water Wizz of Westerly, which is a beachfront water park. The population here is only 390, so finding a home can be a challenge.

Just east of Misquamicut is Weekapaug, another small community along the beach. Here you'll find the Weekapaug Yacht Club, along with a long, scenic beach and Weekapaug Golf Course.

Avondale is one of the lesser-known neighborhoods in Westerly, as it is mostly residential and sits right along the Pawcatuck River. While there isn't much in the community besides houses, you will find a few marinas on the river, which provide easy access to the ocean. The beaches on the south coast of town aren't far from the neighborhood either.

The Numbers

Now that you’re aware of the neighborhoods in Westerly, you probably want to know what the numbers look like in the town. Overall, Westerly is in the 71st percentile as far as livability goes in the entire country. Much of this livability is based on its low crime rate, abundance of amenities, good weather, and low unemployment rate.

The median property value in Westerly is $288,018, with detached houses having a median list price of $316,872. When you combine this with the town's median household income of $59,981, it shows that property is affordable in the area, despite it being such a desirable place to live. Reasonable home prices help keep the cost of living down, making the region even more desirable. It should be noted that the median home price is dependent on the community, as Watch Hill and Weekapaug have median home values of $686,368.

As was mentioned before, the town has a very low crime rate, with numbers below the national average across the board, making it one of the state's safest places to live. The town's violent crime rate of 83.8 per 100,000 people is far below the national average of 386.3, and its robbery and assault numbers are also minuscule. Most crime in the town is property crime, with theft and burglary being the most common issues.

Westerly's School System

Westerly is a rather educated town, with 89.4% of people having graduated high school and 40.2% of the town's populating having some form of post-graduate degree.

The town has three public kindergarten to grade four schools: State Street School, Dunn's Corners School, and Springbrook Elementary School. There is also Westerly Middle School for grades five through eight and Westerly High School for grades nine through 12 as part of the public schools system.

Things to Do in Westerly

We've mentioned before that Westerly has some of the country's most scenic and beloved beaches, including Misquamicut State Beach, Napatree Point, Watch Hill Beach, and East Beach. You can also spend time at the Flying Horse Carousel, one of the oldest of its kind in the country, or head to Wilcox Park, which is right downtown and has fountains and plenty of green space.

If you'd sooner do something indoors, the Granite Theatre has Broadway-level performances, while the Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly is a great place to check out some local artwork. The Watch Hill Lighthouse is a popular local attraction that dates back to 1745 and is well worth checking out, as well.

There’s something for everyone in Westerly, so have a look around to see what you can find. There are numerous parks located throughout the town, and you’ll likely find one in whichever neighborhood you choose to settle down.

Moving to Westerly

As you look through the available listings in Westerly, you’ll have multiple options as far as price point and location go. Of course, the closer you are to the ocean, the more you can expect to pay, but it’s nice to know that you can drive to the beach in a few minutes from nearly any part of town.

Westerly is a quiet, safe community with a lot going for it. Property values aren’t outrageously expensive in the town, and since it is within commuting distance of both Providence and Hartford, you don’t have to give up your big-city job to move to the paradise that is Westerly, Rhode Island.

Whether you're a current resident or have always wanted to live in Rhode Island, the real estate in Westerly is calling your name.

Published June 19, 2018 in Exploring South County