Walkability and Architectural Charm Make the Brown University Area the Place To Be

A steady stream of “meds and eds” keeps this area in high demand.

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As an Ivy League school, Brown University is no doubt on the radar of many a high-achieving high school student. Located on Providence’s so-called East Side, which is comprised of several neighborhoods including College Hill, the site of Brown’s main campus, Brown University provides a quality education in a beautiful New England setting.

The area around Brown University is highly desirable due to its walkability, architectural charm and proximity to major amenities, all of which entice both students and non-students to the area and keep the neighborhood active, according to local realtors.

“You get a lot of what we call the ‘Providence meds and eds,’” Broadway Real Estate Group broker and owner Doug Jeffrey said, using the terms that refer to the many medicine-affiliated students and residents and professionals in the area. After all, Providence is a major medicine hub. Local medical facilities include The Miriam Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.

“The area is desirable because it is one of the ‘Historic Districts’ in Providence,”
Lenox Realty Group broker and owner Gabriel Francis said in an email. “There is a ton of charm, which really sets Providence apart from other cities.”

There are also a variety of housing types from which to choose.

“You have mid-century contemporaries,” Jeffrey said. “You have 200-year-old homes. You have a pretty good array of homes there. It’s not really cookie-cutter, McMansion-style houses.”

Jeffrey added that the neighborhood is also close to amenities such as hospitals, an airport and a train station. “So it’s very well-situated,” he said.

There is plenty of old-world architectural charm in the area, but Jeffrey noted that older homes on the East Side are getting knocked down and replaced by new construction, “which is really almost foreign to Rhode Island.”

He added that this kind of activity on the East Side is “a good trend for the market. Unfortunately, it takes away some of the historical properties, but overall it’s a good trend financially for the market. I think people, as they migrate to Rhode Island, if they want to live in an urban area that’s close to a downtown area and you’re close to a college, the East Side’s a great choice.”

Jeffrey also noted that “it’s certainly a seller’s market on the East Side.”

Then there’s the area’s walkability, which is a huge plus for local residents both younger and older, according to Jeffrey.

“A lot of the East Side is very walkable, which attracts people,” Jeffrey said. He added that the area sees a great deal of younger people who are working or studying at the university or hospitals, as well as transplants who like to live there because of proximity, stability and walkability.

Strive Realty leasing manager Joe Amen echoed this.

“You don’t need a car,” Amen said.

Amen also noted that Thayer Street, which “runs right through the campus,” is filled with “lots of nook and cranny” restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores, “and that’s where a lot of students end up doing their studies and working part-time jobs.”

Anyone looking to live near Brown University will need to act quickly.

“The market on College Hill is extremely active,” Francis said in an email. “There is a limited number of houses, not only on College Hill, but on the entire East Side of Providence where Brown is located. Houses and condos don't usually last 30 days anywhere near Brown.”

And locals are open to paying a little bit more for nicer digs.

“We have noticed a trend with the multi-families towards luxury rentals,” Francis said in an email. “There are a ton of landlords who are purchasing the houses and redoing them to appeal to the student who is willing to pay more for a nicer place.”

And it’s not just Brown University students who want to live in the area. Amen noted that students from other local schools, including Johnson & Wales University and Providence College, are open to living in the neighborhood, which is also filled with career-focused recent graduates and young professionals starting families.

And it’s not just students who want to live near Brown University.

“I think the area appeals to lots of different people,” Francis said in an email. “There is a great mix of young professionals, academics and families and [the area is] is very diverse. Definitely one of the nicest places to live in Providence.”

Bottom line: Brown University, and Providence’s consistent stream of students and medicine-related professionals, will keep East Side real estate active for years to come.

“Brown University is certainly a driver for the market on the East Side both in terms of students wanting to live there and faculty and staff members wanting to live there,” Jeffrey said. “It certainly has kept the real estate market on the East Side very strong, and in my opinion, will continue to be strong for a long time.”