Thinking About Making the Move to Maine? Read This Guide First.
Table of Contents
- Where Are The Best Places To Live In Maine?
- How Is The Job Market In Maine?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Maine?
- How Is The Maine Real Estate Market?
- Is Alabama A Good Place To Maine?
- What Are The People And Culture Like In Maine?
- Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Maine
- The Pros And Cons Of Living In Maine
- Maine Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Maine, situated in the far reaches of the north-eastern seaboard, is known as one of the quietest, serene and peaceful states you could choose to live in.
With a population of just 1.3 million people, and an estimated 24 billion trees, it’s the ideal place to live for those who’ve had it with the rat race and are ready for a little breathing room.
It may be known as “The Pine Tree State’, with 80% of the land is covered in forest, but there’s much more going on in Maine than just its natural beauty. There are an incredible 3500 miles of rugged Atlantic coastline to explore, stretching from the New Hampshire border to the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and plenty of opportunities for work, business and play.
Not to mention, Maine is also one of the top 10 healthiest states in the country, and, thanks to all those pine trees, it is famous for having some of the cleanest air in all of the US, making it an idea location for those with breathing issues or asthma.
Another notable aspect that puts Maine on the map, is their notoriety for some of the best seafood in the world. We hope you like lobster, because Maine produces over 40 million pounds of it a year, more than anywhere else in the country. But their menu doesn’t stop there, the state also has an abundance of fresh clams, scallops, crab, oysters, mussels, and fish hauled straight out of the ocean and onto your plate every day.
There’s a lot going on in this far-flung northerly corner of the US. If you’re considering relocating to Maine, read on to find out everything you need to know before you make the move.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 25, 2020)
Where are the Best Places to Live in Maine?
There are tons of great places to live in the Pine Tree State, each with their own distinct personality and charm. Let’s take a look at some of the locals’ favorite towns and cities across the state of Maine.
NOTE: This is by no means an exhaustive list, and in no particular order of ranking.
Portland is Maine’s biggest city, but don’t expect to find a traditional a mega-metropolis; there are only around 67,000 people living within the city limits.
Lower population density does come with its perks though. Here you will find a nice balance between the excitement of city living, without the anonymity that can sometimes come with it. It’s the kind of place where you can still bump into your neighbors walking down the street, and there’s a strong community spirit that makes it attractive to families.
The downtown area, known as “The Peninsula’, is only around 3 miles wide, and extremely walkable since everything is conveniently close together by the water. There are some great bars with live music on the weekends, and some of Maine’s best seafood restaurants, as well as tons of great shopping malls and boutiques.
Considering this is Maine’s biggest city, it has an incredibly low crime rate, which is pretty typical across the whole of the state. There’s also a great public school system, so it’s a popular place to raise a family.
Portland also has a pretty youthful and diverse population, in a state known for its older than average, and mainly white residents.
Like many cities of this size, there’s a good balance between homeowners and renters. The median price of a home here is slightly higher than the state average, at around $310k.
MAINE IS TRULEY UNIQUE!
“As business owner in Maine, moving here several years ago was one of the best decisions I have ever made. While real estate can be priced over-market for desirable areas, that only highlights how incredible a region Maine is for residing. My wife and teenage son and I live just outside of Portland, giving us the best of both worlds. We have access to incredible restaurants, shops, bars, and museums, and yet live in a peaceful, seaside community where people walk outside, wave to each other, and offer assistance when needed.
I worry that the secret of Maine will get out to the rest of the world, but damn – this place is truly unique!”
Stacey Giulianti Voice Overs Maine
Just 9 miles from downtown Portland is the affluent coastal town of Cape Elizabeth. Unlike Portland, the majority of people here are homeowners and household incomes tend to be high.
It’s a really popular place for families, due to its super low crime rate; in fact, recent police statistics showed the number of violent crimes committed here last year was zero. Cape Elizabeth also has some of the best grade schools in the state.
The homes here tend to be quite large, but there are still some cute little cottages that retain the fishing village charm of the area. There’s also are some incredible beachfront properties, all of which of course, go for a hefty price tag. The average home here costs around $540k. Head further inland from the coastal zone to get a better bargain.
Bangor, named after the Welsh town all the way across the Atlantic, is a peaceful, low key and friendly city around 2.5 hours north of Portland. Bangor’s most famous resident is the world-famous horror writer, Steven King, who still writes his novels in the tranquil surroundings of his home here today.
Bangor’s pretty and compact downtown area has some great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. There’s also the famous Hollywood Casino Hotel and Raceway here, which draws in crowds from all around the state for a Vegas-style experience, in a much more peaceful setting than the Nevada version.
Another perk of living in Bangor is the international airport here, which makes traveling around the country, and further afield, a breeze.
If you’re looking to buy a property here, you can find some great bargains; the median home value is just $160k. That being said, there’s also some pretty upscale parts of the city, so what you pay depends largely on the area you choose to live.
The small city of Yarmouth, home to around 8500 residents, is another coastal satellite community of Portland, popular with commuters to the city. The place has a suburban feel to it, with a lot of pretty tree-lined streets and large family homes, but there’s also more opportunity to rent apartments and condos here, compared to its sister town of Cape of Elizabeth.
The area itself is pretty sleepy, but there are enough good restaurants and local pubs to satisfy the residents. Downtown Portland is only 12 miles away, so accessing the city is easy.
The median home price here is $450k, but it’s possible to find apartments and condos for considerably less.
Just north of Yarmouth is the popular tourist town of Freeport. It’s another relatively small community, with around 8000 permanent residents, although things do get busy during the summer months as people flock to the area on vacation.
It’s a great place to live if you like the outdoors; there are tons of hiking trails and cycle paths within easy access of downtown. There’s also the famous 40 acre ‘Desert of Maine’ just outside the city limits.
Freeport is well known for is an awesome collection of outlet stores, and is home to the world-famous L.L Bean clothing brand.
It’s a safe and tranquil town, so it’s a popular place for families, as well as people commuting into Portland. Property prices are steadily on the rise here, with a current home costing an average of $395k.
Bar Habor is another popular town that always ranks highly in Main’s best places to live.
It’s a close-knit coastal community of around 5400 people, right on the border of the Arcadia National Park. Since it’s on nature’s doorstep, it’s residents tend to be quite outdoorsy, spending a lot of their free time hiking, cycling, and camping. The area also sees a large number of tourists, many of them arriving on cruise ships that dock at the harbor during the warmer months.
It’s a relatively sleepy community, with no major nightlife to speak of, but families love living here due to the peace, tranquillity, and safety of the community. That being said, there are some great restaurants in the neighborhood, as well as 2 movie theatres, and some decent shopping opportunities.
The average cost of a home in Bar Harbour is $376k, with prices set to rise by an estimated 4.7% in the coming year.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
How Is The Job Market In Maine?
Although it’s a sparsely populated state, Maine’s unemployment rate is an impressive 2.7%, well below the national average, which suggests that there’s more than enough work to go around. There’s also a state-enforced minimum wage of $10/hour here, much higher than the national average, which is great news for those in the service industry and other low-income work.
Industries in Maine
In the past few decades, things have shifted dramatically in The Pine Tree State. Industries like paper production, shipbuilding, agriculture, and fishing are still prominent, but they’ve been scaled back to make way for areas such as tourism, retail, and tech. Health care is also big business in Maine, with roughly 8% of the workforce employed in some kind of health or social assistance role.
The biggest employer in the state is MaineHealth, an award-winning healthcare provider based in Portland. Coming in at a close second is the Hannaford Bros grocery store chain, which has 59 stores across Maine, as well as in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Like many states, Walmart is also high on the list of top employers, closely followed by Maine’s very own L.L Bean clothing and outerwear brand.
Other Top Employers Include:
- Bath Iron Works Corp Gen Dynamics
- Eastern Maine Medical Center
- L. Bean. Inc.
- Maine General Medical Center
- D. Bank
- Unum Group
- Central Maine Healthcare Corp
- Shaws Supermarkets Inc
- Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Group
- The Jackson Laboratory
- Mary’s Regional Medical Center
- Lowes Home Centers LLC
- Home Depot USA Inc.
- Circle K
- Wex LLC
- University of New England
- 5 D Warren
- UPS Solutions
- Bowdon College
- Wayfair Maine LLC
- Tyler Technologies Inc.
And many more…
How Is The Maine Real Estate Market?
The current average home value across the state of Maine is around $245k, just a little more than the national average of $200k. Prices are rising rapidly though, up around 7.4% in the past year, so if you’re thinking of moving to The Pine Tree State, don’t wait too long or you could miss out on a bargain.
That said, given the rise in home prices, buying a home in Maine may make for a good investment in your future. As always, local markets are subject to fluctuations and tend to ebb and flow throughout the year, so always do your own due diligence and research.
Typically, the worst time to buy a home in Maine is towards the end of summer when prices and demand is high. For example, data from RedFin Data Center reveals that those homes sold in June commanded a $15,167 premium as compared to the average sales price throughout the year.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 25, 2020)
How Much Does It Cost To Live In Maine?
Renting vs Buying
If you decide to rent rather than buy your home, then you’ll be paying just 6% above the national average, which seems like a pretty fair deal for such a sought after area of the country.
According to Zillow.com, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment across the state is around $1750. Of course, the price you pay depends on the location you choose. For example, if you’re renting in Bangor you’ll pay a pocket-friendly price of $893 per month, but if you head over to downtown Portland, the same size apartment will cost you around $1700 per month.
The good news is that utility bills here are surprisingly low. Despite needing to heat your home for much of the year, the average resident in Maine spends around $87 a month on energy, that’s the lowest out of any of the New England states.
Groceries and Food
It starts to get expensive when you head to the grocery store though; Maine has the 6th highest grocery prices in the country. For example, the national average monthly food spend is $324, but in Portland, it’s $371, almost $50 more.
Gas Prices & Transportation
It’s good news for drivers though, as gas prices are cheaper than the national average, with a gallon costing an average of $2.83 as of the date of this publication. Transportation overall, including public transportation, car maintenance costs, vehicle registration and vehicle taxes is also favorable, coming in 7.1% below the national average.
Healthcare and Medical
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calculated that the average individual employee’s contribution to healthcare in Maine is $1311 a year, over $100 cheaper than the national average. If paying out of pocket the cost of medical bills for doctor visits and in-hospital care is almost exactly on par with the national average being just 0.1% more expensive.
There are 3 income tax brackets in the state of Maine. Anyone earning less than $21,450 per year will pay 5.8%. Earners between $21,450 and $50,750 pay 6.75%, and anything over that is taxed at 7.15%
Sales tax in Maine is a flat 5.5%, and property taxes are around 10% above the national average.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
Is Maine A Good Place To Retire?
Maine is a popular retirement destination for many Americans approaching their Golden Years, coming in second only to Florida for housing the most residents age 55 and over.
So what’s drawing so many seniors to the Pine Tree state? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons people choose to retire here…
Relatively affordable housing
Despite property prices being above the national average, when we compare the prices here to the rest of New England, you get a lot more bang for your buck in Maine. There’s also plenty of waterfront retirement communities, as well as full-service apartments with senior support available.
A reasonable cost of living
Again, Maine comes out on top in New England when it comes to the cost of living. There’s no cheaper place to enjoy the charm of the North-eastern states than Maine.
An abundance of nature
The aptly named Pine Tree State has a whopping 17.5 million acres of forest, so no matter where you settle here, there are endless opportunities for camping, hiking, cycling and exploring in nature. There’s also some beautiful and clean lakes and rivers, not to mention the stunning 3,500 miles of Atlantic coastline, dotted with picturesque fishing villages, lighthouses, and seaside resorts.
Over 65’s get free day passes to any of Maine’s beautiful state and national parks. Bonus!
A reassuringly low crime rate
Maine is statistically one of the safest places to live in the whole of the US. Year after year, the state ranks in the bottom five in terms of crime rates.
High-Quality healthcare and a focus on healthy living
The US News and World Report have deemed Portland’s Maine Medical Center as one of the top-performing healthcare providers in the country, especially in the area of geriatrics. There’s also an impressive number of high ranking rural hospitals, so wherever you live, you’ll be close to some world-class healthcare facilities.
If you like to take good care of yourself, you’ll be in excellent company; people in Maine lead a pretty healthy lifestyle. The state comes in at #20 on the list of healthiest states in the country, due in part to an abundance of outdoor activities and diets full of fresh, nutritious food.
Maine is famous for having some of the very best seafood in the country, especially lobster. There are all kinds of cuisine here though, and a huge, thriving restaurant scene.
Portland is a great example of a city that loves good food. The Food Network placed it in the top 5 list of ‘Most Delicious Destinations’ and The Huffington Post recently included the city in its list of ‘The Country’s Most Restaurant-Crazy Cities’.
Accessibility and Affordable Flights
Cheapflights.com has named Portland International Jetport as having the most affordable flights in New England. With 1.6 million passengers traveling through the airport every year, you’re well connected to the rest of the country which means you’ll get plenty of visitors.
There’s also great Amtrak links connecting residents to Boston and various other major cities around the country, and a trip into Canada is made super easy by the Nova Star car ferry which takes passengers on a scenic trip from Portland to Nova Scotia every day during the warmer season.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (May 25, 2020)
What Are The People And Culture Like In Maine?
So we already know that Maine is famous for being one of the ‘oldest states in the nation’, with more over 55s than almost anywhere else in the country. Maybe that’s down to the fact that there’s a slower pace of life up here, far away from the rat race further down the east coast. Even the cities have a quaint small-town vibe where it’s common to run into people you know in the street or at the grocery store. The locals are also known for being a friendly and welcoming bunch and new residents say they fund it easy to make friends here.
Politically, Maine is a relatively liberal state, with most of the population voting democrat. The people tend to be pretty liberal and progressive when it comes to social issues too; Maine has a thriving LGBT scene, especially in Portland.
What are Some of the Coolest Things to Do, See, and Experience in Maine?
Despite being a relatively compact state, Maine has a huge selection of amazing things to see and do. Let’s take a look at some of the best activities and attractions from around the Pine Tree State.
Acadia National Park
This gorgeous coastal National Park is the perfect place to embrace the wild Atlantic coast and explore the thick dense forests that meet its shoreline. There are some great hiking trails and some fantastic camping spots for overnight stays. It’s well worth getting up early to watch the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain…its north-eastern location means it’s the first place to see it in the country.
If you’re the energetic type, then you’ll love hiking up Maine’s tallest peak, Mount Katahdin. It takes a gruelling 10 hours to reach the summit, but it’s worth the effort for the incredible views of dense forests, clear glacial lakes, and unspoiled wilderness.
Portland’s Old Port
The charming cobblestone streets of Portland’s Old Port area are packed with bustling coffee shops, independent breweries and bars, and some fantastic little shopping boutiques. There are also some of Portland’s best and most highly acclaimed restaurants here, serving up the freshest seafood in the state.
Portland Museum of Art
From Monet to Picasso, there are over 18000 artworks here, spanning from the 18th century all the way to the modern-day. There’s also a room dedicated to landscape artist Winslow Homer’s incredible paintings of the rugged Maine coastline.
This is Maine’s favorite ski destination it has a huge system of trails for cross country skiing, but without the crowds that come with most east coast winter sports destinations. There are also tons of other activities here, like an outdoor skating rink, mountain biking trails, ice fishing and some great après ski bars with roaring log fires and comfy armchairs to relax in.
This is Maine’s largest lake, covering over 75,000 acres over a 40 miles stretch. The views here are incredible, especially on an icy cold clear winter’s day. It’s a great place for fishing and spotting the local wildlife, including, of course, moose.
The Desert of Maine
Although it’s not technically a desert, it certainly looks like one. The rolling silt sand dunes are the result of glacial deposits that have formed over centuries. It’s become one of Maine’s most popular tourist attractions, with thousands of people visiting the strange landscape every year.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
About an hour north of Portland you’ll find the 270-acre Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, perched against the backdrop of the choppy Atlantic Ocean. There are numerous areas dedicated to all kinds of beautiful flowers and plants, as well as a sculpture garden featuring work from local artists.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (May 25, 2020)
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Maine
Now that we’ve taken a look at what Maine has to offer, let’s recap some of the pros and cons of relocating to the Pine Tree State.
- The relatively low cost of living. Maine is the cheapest state in New England; from housing to healthcare, you’ll be surprised at how far your money can go here.
- The gorgeous scenery. From vast, dense forestland, to the wild rugged coast, Maine has some spectacular scenery. Despite this, the state parks aren’t too overcrowded with tourists, even in peak season.
- The number of retirees. There’s an aging population in Maine, so if you choose the Pine Tree State as your retirement destination, you’ll be in great company.
- The fantastic healthcare. Maine has some of the best hospitals and healthcare providers in the country, all at a comparatively affordable price.
- The low crime rate. Maine is one of the safest states in the whole of the nation.
- The lack of diversity. Maine is a relatively ‘vanilla’ state. If you prefer to live in an ethnically diverse area with plenty of varying cultures and traditions to experience, then Maine might not be the best choice. There’s also a disheartening lack of world cuisine here, and finding a good Chinese restaurant can sometimes be a struggle.
- The lack of youth culture. Maine is packed with retirees, but there’s not as much going on for younger people. Nightlife is pretty much non-existent outside of the bigger cities, and the place can seem a little too sleepy for some.
- The cold weather. There’s no denying it, Maine has one of the harshest winters in the US. The average night-time temperature in January is a bone-chilling 13 degrees. Expect to spend plenty of time shoveling snow.
Maine Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Strange Laws You’ll Find in Maine
Every state has a few strange laws that are still on the books today, and Maine is no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the weirder ones from The Pine Tree State.
- It’s illegal to step out of a plane whilst it’s in flight. So no skydiving for Mainers then?
- It’s against the law to display Christmas decorations after January 14th. You could argue you’re just early for next year.
- If you rent a place in Rumford, it’s illegal to bite your landlord. This one seems to make sense.
- In Waterville, it’s illegal to blow your nose in public. A great excuse to take the day off if you catch a cold.
- In Freeport, mercury thermometers are illegal. Perhaps those cold winters are off the mercury scale.
Fun Facts About the State
To wrap up our overview of moving to Maine, let’s take a look at some interesting facts from the Pine Tree State.
- 90% of the nation’s lobster supply comes straight out of Maine.
- Maine also produces a whopping 99% of all the blueberries in the US
- Maine is the nation’s coldest state during springtime.
- No one quite knows where Maine got its name from.
- Maine is the only state in the country that shares a border with just one other state.
- The honeybee is the official state insect of Maine.
Are you Ready to Make the Move To Maine?
We hope you enjoyed this guide as much as we did writing it, but not as much as you’ll enjoy the state when you visit Maine for yourself. The state’s majestic forests, rocky shoreline, unbeatable seafood, and opportunities abound. These, among many other reasons, make Maine an often-sought after destination for those looking for a change in the pace of life, job opportunities or a place to retire in their later years. From budding entrepreneurs and young professionals, to those raising a family, Maine has a little something for everyone.
So is making the move right for you and your family?
Further Reading: Looking For More Resources About Moving To Maine? Check These Articles Out!
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About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com, the broker of Get LISTED Realty and an official member of the Forbes Real Estate Council. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, Fox News, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.