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Moving to Maine? Here’s What You Need to Know

by Team NextBurb 26 March 2021

Moving Guides By State

In the far upper northeast corner of the United States, Maine is a state where farms, busy cities, and a national park are all a short drive away.

Here’s everything you need to know about moving to the Pine Tree State.

The Portland Head Light
Portland Head Light

Quick facts about Maine

  1. This state’s location in the far upper northeast corner of the United States brings long, snowy winters and a more remote, rural pace of life than in other parts of New England. In Maine, you’ll find scenic family-owned farms, miles of rugged coastline, and lush forests that are home to bears and moose.
  2. Maine is the ninth least populated state in the country. Its remote setting, quaint villages and overall small-town feel make it a great place for both summer tourists and retirees.
    In fact, many of the restaurants and smaller shops throughout the state’s more rural areas shut down during the winter when the tourist season ends. If you’re looking for a more social pace of life, don’t worry!
    The Portland area has plenty to do and is a New England hotspot for creative restaurants, energetic nightlife, and local breweries.
  3. Much of Maine’s industry comes from its location in the Atlantic ocean. Bath Iron Works, one of the largest employers in the state, builds and repairs ships for military and commercial use, and small fishing towns up and down the coast catch lobster, oysters, clams, and fish that are exported to the rest of the country.

What to Know About Maine

Population & History

The original inhabitants of Maine were the Wabanaki peoples, who were driven from their homeland shortly after the French established colonies and Jesuit missions in the area.

In 1740s, the territory was won over by the British Empire, and subsequently became a colony and a state. Throughout American history, Maine’s primary industries have remained strongly tied to fishing, shipbuilding, and manufacturing.

Its harbors also serve as major transportation hubs for imports and exports with Canada and other New England states.

Although it’s a fairly large state in comparison to its New England neighbors, Maine is primarily rural and uninhabited and has a population of just under 1.4 million.

Weather in Maine

Maine experiences short, mild summers and long, snowy winters. From November to February, temperatures drop to an average of 12℉, and frequent snowfall averages at 75 inches a season, making it the second-snowiest state after Vermont.

While much of the snow is brought on by violent nor’easters that limit visibility and make road conditions hazardous, many Maine residents love the snow and enjoy winter sports such as skiing and snowshoeing throughout the state.

Summers in Maine rarely average above 79℉, making for pleasantly warm weather and slightly chilly evenings.

Top Attractions in Maine

Maine is one of the most beautiful states in the country, and you’ll find forest parks and scenic beaches without much effort.

Here are some of the highlights of what Maine has to offer.


Acadia National Park

Located on Mount Desert Island off the Mid-Coast area of Maine is Acadia National Park. This 47,000-acre park shows off the rugged beauty of the northeastern part of the United States, with granite peaks and cliffs, lush forests, and secluded beaches that are home to moose, bear, and native birds.

You will find dozens of hikes of all levels of difficulty that wind through canyons, across the edges of cliff sides, and in and out of secluded forests. During the fall, taking a drive through the park will reveal the vibrant beauty of fall colors, and in the winter, volunteers often cut and groom trails for snowshoers and cross country skiing.

Thanks to John D. Rockefeller, who was responsible for much of the park’s infrastructure, there are miles of biking trails around the island, which he originally built as car-free paths where he could drive his horse-drawn carriages.

One of the unique sides to this beautiful park is that you will find small fishing villages, cabins, and attractions throughout the park. Bar Harbor is an unincorporated town that’s a popular place where visitors wander the streets for a hearty meal or local shopping, stay in historic hotels, and rent kayaks, boats or bikes to enjoy the park.

Acadia’s biggest drawback is that its size is too small for its popularity. It’s worth visiting in the early spring or late fall, when roads are still passable but are no longer congested with the millions of tourists that visit each year.

The Island Explorer shuttle bus system helps avoid the stress of finding parking throughout the park and links hotels and campgrounds to the most popular sites throughout the park. You can also bring your pup, if you have one, which only a few National Parks allow.

Hikers rest on a cliff in Acadia National Park
Hikers rest on a cliff in Acadia National Park


Lighthouses on the Coast

Maine (along with other coastal New England states) is perhaps best known for its historic lighthouses.

Thought that all lighthouses were the same? Think again!

Many historic lighthouses demonstrate how maritime technology has advanced throughout the centuries and preserve records of ships, wars, and local history. If lighthouse history isn’t one of your greatest passions (understandable), don’t worry: many also provide access to scenic coastal views and hikes and host events year-round that involve local vendors and food and drinks. Basically, there’s something for everyone.

One of the most popular is the Portland Head Lighthouse, which was built at the entrance of the harbor outside Portland in 1791. From the lighthouse, you can view the port and city of Portland or tour the museum in the old Keeper’s Quarters. Further north is Pemaquid Point Light, which appears on the Maine quarter coin.

Nubble Lighthouse is another popular destination, and its proximity to huge rocks where the incoming tide often breaks draws photographers from all over.

Lighthouses


Best Food in Maine

The culinary scene in Maine is so good that some residents probably don’t want anyone else to know about it. Restaurants in Portland, Bangor, and throughout the state add their own twists to tried-and-true local classics like clambakes and blueberry pies. While it might be hard to stick to a diet, living in Maine will keep your tastebuds happy.

Maine is a fantastic place for lobster, since millions of pounds of the shellfish are caught and exported to the rest of the country every year. The lobster roll is a New England staple served with chips, and Bayley’s Bait Shed in Scarborough is one of the best places to try it.

At Kittery Point, Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier serves customers at picnic tables right on the waterfront, and allows you to bring your own side dishes and drinks to customize your meal. For lobster in the city, head to the Portland Lobster Company, which serves its patrons in an open-air patio when weather permits and pairs dishes with local beer and live music.

Blueberries are Maine’s official state fruit. They’re grown in farms but can also be found growing wild across the state. Fortunately for restaurant-goers, they show up on the dessert menu of most Maine restaurants, especially when in season over the summer.

Mabel’s Lobster Claw in Kennebunkport is perhaps one of the most iconic spots to get a blueberry pie (they bake thousands every year).

In Portland, Vena’s Fizz House serves non-alcoholic tonics and sodas with hand-made blueberry syrup and garnishes, perfect for a hot summer day (and don’t worry–they have a boozy menu too).

In Bar Harbor near Acadia National Park, Jordan’s Restaurant serves a hearty breakfast meal of blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup: a perfect way to start a day of hiking in nature.


Living in Maine

Top employers in Maine

The leading industries in Maine include agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, healthcare, and shipbuilding. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is a full-service shipyard headquartered north of Portland that has built ships for military and commercial purposes since late 1880s.

Other large companies in Maine include L.L. Bean, IDEXX Laboratories, Cianbro, and WEX.

Top employers in Maine are Hannaford Bros. (a local supermarket chain), Maine Medical Center, TD Bank, Mercy Hospital, and UNUM Provident.

The Best Cities for Remote Work in Maine

Maine is a great place to relocate for remote work. If you want to get out of the home office, you’ll find great local coworking spaces throughout the state.

Think Tank Coworking is a New England chain that has locations in Portland, Yarmouth, and Biddeford with memberships starting at $170/month.

CoworkHERS is a Portland-based coworking space dedicated to female freelancers and entrepreneurs. Basic memberships start at $20/day, and upgraded options include network opportunities and access to the gym.

Munka Coworking provides open spaces and dedicated desks in a 150-year old building in downtown Lewiston with plans starting from $125/month.

Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland

Cost of Living

The cost of living in Maine is a little lower than the national average, although it’s relatively high for a largely rural area.

You’ll pay slightly cheaper-than-average prices for housing, healthcare, and utilities, but gas and grocery prices are higher than average. Housing prices also get higher in suburbs surrounding Portland, which have grown in recent years.

State sales tax in Maine is 5.5% and varies based on added city tax throughout the state. Property tax is an average of 1.3%, which is a little higher than the national average of 1.1%. Income tax ranges between 5.8% and 7.15%.

Transportation & Commute

Traffic is relatively light throughout Maine in comparison to travel times in other states, but it can get worse during the tourist season of late spring to mid-fall, even on I-95 and highways.

While there aren’t many residents trying to get home during rush hour, it can take time to drive along winding roads through farmland and up and down the coast. Route 1, which provides north-south access to more local roads, can be backed up during busier times of year and increase travel time as well.

You’ll definitely want a car to live in Maine. GP METRO provides public transit throughout the Portland area, but the vehicle still comes in handy for getting around with ease. The Amtrak Downeaster line connects Maine to the rest of New England at stations in Portland, Brunswick, Freeport, Wells, and Saco.

Portland International Jetport (PWM) serves as the primary airport for Maine residents. An eleven-minute drive from downtown Portland,

PWM serves about two million passengers per year to destinations all over the country. Airlines that fly in and out of PWM include American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and United, among others.

Also serving in the Maine area is Bangor International Airport, located a two-hour drive north of Portland in Bangor, which has one runway but provides nonstop flights to regional cities including Charlotte, NC and New York, NY.

Best places to live in Maine

Best neighborhoods for families with kids

  • Falmouth: Rated one of the best suburbs in Maine, Falmouth is a great choice for families looking for a great school district and neighborhoods with new construction. This town is perfectly located only a 14-minute drive north from downtown Portland.

    There are nearby grocery stores, a country club, and locally owned stores, and it’s a short drive away from Casco Bay and the beautiful islands in Luckse Sound. The median home price in Falmouth is $541,706.
  • Yarmouth: Further north from Falmouth is Yarmouth. Yarmouth is generally known as a quaint village with a small-town feel, but it also has great schools. There’s a strong sense of community in Yarmouth, and local shops and restaurants right next to the green stretches of parks next to the Royal River Reservoir downtown.

    It’s a 16-minute drive from Yarmouth to downtown Portland, and the median home price is $532,904.
  • Falmouth Foreside: Falmouth Foreside is just east of Falmouth. It has a higher median home price of $702,976, but the good schools and fantastic location on the water is worth it. You’ll find grocery stores, yoga studios, and parks with trails along the water in Falmouth Foreside, and it’s only a 14-minute drive to restaurants and sites in downtown Portland.

Best neighborhoods for young professionals

  • Portland: Living in Portland is a great way to enjoy proximity to the outdoors while enjoying the social aspects of city living. Downtown Portland (also known as “the peninsula”) is surrounded on three sides by neighborhoods with local shops, parks, and historic homes.

    Portland residents are also generally more liberal than in other areas of the state. The median home price in Portland is $406,779.
  • Bangor: An urban hub for the inland/Mid-Coast part of the state is Bangor, which is a two-hour drive north of Portland.

    Bangor has great affordable housing (the median home price is only $173,324) with an up and coming downtown scene for businesses and recreation. Bangor has a strong arts and music scene and a great sense of community. It’s also a short drive away from Acadia National Park.
  • Hallowell: Affectionately known as the “New Orleans of the north,” Hallowell is a quaint, energetic town with a historic port along the Kennebec River.

    The community in Hallowell is friendly and unique: wander downtown and you’ll find used book stores, jazz and blues clubs, and a library that welcomes “well-behaved dogs.” Hallowell is only an hour’s drive north of Portland and has an affordable median home price of $238,190.

Higher Education

Maine is home to some of the oldest institutions of higher education in New England. Most of them are located near Portland, since the state is so rural and relatively uninhabited.

The University of Maine is a public school that offers in-state tuition to state residents. Bowdoin College is a top-ranked private school in Brunswick that ranks highly as a liberal arts institution. Other schools in Maine include Colby College, Bates College, and College of the Atlantic.

Crime in Maine

If you’re moving to Maine, we’ve got great news for you: Maine ranks as the state with the lowest crime rates in the country.

It’s also the highest ranked for roadside service and emergency preparedness! Crime rates in Portland and Bangor are a little higher than in surrounding areas, but that’s to be expected for more densely populated urban neighborhoods.

As long as you are aware of your surroundings and keep your personal possessions safe and secured, you should feel perfectly safe throughout the state.

Are You Considering Maine as Your Next Home?

Whether you’re looking for a home close to the quaint towns on the coast or near the excitement and innovation of a city, Maine has something to offer.

With quick access to the ocean and Acadia National Parks and the up-and-coming restaurant and brewery scene in Portland, you’ll find close communities and plenty of things to do throughout the state.

Here at Nextburb, we’re committed to providing you with the facts you need to know about any area you’re considering as a future home.

Discover the best places to live in the United States to find out more about neighborhoods to live in, school ratings, crime data, and real estate options.

We’ll provide you with recommendations based on your lifestyle and budget preferences to help you discover where you want to go.

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