Maine, also known as the “Pine Tree State,” is the East Coast’s northernmost state, and is right on the border to Canada. For many people, moving to Maine means a big change both in geography and lifestyle, but the change can offer a unique way of living and facilitate deeper connections to the natural world. As you learn more about the wonders Maine has to offer, you may start to see why others have excitedly moved to Maine.
When looking for a change in pace, many people ask themselves, “Is Maine a good place to live?” The intense winters that Maine offers can be exhilarating for people who love snow and winter activities, and the scenic landscapes offer an oasis from overly fast-paced lives. Maine has so much to offer, including low crime rates, high health care quality, seafood, and an affordable lifestyle.
If you’re thinking about moving to Maine, read on to discover what life in Maine is like and whether Maine can offer you what you need to live happily and healthfully.
Maine at a Glance
Located at the very tip of the continental United States, Maine is home to around 1,385,340 people, and it is the largest of all the New England States. Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820. Maine neighbors New Hampshire and the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec. Maine’s Atlantic coast has a well-known rocky coastline. The rugged climate and atmosphere makes Maine a beloved place for visitors and residents alike.
Maine was settled in by Europeans in the 17th century, but Maine’s story began long before colonization and was home to Native Americans for thousands of years. Some tribes associated with the state include the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Abenaki, Micmac, and Maliseet. These tribes are known as the Wabanaki, and native people’s histories have shaped the way Maine developed because they were the first stewards of Maine’s rich landscape and natural resources. Native Americans called their home, “The Land of Frozen Ground,” which accurately reflects Maine’s nature.
Maine is a very rural state, and even in its cities, Maine doesn’t have huge populations. Maine’s capital, Augusta, only has around 19,000 residents, while its largest city, Portland, is the 104th biggest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of around 68,0000.
Pros of Moving to Maine
Maine is an oasis for many retirees and families who choose to move to the state to find new ways to engage with nature and the people around them. Many sights of Maine are perfect for postcards and social media posts, so it’s no wonder that so many people are attracted to what Maine can offer them. From its beautiful sights to its affordable lifestyle, Maine has a lot to give new residents and old residents alike.
1. Natural Beauty
Maine is known primarily for its natural offerings. With 5,000 miles of coastline, there are plenty of beaches to enjoy. Maine also has a lot of parks to explore. These parks include mountains, streams, and plenty of walkable trails for your enjoyment. Maine’s parks are home to many of the Pine State’s pine trees, so you can often catch the scent of pine wherever you go in Maine.
Some places that showcase the beauty of Maine include Portland Head Light, Penobscot Narrows Bridge Peaks Island, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor Bay, Mount Katahdin, Camden Hills State Park, and Moxie Falls.
2. Low Crime Rates
The low crime rates of Maine make it an appealing choice for many families and individuals who want to ensure they have safe and happy lives. The U.S. News & World Report ranks Maine as #2 for Crimes and corrections and is ranked #1 for public safety and #4 for corrections outcomes. Thus, many people feel especially secure when they are in Maine.
One of the crime rates that stands out is the violent crime rate. While the United States’ violent crime rate is 399 per 100k residents, Maine’s crime rates are much lower, and only 109 out of 100K residents are victims of violent crime in Maine. Thus, Maine is one of the safest states in the United States.
3. High Health Care Quality
Just as Maine ranks high for low crime rates, it also does pretty well when it comes to healthcare. Although Maine is only ranked in the middle for overall healthcare at #25, it is #14 for healthcare quality, so the population is likely to get good care when they seek help. Maine also has lower than the national average when it comes to preventable hospital admissions.
Maine is home to some notable healthcare facilities and hospitals. Some of the top Maine hospitals include Maine Medical Center, Acadia Hospital, Aroostook Medical Center, and Barbar Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center.
4. Striving for Equality
One of the main goals of Maine as a state is promoting equality. Maine is ranked as the sixth most equal state. The ranking compiles different factors such as rates of men and women participating in the workforce, income gaps, employment of disabled people, educational success, employment rates between races, and other potential disparities.
5. Millions of Pounds of Seafood
If you’re looking for fresh seafood, Maine is a great place to settle down. Maine produces around 40 million pounds of seafood each year. Whether you catch it yourself, buy fresh from a market, or have it at one of Maine’s eateries, Maine has some of the best seafood in the United States.
Of the seafood they produce, one of the most popular options is lobster. All but 10% of all the lobster sold in the United States comes from Maine, but Maine offers so much more than just lobster. Maine is also known for its crabs, scallops, salmon, and clams, just to name a few of the delicious types of seafood in Maine.
6. Affordable Lifestyle
Maine gives people the chance to have an affordable lifestyle, and it is the most affordable of all the New England states. When looking at an affordable lifestyle, it’s crucial to look at the cost of living. The estimated cost of living for Maine is $50,559 annually. While this number is higher than in some states, the quality of living combined with job opportunities and amenities makes the price of living in Maine more than worthwhile.
Even the sales tax is affordable in Maine! With only a 5.5% sales tax and no local sales taxes, you won’t have to add a whole lot to what you’re already paying. Some purchases like lodging, marijuana, or vehicle rental may have extra taxes, but overall, Maine sales taxes won’t break the bank.
7. Not A Lot of Traffic
The rural nature of Maine means that you don’t have to deal with a whole lot of traffic. Even if you are in the city traffic isn’t going to be too overwhelming. Of course, you will have to deal with driving through snow and other severe weather, but your commute is likely to be relatively short.
8. Employment Opportunities
The national average for unemployment is 3.8%, but in Maine, that number is only 2.5%, so Maine has had good trends in its unemployment rate lately, which has consistently stayed lower than the nation at large. Maine’s Center for Workforce Research and Information suggests that employment across all industries will have a growth of 2.2% from 2020 to 2030.
Many industries have a presence in Maine, but some prominent areas where there are expected to be the most job opportunities include retail salespersons, home health and personal care aids, and registered nurses.
Cons of Moving to Maine
There’s no doubt that Maine has a lot to offer. From ski trails and pine forests to rocky coasts and vibrant autumns, the natural beauty of Maine marks it as a desirable state for many people looking for a slower pace of life and natural adventures. However, not everything in Maine is smooth sailing, and a few cons may make you think twice before moving to Maine.
1. Poor Internet Infrastructure
No matter how much you want good internet service, it can be hard to get that service because of the infrastructure issues that Maine faces when it comes to internet. Rural areas commonly have slow internet, and even in urban areas, the speed of the internet you have may be slower than you want it to be.
2. Mostly Outdoor Activities
Most of Maine’s activities are outdoor activities, so you may find yourself wanting more to do when it’s cold or rainy. There aren’t a lot of malls or shopping developments in Maine, and if you’re a fan of nightlife, your options are sparse (but you can cross the border into Canada). Even the biggest cities in Maine cannot compare to the stimulation of cities like New York, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles.
3. Low Diversity
Although Maine loves to promote equality, the state has low diversity. The population of Maine has become more diverse over the past decade, but Maine remains the whitest state in the United States. Over 93 percent of Maine’s population is white.
Despite being predominantly white, recent trends show an honest effort to include more voices in important discussions. Maine has been striving to have more diverse political representation and has elected its most diverse legislature, which reflects the state’s spirit of equality.
Diversity is not widely found across the state, some areas offer the promise of more diversity. Portland will have more diversity. Neighborhoods in Portland like West Bayside or Riverton or the suburb of South Windham offer a chance to have a more diverse experience in Maine.
4. Hit or Miss Education
Ranked #34 by the U.S. World News & Report for overall education, Maine is in the bottom half of all states as far as education is concerned. If education is a concern for you, it is vital that you are mindful of what areas you choose to live in and what school districts can offer a quality education.
Many families are concerned about getting a good pre-K to 12 education for their kids. Maine is ranked at #28, so while there are many struggling schools, there are educational opportunities available for kids. Niche Places has ranked certain Maine areas as having strong public schools. These areas include Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, and Veazie.
The state is even lower when it comes to higher education with a rank of #39. While Maine is lacking in college options and outcomes, the University of Maine or the University of New England are options for top-ranked Maine schools that can provide a good higher education.
5. Intense Winters
Lots of people love the cold, snowy winters of Maine, but a lot of people aren’t prepared for how intense Maine winters can be. While from afar, lots of snow and chilly weather can seem cozy, when you have to actually deal with that weather, some of the glamor goes away.
When you live in Maine, you can expect to have at least 50 inches of snow each year. That means a lot of shoveling! Additionally, winter weather doesn’t stick to a strict schedule, and you can still have cold and snow even into May or starting in Autumn!
Not only is winter in Maine cold and snowy, but being so far North, it gets dark very soon, so people with seasonal depression may struggle to feel good as they try to get through Maine’s intense winters. Mainers don’t let the snow stop them from living their lives, and they learn to deal with it rather than letting it paralyze them.
6. An Older Population
People of all ages live in Maine, but the demographics skew older. While having an older population isn’t inherently a con, Maine caters more to retirees than young families. Nearly 20% of the population is older than 65 years old. For retirees, this dynamic can create a great community, but many services and attractions appeal to the older population.
For those looking for a younger area to live in, West Bayside is a common neighborhood for those in their 20s and 30s to live in. Portland also offers a lot more cultural activities and sites than some of the more rural areas that are prominent in Maine.
7. Expensive Homes
The cost to rent or purchase homes in Maine tends to be more expensive than the national average. Thus, if you are looking to move to Maine, you may have to invest more to get the kind of home you want. Estimates from Zillow suggest that Maine’s average home price is about $389,848, which has gone up 4.6% over the last year.
8. Few Public Transit Options
Unfortunately, Maine does not have a lot of public transportation options, so most residents need a car to get from place to place. The public transit options that Maine does have will not extend to most rural areas, and even in urban areas, where you can go with public transportation will be limited.
How to Decide If Maine is a Good Place to Live for You?
Now that you understand the pros and cons of living in Maine, you are empowered with the necessary information to make an informed decision about whether living in Maine is right for you.
Rank Your Priorities
When deciding if Maine is the right choice for you, you need to figure out what qualities are most important to you. Rank your priorities so that you have an idea of not just what you want for your future but also what you’re willing or unwilling to compromise on.
Compare and Contrast
Compare what you currently have and contrast that with what you could have in Maine. Additionally, take your priority list and compare all your potential living locations to that list. How does Maine stand up? There’s not an exact equation to help you know which place wins out, but writing down this information can help you better conceptualize what fits your needs best.
What Lifestyle Appeals to You
Lifestyle matters a lot when moving to a main place. If you love big-city living, Maine likely won’t appeal to you, but if you want to embrace rural life, natural charm, and intense winters, Maine will have a lot of qualities you will love. If you have unique lifestyle needs, make sure that Maine can support those needs.
Look at Your Budget
Before any move, you want to make sure that you can afford the cost of living in your new state and circumstances. Carefully look at your budget to ensure you can afford to live in Maine and that you have enough savings for all moving costs.
Think of Long-term Goals
You don’t just want to think of what is good for you now, but you also want to evaluate what is best for your long-term goals. Do you have retirement plans? Are there certain career goals you’ll want to reach? Don’t just think of your personal goals, but consider the goals of each person who will be going on the move with you. You want to make sure that Maine isn’t just a place you’d want to go on vacation, but it is a place you want to spend lots of time in.
Tips for Moving to Maine
There’s no doubt that moving to Maine is a huge process, especially if you are moving from far away. You can use the following tips to help make a move to Maine easier.
- Determine what areas of Maine appeal to you the most and will offer all the amenities that you want for your new life.
- Stay organized with all the information you collect about Maine and your move to Maine. Keeping information in one location, such as a folder, can help you guarantee you don’t lose anything important.
- Schedule movers and other professionals well in advance to ensure that you can keep to your desired moving schedule.
- Organize all your items, and get rid of anything that you won’t need for your new life in Maine.
- Get your winter gear ready and have it ready to pull out right away. Winter weather lasts a long time in Maine. It’s normal to have snow and cold weather from October to April, so movers often like to move in the summer or early autumn to ensure the weather will be less harsh.
- Stay for an extended stay to get to know what it would be like to live in Maine. If you can, coming to Maine during winter will give you an idea of the hardships you’ll have to go through during a Maine winter, and you’ll see if you can survive the worst Maine has to offer.
- Prepare yourself for wildlife. Maine has a huge population of moose and other wildlife. If you like to walk and hike, you’ll want to be cautious around moose.
Moving is always going to be a challenge, but when you are organized and plan your move ahead, you can make the move more exciting than scary.
Moving to a whole new place is a big decision, so you may be feeling a little indecisive even after reviewing all the provided information. The following frequently asked questions may help you further clarify what you want and determine whether Maine is the right choice for you.
Maine winters are not for the faint of heart, and no matter where you are, you’re likely to get a lot of snow in Maine. Coastal areas get around 50 to 70 inches of snow each year, while inland areas get even more and can expect 60 to 110 inches of snow annually. All this snow is perfect for those who love skiing or snowboarding, but when you have to shovel all that snow, it can get frustrating.
Maine offers many neighborhoods that are family-friendly and many activities that kids are sure to love. Families love how safe Maine is and affordable living opportunities allow families to thrive without feeling too much strain. However, some areas of Maine may be more dominated by retirees, so choosing an area that has good schools and other families is important.
There’s no doubt that Maine is full of friendly people. Mainers love to offer kindness and bolster their reputation as one of the friendliest states. Of course, in any state, you’ll come across people who aren’t quite as friendly, but overall Maine will welcome new faces with kindness and compassion.
Across New England, Maine has the lowest cost of living. Maine is an affordable place to live because many normal expenses in Maine are either cheaper or on par with the national average. Some areas of Maine are more expensive, but the disparities between areas are not dramatic, so you can expect reasonable living costs no matter where you choose to live.
What a good salary is will depend on your industry and family situation, but the average salary in Maine is about $57,823 per year or $28 per hour. Most jobs will pay somewhere between $38,000 and $75,000 each year, but there are outliers.
Maine is not home to many immigrants. About 4 percent of Maine residents are immigrants and 7 percent were born in America but have one or more parents that are immigrants, many coming from Canada. Attracting more immigrants has been discussed by leaders, and the governor of Maine has proposed a goal of resettling 75,000 foreign-born migrants in Maine by 2029.
All places on the Earth are in danger of climate change, but the impacts of climate change can already be seen in Maine. These impacts affect the landscape, infrastructure, health, ecosystems, economy, and resources of Maine and will continue to do so in the coming years. Thus, Maine’s government must adapt to climate change challenges and come up with innovative solutions.
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Written by Allen Lee
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