Thinking about living in Maine? If so, you’re in good hands.
I’ve lived in the Pine Tree State for the past 8 years and have definitely learned a thing or two about the honest pros and cons of living in Maine.
Home to a population of nearly 1.4 million residents, Maine is one of the least populated states in the country. A state best known for self-sufficient residents, natural beauty, blistering winters and Maine Lobsters — there’s so much to love (and not love) about calling this pretty place home.
But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so let’s cover everything you need to know about moving to Maine based on firsthand experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, I’m here to help!
Largest cities in Maine
The largest cities in Maine are Portland, Lewiston and Bangor.
- Population: 68,300
- Average Salary: $60,000
- Median Home Price: $500K
- Population: 36,600
- Average Salary: $56,000
- Median Home Price: $255K
- Population: 32,000
- Average Salary: $57,000
- Median Home Price: $250K
Pros & Cons of Living in Maine
Table of Contents
Living in Maine
- Largest cities in Maine
- Pros & Cons of Living in Maine
- First, the Pros of Moving to Maine
- Cons of Living in Maine
- Retiring in Maine FAQs
- Pros & Cons of Living in Maine (Post Summary)
First, the Pros of Moving to Maine
Easy-going New England vibe
One of my favorite things about living in Maine is the easy-going vibe New England culture is best known for. I associate New England living with self-sufficient locals, charming small towns, large swaths of rural areas and locals that will warm up to you after a generation or two.
Jokes aside, New Englanders have a reputation for being more reserved, but as an introvert I barely mind. I find the folks here rather charming and hospitable, sharing a common understanding on the importance of good manners and courtesy.
You won’t mistake locals for southerners by any stretch of the imagination, but you also won’t mistake them for the extra-reserved Pacific Northwest type either. Maine locals seem to fall perfectly between the two — easygoing and relaxed, no gossip.
Top notch air quality
Something I didn’t realize before moving to Maine is the top-notch air quality the state is known for. This is especially true in the northern regions of Maine, especially Bangor (which often ranks as one of the cleanest air city in the country).
Maine summers can’t be beat
The Pine Tree State is known for brutal winter (a well-warranted reputation, I assure you) but the trade off is perfect summers that can’t be beat.
The average highs in the summer range between 78°F (daytime) and 66°F (evening). Between the cooler temperatures and lack of humidity, you won’t have need for an A/C while living in Maine (which brings down the electricity bill substantially).
Imagine living in a place where you can enjoy the great outdoors without needing to run inside for AC every five minutes? Or jumping into the shower whenever you come home because of the humidity. It’s a good thing that summers in Maine are so perfect because there’s plenty to explore outdoors — which brings me to my next point.
Maine is a beautiful state
Something folks don’t realize until moving to Maine is how rural most of the state truly is. In fact, 90% of the state is forested! Most of the beauty in Maine (in my opinion) is reserved for the breathtaking lakes, coastline and forests.
We have a handful of mountains as well, but with the tallest peak capping out at nearly 5,600 feet, you can’t mistake us for a mountainous state. However, what we lack in mountains, we make up for in breathtaking coastline.
Maine has the fourth most coastline of any state in the country. Spanning nearly 3,500 miles, the state boasts more than 4,600 islands (imagine!). There’s never a shortage of dramatic cliffsides to explore, epic hikes to be had and panoramic sunset views while living in Maine.
And because most of the state is rural, crowds aren’t that common (outside of Acadia National Park, of course). Indeed, one of the perks of living in Maine is being able to find solitude in nature and thankfully, there’s plenty of it.
Great local cuisine
The local cuisine is arguably one of the best things about living in Maine. Fishing culture is huge here and locals can’t help buy benefit — our seafood is some of the best in the nation. But our cuisine doesn’t stop at the sea, not at all.
Maine is known for sustainable farming practices that produce local and fresh vegetables seasonally. Pay a visit to Portland, Maine and see what all the fuss is about (those restaurants can hold their own against bigger cities like New York and Boston).
My friends like to joke that the perk of living in Maine is having access to fine dinning food and regular-people prices and I can’t say I disagree. Seafood is always expensive, but the prices in Maine seem par for the course when considering quality.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on real maple syrup, you can’t go back to the other stuff afterwards.
Good to know about living in Maine: It’s all about the lobster
Lobster is an important part of Maine’s economy. In fact, 90% of the nation’s lobster supply comes from Maine — this comes out to roughly 40 million pounds per year.
Maine has one of the lowest crime rates in the country
Here’s yet another huge perk of living in Maine — it’s one of the safest states in the country. The low crime rates span the gamut — everything from low property crimes to low violent crimes helps Maine keep its reputation as one of the safest places in America.
When I ended up moving to Maine with my family in tow, the biggest selling point was hearing neighbors mention they didn’t lock their doors sometimes. I was sold.
Cons of Living in Maine
The job market sucks
One thing you won’t see often is folks moving to Maine for the stellar job market (because it doesn’t exist). Indeed, outside of Portland the state is rather rural so corporate jobs are non-existent.
What’s interesting about moving to Maine is the low unemployment rate, but that doesn’t translate into job opportunities.
But don’t just take my word for it. Maine is considered one of the 10 worst states to start a career post college graduation. Yep, we’re second only to West Virginia for the title — not cool.
What’s more, most of the jobs that are available tend to lean towards blue collar work, otherwise you’re stuck earning minimum wage (which is unlivable). And as you already know, upward mobility is damn near impossible in that line of work, which in turn makes living in Maine unaffordable for many.
Winters are brutal
Ah, so here’s something both lifelong locals and recent transplants can agree on: winters in Maine will have you clawing at the wall.
The entire state gets frozen over during the winter months (although the cold starts arriving in earnest in October). It doesn’t matter if you live in Maine’s northern reaches, Central Maine or near the bay — brace for wicked cold winters.
The average daily highs in December flirt with 15°F in the north to 25°F in the southernmost region of the state. Not warm by any stretch of the imagination.
I dreaded the winter months while living in Maine. My driveway was constantly snowed it and my car was always getting stuck in the snow so running errands became a full-day event. And before anyone asks — I had 4WD.
One way to get around the winters is to embrace the cold season fully. Take up skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing to make the season pass faster otherwise it will feel never-ending.
Lack of things to do while living in Maine
Here’s a statement that’s sure to ruffle some feathers (but feels true to me): Maine gets kind of boring after a while, especially for millennials.
I ended up moving to Maine for a job and lasted 6 years before feeling like I was wasting my youth (does mid-40’s still count as young?) and moving to New Jersey. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the experience of living in Maine, but after a while there just wasn’t enough around to keep me entertained.
I had a hell of a time fishing, hiking (Acadia National Park is stunning), drinking at local dive bars and eating my weight in seafood. But after 6 years I had my fill and decided to move on. Some folks love the rural vibe, but it just wasn’t working for me long-term.
It’s funny, shortly after moving to Maine one of my new neighbors made a joke congratulating me on “early retirement.” Intrigued, I asked him to elaborate and he told me that living in Maine feels like living in a retirement community. How right he was.
Interesting fact about living in Maine: Only 63% of residents believe they do something interesting every day, putting Maine in the top 10 states where folks has a weak sense of purpose.
Maine lacks diversity
Here’s a surprising fact about living in Maine: It’s the least diverse state in America. Yep, you read that right. Around 90% of residents identify as white, meaning you won’t see much ethnic diversity after moving to Maine.
It feels to me that the lack of diversity keeps everything stuck in the past. Everyone looks the same, thinks the same and does the same things day in and day out. There doesn’t seem to be an interest in different cultures or cuisines, so you’ll find little respite in those departments while living in Maine.
In fact, you won’t see much innovation after moving to Maine. In many ways, it feels like Maine is stuck in the past. There’s definitely something charming about the simple way of living in Maine (don’t get me wrong), but it loses its excitement rather quickly.
The exception to the rule is Portland, Maine. There’s definitely a lot going on in that city, but because of the harsh winters, you can only enjoy Portland like 3 months of the year.
Retiring in Maine FAQs
Is Maine a good place to live?
If you’re the self-sufficient type that doesn’t mind hard winters and a rural lifestyle, you may find living in Maine enjoyable. If you’re a city-dweller, look elsewhere because Portland may not satisfy you long term.
Is Maine a good place to retire?
If you’re set on retiring in Maine, you’ll find yourself among like-minded individuals. The median age in Maine is 44.8 years old, the second highest in the nation (second to the US Virgin Islands). However, between the brutal winters and rural way of life, I’d say retiring in Maine wouldn’t be my top choice. I need the sunshine (and preferably a state without income tax!).
Pros & Cons of Living in Maine (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of moving to Maine
- Easy-going New England vibe
- Top notch air quality
- Maine summers can’t be beat
- Great local cuisine
- Maine is a beautiful state
- Maine has one of the lowest crime rates in the country
- The job market sucks
- Winters are brutal
- Lack of things to do while living in Maine
- Maine lacks diversity
Kathy Riggs says
This was a great review. We are Floridians and have been in NC 10 years. A friend of ours moved back to Maine and constantly inquires for our interest to move there. Our friend is really my husband’s friend, and his marriage isn’t the most stable. Thus I would be much more on my own. At 67 I don’t know that I want to start over and with those long harsh winters.You never mention the subject but my personal biggest draw is pot is legal. But now I am sure it’s not enough to compensate for the winters and the time it will take to b up uld relationships. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH.
Amanda D says
Born and bred Maine gal and can’t imagine living anywhere else! The winters are hard yes but you can learn to love them with time!! You just need to find snow sports and wear good quality clothes.
John P says
Moving to Maine was one of the best things I ever did. I was tired of the rat race and wanted to find some peace in nature. I live an hour from Portland, Maine and like that I can go to town whenever I need to scratch the itch without having any of the down sides like crowds.
Maine is beautiful and I love that people know how to rely on themselves. Wish I would have moved here earlier.