Maine is the north easternmost of the fifty US states. A versatile and vibrant landscape home to 1.3 million people. With an impressive 3500-miles of coastline to enjoy, you are never far from the sandy shores in Maine. The Atlantic coast is rugged and raw; waves crash against the rocks and the lighthouses stand proud above the choppy waters below.
When we said Maine offers a versatile landscape, we weren’t kidding. Maine has a desert! Almost unheard of in a state that is so very coastal. Outside the town of Freeport lies 40-acres of smooth, sandy desert; becoming an evermore popular attraction for both domestic and international visitors.
Maine is a keen fishing state, and in 2014 it produced nearly 90% of the United State’s lobster yield. For those who are fans of seafood, you will feel right at home here in Maine.
When it comes to looking at this state as a potential place to live, you’re already onto a winner with easy access to outstanding natural beauty. We appreciate that proximity to the wild isn’t the be all and end all, so in our list of 15 best places to live in Maine we have taken into consideration quality of public schools, job opportunities, and general amenities.
1. Cape Elizabeth
South of Portland, Maine, you will find the gorgeous and highly desirable Cape Elizabeth. Home to just 9,157 people, this small neighbourhood is idealistic in every possible way. Safe, happy and clean would be three words that best describe the best place to live in Maine.
Public schools in Cape Elizabeth are outstanding and plentiful. All eight public schools in this area are performing well above the national average.
Crescent Beach State Park is a very popular area for families to spend quality time together; this mile-long beach is safe for swimming and well as offering multiple trail walks and picnic areas.
Properties in Cape Elizabeth are above the national average but on par with the rest of the state and reasonable given the access to good schools and the perpetually low crime rates.
Cumberland is just as much of a wonderful place to live as Cape Elizabeth with the added bonus of slightly lower property prices and much lower monthly rent.
Cumberland has a wonderfully diverse population of 7,454 residents comprised of millennials who have come to the area to take advantage of the low median rent. As well as millennials, you’ll find young families in the area and retirees too, both groups who sought Cumberland for the low crime rates and community atmosphere.
For those looking for a snappy pace of life then Cumberland is not the place for you. Although suburban in aesthetic, there is very much a rural pace of life here. Locals refer to it as ‘quiet and quaint’, so no raucous nights out in Cumberland anytime soon.
In a strong third place is Falmouth. Divided straight down the middle by Highway 295 connecting you to Portland and Brunswick in well under an hour; creating lots of job opportunities for those willing to commute to work.
If access to the Atlantic coast isn’t enough, the easternmost point of Falmouth is shared with Highland Lake. Falmouth offers countless opportunities to get outdoors and reconnect with nature.
Falmouth is a dreamy location for parents to raise a family, this suburb is home to the best selection of schools in the state. From elementary school, middle school and up to high school too, there are eighteen schools to choose from, all of which perform consistently well.
4. Cumberland Center
Cumberland Center in Cumberland County is home to 2,664 people. The majority of residents live in owned homes, 86% in fact. Median monthly rent here in Cumberland Center is consistent with the national average.
House prices here are not only some of the most affordable in all of Maine but the best value for money too. For $279,000 you can invest in a 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom family home, with a spacious garden for the children to play and a private driveway too.
The low crime rates in the area make Cumberland Center the best place to raise a family in Maine, as well as access to outstanding schools, of course. When you add in proximity to outdoor activities and provisions of health services in the area, it is hard to find fault with this neighbourhood.
5. Falmouth Foreside
Falmouth Foreside is one of the most highly desirable areas to live in Maine, but it is the steep house prices that make this suburb something of an exclusive area. With dozens of properties boasting sea views, you are spoilt for choice in Falmouth Foreside if your budget can stretch.
There are some absolute bargains out there if you look hard enough. In some instances, you won’t get any change for $1m but along other streets in the neighbourhood, you can invest in a 3-bed, 3-bathroom family home that has breathtaking views of the bay for $589,000.
If you know you want to live in this beautiful neighbourhood, home to 1,702 people, it is worth keeping a close eye on what properties are on the market.
Although nightlife in Yarmouth is practically non-existent, there is a great deal of other desirable factors about this suburban neighbourhood. Local people note that it is the rugged coastline, expansive forests, fast-flowing rivers and gentle lakes that make them feel so happy to live here.
There is a strong community feel in Yarmouth that has developed from generation to generation. Unlike Falmouth Foreside, Yarmouth is far from exclusive. With median household income $74,000, it is safe to say that this is a true American neighbourhood.
Aside from the occasional incidence of theft, there is very little crime in the area. Levels of indecent behaviour are well below the national average.
7. North Yarmouth
Yarmouth…North Yarmouth…it may be a case of which house takes your fancy when it comes to choosing between these two neighbourhoods. There is very little difference between amenities, house prices, schooling or resident satisfaction. In all honesty, North Yarmouth has a more rural feel and is a little more sparsely populated.
Local people say that they can trust their neighbours and the area is clean and safe. The parks in the neighbourhood are perfect for exercising or dog walking, a great place to let the kids go and run.
The majority of houses on the market are stand alone, detached family homes with generous gardens, encompassed by trees for added privacy. Typically American in design, there are ample family homes for you to chose from in North Yarmouth.
A moment’s drive south of Portland, Maine, is the quiet suburb of Scarborough. This small town is a lovely place to live, simple as that. Of an evening local people will often take a stroll through the marshes and down onto the beaches.
There is a thriving community in Scarborough and is part of the reason why visitors come along throughout the year; they come for the coastal walks and holiday resorts too. But it is the people that really make a holiday, don’t you think?
Home to 19,348 people, Scarborough is very much a town, rather than a neighbourhood. That said, the strong community ethos creates a village-like feel to the place. Median home value is $315,000. Although this is more than double the national average, this is very much on par with the rest of Maine.
Freeport is home to lots of outlet stores so people trek from all around to visit the purveyors of the area. There is a very rural feel to Freeport, a small town home to 8,127 people. Schools in the area come highly praised by local people who have been more than satisfied by the education received by their children.
A short phase of burglaries occurred in the town, jilting the crime statistics a little, but with a strong community core, neighbourly natured residents can give assurance as to the safety of Freeport.
Although median home value is double the national average, there is great value for money in property in Freeport. $599,000 can purchase a 4-bed, 3-bathroom mansion-like family home with a rolling garden and off road parking.
Home to a close community of 7,500 people, Farmington may be rural but it has a lot to offer; namely low rent costs. The median rent in Farmington is just $654, greatly affordable and should weigh heavily for those who want to reside in Maine before investing in real estate elsewhere in the state.
Perhaps due to the rural nature of Farmington, it is the sixth safest place to live in the state, a firm tenth best place to live. Considering that highly desirable places like Falmouth Foreside only just scrape into the top five, it is fair that Farmington should settle in the tenth position.
There are ample shops run by local families to provide you with almost everything you would need on a day-to-day basis. The local pub is at the heart of the community.
Standing strong and proud on the peninsula of Casco Bay, we find the city of Portland, Maine. The Old Port area has become a very popular area for affluent Maineiacs to invest in the converted warehouse apartments.
The rest of the city is more affordable, less exclusive too. Median home value in the city centre is $239,000. There is a good market for tenants here in Portland, the median rent is bang on the national average. With 57% of people living in rented properties, there are plenty of options out there.
Being the city centre, there is a very diverse population of 66,490 people; both in terms of income and ethnicity. As such, there are a lot of opportunities to socialise, engage in the city’s nightlife and community events.
12. Bar Harbor
The island of Mount Desert that houses Bar Harbor is connected to the mainland by Highway 3. This is one of the most picturesque places to live in Maine and ideal for anyone who wants to be at one with the landscape and enjoy island life.
Home to just 5,200 people, the community know one another certainly by sight, if not by name. Median rent out on Mount Desert is very low, just $790 a month.
Potential newcomers to Bay Harbor must consider that there are few job opportunities out here and the cost of living is much higher. Being at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean the winters in Bar Harbor can be harsh and unrelenting.
Slow and steady Brunswick readily welcomes newcomers to the area. Right on the bay, there is a strong community, homey atmosphere here, despite there being 20,000 people that call it home.
Public schools in Brunswick are in no short supply and although only Brunswick High School has an A-rating, all the other sixteen schools in the area are performing at above satisfactory levels.
There are some wonderful local restaurants to enjoy for dinner and with brunch becoming a global phenomenon, why not brunch overlooking the bay? Most bars close at 1 am so there are no long and wild nights here but certainly a social life to indulge in.
Kennebunk is a small town on Highway 95. With many people born and bred in the town, there is a strong local community. The area is very safe and although of a suburban aesthetic, Kennebunk has a rural feel.
There are a good number of properties on the market at any given time and many have a classic wooden design. Almost all properties are on their own plot of land, detached from any other homes. For $565,000 you can invest in an impressive 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom single family home.
Median household income is $70,920 to give you an idea as to the status of residents here; happy, hardworking, salt of the earth Americans.
Within easy reach of Portland CBD is the neighbourhood of Gorham, home to 16,834 people. This commuter suburb is home to many people who trip into the city every day for work. That said, with a residential population this large, there are many job opportunities out there serving the local community. Restaurants, bars and stores all have to be staffed
Sebago Lake is just a short walk out of the neighbourhood and the Steep Falls Wildlife Management Area is a wonderful place to explore.
Locals say that the only thing they would complain about is the slight increase in traffic at rush hour. A reasonable compromise to live with in return for good schools and low crime levels.