Are you considering moving to Maine? You aren’t alone. This typically ignored state is suddenly being eyed by folks who want something better in life.
According to News Center Maine, approximately 34,200 people have moved into the state since July 2020. For a state that is so often ignored and overlooked, that’s a pretty large influx.
Why Are People Moving To Maine?
- It’s a family-oriented state. You’ll find plenty of family-oriented folks in this state.
- It’s safe. (In most areas. We have a few towns with a higher crime rate, but even those have lower crime rates than the national average.)
- Playing at the coast. With so many activities and beautiful scenery, it’s easy to understand why people want to be close to it.
- The great outdoors. For those who love to be outdoors, this is the state you want to be in. We have a vast amount of area for people to enjoy being one with nature, and Acadia National Park is among our proudest points of note.
If you are one of the many who are considering a move here, let’s first talk about some of the pros and cons of living here, and then we’ll dive into how to start the process.
Moving To Maine: Pros and Cons
- Maine is beautiful. There is almost nowhere you can drive here where you won’t be surrounded by beauty. The trees are lush, the summers aren’t usually overly hot (though this summer of 2023 was a doozy of heat and humidity), and the scenery along the coast is downright enviable.
- The slower pace of life. While Mainers are really good at getting things done, they tend to do it on their own time clock, and that’s just fine by them. The unhurried atmosphere found throughout most of the state is a real draw for many, and the further north you go, the more rural and slow it becomes. Of course, there are exceptions. Our bigger cities come with their own brand of hustle and bustle. But for the most part, Maine is a slow-paced state, and that’s a good thing.
- The seafood. Seafood lovers will adore living here. While it’s not cheaper just because you live close to the coast, it’s a beloved focus of cooking around here. And nowhere will you get a better cup of clam chowder or seafood stew.
- Jobs. We do have a good supply of jobs available in several sectors, and it’s a complete understatement to say that the entire state is in need of contractors of all kinds. Plumbers, electricians, general contractors, and more will never be out of work here, even in smaller towns. We need you, we want you, please move here.
- Access. Depending on where you move in the state, you will have pretty easy access to the rest of New England. While Maine only has a couple of main highways, getting between major areas isn’t too difficult if you are willing to drive. Boston is a major draw for some people, and New Hampshire is a great state to visit as well. If you live in southern Maine, Vermont is also an easy drive, and for folks who love longer road trips, Niagra Falls isn’t totally out of the question.
- Stephen King. I would be remiss if I didn’t include this beloved author’s hometown of Bangor, Maine. A drive over to Bangor to see his house is a reasonable day trip for most areas of Maine. Though, you most likely will never see the author himself. He no longer lives there and has instead turned the house into a retreat for working writers.
- Fuel prices for heating your house in winter are high across the board. No matter what fuel source you need for your home, be prepared to pay for it.
- The availability of resources in some areas is slim. For example, good luck getting a moving company to go past Portland. Thinking of using a POD? Forget it. A uHaul truck driven by you is the only way you’ll be moving anywhere north of Portland unless you are prepared to pay thousands of dollars to do so. And even then, some companies just do not go beyond the Portland area. (Ask me how I know…)
- While everyone knows that Maine gets plenty of snow and cold in winter, Mud Season is one thing I never hear people talk about. Maine gets a lot of rain in the spring; generally speaking, you will be traipsing through a lot of mud. If your driveway isn’t paved or covered in gravel or rocks, you’ll be tracking mud everywhere for most of the season.
- The state shuts down for winter, particularly if you live in a rural or more touristy area. Old Orchard Beach, a tourist haven in summer, becomes a veritable ghost town once everyone goes home for the season. You’d be hard-pressed to even find a bathroom you can use off-season. In fact, many towns have Main Streets here with shops that close down for the entire winter season. So, if it bothers you to be a bit more isolated in winter, think twice about moving here, especially before you get to know people.
- Depending on where you live in Maine, getting to a “regular store” such as Walmart or Target may not be in your future. If you aren’t prepared to live within driving distance of Portland, make sure you are ready to lose access to many of the amenities you may be used to, particularly if you are used to shopping at places like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Though, you can still find Target and Home Depot in bigger towns such as Augusta and Bangor.
So here’s the deal. Living in Maine is a way of life. It’s different from what many people are used to. If you aren’t willing to live differently than you do now, don’t move here. It’s that simple. If you are moving to Maine, you will meet grumpy Mainers, particularly online, that tell you not to come here, and there is something to be said about why they are so grumpy. Many people move here and then complain that it isn’t like it was “back home.” If you move here expecting life to stay the same, honestly, don’t bother. Maine is a lifestyle all its own. If you can’t handle that, look for another state. I say that with all the kindness I have in me. Because honestly, you just won’t be happy.
Mainers, as a whole, are wonderful people. Warm, welcoming, accepting, and kind. But they can also be gritty, stand-offish, and grumpy. If you come here and try to change their way of life, they won’t take it well. If you move here, you adjust to their way of life. Not the other way around.
How To Start Moving To Maine
- Research towns online. YouTube is a wealth of information, and so is Facebook. (See links below)
- Get on Facebook. Once you have a few towns narrowed down, I highly recommend joining Facebook groups for the town or city you are most interested in. Here, you can ask questions of the people who know best, and most Mainers are quite helpful. Just be aware that there are always going to be those grumpy Mainers in every Facebook group who don’t want people to move here. They tend to be vocal from time to time. Just accept it and move on. See some Facebook links below to get you started.
- Visit Maine. Once you have it narrowed down to one or two places, you’ll need to plan a trip up here. I highly recommend visiting twice, once in summer and once in winter. Winter travel may be more difficult, but seeing your potential town in winter could be a very eye-opening experience. If you don’t have the money for both trips, come in the summer. At least you’ll get a good sense of what things there are to do when the snow melts, and the state comes alive again.
- Find a good realtor. They are not all created equal. I can highly recommend this realtor for southern Maine. She helped me a lot with my latest move.
- Choose your realtor carefully. If you are moving a long distance, you will need a realtor who is willing to do video walk-throughs with you on the regular. While it’s best to see these homes in person, not all realtors here are great at helping you find a home with video walk-throughs. So make sure you establish that upfront.
- See it in person. When you find a house you like, please make the trip to come see it in person. NEVER buy a house, sight unseen, in the state of Maine.
- Start packing. Once you have a place, figure out how you will move. More on this further on in this article.
General Maine Groups
Maine Mom Groups
Area Specific Groups
The Politics Of Maine
While you would be hard-pressed to get a lot of Mainers to talk about where they stand politically, the state actually has an interesting spread of political views. Generally speaking, the South is very liberal. Moving up to mid-coast Maine, you’ll get about a 50/50 split; above that, it all gets much more conservative as it gets more rural. And moving inland will get you a more conservative bunch as well, particularly in smaller towns where you will see a lot of Trump flags proudly displayed. While I won’t take sides in this article, it’s a good thing to take note of if politics matter to you.
What To Know Before Moving To Maine
Mainers are an amazing bunch. They tend to be truly good people for the most part. But the further north you go, the more reserved they get. It can be hard to make friends here if you don’t have kids in school or some other method of meeting people. The best thing you can do is get involved in community events. Volunteer, get a job, and get involved in the community in any way you can. If you don’t, expect a long and lonely winter. (Again, ask me how I know…)
What To Get People Who Are Moving To Maine
If you know people who are moving to Maine, here are some gift ideas to help them acclimate to their new home state.
- For adults: Subscription to Down East magazine
- For kids: Robert McCloskey children’s books
- A gift card to L.L. Bean for winter clothes.
- A book: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Maine
Cost Of Living In Maine
While Maine is certainly cheaper than California or New York City, New England is not the cheapest place to live. Mainly because of the cost of heating and cooling your home throughout the year. I have a tiny little 600-square-foot house here, and my winter heating came to $300 a month. And my bill was a cheap one by most Maine standards. So brace yourself and budget accordingly.
Maine Real Estate
Buying a house in Maine is an interesting process. The best advice I can give you is NEVER trust the photos in the real estate listings. Unless you are purchasing a home over $500K, most of the real estate photos are very deceptive. Homes that look incredible online will be close to falling down when you see them in person. For some reason, people live in their homes for decades here, never fixing or repairing anything, and when the house is ready to fall down, they want to sell it for top dollar. So be prepared to pay for plenty of inspections. You will want them.
Biggest Cities In Maine
At the time of this writing, the three biggest cities in Maine are:
- Portland – Population: 68,424
- Lewiston – Population: 38,493
- Bangor – Population: 31,588
As mentioned above, if you are moving to Portland, you will have zero issues finding a mover. If you plan to move anywhere north of there, it gets much more difficult. You will start to have real trouble at about the mid-coast Maine point. Anything from that area and north or west of it will require you to drive your own uHaul. You may get lucky and find a large moving company that will make the move for you, but you will pay handsomely for it. So make sure you call around well ahead of time. And please, check moving company reviews before booking them. The one and only company I found that said they would move me up here turned out to be one of the worst companies I could have used because they were well known for holding your stuff hostage until you paid them more money than first stated. Luckily, I canceled them in time and got my uHaul.
Driving In Maine
Get your Maine license: Maine BMV
You have to do this within 30 days of establishing your residency here.
Homeschooling In Maine
I added this section here because I homeschool my kiddo, and I’m sure that others may be interested as well. So for others outside the state that hope or plan to do the same, here is some information to help you establish your homeschool here. The general outline for getting set up here is as follows:
- File with the Department of Education (online) that you intend to homeschool.
- Find your curriculum and get started because there is nothing else you need to do until the end of the year. Keep careful records of classes and attendance.
- At the end of the year, you’ll need to get all your school records reviewed. There are teachers here who provide this service. Any homeschool group will be able to refer you to one or two in your area. These teachers will review attendance and classes completed to ensure you are meeting the state requirements. They will send you a letter stating that they recommend your child for moving on to the next grade. It’s 2023, and I paid $40 for this service.
- With this letter, you must go back to the Department of Education website, file your intent to homeschool the following year and submit that letter along with it.
The whole process is very quick and simple from start to finish. However, if you do not use a program that keeps records for you, you will want to keep meticulous records in case anything ever comes into question. And please, familiarize yourself with the state requirements. Every state is different, and not all curriculums will include everything the state requires. If you find the teacher mentioned above at the beginning of the year instead of at the end, they can let you know what’s required.
What Is Maine Known For?
- Maple syrup
- Craft beer
- Fall Foliage
- Acadia National Park
- Maine Coon Cats
Fun Things To Do In Maine
While I intend on making a completely separate post on this soon, here are a few ideas for family fun in Maine. Singles will enjoy these too.
- Old Orchard Beach – Maine’s beach boardwalk with rides, food, and plenty of sandy coastline.
- Acadia National Park – This park is massive and well worth the drive north to see it. The views are spectacular, the hiking rigorous, and the Bar Harbor shopping is a fun time to be had.
- Leaf Peeping – This autumn activity is hard to avoid in Maine. Pretty much anywhere you go, you’ll see beautiful foliage that time of year. It’s worth a drive into the country to properly enjoy it, though. Find a farm to visit and make a day of it.
- Portland – Downtown Portland is a never-ending list of things to do. Commercial Street has great shopping; you can pretty much just throw a rock and hit a great restaurant, and no matter where you go, the ice cream is delicious. New England is truly great at making ice cream. Especially the smaller creameries.
- Portland Headlight – The most photographed lighthouse in the world is the Portland Headlight. This iconic building is surrounded by a park area with plenty of parking. Just bring coins to pay for parking.
- Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens – This park is such a fun time! If you enjoy a scavenger hunt, don’t miss this one! You’ll be hunting for 5 giant trolls that are part of a worldwide collection.
Maine is a magical place. I highly recommend it. Just remember, if you are moving to Maine, it will only stay magical if you take care of it and if you don’t try to change it. Adapt to the Maine way of life because the Maine slogan is very true…
“Maine: The way life should be.”