You can’t get any further east in the United States than Maine. It has a border with New Hampshire to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick to the north. It is a land notable for its dense forests, rocky coasts, and low-profile rolling mountains.
Although the seafood options that come from Maine are notable today, the roughness of this land made it almost impossible to settle during the early years of the United States. As it entered the 18th century, only a handful of European settlements had managed to survive. Even during the War of 1812, the British were able to occupy the region because there was no one living there.
Up until 1820, Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Those who lived there voted to secede from the state and declare their independence, which allowed for statehood on March 15 of that year, thanks to the Missouri Compromise. It would become the 23rd state.
If you are thinking about living in Maine, then here are some of the pros and cons to think about when living in this New England state.
List of the Pros of Living in Maine
1. This state is still covered with plenty of forests and recreational space.
90% of the state is still covered in forests, even to this day. That is part of the reason why it earns the nickname of the “Pine Tree State.” With about 1.3 million people living there, there are plenty of open spaces to enjoy as well. It is the ninth least-populous state in the country, along with being the 38th most densely-populated areas. Unless you want to live in Augusta or Portland, you will find that there is plenty of room to keep to yourself while you explore the rugged region and climate.
2. If you love seafood, then you are going to appreciate living in Maine.
About 90% of the lobsters which are available for purchase in the United States come from fishing activities that are centered in Maine. There are about 40 million pounds available each year while still maintaining the health of the biomass. Several other fresh seafood options are available thanks to the proximity of the state to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing you to have your fill of your favorites.
Maine is a state that is filled with many tasty culinary morsels for you to enjoy if you know where to look. Some of the best food options come from coastal dives that seem less than inviting. You also have the opportunity to purchase straight from the boat in some communities.
3. The unemployment rate in Maine is phenomenally low.
People move to Maine because that is where they want to be. It’s a little out of the way, yet stays within close striking distance to Boston, New York City, and other significant destinations in New England. That means most people can find a job before they move, or right after they settle in, without much difficulty, especially since the unemployment rate for the state is usually below 3%.
Healthcare jobs tend to be the most prevalent in the state, with occupational therapists and nurse practitioners in high demand. Almost all of the highest paying jobs in Maine are in the medical field, but you can also find work as a software developer, mechanic, or a driver without much difficulty.
4. You can earn a fair wage for the work you do in Maine.
The minimum wage in Maine is $12 per hour, which is one of the highest in the United States right now. You’ll earn more living there than in almost any other New England state with the exception of Massachusetts. Compared to the $7.25 minimum wage that other states further south offer, you can make a decent living there while pursuing a job that you love.
5. There is a certain level of hospitality and charm found there.
Maybe it is because Maine is one of the oldest states in the country in terms of average age, but you will find a certain level of common courtesy there that is not always present in the other New England states. Although it isn’t the same kind of charm you would find in the south, there isn’t the same kind of standoffish attitude present in the daily conversation there that you find in some of the other cities in the region.
The lifestyle there is very laid-back and casual. People are rarely in a hurry to try to get things done. With the availability of so many outdoor adventures, like the beauty you can find at Acadia National Park, there is a lot to love there.
6. You will have access to an epic coastline.
The coastline of Maine consists of over 5,000 miles of rugged terrain to explore, offshore islands to visit, and stunning cliff-side views to enjoy. Not only are the sunsets spectacular in the state, but so are the sunrises as they happen over the Atlantic. You can almost always find a stretch of beach that is isolated from the rest, allowing you to decompress from a stressful day with the salty breeze and crashing waves. It is one of the most beautiful areas of the United States to enjoy if you love the idea of living along the coast.
7. If you love cats, then you are going to love living in Maine.
There is an official state cat, the Maine Coon, which is only one evidentiary element that proves there is a local love for felines. The people in this state also rank the highest for the number of households that have a cat living with them. There are also more no-kill shelters here than in any other part of the United States. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a dog person when living here, but you might get more than a few side-eye glances if you don’t have a kitty that shares your home with you.
8. Maine is one of the safest places to live in the country.
If you like the idea of being able to live somewhere that doesn’t make you worry about letting your kids go outside to play, then Maine is the place to be. The safety there is so ingrained into the society that it isn’t even necessary to lock your doors in some places. People look out for each other there all of the time – including the transplants that decide to make their way there. Shop owners make sure everyone has enough to eat. If the power goes out, then your neighbor with a generator will invite you over for dinner.
9. Rush hour really isn’t a problem if you start living in Maine.
If you have ever dealt with a rush-hour problem in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Seattle, then you’ll find the idea of the traffic in Portland to be laughable. Even during the peak hours of transportation, there are minimal delays to manage when trying to get home after work. If you’re lucky enough, you might even find a place that is close enough to your job that you could walk or ride a bicycle to work – although that might be problematic in the winter.
10. Summers in Maine are almost always perfect.
If you can manage the challenges of winter when living in Maine, then your reward is a comfortable summer. Many homeowners there have window air conditioners that they can use if there is a hot spell in July or August, but they rarely use them. There are perhaps ten really warm days in each season, and the coastal breeze keeps your humidity levels regulated so that it rarely feels hot and sticky.
List of the Cons of Living in Maine
1. Home values are higher in Maine than the national average.
You are going to pay a little extra for the privilege of living in Maine. The cost of a house there in this state is about $40,000 higher than the national average. If you prefer to rent a home instead, then your cost is about $1,900 per month. The best value in this category is to find a one-bedroom apartment in Augusta, where you can find some space available in the $600 per month range. If you want to live in Warwick or Portland, you can expect to pay about $1,200 per month.
2. Maine tends to be closer to a retirement community than a thriving neighborhood.
Maine is often the oldest state in the country when you look at the average age of its residents. Right now, the average person living there is 44 years old. There are several reasons for this issue, from the cost of living to the slower pace of life that is found across the state, but you can expect to meet more younger folks than older ones when you start living there. That may not be a disadvantage for some, but it could place some limits on the job opportunities which are available to you.
3. People are going to tell you what they think in Maine.
There isn’t much of a filter on the conversations that you have with others when you start living in Maine. The people in this state are open and honest about their feelings, ideas, and opinions. That means you won’t have trouble striking up a conversation with someone since everyone likes to have a chat there, but their short stories can turn out to be rather long and critical of who you are or what you believe. No one is trying to offend you on purpose. They simply want to convey how they feel and expect that you are willing to do the same.
4. Internet speeds are suboptimal in Maine.
The slower pace of life in Maine might be nice for some folks, but the slow pace of the Internet can be challenging for some entrepreneurs. There is limited access to high-speed services outside of the urban areas of the state, which is why some people say that young workers are struggling to justify the idea of moving there.
When you start living in Maine, you will discover that there is a preference for face-to-face interactions that happen in person. Instead of dealing with a busy, crazy lifestyle, they’ll get to their email at a time that is convenient for them. If that means never, then so be it. All of the trees in the state don’t help with the Wi-Fi either.
5. It might be beautiful, but the atmosphere is somewhat plain and a remnant of the past.
The way of life that you can find in Maine is pretty much the same as it was in past generations. There is not much diversity found in the state population, which means everyone pretty much does the same thing, every day, all day long. If you want to enjoy some ethnic cuisine, then good luck. Hope you like lobster because you are going to be eating a lot of it when you start living there – especially when the fishing is in season. If you like Chinese, Thai, or Indian food, then you are going to be in for a rude awakening. The only exception to this disadvantage occurs in Portland, where there are a handful of decent culinary options to try.
6. Having a low unemployment rate does not guarantee work.
Even though the job market is healthy when you start living in Maine, many of the employment opportunities you can find require highly specialized skills, a blue-collar approach, or force you to work for the minimum wage. Many young families have found themselves forced to leave in recent years because there were no advancement opportunities available to them. Unless you really appreciate the lifestyle that is found there in this state, it can be challenging to create a home and life for yourself and your kids that will help you to achieve your dreams.
7. Winter is a real weather problem when living in Maine.
If you like to have warmer temperatures, then the climate of Maine is going to be problematic for you. The winters can be cold, long, and harsh. Some of the cities in this state have an average temperature of 13F during December and January. When the storms of March come, it is not unusual for the famous Nor’easters to come around and dump several feet of snow on your head. It is not unusual for there to be a couple of home days each year because there is too much snow to manage.
8. There are a lot of strange laws in Maine that are sometimes enforced.
Have you ever gone through one of those click-bait articles where they show you some of the strangest laws in the United States? Many of them are on the books in Maine, and some of them are even enforced. It is illegal to leave your Christmas lights up beyond January 14th, and you will face a potential fine if you don’t take them down. You cannot own a pet armadillo in the state. It is illegal to step out of an airplane once it is in flight (sorry skydivers).
You will find that it is even illegal in Maine to walk down the street playing the violin if you happen to live in Augusta. Although most residents and law enforcement laugh off these regulations, you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation if someone decides to throw the book at you.
9. There are no real commercial entertainment options available in Maine.
If you love to watch professional sports, then you will need to make your way to Boston to watch a game. There are a handful of minor league teams to watch, including the Portland Sea Dogs, but nothing at the top-notch level. Concerts and theater are not as common up there either, unless you start talking about the local groups you can join.
That is the one thing about Maine that is so unique compared to the rest of the country. There are plenty of groups available in each community where you can pursue a shared interest with others. There are snowmobiling groups, dancing organizations, community theater, singing groups, and even opportunities to go cycling together.
Conclusion of the Pros and Cons of Living in Maine
If you like the idea of living somewhere that feels like a small town, gives you access to the coast, and supports a slower way of life, then you are going to love living in Maine. This state offers multiple wonders to enjoy, from the historic towns to the whale sightings that seem to be ever-present.
There are lighthouses, islands, mountains, and glorious amounts of seafood to enjoy all without breaking into your savings account to have fun. Although there are some challenges with the employment market, the issue is manageable for young families who are telecommuters, freelancers, or entrepreneurs.
The pros and cons of living in Maine will often require you to embrace a different lifestyle than the one you have now. If you are ready for a change, then there are plenty of opportunities to move there and start a new life for yourself.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.