Located on the coast, brimming with an old, rich history, and steadily becoming one of the most attractive cities in Maine, all this and more is the city of Portland. Portland marries its heritage with its modern bustling scene like few other cities can. 19th century architecture stands alongside pubs and restaurants, and all of this gets a healthy dose of nature as well.
Maine is known as Vacationland, so you know that settling down in one of its top cities will lead to a breezy life. Or will it? From the fun and dreamy to the more realistic and boring, we crunch some numbers and take you through what it’s like moving to Portland, Maine.
What Should I Know Before Moving To Portland, Maine
Portland sure seems like a small city, but it is in fact the largest city in Maine. It has a current estimated population of 65,835. Portland spans over 69 miles, and has a population density of 3,052 people per square mile. The population of Portland has dropped by -54% since 2010, a very slow decline, which means less of a crowd and none of that congested feeling urban cities tend to bring!
But packed into these 69 miles is nature, coastline, a great public library, craft beer, top-notch dining and loads of art. Portland has a rich maritime heritage that dates back to the fishing settlement it used to be, back in the year of its establishment (1632). Since then, this history has retained itself in the form of all the rich architecture the city boasts, from the Federal-style Maine Fire & Marine Insurance Company Building to the Old Port. Simply head to the Arts District for your fill of all things artistic, and definitely get your fill of the delicious Maine lobster at the various eateries around.
Want a view of the sea? There’s over 3,000 miles of Maine’s coastline and all of Casco Bay. Either cycle or stroll along the coast, or hop aboard a ferry ride to one of the surrounding islands for a day picnic. Head to the Western Promenade public park to catch a glimpse of some rivers and mountains. The massive Acadia National Park is within 4 hours’ drive of the city while the Baxter State Park is a little over 5 hours out.
The city itself cares for nature and her bounties. There’s over 70 miles of trails snaking their way across the city and its surrounding communities, all maintained by a nonprofit called Portland Trails. In addition to this, the city has also banned the use of synthetic pesticides and only allows for organic land care techniques. All of this and more make Portland a great city to live in, but let’s delve a little deeper to look at more practical aspects.
Crime Rate In Portland, Maine
An aspect that all people should consider when looking at places to move is the crime rate. After all, even with the most vibrant culture and bustling nightlife, the place you call home should let you sleep soundly at night. We’ve chalked up the crime rate in Portland, Maine, and right off the bat, you can heave a sigh of relief. In terms of violent crimes (rapes, murders and others of a sinister nature), the crime comparison per 1,000 residents is a measly 2.43, nearly 50% less than the national average of 4. Your chances of being a victim of violent crime in Portland is 1 in 411.
Moving onto property crimes (motor vehicle theft, arson, larceny, and burglary), the rates are a little more worrying. Your chances of being a victim of property crime in Portland is 1 in 39, which is 25.9 when compared with 1,000 residents. If it’s any consolation, this is only marginally higher than the national median of 21.
Portland Maine Weather
With a fair share of rain, snow and sun, Portland has fairly distinct seasons the year round. Overall, temperatures range from as low as 16°F to as high as 78°F. Summers in Portland last from around June to the beginning of September, and temperatures reach an average daily high over 69°F. July tends to be the hottest month with an average high of around 78°F. These months are perfect to head to the beaches or explore the many hiking trails in and around the city.
As September rolls around, the city sheds its summer colors and dons autumnal hues of yellow and red instead. Lower temperatures hover around 58°F making it fairly pleasant and enjoyable. Winter and its snow show up in November, and by January, temperatures range from 31°F to 13°F. Average daily high temperatures during the cold season are normally below 40°F, and this starts to change in the month of March. March brings with it all the pleasantness of spring and this lasts till June.
Portland suffers from a wide misconception that its winters are harsh. While its winter and cold are certainly palpable with snowfall and low temperatures, it isn’t unbearable whatsoever. Plus, winter brings with it its own range of activities that includes snowshoeing, snowboarding and skiing. Of course, you can always head off on a hike to admire nature in all her wintry beauty.
How Expensive Is It To Live In Portland, Maine
Crime rates may be an unpleasant yet important detail to look up, but nothing beats the anxiety of wondering whether or not you have enough Benjamins to afford a life in your desired city. Suck in that gut and hold your breath, we’ve comprehensively covered it all.
Cost of Living In Portland, Maine
The cost of living in Portland is 13% higher than the national average. However, before you panic, remember that the cost of living differs from person to person, and greatly depends on a range of factors like where you live, your average salary, spending habits etc. A loaf of bread in Portland, Maine will cost you $3.34, while a bunch of bananas will cost $3.37. Expect to pay around $1.95 for a gallon of milk, and around $1.82 for a carton of eggs.
Healthcare in Portland, Maine is 8% higher than the national average, with a visit to the doctor costing $119.23. A visit to the dentist will cost $102.43. Heading to the vet? Expect to pay around $56.77. The minimum combined 2021 sales tax rate (combining state, county and city sales tax rates) for Portland, Maine is 5.5%.
Buying A House
In the past decade or so, the demand for housing in Portland has increased but the supply hasn’t kept up just as much. The result? Housing prices that are 25% higher than the national average. The median house price in Portland, Maine is $433,403 while the median house value is $392,044. Home values have gone up by 16.1% over the past year. The property tax for Portland, Maine, levied according to the mill rate, is $23.31.
Renting A House
The median rent for homes in Portland is $1,358 per month. A one-bedroom studio apartment can go for $820 – $1,500, while a 2-bedroom apartment can go for around $1,295.
The cost of utilities in Portland is 17% higher than the national average. Your monthly energy bill could come to around $195.49 a month, while the phone bill hovers around $208.39 a month. $44.89 is the estimated monthly water bill for a single family consumer, while electricity, heating, water and garbage for a 915 square-foot apartment can come to around $174.97.
Portland, Maine Economy And Employment Opportunities
Portland’s economy is thriving, and around one third of its businesses are service related. Another 20% are the retail industry, 10% are government jobs, fewer than 10% are the manufacturing businesses and the remaining are a handful of miscellaneous businesses.
The healthcare industry plays an important role when it comes to employment and the economy. Finance is yet another important industry here, and Portland is even home to the state’s third-largest banking and financial services company – Bank North Group. And of course, who can forget the role of the coast. In terms of tonnage, Portland’s port is the largest in New England, and trade plays a major role in its economy. Finally, with their important role come the lobsters; Portland is one of the major contributors to Maine’s annual lobster catch, the largest in the country.
Portland has an unemployment rate of 1.9%, lower than the US average of 3.7%. The average salary in Portland, Maine is 63k a year. Some of the most popular jobs in the city are Project Manager, Operations Manager, and Mechanical Engineer, paying between $40k and $110k per year. As mentioned, healthcare is important; the Maine Medical Center is the largest hospital in the state and also one of Portland’s largest employers. It is joined by MaineHealth, where the upper salary touches $110k. The most common company reported by employees in Portland is Idexx Laboratories.
Education in Portland, Maine is not something that’s taken lightly, depicted by the 93% 25 years or older residents who have at least graduated high school. 53% have a bachelor’s degree, while the school dropout rate is at a mere 7%. Portland has a total of 23 schools, of which 16 are public schools and 7 are private schools. The schools spend an estimated $15,796 per student, significantly higher than the US average of $12,383.
Portland Public Schools is the biggest and most diverse school district in Maine. It serves around 7,000 students and over 4,500 adult learners. In addition to this, around 5,000 Maine children are homeschooled each year. As part of the rules, parents take full responsibility for the child and exclusively will fund their home instruction. Check the extremely informative Maine Department of Education’s website for more information.
Getting Around Portland, Maine
Getting around Portland is anything but a hassle, especially since the city is fairly small. There’s public transportation, and the city also supports bicycling and walking. Read on for a better understanding.
The entire Greater Portland region is well connected by the METRO bus service. Local services are available for Portland, Falmouth, South Portland, Westbrook, Gorham, Maine Mall and Jetport, while express bus services run along all METRO routes and the METRO BREEZ service to Yarmouth, Freeport, and Brunswick. There’s a total of nine routes throughout the city, and stops on local routes are ¼ miles apart.
All buses are accessible and are equipped with passenger lifts or ramps. If the service day ends, you can still ask the operator to remain on the bus and disembark at a stop along their planned route back to the garage (Saint John Street). Several stops are near museums, galleries, shops and other attractions, and also help connect passengers to other modes of transportation. You can obtain a monthly pass to ride the bus. Full local fares are $2.00, and the full express fare is $4.00.
Casco Bay Ferry
The Casco Bay Ferry connects people, vehicles and freight from Portland to Casco Bay’s many islands, including Peaks, Little Diamond, Great Diamond, Long Island, Chebeague, and Cliff. The regularly scheduled ferry operates 365 days a year, with different fares depending on your destination island during the peak season and the off season. You can also get an annual pass and a monthly pass.
Portland is also well connected to the rest of America and the world by the Portland International Airport or Jetport. Maine’s largest airport, the Jetport is just five miles from the heart of Portland. The AMTRAK Downeaster line makes for great connectivity between Brunswick to Boston and beyond. Driving around the city is fine, but you may find that parking can be quite the hassle. This is even worse in the winter months when the City of Portland implements citywide parking bans for snow plowing or snow removal. Ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft operate in Portland, so you have backup in case you need it.
Best Neighborhoods In Portland, Maine
Choosing a city is one thing, choosing a neighborhood is another. Your ideal neighborhood should be a place where you can fit in, that not only meets your needs and requirements but also feels like home.
1. West Bayside
Perfect for people looking for a relatively hidden gem, West Bayside is a neighborhood that is growing increasingly diverse. There’s plenty of breweries and rooftop bars and plenty more food-trucks. There’s fantastically easy accessibility to the hip Arts District and the heritage Old Port, and the place is abuzz like no other.
The median home value in West Bayside is $378,704, and the average rent is $1600.
2. East End
Nature and peace lovers, head to East End. Perfect for the ramblers and the families, East End sits snug around the 68+ acre recreation area of the Eastern Promenade. There’s vast fields, monuments, gardens and playgrounds, several along the waterfront, ideal for kids and adults alike to catch a break from the daily grind.
The average rent in East End is $1,250, while the median home value is $495,079.
3. Deering Center
Practically a dream come true for families is Deering Center, with its great public schools and open spaces. There’s plenty of village stores, restaurants and shops, so your weeknds can be occupied. Kids too restless for these? Simply make use of the nature and parks around you and go off on a picnic.
The average rent in Deering Center is $1150, while the median home value is $425,881.
Is Portland, Maine A Good City To Live In
In our opinion, Portland, Maine is a great city to call home. It has the nightlife, bustling busyness and stores that the bigger cities do, without the crowdedness, constant rush and exhaustion that they bring. The city itself is small so transportation is hardly ever a problem, though do consider your work commute and parking scenario if you intend on driving your own car. That being said, the real estate market in Portland isn’t the best right now, and it seems to be a common challenge for people to find houses to buy or rent. Our advice? Count your cards carefully and make your decision; securing a job and a house are your two most important, yet technically most challenging tasks. Tick those off the list, and all else falls into place.
Is It Expensive To Live In Portland, Maine?
Living in Portland, Maine isn’t expensive if you manage to secure a job that pays an above-average salary. However, overall, the city is expensive for its small size, but isn’t when compared to larger cities like Boston and San Francisco.
Is Portland, Maine A Walkable City?
Yes, Portland, Maine is a walkable city. There’s enough space for pedestrians to comfortably walk around, though the city isn’t small enough to be entirely explored on foot.
Is Portland, Maine Safe At Night?
Yes, Portland is safe at night. It has a relatively low crime rate, though we must add – avoid the dark, desolate areas and avoid attracting trouble to stay as safe as possible.