A Guide to Moving to: Maine

(Everything you need to know - and more)

Thinking about moving to Maine, huh? Well, you're in the right place. We’ve gone ahead and created this super-helpful guide about stuff worth considering. It’s packed with everything from the history, to the must-see sites, and even some weird trivia for good measure. In the end, you should have a clearer picture to help decide if Maine is right for you. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

Let’s get started.

Maine 101

Known as The Pine Tree State, Maine is 9/10 covered in forests and is actually the most heavily forested state in the country. But it's got so much more to offer than just the sweet smell of pine, and the 1,341,582 Mainers will all tell you the same. 

To start off, Maine provides 90% of the country's lobster supply, producing more than 40 million pounds of lobster annually. That’s a lot of claws to be cracked.

Maine is said to have been discovered by Vikings approximately 1,000 years ago. Some of the state's earliest settlers were descendants of hunters from the Ice Age. Maybe it was those lobsters they were after…

Still hungry for more? Good, because that was just the appetizer. Now we’ll get into the real meat to see what other tasty morsels Maine has to offer. So grab your comfy pants, here we go.

Job Market

Maine is the 42st most populous state in the country and the least densely populated state in New England—great if you love elbow room. The people here are spread out, with miles upon miles of untouched land. Maine is also reported to have one of the slowest growth rates in the US, but that just means all the more for you. That being said, where do they work?

Well, the fastest-growing jobs in Maine are nurse practitioner, physical therapist, software developer, taxi driver, occupational therapist and mechanic. It goes on to list the highest-paying jobs currently as surgeon, OB/GYN, pediatrician, dentist, psychiatrist and nurse anesthetist. Looks like the majority of the workforce in Maine can be found somewhere in the medical field.

Maine currently has an unemployment rate of 2.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is below the national average. It also has a state-enforced minimum wage of $10/hour, according to minimum-wage.org, which is a fair amount higher than the federal minimum. 

But now you’re probably wondering, “Where do they live?”

Housing

Keeping Maine's spread-out population in mind, it can be hard to picture what the housing options look like. But we’ll try to paint you a picture with a bunch of numbers and ranges of options throughout the state.

Our friends at Zillow tell us that the current average home value is around $222,600, which has increased 7.4% in just the past year. Homes are currently listed on the market at an average of $245,000. 

But what if you prefer renting a home to buying one? Well, in that case, you can expect to pay rent of around $1,900/month. Buuuuut, if you just flat-out prefer living in an apartment, or a flat for that matter, it’s a different story altogether.

Maine's largest city, Portland, has one-bedrooms listed for about $1,214/month. But in Warwick, that same one-bedroom would go for about $1,472/month. If you prefer rent on the super-cheap, and you have the freedom to live wherever you want, you could pay only $585/month in Augusta, the state’s capital.

Depending on your ability, and desire, you can expect to find plenty of housing options for just about any budget.

Local Culture

Maine has been referred to as the "oldest state in the nation," and that’s not referring to its number of years as a state. When it comes to the age of its inhabitants, the average Maine resident is 44 years old. Perhaps younger people just aren't drawn to the slower pace of life Maine has to offer.

According to a number of residents, Mainers have a certain kind of niceness and "common courtesy" that’s harder to find in other areas of New England. They’re "open and honest" and are known to be a bit on the chatty side. So beware of short stories that may turn out to be on the long side. We suppose it’s probably due to the laid-back lifestyle. In a state this beautiful, why would you ever want to be in a hurry?

Despite having a fair number of “larger” cities, Maine still manages to give off a pretty adorable small-town vibe. In many areas, it’s fairly common to run into an acquaintance or two while you're out and about (and then maybe again a couple of days later). Anybody else feel like singing, “Where everybody knows your na-a-ame…”

The Pine Tree State Trivia

We’ve already mentioned Maine’s slower pace of life, but coincidentally, that corresponds to their Internet speed, too—not sure which came first, though. Local Millennials complained that there is limited access to high-speed Internet in many areas throughout the state. Many even went so far as to say that it’s one of the biggest reasons why many younger people move away from Maine. 

Older residents defended the lack of high-speed Internet while hemming and hawing about the social media crazed lifestyle that typically comes with it. See, Mainers tend to highly value in-person, face-to-face interactions. You know, the old-fashioned way. Plus, those trees naturally do a real number blocking those Wi-Fi signals.

In addition to its impressive forests, Maine has mountainous terrain and a rocky coastline—more than 5,000 miles of it. It's also the birthplace of perhaps the most famous horror author of all time, Stephen King. He was born in Portland and currently resides in Bangor. Sorry, though, his often-used setting of Castle Rock is only a fictional town. 

Maine’s got moxie. No, seriously. Moxie soda is a treat native to the state that apparently everyone has tried at least once. It's said to have a "uniquely bitter" taste, so drink up at your own risk. What are Mainers washing down with all of that Moxie? Fried clams and lobster rolls are some of the biggest diet staples here. Belgian fries are also a big deal—they're basically Maine potatoes that are deep-fried in duck fat. Why duck fat? Because why not.

Can't-Miss Maine Fun + Activities

No matter if you're a wilderness-lovin', cabin-in-the-woods type or a total beach bum, Maine has all sorts of excitement to offer.

Here are just a few of the state's main(e) attractions:

  • Acadia National Park: Located primarily on Mount Desert Island and southwest of Bar Harbor, this national park features it all. You’ve got hiking, biking, ginormous granite peaks, historic carriage roads AND the tallest mountains on the Atlantic coast. Talk about a workout that’ll take your breath away.
  • Whale watching: Whaleboat tours are a total MUST in Maine, especially if you’re coming from a totally landlocked part of the country. This one’s a great family-friendly adventure that everyone’ll love. Just be careful of the splash zone.
  • Old Port: A part of Portland, Old Port is known for its historic 19th century buildings, cobblestone streets and merry charm. There's plenty to do here, from kitschy boutiques and restaurants, to fishing piers and bars. The streets are lively day and night, no matter your scene.
  • Mt. Katahdin: Located in Baxter State Park, it’s the highest mountain in Maine. Mt. Katahdin also marks the end point of the Appalachian Trail, which spans about 2,200 miles of the East coast , beginning in Georgia. Or maybe it begins in Maine and runs to Georgia, who’s to say? 
  • Maine Lobster Festival: This annual event takes place in Rockland, and features several days of music, local artists, a parade, a cooking contest and a ton of lobsters. It's a great excuse for Mainers to gather and celebrate their state's main export, have a delicious meal (or several), and enjoy some sweet tunes.

Pros and Cons of Being a Mainer

So you’re probably already getting the lobster sweats just thinking about all the claw-cracking ahead for you. But we want to make sure you have the whole picture before you tie that plastic bib on tight. So have a peek at a few things that real-life Maine residents have called out as pros and cons of life in the way, way northeast. 

Pros (as agreed upon by Maine residents):

  • Low cost of living: Residents rave that one of their favorite things about Maine is the incredibly low cost of living. In fact, even the state's capital of Augusta has very affordable housing. They say you can’t put a price on Mother Nature’s beauty, but Maine did, and it’s surprisingly inexpensive.
  • Epic coastline: There are more than 5,000 miles of coastline, if you take the thousands of islands just off the coast into account. The beautiful scenic views feature ocean cliffs, lighthouses and some of the most breathtaking sunsets you'll ever feast your eyes on. And if you just want a little alone time, just pop on over to one of the islands for a little R & R.
  • Cat-friendliness: This state loves cats so much that they actually declared an official state cat, the Maine Coon. They also rank high in the number of homes with cats AND no-kill animal shelters. So whether it’s just you and Mr. Socks or you and a feline army, you’re gonna fit in juuuuust fine here. 

Cons (as agreed upon by Maine residents):

  • It can be pretty vanilla: Much of Maine hasn’t changed over the years. Without much diversity, many locals complain about the lack of some good, solid ethnic food. Apparently there's not a lot of decent Indian, Thai or Chinese cuisine available. Sooooo, hope you like lobster.
  • Not "young people-friendly": Having been named the "oldest state in the nation," it makes sense that younger folk wouldn't have the easiest of times adapting here. There isn't much in the way of nightlife, or other stereotypical "things to do",,aside from enjoying nature and a slower pace of life. Oh, and cats. 
  • Job market struggles: According to several locals, many of the jobs available in Maine are strictly blue-collar or highly specialized work, or minimum wage gigs. This really slows down the millennial boom here. Many residents aged 35 and under have either been forced to leave, or chosen to pursue a life elsewhere. But, what you could do, is open up an all-night pinball gastropub. You’d give yourself a job AND help attract more young people. Two birds. One stone.
  • Long, cold, harsh winters: Certain places in Maine have an average low of 13 degrees during the winter—an average. But there’s more. Maine is also subject to nor'easters. In March of 2018, Maine was hit by two nor'easters within the same week, dumping more than two feet of snow across most of the state. The thought of sipping hot chocolate inside a cabin might be appealing, but the thought of being stranded? That sounds straight out of a Stephen King novel.

Weird Laws

Alright, it's that time, folks, when we bring you some of the most bizarre laws that are still in existence in Maine. So, without further ado… 

Here are a few:

  • It's illegal to step out of an airplane once it's in flight. Who would even attempt this? Why does this even need to be said, much less made into a law? Does this include skydiving?
  • It's illegal to walk down the street playing a violin in Augusta. Not everyone enjoys classical music, so we suppose they're just being courteous with this one. Doesn’t say anything about the bassoon, though.
  • It's illegal to leave your holiday lights up past January 14th. If you do, you can face a potential fine. We can’t even scoff at this one, it should be a federal law.
  • It's illegal to place an advertisement in a cemetery in Wells. This begs the question, what kind of advertisements would people be trying to put in a cemetery? "Sturdy Shovels: $5 a Piece"? 
  • It's illegal to keep a pet armadillo. This one is a real shame, because armadillos are just about some of the coolest creatures to ever exist. Chances are it was one guy who ruined it for the rest of us.

Look Out, Maine—Here We Come!

Well there it is—our list of some of the most important Maine-y things to consider before packing up your sweaters and making the move. Now we obviously couldn’t answer all of your questions, but we hope to have set you in the right direction. No matter where you choose to move, just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy. 

So now we turn the tables over to you, to finally solve that "should I or shouldn't I?" riddle. Just think over all of Maine’s wonders , like the great outdoors, historic towns, copious opportunities for exercise, whale sightings, delicious—taking a breath—seafood, mountains, islands and lighthouses, plus the birthplace of the King of Creepy himself, Mr. Stephen King. What more could you possibly want?

Good luck with all the packing and planning.

NOTE: if you decide Maine isn't right for you, we've got a whole series of these guides to help you find the perfect spot. Ever thought about New Mexico?

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