Lewiston, Maine

"The Lew"

Looklyloo Score: 75

View Full Profile


What's it like to live in Lewiston?

What is Lewiston, Maine like for a family?

I live in the Portland area, but ran a business in Lewiston for over 15 years, so I know something about the community.

  • Pretty insular community. It’s a multi-generational Franco-American community. So can be difficult to break into.

  • Economically suffering from the loss of historical industries such as textile mills, shoe business and pulp and paper. Yes, the economy is getting a boost from some general growth in Southern Maine, but it’s still difficult to make a good living. That means there are a lot of struggling families and therefore the associated problems that come from this.

  • Very stratified by income place. There is some incredible wealth from the past, with some real poverty from the loss of industry.

  • Very “Mainer” or “Mainah” place. Take that to mean parochial.

  • Picturesque…hilly…nice local lakes…the Androscoggin adds flavor…convenient to the Mountains…quite beautiful.

  • Housing is inexpensive. This goes either for lower income areas or more upscale housing developments. Just quite a bit less expensive than say the Portland area. So this can be a plus.

  • Public schools are just so-so. Lewiston and Edward Little HS’s have reputations for being rough, drug ridden and not for high achievers. I think these concerns are over-played. Lewiston High especially has some good programs and good kids. Just know that the reputations are not as good as the more southern Maine schools.

  • Once you make friends, they become real friends. Because it’s a community where people have stayed for generations, relationships are not transitory. I have some friends from there that would do literally anything for me at the drop of a hat, and visa versa. It’s that kind of place.

So I guess to summarize; it ain’t fancy, but it’s real, authentic, and not “surfacy” like some communities. You make friends there and they will be friends for life.

What is Lewiston, Maine like for a family?

I am a native to Lewiston Maine. I grew up on the outskirts by Greene, and the area was very nice. Most of my neighbors were elderly, so our neighborhood was always quiet.

On the flip side, Lewiston has gotten to be one of the “armpits” of Maine. Most successful young adults move out of Lewiston for better ambiance. There is increasing crime and racial divide in the inner city which seems to get more and more real as new generations grow. The inner parts of Lewiston would never be where I would raise a family.

Taxes in Lewiston are still lower than those you'd see across the river in Auburn. Most of the city receives city water and waste utilities and trash removal. Very little of Lewiston has private septic and well as their utilities spread far through the city.

You'll be hard pressed to find large land available for development, and anything you find will be expensive.

Some homes are still reasonably priced, if you are a handy individual, Lewiston may be the city that you can get the most bang for your buck buying a fixer upper.

It is important to research the school districts for young children, there are several elementary schools in Lewiston and they are not equal. All students in Lewiston attend the same middle school and high school. Both have a lot to offer, especially in the arts.

Lewiston still has a lot of great potential. If you research your pending neighborhood, you can really find great residential living “bubbles” within close proximity to the shopping locations and business complexes.

Stay away from any streets or roads named after varieties of trees (pine, spruce, maple, elm) These are mostly located down town, and may be more trouble than you'd wish you raise a family near.

Moving to Maine: Portland vs. Lewiston

I live in Brunswick. It's a very pleasant town; most people would describe it as "nicer" place than Lewiston (mostly because it is less economically depressed). I would say in terms of shops it's pretty similar to Lewiston despite it's smaller size, and Brunswick definitely has the edge in terms of restaurants and a good downtown. In terms of social scene for a late 20's person, Brunswick and Lewiston are pretty similar: not much in either. Portland blows both of them out of the water in terms of restaurants, shops, art scene, and especially social scene. But of course, yes it is more expensive.

For outdoorsy stuff all three are decent. Brunswick is more convenient for stuff involving the ocean. Lewiston and Portland are slightly shorter drives to the mountains.

Portland and Brunswick are definitely much more LGBT friendly than Lewiston. Racially, Brunswick is very white, and reasonably white collar, though if you get outside of town it becomes more blue collar. Lewiston and Portland are a bit more diverse, (though still pretty white as this is Maine after all) largely due to decent sized east african (especially Somalian) immigrant populations in both cities. Lewiston is the most blue collar of the three. Portland is definitely currently undergoing gentrification, as it is starting to become known nationally as a place with a "high standard of living." Brunswick and Lewiston are also becoming a bit more upscale, but at a much slower rate (though Brunswick definitely has a headstart).

Also, while it's a smaller factor, having off street parking is key in the winter. Brunswick bans all on-street overnight parking during the winter, but it's a bit of a moot point since most apartments will have off-street parking for this reason (though double check). In Portland and Lewiston meanwhile, on-street overnight parking is banned during snowstorms meaning that if your car is on the street, you have to move your car to specially designated lots in the evening, then move it back out early in the morning. I don't know what it's like in Lewiston, but my ex-girlfriend lives in Portland where many apartments (including hers) did not offer off-street parking and it was a big pain in the ass for her. Again, not a huge factor, but I thought I'd mention it since it really blindsided her when she moved here. I'll also note that there is a public bus that runs several times per day between Brunswick and Portland, which Lewiston does not have.

I do know people who work in Brunswick, but live in Portland due to more stuff going on there. I also know someone who lived in Portland and commuted to Lewiston for the same reason. I do not know anyone however who chose to live in Lewiston and work in Brunswick.

My personal opinion: if you're a young person Portland is the place to be and if you can afford it, the commute and extra expense would be worth it. If you want to save money, I'd just live in Brunswick, or a few miles outside of Brunswick if you're really trying to save. I wouldn't recommend Lewiston unless you're actually working there; is there some particular reason that's drawing you to Lewiston?

Is Lewiston as bad as people make it out to be?

Depends why you're coming and how important it is to you to find a cheaper place. I live in the area, and it's a good place to live. Good stuff to do on the weekends, good restaurants, etc. But it's absolutely not a tourist town. If you want to come to Maine for a month to tour around, see the sights, etc., Lewiston isn't really that kind of place. If you just want to save money though, it could be a fine home base for some touring around. It's not too far from the coast or the inland mountains.