Portland Maine, Maine

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What's it like to live in Portland Maine

What is Portland, Maine like?

First of all, the town and surrounding area is awesome. Portland is big enough to find fun things to do; concerts, sports, restaurants, outdoors, ocean activities, White Mountains 1.5 hours away, shopping, etc. But it's not so big you have to deal with crowds, traffic, and the like. So, overall for me, the city and area is great. A couple of things to think about;

  • Sometimes you feel caught in a time warp…like 20 years behind the rest of the country. I mean, we got our first Target in the 2000’s. But I like this…the pace of life is good.

  • People is Portland are not as closed off as the rest of Maine. But it's still a multi-generational type of community, where it can take effort to meet people and make real friendships. But we did and our kids love living here.

  • I love raising a family here. We have problems like anywhere else (ie: drugs, underage drinking, etc). They just don't seem as prevailing or serious.

  • The summer is great. But be careful…if you want hot, hot, you rarely get it here. But we are swimming in our lake from June to October.

  • The fall is spectacular. It stays warm longer than you think. And with the lakes and mountins so close, the outdoors in the fall as fantastic.

  • The winter is not as cold as you might think. We are controlled somewhat by the Atlantic, so it just is a little warmer than you might expect. Now 30 miles inland…cold. Here's the rub. I originally come from Michigan and at almost exactly the same latitude. The leaves turn color here 3 weeks earlier than comparable in the Midwest, and they bloom 4 weeks later. So the winter, while not bitter cold, is long, long, long.

  • The Spring sucks. There is no real spring. The cold water currents in the North Atlantic (we are north of the Gulf Stream), just fights against warming. So we don't get Spring until May, and then it turns to summer.

  • Cost of living is high. Remember, you are at the end of the supply chain for most everything…so living is expensive.

  • Portland is thriving right now. So you can make a good living. But because of the thin industrial base, the area tends to suffer jus a little more than average in a downturn.
    Best rstaurants in the country for the size of the town. Tons of chef owned places, so the quality is awesome.

  • Some really great school districts. And the average size of the schools is small, making for a nice environment.

  • Nice surrounding communities like Freeport, Kennebunk, Ogunquit, etc. Just helps make the area more cool.
    Casco Bay has a bunch of cool islands for day tripping. Get there by ferry and just explore…really fun.
    Seacoast has a mixture of sandy beaches and really beautiful rocky coast.

I could go on and on. But you probably figured out, I'm a big fan of Portland Maine!

What is Portland, Maine like?

Like other communities that have prospered because of an eclectic and exciting arts scene, soon the gentry moved in, raising the rents and forcing cutting-edge artists to move to the outskirts, or even out of town where affordable rents can be found. At the moment, two places where this movement is going is Biddeford and Lewiston, where more restaurants are also opening up. Sadly, if you are an artist without the backing of a rich parent, Portland will be further down the list to move to than more reasonable places..

What is it like to move to Portland, Maine?

My wife, daughter, and I moved from Boulder, Colorado to Portland in September of 2016. We are so happy with our decision. Here are a few notes on our experience so far. Portland has something for everyone.

Housing: Others have said that the peninsula itself is “expensive.” Perhaps it is, but coming from Colorado we were able to get a lovely place on the water on the West End for considerably less than what we were paying for a similar sized home in Boulder, Colorado - and obviously, the Boulder house did not have a view of the ocean. If you have a lower budget you can find a nicely appointed apartment on the interior of the peninsula right next to the action for between $1,500 and $2,500. If your budget is much less than that, you can still find a shared home with separate apartments a couple miles out of the peninsula. The areas are not “shady.” Portland is a real city with a diverse community. Below is a picture of our view from our back patio in the winter.

Food: The food is amazing. Out of all the places I have lived I have never had such wonderful seafood. You would expect great seafood here, but Portland is more than just seafood. The pizza is the best I have ever had, and don’t get me started on the bakeries. Consistently great dining at most restaurants at every price point. Even if you don’t move here, you should spend a month here just eating.. So good.

Food is really not expensive here compared to most urban centers. There are specialty fish and meat shops at the top of the price curve, a Whole Foods and Trader Joes in the middle, and a Hannaford grocery for those with a lower budget. Even Hannaford has quality organic produce and fresh seafood. Eating will be one of your favorite parts of living here. Here is just a random food picture my wife took of a scallop while we were eating on Peak’s Island. Here is a link to my review of the restaurant.

Community: Portland is extremely diversified and “feels” like a big city. The people that we have met have been very warm and welcoming to us. The culture is unlike any other city I have been to. Portland has a very active arts and dance culture that feels very authentic. They have an event called “First Fridays” every first Friday of the month where all the local artists (and there are hundreds of them) put their art out on the public street. It’s like walking through the world’s largest, most diverse art gallery - without any pomp or pretension. Another amazing benefit of living in this small-big city is you can get OUT of the city and within five minutes, be driving along some of the most beautiful coastline anywhere in the world.

Conclusion:

You will love it here. This town is amazing. There is a rich, authentic culture you will not find in any other city in the world. The city is growing, and there is no better time than now to get in on a vibrant city rich with culture and opportunity.

What is it like to live in Portland Maine?

Well. I actually grew up in boston, moved to portland maine for high school, went back to boston for college, and now that ive graduated im back in portland and working (im 24, m) so i think i should be able to help.

the first thing i compared when i came back was the bar scene. unlike boston where there are multiple neighborhoods to go out to (fenway, boylston/the pru, fanueil hall, etc.) portland isnt as spread out.

yes there is the old port, the monument square area, state street/congress bars, etc., so theres still multiple places to go. just not as many. then as you go further from downtown theres little niches with bars in them around. but still, there is a very high density of bars in the downtown portland area, a pretty decent nightlife with high turnover. meaning i dont run into high school buddies everywhere i go, id say 95% of people i see at bars ive never seen before, but the local colleges probably have a lot to do with that. so that scene i still find pretty fun (only downside is last call is 1am….awful….but i also live downtown so i usually have ppl over after to continue the evening)

the culture is also pretty cool, theres a huge gay/lesbian/etc. presence in portland, which you wont really find elsewhere in maine. during warmer months theres farmers markets twice a week in portland, lots of volunteer groups, AMAZING local music scene…seriously, if youve ever spent time seeing local music in cambridge, for instance, the portland scene seriously rivals it. though IMO the portland scene is better (more local, community support for the bands, makes the shows more fun i think)

in winter some of the day-to-day culture 'events' dont really happen, but if your into skiing you're that much closer to the mountains. however since the college students are all around in the winter the bar scene doesnt take a hit at all, in fact since winter hit i prolly go out to bars 4-5 days a week (there are some pretty great happy hours around too)

between the spring - fall though portland is quite an awesome place. not sure if you know about the islands off the coast, but theres a ferry system downtown that goes to a group of islands which people do live on year round, but in the summer some cool stuff happens there. for instance, EVERY weekend in the summer there is a reggae festival on Peaks Island. Also, every thursday downtown theres something called "Alive at Five" in monument square, basically from 5-8pm theres a free concert outside, pretty cool stuff. theres all kinds of festivals, other outdoor shows, etc. that happen during the summer months. portland is a pretty big tourist spot so its a pretty busy place.

Don't Move to Portland Maine Unless you Know These THREE Things