23 Authentic Pros and Cons of Living in Maine

The easternmost state of the U.S., Maine is all rugged Atlantic coastline and sprawling open space, a mix of charming towns and lush, pristine wilderness that has become increasingly popular to live in over recent years. 

Signs at the state borders read ‘The Way Life Should Be’ and it is easy to see why.

Life in Maine moves at its own steady pace, revolving around charming small towns and the joys of the great outdoors.

Just under 1.4 million people have chosen to make their lives here in the Pine Tree State, so let’s explore the best and worst parts of it all, taking a tour of the 23 pros and cons of living in Maine!

1. Pro – A State of Beautiful, Varied Landscapes

Image: Nubble Lighthouse. Mark Bonica. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Let’s start with the obvious.

Maine is beautiful.

There are the tree-capped peaks of the interior (the end point of the famous Appalachian Trail), the wild coves and crags of the rugged Atlantic coastline, the millions of acres of lakes, waterways, wetlands, and lush, verdant woodland. 

It’s a breathtaking place that can often be enjoyed in near complete solitude, making the state the perfect place for those seeking out some of the country’s great wild places.   

2. Con – Lacking in Entertainment and Cultural Events

When you’re wondering ‘is Maine a good place to live’, it really comes down to what you’re looking for.

If you love wide woodlands you’re spoiled for choice.

If you prefer world-class galleries or watching your favorite sports team, things might be more difficult. 

There are rich local cultural traditions and the bigger cities like Portland have a smattering of cultural output, but it’s not the state to be for seeing large-scale institutions or top-tier musical talent.

And there are no major sports teams around. 

3. Con – An Aging Population

There’s no getting around it, demographically this is the oldest state in the country, and this is really the crux of many of the pros and cons of living in Maine.

Migration trends here generally see younger people leaving Maine, searching out cities and more employment opportunities (more on that soon), while an older crowd from around the country come to settle down and retire here. 

Because of this, birth rates are lower in the state, there is a wider need for people with college educations to both fuel economic growth and provide the healthcare and services an older population needs, and this all places an increasing strain on the local government.

4. Con – Lacking in a Range of Employment Opportunities 

The majority of jobs in Maine are service and trade based, which has helped fuel the exodus of young professionals from the state.

While this can be a positive if you work in these fields, it can limit the appeal of the state if you work in a white-collar role. 

This trend is especially pronounced in the rural areas that make up the most attractive parts of the state, deterring young families or those who are looking for somewhere to really develop their careers. 

5. Pro – Low Unemployment, Decent Wages 

The flip side to this is that overall the state has a strong economy.

Unemployment is significantly lower than the national average, at a low, low 2.9%. On top of this, the minimum wage is just under double the federal rate, at $13.80. 

These two factors put together make the state an especially attractive place to move for those working in the service industry, trades, or who opted not to go for a college education, with plentiful work available that pays a solid, living wage. 

6. Pro – Strong Community Spirit

Image: Looking for Steve. Ctd 2005. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

One of the truly great things about life here is the real emphasis on community and how fundamental that neighborly feel is to everything.

While we’ve already seen that you might not have access to world-touring entertainment, you can find small groups devoted to near enough every kind of hobby and activity, whether it’s snowmobiling or singing. 

People are friendly in a relaxed, unforced way, and the live-and-let-live attitude of the state means that it never becomes too much.

It’s a casual pace of life with friendly people around you that are there when you need them. 

7. Pro – Safe, Low Crime Rates 

Part and parcel of the community-led, rural charm of Maine is that it is a safe, safe place.

It consistently ranks as having some of the least crime in the country and the least violent crime.  

Obviously, there is more risk in the cities, but in general, it’s the kind of place where front doors are left unlocked and people relax, knowing that everybody is looking out for one another.

This is part of why, despite the comparative lack of career opportunities, the state’s a great place to raise a family. 

8. Pro – Pristine Air and Water 

Maine lake
Image: Fog. Paul VanDerWerf. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Another reason why those with young families should think about getting themselves over to the Pine Tree State is the sublime air and water quality here.

Living with air pollution has been shown to have hugely detrimental effects on people throughout their lives, harming school achievement and increasing the risk of illness, and Maine is consistently ranked as one of the cleanest states to live in. 

You can breathe deep lungfuls of forest-purified air and swim in unpolluted waters, enjoying life in a state where nature comes first.  

9. Pro – Low Traffic 

Camden Maine
Image: .Camden_AM_3. Michael Stokes. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

There are no long, sprawling, LA-style traffic jams here.

The Maine version of traffic is a few minutes stuck behind a tractor as you wind along open roads or, in one of the cities, maybe having to push dinner back by 10 minutes if you hit peak rush hour. 

Because of the low population, huge open space, and well-thought-out city designs, driving means actually driving rather than time spent staring at gridlocked cars in front of you while the horns blare out into the urban sprawl. 

10. Con – Very, Very Limited Public Transport Options

The downside of this is that this is car country.

Outside of the larger cities, there is hardly any public transport.

The wide open landscapes, sparse populations, and ease of driving have made it virtually non-existent. 

So, if you can’t drive or are looking for somewhere with more environmentally sound transport options, Maine might not be for you. 

11. Pro – Lower House Prices  

If you’re looking to get your foot on the property ladder or finding that forever home, Maine can be a great choice.

While living among the big city lights of Portland might be more expensive, homes outside the cities (which are really the best parts of the state anyway) are consistently more affordable than the national average. 

Driven down by the lack of career opportunities in these areas, they can be bargains if you’re looking to settle down in a quieter corner of the world. 

12. Con – Higher Everything Else Prices 

But, as we’ve seen, when living in Maine pros and cons often come in pairs.

While you might find a charming rural home for a bargain, you’ll have to heat it through the long, hard winters.

Your grocery bill will be significantly above the national average, healthcare will be as well. 

It’s not a cheap place to live, but the quality of life is high, and it really all comes down to your personal situation. 

13. Pro – The Weather

Maine forest
Image: There is still some color around mid coast Maine!. Susan Bell. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

With four distinct seasons.

The weather in Maine offers a little something for everyone. 

The summers are a delight, long days of pleasantly mild temperatures that escape much of the humidity that comes down on a lot of the country as the state is kept cool and fresh by the northern Atlantic.

Fall is a riot of color as the state-spanning forests fade from their lush summer green, while the arrival of Spring sees the huge expanses of wilderness and the wildlife that live there burst into life. 

14. Con – Also, The Weather

snow in Maine
Image: first snow 2. Hildegarde Anderson. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

The winter also has its charms, especially if you’re into outdoor sports.

But it can be a long, hard time of particularly harsh weather and the cozy atmosphere can rapidly grow old. 

Nor’easters can unexpectedly pile huge amounts of snow late in the season (if you enjoy a few days off work stuck at home in the snow, this could be a positive) and the snowy season can stretch from October right through to May sometimes. 

If you’re not a fan of the cold, this might not work out. 

15. Pro – The Food 

Maine Lobster
Image: Maine Lobster. Amy Meredith. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

The food here is fantastic, built upon the bountiful harvests of the sea and the state’s great farming scene.

Best known for its lobster, there are also the freshly caught fish of the Atlantic, rich clams, and oysters that are pure hits of fresh sea. 

It’s long been a paradise for seafood lovers but recently has seen a rise in markets that show off the best locally grown, fresh produce and restaurants that champion it, all coming together to make a nature-led, emerging food scene that is going from strength to strength. 

16. Con – Lack of Nightlife 

While not everybody wants to be out till 4 AM in a nightclub somewhere, it is nice to have a few options of places to head out to celebrate or catch up.

Aside from some great restaurants and a few quality bars, the night-time scene in Maine isn’t exactly world-leading. 

And that’s okay!

Life moves at its own steady pace here, but if you’re a fan of nights that make it past the midnight mark, it’s worth bearing in mind.

17. Pro – Outdoor Activities & Healthy Lifestyle 

Maine waterfall
Image: p8060069.jpg. Noah Meyerhans. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

When you’re thinking about moving to Maine pros and cons can largely boil down to, do you like being outside?

If you’re a lover of the great outdoors, a few high grocery bills and elderly neighbors will fade into insignificance when you see the range of activities you have right here on your doorstep. 

Whether it’s hiking through pristine wilderness, fishing unpolluted rivers, or just taking a drive out and soaking in horizon-spanning landscapes of coast and wood, it’s a state that is primed for living an outdoors, healthy lifestyle. 

18. Con – The Summer Insects 

bug on a leaf
Image: bug. Fyn Kynd. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Mosquitoes. Black flies. Midges. Houseflies. Deer flies.

Between May and October, the state is set upon by swarms of flying biting bugs that can ruin a charming summer hike or family picnic in an instant.

While they’re not a life and death issue and it’s obviously manageable, they’re an undeniable nuisance and probably one of the worst things about living in Maine if you want to spend your summer enjoying the state’s sublime wilderness.

Hike, fish, enjoy, but remember that bug spray. 

19. Con – The Internet Isn’t Great

Another unfortunate part of living here is that internet connectivity just isn’t as good as in other states around the country.

While it’s better in somewhere like Portland versus the more rural parts of the state, it still doesn’t consistently provide the speeds that you’d expect. 

While this might not be a deal breaker for everybody, it’s a further setback for professionals who might be tempted to work remotely and the general economic growth of the area. 

20. Pro – Nice and Close to Other States

Image: Montreal. Shinya Suzuki. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

One of the great perks of living in Maine is how easily you can get to other locations around the country.

New York, Boston, and Montreal can all be reached within a day’s driving, as well as hundreds of other charming smaller locations that are scattered around the Northeast. 

While Maine itself offers a huge range of short-term holiday destinations, it’s also a great starting point to nip out of state for a little weekend away somewhere. 

21. Con – Seasonal Tourism  

Maine beach
Image: Beach. Ben Mason. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

But this works both ways.

Because of this accessibility and how undeniably beautiful it is, Maine is an increasingly popular holiday destination spot.

High season can see beauty spots and the cities become quite crowded, while when everybody leaves during the low season it can feel a little like the towns have been deserted. 

You get used to this boom or bust feel and it does depend on exactly where in the state you choose to settle, but its effect on businesses, traffic, and general livability means it’s definitely worth keeping in mind. 

22. Pro – Quality Healthcare 

It might surprise you that Maine consistently ranks in the top 10 of all states when it comes to the quality of healthcare you have access to here. 

This is particularly vital when you keep in mind the older demographic of the state, but you’ll find premium healthcare providers scattered around Portland or any other major center.  

23. Con – Rural Distance

Farm in rural Maine
Image: Farm. Paul VanDerWerf. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

People love Maine for its wide-open space, laced through with pristine rivers and decked over with rich, pine forests.

But this loose, spread-out feel to the place does have its drawbacks. 

Wide distances between towns often means you might be living far away from the great healthcare, your kids facing a long commute to school, or struggling to get to an airport if you need to make it out of state. It’s all part and parcel of rural living. 

Looking for more pro and con guides about the other US states? Head here!

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