Moving to Maine
Visitors to Maine are often surprised by locals calling themselves “Down Easters,” because it’s the country’s northeastern-most state. But confusing nicknames aside, if you are moving to Maine you’ll find it to be one the US’s most beautiful and unique states. You’ll be amazed at the diversity of Maine—there are 5,000 miles of coastline, 17 million acres of forest, 6,000 lakes, mountains and of course those famous lighthouses. But Maine is also home to Portland, a thriving, exciting city, dubbed the “foodie state” by Bon Appetit magazine.
If you’re scheduling a move to Maine, it’s never too early to get the ball rolling.
Give yourself enough time to thoroughly research all the components of the move. You’ll need to compare professional mover rates or truck rentals if you’re moving yourself, get moving quotes, explore packing services and check out both consumer and Better Business Bureau (BBB) reviews.
By doing your research online, you’ll even find government forms to complete so you’re ahead of the game. Don’t forget to fill out the USPS change of address form online (or go to your local post office) to make sure your mail arrives at your new home when you do!
No permits are required to move in Maine. If you’re going to live in one of the larger cities, you might want to see if you can apply for a residential parking permit on that city’s website.
Maine has four distinct seasons, but winters can be very challenging. Snowfall is unpredictable for a wintertime move. Although it can get warm in mid-summer, the weather is normally very pleasant. Thunderstorms are common in the spring and early fall. Try to schedule your move in the milder weather of late spring or fall. You may want to avoid the traffic from the “leaf peepers” traveling to Maine for the fall foliage show.
While Maine is not a heavily populated state, the city/metro areas have their share of high-traffic times and congestion. Plan to avoid rush hours and Mondays and Fridays.
Cities and Metro Areas
The state of Maine’s population is smaller than some US cities at 1,328,188 as of the 2011 census. In the size department, Maine is the 39th largest state at 30,865 square miles.
Very few businesses call Maine home for their corporate headquarters, but the economic and employment picture is better than some other states facing challenges. According to Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, Maine has New England’s lowest cost of doing business.
Here’s an overview of Maine’s largest cities:
- Portland: The seaport city of Portland is Maine’s largest urban area and sits on Casco Bay. The city’s population is 66,194 and the Greater Portland area has a metro population of 230,000.
- Lewiston: Sitting farther inland is Lewiston, Maine’s second largest city, with a population of 36,592. Sometimes referred to as the Lewiston/Auburn area, this is the “heart of Maine.”
- Bangor: With a population of 33,039, Bangor is Maine’s third largest city. Inland, but closer to the coast, Bangor has one of Maine’s two international airports.
Cost of Living
A big factor in making the decision to relocate is the cost of living in Maine. There are various cost of living calculators that will help paint the financial picture of your new home. Compare this to your expected salary to determine how a move will affect your standard of living.
It’s also helpful to look at how a city or area stacks up to the US average cost of living. Maine is right in line with national averages, indexed at 101 compared to the US’s baseline of 100, according to BestPlaces.net. Keep in mind that this is a statewide average, and certain areas of Maine will come in far below that 101 cost-of-living index.
If you’re looking at the Portland area, however, the city is higher than the national average at 110. Average rent in Portland comes in at around $1,250 and energy costs will run you an average of $190.84 (Bankrate.com and Payscale.com).
Highways and Public Transport
For a state with a lower population density, Maine is still easy to navigate due to the highway, airport, ferry and bus transportation services. Below is information about specific Maine modes of transportation.
Airports: Maine has two international airports and many local and regional airports servicing the state.
- Bangor International Airport (BGR): Bangor International Airport offers daily non-stop flights to eight major hubs: Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, LaGuardia and Newark airports.
- Portland International Jetport (PWM): Maine’s largest airport, the Jetport is just five miles from the center of Portland. Three airlines have been added since 2005, making it the fastest-growing New England airport.
- Municipal and Regional Airports: For a comprehensive listing of other airports in Maine, check out Visit-Maine.com.
Ferries: Because of the number of smaller islands off the coast of Maine, ferries are plentiful and run on schedules that are very accommodating. Here’s a site to find information about specific ferry services in Maine.
Major highways: Interstate 95 runs through the state of Maine, with I-295 servicing the eastern part of the state.
Mass transit: Maine has a convenient mass transit system. By visiting the American Public Transportation Association, you can get detailed information about system branches throughout the state.
If you’re moving to Maine for a job, you’ll find the employment picture as diverse as the state itself. There are opportunities in many different industries, led by the healthcare/social assistance sector at 17 percent, retail trade at 15 percent and manufacturing at 11 percent.
Tourism is a huge source of revenue for Maine and small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in the state. Like most of the US, Maine does have unemployment statistics higher than in previous years, but at 7.0 percent, it’s substantially lower than the national average of 8.5 percent. (Stats are from the Maine Department of Labor.)
For specific employment and labor data on Maine, the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is a helpful resource.
Of course Maine is known for snow and cold (and great skiing!), but that’s only part of the climate picture.
Balancing out the often rugged winters is some of the most desirable and comfortable summer weather in the US. Temperatures average around 70 degrees, with summer nights pleasantly cool.
And you can’t talk about New England without recognizing the famous fall foliage! Maine has a beautiful fall show for visitors and residents, and even has its own Maine Foliage Website so you can research each area.
Because of the state’s northern position, there are three distinct climatic regions in the state: northern interior zone, which is mostly the northern half of the state between Quebec and New Brunswick, the southern interior zone and the coastal zone.
The annual mean temperature for each zone is as follows:
- Northern Zone: The annual mean temperature is about 40 degrees Fahrenheit
- Southern Interior Zone: 44 degrees Fahrenheit
- Coastal Zone: 46 degrees Fahrenheit
For more information about precipitation or data about particular areas, Maine.gov has very detailed climate and weather stats. Because of its diverse climate, Maine’s hardiness growing zones range from 3a through 5b, depending on the location. For a map of those zones, check out the Plant Hardiness Map of Maine.
You’ll find that Maine has a strong commitment to education. The state has exemplary schools at all levels K-12, but below are the state’s highest-ranking schools according to SchoolDigger.com:
- Yarmouth Elementary School (Yarmouth)
- Hope Elementary School (Hope)
- Owls Head Central School (Owls Head)
- Holden School (Holden)
- Rose M. Gaffney (Machias)
- Me School Of Science & Mathematics (Limestone)
- Falmouth High School (Falmouth)
- Cape Elizabeth High School (Cape Elizabeth)
- Yarmouth High School (Yarmouth)
- Greely High School (Cumberland Center)
To find a particular school in your relocation area, use the school locator function on the Schooldigger.com website.
If you’re moving to Maine, you’ll be pleased to find the state government site is one of the more user-friendly and comprehensive in the country. Maine.gov offers email status updates and notifications, videos, and even links to city and town government sites so you can easily access information specific to your new community.
One really nice feature is a link to just about any type of map of Maine you might think of—the counties, cartographic maps, turnpikes and even snowmobile trail maps! You can apply for park passes, purchase a hunting or fishing license, pay traffic ticket fines and file certain taxes online from the site.
Below are links to other key government resources:
- Voter registration and general election info
- Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) locations
- Taxes (Maine Revenue Services)
- Trash and recycling