14 Pros and Cons of Living in Portland, ME

Ever wondered about living in Portland, Maine?

Small harbor at night with small boats in Portland, ME. Behind there are buildings and restaurants.

I’ve lived in over 10 countries in the last 10 years, so I know what to look for when moving.

Portland is a great combo of small-town charm and big-city perks. Job opportunities are decent, and it’s not too pricey to live here.

It gets a bit crowded when the tourists roll in, and you might wish for better buses and trains. But all in all, Portland has a lot going for it.

Let’s check all the pros and cons of living in Portland and why it’s a great place to move.

Pro: Affordable Cost of Living

Despite being a coastal city, Portland, Maine doesn’t have the same sticker shock as many of its East Coast siblings. Compared to living in cities such as Boston or New York, you will find that daily expenses like groceries, utilities, and healthcare are easy in your pocket in Portland. 

Plus, with Portland’s public schools having a good reputation, you could save on private education costs for the kiddos. 

Con: Limited Job Opportunities

If your chosen industry thrives better in larger metropolises, you may face a tougher time here. Occupations in areas like tech, finance, or high-level corporate have a bit of a squeeze here. The city leans more towards sectors like healthcare, education, and hospitality jobs. 

With that said Portland is somewhat of an entrepreneurial playground. If you have a unique business idea and a fierce determination to boot, you might just find yourself succeeding here.

But if you’re more of a vintage corporate office dweller, well, it might be a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. Either way, it’s worth considering how your career path may unfold in this city before packing your bags.

Pro: Access to Beautiful Coastal Landscapes

If you love the sea or just enjoy the calming effects of oceanfront views, Portland has got you covered. Located on Maine’s southernmost coast, the city has miles and miles of coastline, dotted with beaches, beautiful islands, and harbors. 

It’s almost impossible to avoid a walk by the sea no matter where you are in the city. Seriously, the coast is always just a stone’s throw away.

You can enjoy activities like sailing, fishing, or ferry rides to the numerous islands in the Casco Bay. And if you’re not into all that hard work, just relax and watch the lobster boats come and go. 

Con: High Cost of Housing

As of 2023, the median home price in Portland is well above the national average.

Renting isn’t necessarily an escape route either. The rental market in Portland can be tricky to navigate with relatively steep prices for even small apartments. You should brace yourself for potential bidding wars.

The high cost of housing is a serious drawback if you plan to move to Portland. Whether you’re planning to buy or rent, it’s important to do your research and set realistic expectations. The stats don’t lie, so prepare for some budget-stretching.

Pro: Friendly Community

There’s something about Portland that seems to bring people together. Maybe it’s the small city atmosphere, or perhaps it’s the salty sea air. Whatever the secret ingredient, Portland is a place where deep and meaningful friendships seem to be the norm. 

In this city, neighborhood potlucks, local festivals, and community events aren’t something of the past, they are clear evidence that a sense of community remains important here. Strong social ties contribute to the overall well-being of its residents, making Portland, not just a spot on the map, but a home.

Con: Winter

Winter in Portland is not a joke. The average annual snowfall in Portland is a hearty 62 inches, a lot higher than the US average.

If you’re not a fan of serious snow shoveling, ice scraping off your car, or driving on slippery roads, you might just want to think twice before settling here during the winter. 

Also, during the coldest months, temperatures can fall below freezing. This may lead to increased heating costs.

Pro: Low Crime Rates

Maine is of the safest, if not the safest state in the US.

Portland also carries lower than average crime rates. Isn’t it a relief when you don’t have to look over your shoulder with every step you take outside at night?

The city claims a crime rate that’s not only less than the US average but also lower than 75% of the country’s communities. Talk about some peace of mind! 

When it comes to violent crimes, the rate is about half that of the nationwide average for cities of comparable size. 

Con: Traffic and Parking Difficulties

If you’re used to cruising on open highways with not a car in sight, Portland might just throw you for a loop. Traffic can be a pain, particularly during peak hours. You might have to exercise the virtue of patience during your morning commute or evening drive home. 

What’s more, it’s as if the parking gods skipped Portland while dealing out parking lots. For a city of its size, parking spots can sometimes feel like rare gems, and unsurprisingly, they don’t come cheap. If you’re not interested in bringing out your inner bargaining genius or dropping coins in meters, this might seem less than ideal. 

Pro: Charming Neighborhoods

Whether it’s Munjoy Hill, Stroudwater, or Deering, each neighborhood has a distinct personality. This adds a unique charm to the city and offers a variety of options to choose the most suitable living environment for you.

Don’t be surprised if you see more folks strolling around, soaking in the local sights or chilling on their porch. It’s kind of a thing here.

Con: Limited Public Transportation Options

While the city does offer some public transportation options, they are, without doubt, limited. 

The Metro bus system covers Portland and its nearby areas. But compared to the major cities, the frequency of buses is certainly not up to par. What’s worse? If you live in a suburban region, you might have an even thinner slice of the bus pie. 

What if you, like countless others, need to commute at odd hours? Brace yourself. The bus service is not 24/7 and the operations wrap up pretty early in the night. 

Pro: A lot of Options for Outdoor Activities

With numerous parks, trails, and water bodies, there are many fun things to do in Portland. The Eastern Promenade shows off its panoramic views of Casco Bay, while Deering Oaks Park dots the town with an aura of history.

There’s even a touch of the wild right in the city – Evergreen Cemetery Woodlands, which, despite its somewhat ominous name, is a 50-acre woodland perfect for bird watching. And don’t even get us started on the monthly ‘First Friday Art Walks’ where the city streets turn into a living, breathing gallery. 

Con: Lack of Diversity

Portlanders are warm and friendly, but the city lacks racial and ethnic diversity. According to 2022 Census data, about 83% of the city’s population identifies as White.

It’s not really a blend of races and cultures. So if you’re someone who loves a multicultural environment, you might find Portland a bit bland. 

Pro: Art and Culture

Its downtown art scene is packed with diverse experiences, from theaters and music venues to galleries and street art. This creativity is fueled by a rich tapestry of cultural diversity, bringing unique perspectives and artistic expressions to the city.

Portland’s Arts District, particularly around Congress Street, is a hub for creativity, with galleries, public art installations, and cultural events.

Con: Tourists

While the influx of tourists is great for the economy, it can make some areas crowded during the summer months. You will have to deal with increased traffic and a busier pace of life.You will often find popular spots and services, like restaurants and parks, more congested than usual.

Also, this can lead to longer wait times and a more hectic atmosphere, which can be a downside for those who enjoy the city’s typically quieter, more relaxed vibe.

Is Portland, Maine a Good Place to Live?

Portland, Maine is an excellent plece to live. Trust me, if you’re looking to looking to settle down you won’t regret moving to Portland.

This is a place where you can enjoy the perks of city life while still being close to nature. Despite being a smaller city, here you will find everything from lively local shops to quiet beaches.

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