If you’re relocating to Portland, ME, you’ll see why young adults, retirees, and families alike love living here—with educational opportunities, easy transit, fantastic restaurants, and more topping the list. Here are 14 pros and cons of moving to Portland.
Pros of Living in Portland, ME
Portland is known as a beautiful tourist destination where you can get delicious lobster. While that’s true, there are even more perks to living in Portland, Maine!
Pro: Healthy Job Market
Maine’s largest city may have higher prices, but the median household income of $61,695 helps residents afford to live in Portland—the income per capita is 30% higher than the national average. And with Portland’s low unemployment rate of 2.3% and a healthier job market than similarly-sized metros, it’s not too difficult to find work. The primary sectors of the area include apparel and outdoor companies, bioscience, climate tech, design and media, and more. Residents can find jobs with major employers including Covetrus, Inc., the City of Portland, Woodard & Curran, and more.
Pro: Easy to Get Around Portland
While many people use their own cars, this New England city still offers excellent public transportation options to residents. Quickly get around the city with 10 routes and access neighboring towns like Gorham and Brunswick on the GP Metro (Greater Portland Metro). Travel to nearby destinations like Biddeford, Saco, and the Maine Mall on BSOOB Transit. Sail to some of the best Calendar Islands like Peaks Island, Chebeague Island, and Great Diamond Island on ferries through Casco Bay Lines. Or ride around the city in style on rentable bikes from services like the Tandem Mobility Portland BikeShare and Gorham Bike & Ski.
Pro: Educational Opportunities
With only 21 square miles of land, there are plenty of colleges in Portland, Maine, to choose from, which has attracted many young adults to the city. Explore almost 300 majors and minors like nursing, business, or communications at the University of Southern Maine. Benefit from perks like the Center for Global Humanities, the Maine Women Writers Collection, and the Art Gallery—which houses an acclaimed permanent collection—at the University of New England—Westbrook College Campus. Earn a BFA in programs on animation, metalsmithing and jewelry, or photography at Maine College of Art & Design. Study environmental law or enroll in one of the nation’s best programs for information privacy law at the University of Maine School of Law. Commute to Southern Maine Community College in South Portland to get a degree in architectural and engineering design or criminal justice at Maine’s oldest community college. Or receive a faith-based education and training in your choice of nine different degrees at New England Bible College and Seminary.
Pro: Unique Neighborhoods
There are many excellent Portland, Maine neighborhoods, and several of them are known for being distinct and interesting. Visit the Arts District‘s wonderful restaurants and shops in Downtown Portland, ME. Travel to the Northeastern peninsula for pleasant rolling hills and an array of coffee shops and cafes in East End. Stroll the walking trails and quiet streets of attractive single-family homes and condos with spacious yards in North Deering. Join fun neighborhood events and outdoor activities, and enroll your kids in great schools in Parkside. Enjoy the serene tree canopies, historic homes, and the welcoming atmosphere in Rosemont. Or admire the Victorian architecture and charming brick homes covered with ivy in the West End.
Pro: Many Outdoor Activities
If you relish spending time outside, there are lots of outdoor activities in Portland, Maine, to keep you occupied. Visit some of Portland’s best islands for outdoor recreation like biking on Peaks Island and hiking on Great Diamond Island. See the City of Portland and its Civil War forts, lighthouses, monuments, and more with Portland Fire Engine Co. Tours. Stop by the only remaining historical maritime signal station in the U.S. and take in sweeping views of the city and Portland Harbor at the Portland Observatory. Walk in the community garden, have a picnic, and attend fun events like the annual 4th of July Celebration on the Eastern Promenade. Or head northeast to Pride’s Corner Drive-In to watch classics and new releases alike, including E.T., The Polar Express, Five Nights at Freddy’s, and more.
Pro: Even More Water Recreation
Do a self-guided tour or try lessons in paddle boarding and kayaking in the Casco Bay with Portland Paddle. Swim, build sandcastles, and bring your dog to East End Beach. Participate in an old Greater Portland pastime and visit Sabbathday Lake with your family in Shaker Village up north—and be sure to taste some ice cream from Bresca & The Honeybee when not swimming! Board for a two-hour Windjammer cruise with the Portland Schooner Co. to see seals and lighthouses—or book a public or private charter to tour the coastline with Sail Portland Maine. Looking to go fishing in Portland, ME? Take advantage of the area’s top fishing charters and go sport fishing with Whiptail Adventures in South Portland, or head to Eagle’s Rock Tackle & Charter for family-friendly lobstering and fishing in nearby Saco Bay. Go fishing for stripers around Cliff Island. Or reel in herring, red fish, bluefish, mackerel, and more while deep-sea fishing in Portland with Morning Flight Charters.
Pro: Interesting History
As a New England city, Portland has seen quite a bit of Colonial and American history. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Old Port to see historical buildings and boutiques in the oldest part of the city. See Underground Railroad sights like the Abyssinian Meeting House and markers like where the home of Charles Frederick Eastman used to stand on the Portland Freedom Trail. Take in the scenery while traveling in authentic train cars with themed rides like the Sunset Express, Pumpkin Train, and Polar Express on the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad. Tour a 19th-century mansion that contains over 90% of the original interiors at National Historic Landmark Victoria Mansion. Visit the home of one of America’s most famous poets to take a tour, explore the museum, and learn more in the Brown Research Library at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Or explore a Colonial-era home’s unique architecture and gardens at the Tate House Museum.
Pro: Foodie Scene
This city is known as a hub for food enthusiasts, so don’t miss some of the best restaurants in Portland, ME! Start your day with a potato donut in flavors like Fresh Lemon, Gluten Free Vanilla Glazed, or Bacon Cheddar at The Holy Donut. Pick up a loaf of fresh Rosemary Focaccia, Blueberry Oatmeal Scones, or a Rustic Fruit Tart at Standard Baking Co. Indulge in a lunch of the Montreal Ruben, Belgian Frites, and a Mocha Milkshake at Duckfat. Try Contemporary Asian dishes like the Wok Charred Farm Vegetables, Mapo Doufu, or Bun Bo Hue in a bright bistro called The Honey Paw. Listen to live music while filling up on Baked Stuffed Lobster, Beer-Battered Fish, or Grilled Steak Tips at The Porthole Restaurant & Pub. Or sample Vietnamese recipes like Tiger Slaw with Chicken Skewers or Miso Salmon at the warm and inviting Jing Yan.
Pro: Maine Lobster
Known for its sweet-tasting lobster, Portland’s New England location positions it perfectly for those looking for amazing lobster cuisine. Indulge in a classic Lobster Roll, Truffle Butter Lobster Roll, Lobster Grilled Cheese, and more at Luke’s Lobster – Portland Pier. Support a local lobstering family’s business and enjoy the Lobster Roll, Lobster BLT, Lobster Bisque, and other seafood—including scallops, shrimp, clams, and clam cakes—at Island Lobster Company. Devour a Lobster Cheese Crisp Taco, a Lobster Roll Flight, or Fried Lobby Pops (aka “Lobster Corndogs”), and wash it all down with an IPA or cider at The Highroller Lobster Co. Head less than two hours away to Rockland for the five-day Maine Lobster Festival, where you’ll have a blast with the Seafood Cooking Contest, Crate Race, parade, fun run and walk, children’s events, and more. And don’t miss Portland’s annual Harvest on the Harbor, featuring the Lobster Chef of the Year competition, Maine Oysterfest, great food and drink, and more!
Pro: Perfect Place to Grab a Drink
The Pine Tree State has the second-most breweries in the U.S., so much of Portland’s nightlife revolves around exceptional beer. Catch a concert or festival while enjoying a Bissell Brothers drink like a Maine Splendor at the event venue in Thompson’s Point. Take a Beer & Barrels tasting tour to sip a North Sky, Blueberry Wine, and more at Allagash Brewing Company. Go bowling, listen to live music, and have a Pinkiller or Easy Ryeder cocktail on the rooftop at Bayside Bowl. Hang out in the beer garden, munch on chips and dip, and order your choice of 200+ brews at Novare Res Bier Cafe. Settle in a low-key speakeasy with $5 drinks and fun events like Rock, Paper, Scissors competitions at Lincolns. Or hop into Portland’s top dance club with two bars, two dance floors, and ’80s Night every Friday at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge.
Cons of Living in Portland, ME
While Portland is a great place to live, those moving to this New England city should still consider its drawbacks. Here are four cons of moving to Portland, ME.
Con: Higher Cost of Living
Portland, as Maine’s largest city, contributes to its cost of living being 10% higher than the state average, with some goods, services, and the general sales tax higher than other areas. Another reason Portland is a little more expensive is its increasing popularity and tourism industry. But with it being on the coast, having East Coast charm, and as one of the top cities in America for both food and drink, Portland’s cost of living is worth it. Also, if you dream of living in the region, Maine has the lowest cost of living in New England!
Con: Competitive Housing Market
The Portland, ME, real estate market is fairly competitive, given the city is less than 22 square miles of land—but its median listing price is up 8.7% year-over-year, which indicates people are buying into an already-limited market at higher rates. Homes for sale often receive seven offers on average, with the current median sales price of Portland homes at nearly $600,000. A major reason for this more expensive housing market is that it’s a favorite destination for people moving from pricey markets, like Boston—which has a median sale price of $838,000. Still, with all the amazing things Portland has to offer, chances are, it’s worth it. You can find hidden gems in listings or bide your time and rent in Portland, with median monthly rental rates around $1,200.
Con: Snowy Winters
The weather in Portland can be very cold. In January, the chilliest month, the average low temperature is 17 degrees, and the average high is 32 degrees. Portland’s coastline location mitigates the chill a little, with the Lake Effect keeping the city a little warmer than more inland areas—however, this phenomenon does contribute to Portland’s snowfall averaging 61 inches per year, which is far above the U.S. average of 28 inches. In all, it’s more or less typical winter weather for New England. Things to do in Portland, ME, in the winter include grabbing a drink in an igloo at the Portland Harbor Hotel, seeing The Nutcracker at the Portland Ballet, and hitting the rink at Thompson’s Point for ice skating!
Con: Limited Sports Options
Unfortunately, if you’re a sports fan, there aren’t many options here. Portland, ME is a smaller city, and Boston is less than two hours away and has plenty of sports teams with tons of fans. Nevertheless, there are a few great teams you can support! Cheer on the Portland Sea Dogs (MiLB) at a baseball game at Hadlock Field. Attend a basketball game at the James A Banks Sr Exposition Building—also referred to by locals as the “Portland Expo”—to see the Maine Celtics (NBA G) play. Or catch a Maine Mariners (ECHL) game for exciting hockey breakouts at Cross Insurance Arena.
Considering relocating to Portland, ME? Life Storage offers storage facilities in the area to make your move easier. Find self storage in Greater Portland today!