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Old 08-04-2009, 04:08 PM
21 posts, read 74,181 times
Reputation: 23


I got the proverbial bombshell this afternoon. My lovely Ann has been offered a job at a medical center in Lewiston, ME - Central Maine Medical Center. So we have begun the talks of "should we?"

Of course, I have a wheelbarrow-full of questions, having never lived in the NE before.

Long-story, short:

We moved to Dallas/Ft Worth in July 2008 from WA state. Mostly for Ann's health reasons requiring a warmer climate. I never realized Texas was right next door to Hell (no offense - I'm a native Texan, so I'm allowed!) I've been eager to leave for awhile now and today this offer literally fell in Ann's lap.

My questions:

I'm familiar with the climate for the most part. Cold, snowy winters and beautiful springs, summers and fall in the NE is legendary.

How's cost of living in this area for rentals? We have three large dogs, a Great Pyrenees, a Husky/Shepard mix and a Lab/Mastif mix. Wonderful, loving dogs, but obviously we need to rent a house with a decent yard for them to run in. We do not want to live in the city proper, yet still would like to be within 20-30 of the medical center where Ann will be working. Any suggestions and/or thoughts? What's the rental costs on average for a 3bd/2ba home?

Schools: Our 12yr old is ADHD, but it's borderline and he needs no medication. He does need a bit more supervision when in class though. That said, how do you like the public schools in Lewiston?

Work: I'll be leaving an IT position as a Desktop Engineering Technical Consultant. I have about 15 yrs in advanced IT experience (SCCM/SMS, Exchange, Active Directory, Field Support, et al). How the market for this field?

Last question - culture: I'm an avid motorcycle rider, and while I know the riding is not year-round, I'm absolutely thrilled with the number of twisty roads I see on the map out that'a way. Good riding?

Any and all advice, thoughts, moans, groans, complaints or snide remarks welcome!
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:54 PM
Location: Maine
21,763 posts, read 25,796,564 times
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For rentals, your best bet would be the Classifieds of the local papers or Craigslist.

Lewiston in general...

Would not be high on my list of places to live in Maine. That being said, I don't think it entirely deserves its bad rep. It has some lovely architecture, especially downtown and around the river. Lewiston was once a very prosperous town that fell on hard times and never really recovered. And it shows. Especially downtown, where lately there seem to be more empty stores than open ones.

There are neighborhoods in Lewiston that locals refer to as "the ghetto," but after living in Dallas/Ft. Worth, you will laugh your heinie off at this ghetto. I wouldn't choose to live there or raise kids in those neighborhoods, but they aren't anything compared to even the mildly rough areas of Dallas.

Lewiston really isn't all that big a city, even though it is the 2nd largest in Maine. But it feels big because it is so spread out, and because it is right next door to Auburn.

I really don't know much about the public schools. Sorry.

There are some very nice nearby towns. Lisbon is about 10-15 minutes away. Nice little town, though I have heard mixed-to-bad things about the schools.

Brunswick is a great town about 30-40 minutes from Lewiston. Great public schools. Very nice downtown area. Housing is definitely more expensive than Lewiston though.

Topsham, right next to Brunswick, is also very nice.

There are lots of little towns north, east, and west of Lewiston, but I don't know much about them.

I have no idea what the IT field is like around Lewiston. I know that the economy nationwise is pretty craptacular right now, and Maine in general tends to be even farther behind the rest of the nation in that regard. But I have never seen a lack of jobs in the healthcare field, so you might see if you can put your IT experience to work at any of the local hospitals and clinics.

Best site I have found for jobs up here is jobsinme.com.

Best wishes! Hope you love Maine!
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:39 PM
19,761 posts, read 28,231,454 times
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many nice towns surround lewiston, leeds, wales, greene, sabattus, there are nice neighborhoods in auburn also, close to the turnpike exit

congrats on your move, lewiston gets a bad rap, but its not bad at all (use to work there)

for rentals, also search for property management companies in the area, give them a call

good luck
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:24 PM
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Lewiston's nickname is "The Dirty Lew" if that will tell you anything. I can't add much more than the previous two replies. I will tell you as a motorcyclist that yes Maine roads are twisty and scenic but are in terrible shape. You really have to watch the surface constantly on the secondary roads. They are filled with large cracks, potholes and unfilled splits. You can weave around alot of obstacles but you really have to ride defensively less you bottom out your forks in some hole. The State pleads poverty and will not pave anything except the Turnpike and I-295. If you're riding a motocross bike you'll be all set!!
I don't know what Maine weather will do for your wife's health. It certainly is not warm here most of the year. It's much colder here in winter than in Washington State. We get lots of snow which takes some getting used to if you have never driven on it before. You may have to do some searching for a landlord who will accept three large dogs. Many Landlords will not allow any at all or will charge a high security deposit. Most schools have teachers for children with special needs so your 12 year old should be OK. The schools in Lewiston are ok though there are better schools in some of the nearby towns. I guess if I could give any advice at all it would be look outside of Lewiston itself for a place to live and attend school. Good luck!

Last edited by Maineah; 08-04-2009 at 08:39 PM..
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:38 AM
Location: Maine
2,453 posts, read 3,194,699 times
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Hello Taranis17--In addition to the towns already mentioned, you might check out Monmouth and Winthrop. I hear they have good schools.

We bought a home northeast of Lewiston, but are not able to move up yet (husband still in the military). It's rented out right now, otherwise we could offer it to you! I hope you find what you need! Your dogs sound great.

We have stopped in Lewiston a few times, and to me it is not that bad. I agree with Mark S.'s observations. There are some beautiful buildings there. And it's Maine! It's not southeast DC.

If you can, take a trip to Maine and explore for several days.
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Old 08-05-2009, 09:15 AM
21 posts, read 74,181 times
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Thanks for all your replies!

We are decidedly undecided right now. Ann has a 3-day, whirlwind tour of the area to see what she thinks and to try to find a suitable rental with enough space for the dogs and within our budget - that will be the greatest challenge I think.

Being able to find a new job in the area for myself after we arrive will be the second hardest. IT in Healthcare is very secure when you can find it, but I'm also open to the idea of changing careers.

I am very much used to the small-town atmosphere of similar areas, so I'm pretty excited myself. The climate is ideally suited to me (grew up in Colorado), and I already have the 4x4 truck to help get through the snow in winter. WA state, by comparison, gets little snow on the coast - but it rains from October through June most years. The damp, wet cold of the PNW became intolerable for Ann. I would really like to find a place that has all 4 seasons. Texas is either hot or cold with only 2-3 months where the weather is pleasant. WA is Rainy Season/Dry Season, but summers are heaven-on-earth. So we're still looking at what Maine offers climate-wise.
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Old 08-06-2009, 06:32 PM
Location: East Boston, MA
11,304 posts, read 19,861,430 times
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I think you'll find that Maine has the weather you're looking for. Spring can be damp and muddy (not to mention, buggy) but that seems to be almost welcome after a snowy winter.

Coming from a larger area (Boston) I found Lewiston's poor reputation to be HIGHLY overstated. The crime in Lewiston is very low even for a comparably sized city. In fact, if you check the crime statistics on City-Data you'll find that Lewiston's crime rate is nearly 100 points lower than Portland's... a city that's considered by most here to be nearly pristine (and, quite frankly, it is). So the "crime" complaints about Lewiston are often wildly overplayed and coming from a larger urban area you'll probably notice the same thing.

In my opinion, the problem people people have with Lewiston is a bit of blight. It's an old mill town and like many others across the nation, it has lost the bulk of its manufacturing and with the exodus of jobs comes the abandonment of buildings (residential as well as industrial and commercial because with the loss of jobs comes the loss of residents). After a while the mass of vacant buildings look run-down and the city can look blighted. This doesn't mean crime though and crime in Lewiston REALLY isn't a problem (just check the data if you're not sure).

However, Lewiston doesn't fit the mold of the picturesque Maine hamlet (a la Bar Harbor, Boothbay, Bethel, Bridgeton, Naples, etc) nor does it fit the mold of thriving regional center city (a la Portland or Bangor). It's even different than most of the struggling old Maine mill towns (a la Rumford, Skowhegan, Lincoln, etc) in that it's quite a bit larger. It's also more ethnically diverse than any other town in Maine.

In short, much of the negative perception of Lewiston can be attributed to the fact that it's just different from the rest of Maine. Sure, it's struggling economically (not an issue if you have jobs already lined up) and there is some blight (though it's improving and it actually has a lot to offer) but it's not a bad place by any stretch. You could find a few acres set back and quiet within the Lewiston or Auburn city limits. The city of Auburn itself has a nice lake worth looking at. Most of the outlying towns are charming and peaceful. If you like the idea of rural living and 4 seasons, you may find the Lewiston area to be perfect for you.
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:15 AM
Location: Maine
566 posts, read 1,365,112 times
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Irfox, I lived in Lewiston for years. I think it gets much more of a bad reputation than it deserves. What you have written above is spot on. Lewiston gets slammed pretty hard a lot of the time. I think a lot of people only go through downtown and/or hear about the bad things and assume the rest of the city is the same as the downtown area. Lewiston has some very nice areas and hopefully people will explore a little closer. You did a great job of putting into words what I wish more people understood.
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Old 08-07-2009, 06:43 AM
Location: Woolwich, ME
162 posts, read 378,797 times
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Taranis17, lrfox has it exactly right. Also Central Maine is a good hospital. It has a nice new cardiac center and, I think, oncology center. Patrick Dempsey, the actor, recently established a cancer support center there in honor of his mother, an ovarian cancer survivor who lives in Harpswell.

There are so many nice rural areas surrounding Lewiston with easy access to Lewiston. I suspect your own best employment prospects will be in/near Portland, so you might focus your housing search on towns along the I-95 corridor between Lewiston and Portland. North of I-95 will generally be cheaper than south.

My husband is a Texas native too and loves it in Maine.

Last edited by woolwiTch; 08-07-2009 at 06:45 AM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 08-07-2009, 08:33 PM
9 posts, read 27,263 times
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All the comments seem great, but I'm worried about Ann's health. I lived in OR and Mt. Desert Island Maine and they were similar in reference to cold, wet and moist. If the cold humidity is what hurts her... be careful. Best of luck.
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