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Old 09-27-2014, 11:54 AM
 
24 posts, read 49,079 times
Reputation: 75

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I just sat 2 hours on I-93 yesterday to go 8 miles, was honked 4 times and flipped off once. I'm about to throw in the towel on living in Boston.

For those living in Portland who came from Greater Boston, did you adjust okay? I do think I'll miss the restaurants and constant stream of activities available. But between the traffic, increasing cost of living and growing numbers of shady characters in the metro area, plus the decaying infrastructure, I'm tired of Boston and want to move to somewhere smaller and quieter. Some place where I can also contribute more locally.

My wife and I could both land good paying jobs in the Portland area, and the real estate prices and taxes seem very reasonable compared to what we were dealing with in the Boston area. Portland isn't even that far away to Boston during non-rush hours, a 2 hour drive, for times when I want to see a show or visit family.

What's the catch?

How are the schools? I know Great Schools have some excellent rankings of schools in Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Yarmouth etc, but I also realize these are rankings within the state of Maine. How do these school districts compare to upper middle class districts in the Boston area? like say Essex Regional, Hingham, Lexington, Holliston in Boston area?

Is it much colder than Boston in the winter and does it last noticeably longer? I can handle snow and cold, but just want to know what I'm getting myself into.

Are transplants accepted? We're not political people, don't like to shove our views down other people's throats and really like to just be good neighbors who can lend a hand when needed.

Boston area has some pretty decent beaches, what about in the Portland area?

Thanks guys.
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,192 posts, read 22,247,429 times
Reputation: 6150
I moved from Portland to Boston a few years ago, so perhaps I can offer some perspective. Prior to Portland I resided in Minneapolis.

You mention the ability to land "good paying jobs". For the most part a good paying job in Portland would be less than what you would make in Boston. There may be some exceptions, however typically people who move from Boston to Portland take a reduction in pay even if they work equivalent jobs.

Portland has become quite the foodie town; nowhere near the offerings of Boston but probably more offerings than you may be aware of. In terms of activities you might be bored, but I suppose it really depends on what you are into doing. There are a lot of things to do around Portland, but just different stuff. If you are into live music you can find something almost nightly. If you are into something that is not folksy or acoustic covers, perhaps not. Boston has a ton of stuff going on nightly, but ask your self how much of it do you really participate in?

The winters are the same between Portland and Boston, do not expect much difference.

If you like Boston-area beaches you'll love Portland-area beaches. I prefer the ones near Portland.

I am not sure about the schools but I never heard any complaints. It is nearly impossible to compare K-12 schools in two different states. I remember there being something about a lottery system for Boston schools. I don't think that happens in Portland.

Yes, transplants are accepted. There are actually a good number of people from away; mostly from other New England states and the Upper Midwest. There are also a decent number of part-time residents in the area: people who spend time in Maine for the cooler summer, then time in Florida (or thereabouts) for the warmer winters.

The biggest difference between the two is that it takes a good amount of snowfall to "close" Boston. Otherwise nearly everything stays open. In Portland, just the threat of a serious snow storm, whether it actually happens or not, is enough to close half of the city. A lot of people who work in Portland reside in more rural parts outside of the city where it takes a little longer to clear the roads--in particular if they are responsible for clearing their own section of road themselves.

And as a heads up: you might overhear some disparaging words about tourists from Massachusetts.

The catch? One that comes to mind is the yearly vehicle inspection. No matter how new and/or well-maintained your cars are they more-than-likely will legally fail. Nearly everyone knows which shops to go to and which ones to avoid.
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Old 09-27-2014, 11:36 PM
 
2,015 posts, read 2,118,065 times
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Just my opinion and view, but cars failing inspections in Maine? even if they are in good condition.....not only does Maine have the highest excise tax (personal property tax, for cars and etc...I believe I read,)...but then the cars are failing the inspections too? Even the nice ones in good shape? wow...yea, just say no to Maine....imo....
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Old 09-28-2014, 04:08 AM
 
Location: Maine
2,010 posts, read 2,695,743 times
Reputation: 2752
Default Facts instead of hyperbole please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by starrider434 View Post
Just my opinion and view, but cars failing inspections in Maine? even if they are in good condition.....not only does Maine have the highest excise tax (personal property tax, for cars and etc...I believe I read,)...but then the cars are failing the inspections too? Even the nice ones in good shape? wow...yea, just say no to Maine....imo....
It is not true that cars in good shape regularly fail the annual safety inspection in Maine. We have older cars in good shape--a Honda and a Subaru--and there have been no problems getting the annual inspection stickers ($15/year). The excise tax paid to our town was under $200 for both. We live south of Augusta and north of Portland. The amount drops each year, and I believe it stops dropping after the car is 16+ years old.

signed, a non-native Maine resident (spouse is a retired veteran) who researched living in Washington State, Oregon, California, Minnesota, South Dakota, Idaho, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Tennessee
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Old 09-28-2014, 08:45 AM
 
24 posts, read 49,079 times
Reputation: 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Luv
You mention the ability to land "good paying jobs". For the most part a good paying job in Portland would be less than what you would make in Boston. There may be some exceptions, however typically people who move from Boston to Portland take a reduction in pay even if they work equivalent jobs.
Thanks above. As for incomes, we're both in medicine, so our incomes will actually be slightly higher in Portland versus Boston (Boston is over-saturated with specialists).

And you're right, we don't really partake much in the Boston nightlife, maybe once every two weeks we do something other than just going to dinner.

I think Portland sounds great from all that I'm reading. Will go scout more in the next couple of months.

Last edited by BUer; 09-28-2014 at 09:41 AM..
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Old 09-29-2014, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Somerville, MA
7,821 posts, read 15,927,998 times
Reputation: 9163
Quote:
Originally Posted by BUer View Post
I just sat 2 hours on I-93 yesterday to go 8 miles, was honked 4 times and flipped off once. I'm about to throw in the towel on living in Boston.

For those living in Portland who came from Greater Boston, did you adjust okay?
Short answer? No. I didn't. But before I get into detail on the pros/cons, I just want to clarify that I would attribute a good chunk of my disappointing tenure in Portland to my own expectations, incomplete research, and misunderstanding what I wanted out of my relocation. Portland's not a bad place at all, I just didn't expect it to be as small as it was and it wasn't what I was looking for. I expected something on par with Providence in size but maybe a little less gritty. Even Providence is huge in Comparison to Portland.

Quote:
I do think I'll miss the restaurants and constant stream of activities available
If you enjoy even some of the benefits of living in a major urban area, you will undoubtedly miss them when you move to a small regional city. There is nothing in Portland that compares to what Boston offers in terms of urban amenties. Portland has a good restaurant scene for such a small city. Emphasis on the last part (you can probably add the italicized to any positive and or negative comment about all things "urban" when it comes to Portland). If you're the type of person who eats out frequently and likes the variety that a city like Boston offers (I do), you'll get bored relatively quickly (I did). It's not even a knock on Portland so much as it's a simple matter of fact that a city and suburbs of about 200,000 people will not offer the same quantity of a metro area of 4+ Million. And before Quantity vs. Quality is mentioned, the best Portland restaurants would be akin to a notable neighborhood joint in Boston. There's a higher tier of dining in Boston that simply doesn't exist in Portland. It doesn't end at fine dining either. Boston has a pretty terrific ethnic food scene which (again, attribute it to numbers) simply can't be replicated in a smaller town like Portland (and if it does, the quality is often lacking... try Chinese in Portland- worst I've had anywhere in the U.S.). There is a wide variety of options in the lower and mid price levels in Boston that simply don't exist in Portland. No matter what your tastes are, you'll be taking a hit on the dining side of things.

Nightlife is far better in Boston. Infinitely better, even. Portland has a pub/tavern scene that's OK. However, due to the limited number of venues, most places in Portland are pretty bland and general (i.e. pub with a DJ spinning top 40, pub with a DJ playing indie music, pub with a live ban) and cater to a mixed crowd (21 year old students and 50+ tourists in the same bars). Boston has a much bigger scene and a much more specialized scene. I like that. I love that I can find whatever I'm in the mood for at night in Boston whereas in Portland the number of venues is ridiculously small (although nicely clustered for the most part) and the variety of options isn't much. Cities like Newport, RI and Portsmouth, NH are smaller but they offer just about as much in terms of nightlife (and I'd argue Newport is significantly more fun than Portland).

Missing activities depends. Obviously Portland doesn't offer the programs and activities that Boston does. I work near City Hall and North Station. Every week I walk by and something is going on. There are always big events being put on, major league sporting events, A-list concerts, etc. There's just no comparison to Portland. Portland has some nice little events (art walks, Old Port festival, etc), but nothing on the scale of what happens in Boston in terms of activities being provided for the people in the city.

That being said, Portland's small size has advantages over Boston. If you're self motivated or outdoorsy, Portland has Boston beat in terms of quality and access. It takes mere minutes to get out to the woodsy areas from downtown Portland and traffic is non-existant. For example, I despise apple picking with the intensity of 1,000 suns. However, I always find myself stuck going every single autumn for a variety of reasons. In Maine, there are dozens of cute farms and orchards within 15-20 minutes from Portland. They all have tons of trees and apples everywhere and PLENTY of room to move around. This past weekend, I drove to Stow, MA (an hour from Boston) and had to compete with hundreds of people and trees picked bare to fill a bag. It was far more stressful than my experience in Maine. There are agricultural fairs all over, nice places for hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. within a few minutes of Portland. Some of the best skiing in the Northeast is 1.5-2.5 hours from Portland (Sunday River, Sugarloaf) whereas you're looking at 3+ from Boston to get to the likes of Loon, Waterville, Attitash, etc.

If you're outdoorsy, Portland is better. If you like the work done for you, Boston is better.

Quote:
But between the traffic, increasing cost of living and growing numbers of shady characters in the metro area, plus the decaying infrastructure, I'm tired of Boston and want to move to somewhere smaller and quieter. Some place where I can also contribute more locally.
Portland is cheaper than Boston (presuming you can land a job), and traffic is essentially nonexistant comparitively speaking. Infrastructure? Meh. Maine's roads are iffy at best. Road construction in Maine is rarely (if ever) scheduled to avoid the busier times of day or to accommodate traffic while work is in progress. Expect stretches of major routes to be nothing but bumpy dirt from May-October when paving is done. I'd say infrastructure is a wash. Speaking of infrastructure, transit in Portland is not an option unless you live in the 2 square miles in/around downtown in Portland's peninsula. Boston has 4 rapid transit lines with spurs, 12 commuter rail lines, high speed, regional and national Amtrak service, a major international airport (and a transit connected secondary airport- TF Green) with non-stop service all over the country as well as to South America (Panama), Asia (Tokyo, HK, and Beijing), Middle East (Istanbul, Dubai), and Europe (too many to name). In Portland, you have 8 bus lines, a tourist train that takes 3+ hours to get to Boston, and a small regional airport with a handful of flights to hubs in the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. Maybe you don't travel or use transit much, but if you do, you'll notice the difference quickly.

There's definitely more of a big fish/ little pond thing in Portland if that's what you're into. It's definitely smaller and quieter.

Quote:
My wife and I could both land good paying jobs in the Portland area, and the real estate prices and taxes seem very reasonable compared to what we were dealing with in the Boston area. Portland isn't even that far away to Boston during non-rush hours, a 2 hour drive, for times when I want to see a show or visit family.
If you get a decent job, prices in Portland are better. The drive to Boston isn't bad, but 2 hours is 2 hours. Transit options take longer. Getting to Boston isn't exactly a breeze.


Quote:
How are the schools? I know Great Schools have some excellent rankings of schools in Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Yarmouth etc, but I also realize these are rankings within the state of Maine. How do these school districts compare to upper middle class districts in the Boston area? like say Essex Regional, Hingham, Lexington, Holliston in Boston area?
Schools are pretty good. I don't think they compare quite as favorably as the BEST Boston area districts, but the best in the Portland area would be considered good to very good in the Boston area.

Quote:
Is it much colder than Boston in the winter and does it last noticeably longer? I can handle snow and cold, but just want to know what I'm getting myself into.
MUCH colder? No. But noticeably colder? Yes. For starters, there's more snow on the ground for a longer period of time in Portland. For example, the average January temp in Portland is about 23 degrees whereas the average January temp in Boston is 29. 6 degrees isn't much, but 4 degrees warmer in Boston is above freezing and 4 degrees warmer in Portland is still pretty damn cold. I thought Portland felt colder, but if you're ok in Boston, Portland won't be too much different.

Quote:
Are transplants accepted? We're not political people, don't like to shove our views down other people's throats and really like to just be good neighbors who can lend a hand when needed.
Yeah. Portland is definitely, definitely more local-centric (and frankly, insular) than Boston. You'll find far more transplants (domestic and international) in Boston than in Portland. However, locals were friendly in my experience and didn't care where i was from.

Quote:
Boston area has some pretty decent beaches, what about in the Portland area?

Thanks guys.
In terms of beauty? Portland has a slight edge (though it's close if you branch a little further out to places on the North Shore, South Coast or Cape Cod). However, Boston wins hands down if you like to actually swim. The ocean near Portland, even in August, is bitterly cold. Often times 10 degrees colder than a beach in, say, Westport, MA. 10 degrees in water temp is night and day.
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Old 09-29-2014, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Maryland not Murlin
8,192 posts, read 22,247,429 times
Reputation: 6150
Quote:
Originally Posted by starrider434 View Post
Just my opinion and view, but cars failing inspections in Maine? even if they are in good condition.....not only does Maine have the highest excise tax (personal property tax, for cars and etc...I believe I read,)...but then the cars are failing the inspections too? Even the nice ones in good shape? wow...yea, just say no to Maine....imo....
Well, I left Maine at the end of 2010. It appears that the guidelines where changed in 2012, becoming a little bit more lenient. If I remember correctly the manual in use while I was still in Maine was 215 pages long. Not sure about the new length, but the manual can be found online (PDF).

I have had a vehicle fail because of supposedly old windshield wipers and because of rust near the rear bumper. I was told that the rust was a safety hazard because if it rusted through someone could cut themselves on the jagged edges. I covered up the rust with primer/spray paint and it passed. Three years and two cars and there was always something.

The inspections are a catch-22; they bring in a good amount of money for Maine but the mechanics/shops only get pennies. If the car passes inspection and then say your right front wheel fell off while driving down 95 the mechanic/shop could be held legally liable, even losing their own licenses.

Keep in mind that these are safety inspections. They are looking for things that may impede the safety of the vehicle, not necessarily how well the vehicle runs.

Here is one link:

Maine State Vehicle Inspection Checklist?

This topic has come up quite a few times, it is well documented in the Maine forum.
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Old 11-30-2014, 07:31 PM
 
25 posts, read 28,440 times
Reputation: 35
We moved to Portland in 2011 from Cambridge (married couple mid 30s, both working, no kids.) Food culture and access to outdoor activity were our biggest priorities. Husband kept his job in Boston and commutes down twice a week by bus, which has worked out really well (its actually less commuting time weekly than getting from our apartment to the waterfront every day in Boston, especially during Red Sox season.)

I have to disagree pretty strongly with poster above re: restaurants. Portland is indeed TINY compared to Boston, which is tiny compared to most other major cities. The scale is something to get used to. However, the food is far beyond what we even imagined. Inventive, inviting, unpretentious - excellent service, and even in the three years since we've been here its grown markedly and gotten much more national attention (you almost can't get a Food&Wine or Bon Appetit without some reference to Rob Evans, Masa Miyake, or newest star Chris Gould.) What has struck us most is that it goes far beyond restaurants. People here are connected to farms, purveyors, bakers, brewers....every party we go to people are talking about their food passions, and its a running joke that "where have you eaten lately?" is what people ask rather than "where did you go to school/what do you do?" in Boston or New York. Flanagan's Table is a great monthly popup dinner that features local chefs for limited seatings in a beautiful barn - that style is becoming more popular - see also Opus Ten at David's.

A place like Menton in Boston is a step above the best in Portland in terms of formality and complexity (versus say Hugo's) but only a miniscule percentage of foodies would be able to discern the two. Likewise the corner bakeries, little wine shops, etc that are all over the Portland area (Rosemont...Browne Street...the Cheese Iron...Standard...Scratch...on and on) are on par or better than the best gourmet shops, etc in Boston.

Nightlife? There is none unless you REALLY like folk/acoustic music, but there are some great bars (Hunt & Alpine, Crow Bar, Empire, Top of the East). People dress casually to an extreme - even in the top top restaurants they'll be wearing jeans and bean boots. Its about the food - the decor and service are consistently excellent but no one cares what you're wearing. People cultivate an almost pathological need to look like they aren't trying.

Socially I've found that the smaller pond means people are friendlier and less overwhelmed by work/traffic/logistics/cost than they were in Boston. It became a huge production to meet up with friends who lived "on the other side of the river" or moved to the suburbs, such that we just never saw them anymore. People here make plans spontaneously much more easily, even though we're older now and many have kids. That said - it is very homogeneous, and especially if you're single, there just aren't that many people. We've met people in all kinds of ways, and then kept in touch - at bars, at the dog park or beach, museum events, whatever. We run into people we know frequently, after just a few years. Its a nice feeling.
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Old 12-06-2014, 10:33 PM
 
Location: Santa Monica, CA
64 posts, read 87,776 times
Reputation: 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by BUer View Post
I just sat 2 hours on I-93 yesterday to go 8 miles, was honked 4 times and flipped off once. I'm about to throw in the towel on living in Boston.

For those living in Portland who came from Greater Boston, did you adjust okay? I do think I'll miss the restaurants and constant stream of activities available. But between the traffic, increasing cost of living and growing numbers of shady characters in the metro area, plus the decaying infrastructure, I'm tired of Boston and want to move to somewhere smaller and quieter. Some place where I can also contribute more locally.

My wife and I could both land good paying jobs in the Portland area, and the real estate prices and taxes seem very reasonable compared to what we were dealing with in the Boston area. Portland isn't even that far away to Boston during non-rush hours, a 2 hour drive, for times when I want to see a show or visit family.

What's the catch?

How are the schools? I know Great Schools have some excellent rankings of schools in Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Yarmouth etc, but I also realize these are rankings within the state of Maine. How do these school districts compare to upper middle class districts in the Boston area? like say Essex Regional, Hingham, Lexington, Holliston in Boston area?

Is it much colder than Boston in the winter and does it last noticeably longer? I can handle snow and cold, but just want to know what I'm getting myself into.

Are transplants accepted? We're not political people, don't like to shove our views down other people's throats and really like to just be good neighbors who can lend a hand when needed.

Boston area has some pretty decent beaches, what about in the Portland area?

Thanks guys.
I've never lived in Portland, Maine, so I can't really answer your question directly. But it's been interesting to me to read the commentators who say a regional city just can't offer the restaurants, nightlife and sophistication of a place like Boston. This simply isn't true. It's certainly not true of the other Portland - the one in Oregon - (pop 400,000) that puts many larger cities to shame in these departments, including Boston. A city I had the misfortune to live in for a while, and found it as provincial as they come. So why not move to the other Portland? You'll be much happier. The irony of all this is that Portland, OR is named after Portland, ME because many of its settlers came from there.
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Old 12-09-2014, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Somerville, MA
7,821 posts, read 15,927,998 times
Reputation: 9163
Quote:
Originally Posted by Telzey View Post
I've never lived in Portland, Maine, so I can't really answer your question directly. But it's been interesting to me to read the commentators who say a regional city just can't offer the restaurants, nightlife and sophistication of a place like Boston. This simply isn't true. It's certainly not true of the other Portland - the one in Oregon - (pop 400,000) that puts many larger cities to shame in these departments, including Boston. A city I had the misfortune to live in for a while, and found it as provincial as they come. So why not move to the other Portland? You'll be much happier. The irony of all this is that Portland, OR is named after Portland, ME because many of its settlers came from there.
Portland, OR may not be as big as a city like Boston, but it's still on an entirely different level than Portland, ME. Just for comparion's sake, Portland, Oregon has nearly 600,000 people within the city limits, 1.9 Million in the city and suburbs ("Urban Area") and 2.3 Million in the overall metropolitan area. Portland, Maine has 65,000 in the city, 190,000 in the city and suburbs (urban area) and around 500,000 in the overal metro area which covers a geographic area that includes all of Southern and some of Midcoast Maine (a land area more than double the size of Rhode Island with fewer than half the people).

So Portland, OR is a smaller regional city when compared to Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, etc. Portland, ME is a tiny seaside village by comparsion. The sheer gap between a city/suburban area with over 4 Million people (Boston) and one with around 200,000 (Portland, ME) means that Portland simply cannot offer the same level of amenities that Boston does. Does Portland punch well above it's weight? Certainly. Does Portland offer enough for many people? Absolutely. But the gap in size between the two is so great that the comparison is like comparing apples and tractor trailer trucks. Portland OR's size makes it a much more reasonable comparison to larger cities.

And if you think Boston is provincial (it is as far as major cities go), Portland, ME is all that and then some.
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