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Old 04-05-2019, 02:03 PM
 
28 posts, read 10,039 times
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Hey All!

My wife, daughter (2.5 Y/O), and I are thinking about moving to the Greater Portland Area. We are looking for a house potentially in the Portland Area (Not Portland itself - Maybe South Portland). We are in our early 30s and wanted to ask a few questions.

1. What is it like living in each of these places? We're looking at Gorham, Westbrook, North Windham, Kennebunk, and Brunswick. Portland seems to be a really nice city to have as our go-to while still living out in a more rural area.

2. How is the commute going into the city every morning? Are Portland people open to entrepreneurship? What is the job market like in these areas for IT professionals? I would NOT want to commute to Boston, etc. for work.

3. Do any of these towns have a good/welcoming community?

4. What are some negatives about the area? Stagnant housing market, job growth, etc.?

5. I know the schools are pretty good in these areas, but what is the school tax like?

6. What are some other family-friendly suburban/rural areas that we should look with reasonable home prices? (Note: Good Schools) I see the home prices greatly increasing in the GPA over the next few years so I feel buying a home anywhere in the area would not be a bad investment.

7. Any crime to worry about? What is the diversity like? (my wife is Asian).

8. How are the restaurants and food?

We live in the greater Boston area now so we're already used to the cold. Anything else for us to keep in mind?

Any other insight out be great!

Thanks!
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Old 04-06-2019, 02:50 PM
 
Location: Maine
16,453 posts, read 20,746,153 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
1. What is it like living in each of these places? We're looking at Gorham, Westbrook, North Windham, Kennebunk, and Brunswick.
Myself, I donít really care for towns south of Portland. They feel like ďnorth Massachusetts,Ē not Maine to me. But that might not be an issue with you.

Brunswick is great. In good weather, Portland is about 25-30 minutes away, depending on where youíre going to and from in town. Good schools. Great restaurants.

You might also consider Topsham (right next to Brunswick) and Bath. Bath is more working class than Brunswick, but it is a great little town. I have heard mixed things about the schools though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
Portland seems to be a really nice city to have as our go-to while still living out in a more rural area.
As cities go, yes, Portland is nice. It will seem downright quaint compared to Boston. But keep in mind that it has more crime than the rest of Maine. Again, still tame compared to Boston, but compared to the rest of Maine, Portland is where the worst of the crime is.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
2. How is the commute going into the city every morning? Are Portland people open to entrepreneurship? What is the job market like in these areas for IT professionals? I would NOT want to commute to Boston, etc. for work.
The commute isnít bad, unless there is an accident on the road or severe weather. It isnít like Boston or NYC where bumper-to-bumper traffic is the norm. Not that it doesnít ever happen, but it is the exception, not the rule.

IT professionals can always find a job. Will you be able to find a job that will pay what you make in the Boston area? Very unlikely. Maine is a great place to live, but it can be a hard place to make a living.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
3. Do any of these towns have a good/welcoming community?
Sure. Yes, youíll run into the occasional rude person. But where wonít you? The only place I have found in Maine that seems to have an above average number of surly, rude, unhappy people is Lewiston. Not sure why, but the only truly nasty people I have ever run into in Maine has been in Lewiston.

Here is the secret to being welcome in Maine: Love Maine. Move here because you want to live in Maine. People who move up here and want to turn it into Long Island or Cape Cod or the Berkshires tend not to do too well. Donít ever start a conversation with, ďWhy donít you do X the way we did it in Y?Ē A typical Maineahís response will be, ďGo back to Y.Ē

The one very weird quirk I have seen in some Maineahs is that they have a pathological hatred of standing in line. I once saw two little old ladies nearly get in a fistfight because they couldn't agree on whose turn it was in line at McDonald's. The weirdest one was the two old men who got into an argument in church on whose turn it was to go into the confessional. "I got here first!" "Oh, yeah, well I pulled into the parking lot before you did and you know it! It's not my fault if I walk slower. I got a bad hip!" "Well, I'm on a fixed income!"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
4. What are some negatives about the area? Stagnant housing market, job growth, etc.?
Maine is a great place to live. But Maine is a hard place to make a living. Wages are not great. But if you can find a way to make a living here, there is no place better to live in the USA.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
6. What are some other family-friendly suburban/rural areas that we should look with reasonable home prices? (Note: Good Schools) I see the home prices greatly increasing in the GPA over the next few years so I feel buying a home anywhere in the area would not be a bad investment.
The farther you get from Portland, the more home youíll get for your money. But other good places to live outside of Portland (getting cheaper the farther north you go) are Yarmouth, Freeport, Brunswick, Topsham, and Bath. Of those, I think Yarmouth and Brunswick have the best schools, but none are bad.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
7. Any crime to worry about? What is the diversity like? (my wife is Asian).
Most crime is property crime. Itís worse in Portland. There is occasional violent crime, but very rarely is it random. There are some gang members in Maine who peddle in drugs and such, but if there are entire neighborhoods run by gangs, I have never seen it.

Lots of ethnic diversity in the larger towns. If you get out in the rural areas, not so much. Portland and Lewiston both have sizeable immigrant communities. Brunswick has people from all over the world, many of whom came here first from the Naval Air Station (itís closed now), but Bowdoin College continues to bring in people from all over. Donít get me wrong. Minorities in town are still minorities. But they arenít alone.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
8. How are the restaurants and food?
Excellent. Iím pretty sure angels come down from heaven to eat at Shere Punjab in Brunswick.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
We live in the greater Boston area now so we're already used to the cold. Anything else for us to keep in mind?
The cold is comparable to Boston, but Maine tends to get more snow --- and it usually isnít quite as hot in the summer. Still hot, but most of the time there is a good 10 degree difference between coastal NH and MA and coastal Maine.
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Old 04-07-2019, 03:13 PM
 
28 posts, read 10,039 times
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This is a huge help! Thanks so much! Does anyone else have any further insight?
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Old 04-07-2019, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Newburyport, MA
1,345 posts, read 554,760 times
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I'd agree with most everything Mark S. said. Fortunately,you are closeby, so you can easily take overnight trips up to the Portland area to explore and get to know it. I think Portland is only about 1hr 15mins from Newburyport, anyways.

My instinct would be that you'll find more IT-related work around Portland than anywhere else in the state. Not only is Portland the biggest city, it's also considerably younger than the state as a whole. The peninsula just to the south of Portland, Cape Elizabeth, is beautiful and has some great parks along the water - if you're there, you gotta check out Crescent Beach State Park, Two Lights State Park and Fort Williams Park. Portland can be kind of busy, but you might look at the neighborhoods in South Portland on the eastern side, for a quieter and slightly less expensive area that still has great access to Portland.

Brunswick is a great town and as Mark said, isn't too bad a drive from Portland, as Route 295 is a high speed road. Bath is also worth considering. It doesn't seem to get a lot of love here, but in my visits, I was surprised by the neighborhoods on the north side of Route 1 (only part I have really explored so far), which had nice neighborhood streets with a mix of humble and grand homes and interesting businesses on Front St. The broad Kennebec River is right there if you like fishing or boating, they have a weekly farmer's market on the water in season, and there are a few nice parks. One thing to be aware of with Bath is that the town is highly dependent on Bath Iron Works (a big Navy shipyard) for its employment base, and so it sort of "has all its eggs in one basket" in that way.
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Old 04-08-2019, 10:20 AM
 
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Thanks All! Sounds like we need to take a serious look at Bath and Brunswick as those areas look like the life we're seeking. South Portland looks pretty nice too but I do not think we can afford the kind of land that we want. I'm pretty familiar with the Portland/Cape Elizabeth area as I spent a good chunk of my childhood around there. I was just wondering from a daily living stand-point. I know that the labor market gets better everyday in Portland but I do not understand why wage growth appears to be stalled, especially in the tech industry.

We were also thinking about buying near a lake with the intention to rent for a few months during the peak summer rental times. Does anyone have any experience doing this?
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Old 04-08-2019, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Maine
16,453 posts, read 20,746,153 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shelin405 View Post
We were also thinking about buying near a lake with the intention to rent for a few months during the peak summer rental times. Does anyone have any experience doing this?
I know there are lots of season rentals in Harpswell and Brunswick, but the season is reversed for what you're planning. Lots of people from Boston, NYC, etc. own homes in Brunswick and Harpswell and live in them during the summer. When they leave (usually in late August or September) they rent out their houses, usually to college students in the area for the fall, winter, and spring terms.

For rentals in general ... either Craigslist or local newspaper classifieds seem to be the best place to look. When we first moved to Maine and were trying to rent, we initially approached realtors who handle rentals. Huge mistake. Most realtors in the area who handle rentals are either hoping to gouge tourists with high rents, or gouge students with poor lease terms. They really didn't seem interested in even meeting with families looking for long-term rentals. We were too poor to rent their tourist rentals and too smart to sign leases on their student housing.

It isn't impossible to find a good summer rental in the area. But it's difficult. All the snowbirds are coming back, driving up rental prices and availability. You'll have a lot more luck waiting till August/September.
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Old 04-09-2019, 09:32 AM
 
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Hey Mark!

Sorry if I did not communicate properly. We would not be looking to rent ourselves. We are considering buying with the intention of renting to someone during the summer months. I was wondering if anyone had any experiences with this... positive or negative.

Thanks!
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Old 04-10-2019, 07:59 AM
 
Location: North of Boston
3,068 posts, read 5,270,087 times
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I'll make the same comment I made on your New Hampshire thread...

I would find jobs first and then find the right town to live in based on your future commute.
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Old 04-10-2019, 01:12 PM
 
28 posts, read 10,039 times
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I very likely will have the chance to work remotely for my current employer if I asked for it. Having said that, I do not want to end up in a situation where I would have a hard time finding a job if anything occurred to my current job. There seems to be some demand in Portland but I am unsure about the pay-scale. It sounds like Maine has everything else that we want, especially the entrepreneurship attitude with AirBNB potential that my wife and I are looking for with side gigs. We also value good farmer's markets for some home cooked food that we sell.
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Old 04-10-2019, 05:41 PM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
55 posts, read 54,525 times
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I am a software developer, and I got a slight raise here last year from my previous job in Chicago. At least some companies are willing to pay “market rate” for jobs where telecommuting is possible.
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