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Old 10-29-2008, 09:11 AM
 
15 posts, read 30,004 times
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My family may be moving to Portland area this spring and I am clueless about the area! My dh and I lived in Boston before kids, so I am familiar with New England, but I now have different priorities.

Can anyone tell me the best neighborhoods in Portland and vicinity in terms of affordability (I think we are middle of the road), safety, schools and fun things to do? I would like to be able to walk to shops, restaurants if I can. We also are thinking of downsizing to one car. Is this an easy city to do that?

I have heard good things about North Deering, but have noticed that South Portland appears more affordable.

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Portland, Maine
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Hi. Portland area is great in many ways. We're looking at possibly relocating to Raleigh area, maybe we'll pass in transit!

We live in Stroudwater - great neighborhood, but not really the "walk to restaurants and schools" type...but I do walk to the Airport when I fly! Deering is great, and Deering highlands is more walkable. North Deering is very nice, but I view that as almost a suburb (term used loosely). My son goes to Hall elementary. That is a great school. I have also heard great things about the East End School (Munjoy hill area) and Lyseth. South Portland is also great, but I don't have much info for you on it.

As far as things to do: Beaches (cold water, but beautiful), hiking, children's museum, apple picking, island-day trips on Casco Bay Lines, visit Fort Williams, Portland Sea Dogs baseball, Portland Pirates hockey, golfing, skiing, sledding, etc. There are good rec programs through the Y, Portland Adult ed., etc.

You might also want to look at Westbrook as an option.

One car is doable, especially if you choose to live intown portland - Munjoy Hill or West End.

I'm not fully aware of affordability levels, but houses are a bit more expensive here than you might expect. Still, you can get good values. Don't forget that most houses here heat with oil, so figure that into your budgeting.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:49 AM
 
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Hi! Thank you so much for your input! All of the "things to do" sound great. Houses do look more expensive, or at least the same as here. I'm in Cary NC, which is somewhere you will want to look. I love Cary! I will miss it.
I have noticed that houses are much smaller, and of course, older. Why are houses so much smaller? Is it because it's easier and cheaper to heat? What are the costs to heat a house that is about 1500 sq ft?

Thanks!
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:15 AM
 
Location: Boston
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Hello.

As far as kid-friendly neighborhoods, most of Portland fits the bill. Most of the neighborhoods that aren't immediately abutting the downtown area are suburban (read: few wall-to-wall buildings, many single family homes, small- medium sized yards, quiet streets).

All of Deering is pretty nice, and the schools are pretty good as well. North Deering is getting out there, and is almost rural in nature off of the main roads (you could easily find a home with a pretty big yard that abuts 5+acres of wooded area). East End and Munjoy Hill is a bit more built up (located on the peninsula next to downtown) but it's beautiful and is within easy walking distance of shops and restaurants. The West End is a mixed bag. Some of it is very suburban with big ol' houses (BEAUTIFUL old Ne England architecture) but they can be pricey. the more built up areas of this neighborhood offer some nice two-families and a single family here and there within easy walking distance from downtown.

Back Cove, Woodfords and the area around Baxter BLVD are pretty nice too. It's an easy walk to the commercial strip of Forest Avenue (which is suburban in it's set up aside for a couple of intersections). South Portland has some nice areas and may be a bit more affordable but the Casco Bay Bridge into town can be a pain at times (though it's not awful).

As far as housing prices go, it's not terrible in Portland (West End and East End/Munjoy Hill are a bit pricier). If you'ved lived in Boston, these prices are NOTHING compared to what it's like in the Boston area. That being said, taxes are high and overall cost of living isn't cheap here. If you don't have job secured beforehand, it's a tough place to survive with a young family.

As far as going down to one car goes, it's not the easiest thing to do here, but it's possible. Portland is a very auto-centric city. Most people who go w/o a car are on their own and living downtown. Like I mentioned before, Portland is mostly suburban in nature. It's a small town and most of the urban commercial business is located downtown with suburban businesses outside the city. While many of the Boston's neighborhoods are centered around a commercial square (Porter Sq, Davis Sq, Coolidge Corner, Centre St, Washington Sq, Inman Sq, Newton Center, etc), Portland's are almost ENTIRELY residential with very few exceptions; so it's hard to find an area away from downtown that's centered around nice, walkable shops and restaurants.

One of my favorite areas outside of Downtown Portland, and one I find to be family friendly is the area around Deering High School and Stevens ave. While not a lot, there are some small restuarnts, bakeries, and little shops along Stevens Ave. The area is mostly residential, suburban, and quiet. There are a few schools along this stretch of Stevens Ave, so it's heavily policed and speed controlled with speed tables, and crossing guards (during school hours). There is a lot of open space with Baxter Woods park nearby and the University of New England has a satellite campus on the road as well. It's just a personal preference and suggestion, but it's worth looking into.

Good luck! any other questions, don't hesitate to ask.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:35 PM
 
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Thanks Irfox for all of this great information. It is so helpful.

I guess I should mention a little more about us. My daughter is 4 and will start kindergarten next year in ME. My son will be two next spring. DH will be working in Westbrook and I am a web developer/designer and work from home.

We are open-minded people and would love to live somewhere where there are others like us. We'd like to be able to walk as many places as possible - whether it's to a park, the ocean/bay (not necessarily a beach), school or restaurants and shops. I am in love with the idea of seeing the ocean from our house... or at least being a few blocks away. But I am sure that means less house for the money.

We would like to downsize to one car, but it's not necessary. Both our cars are paid for so its not too much of an added expense to keep one. We were thinking of trading both in for one nice AWD or 4WD.

I love the ocean and the city feel, my husband likes mountains and rivers/ponds more, but I will have the final say most likely b/c he's more laid back and I'm the one who will be at home most of the time! I was in Portsmouth NH once and adored it... I'm crossing my fingers that Portland is similar?

That said, I don't necessarily have to live in Portland. When we first moved to the Raleigh area I thought we would want to live as close to the "city" as possible. But, the city of Raleigh is not that much so it didn't matter if you live further out. I would consider a different portland area town if it had a nice town center. I love old classic New England architecture!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:13 PM
 
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We are in Portland on Munjoy Hill. We do just fine with one car here and our even thinking of downsizing to a smaller car since we don't use the minivan to cart everyone as often as we used to. I fill up about every two weeks or so.
We love the schools here. There are many things to do. We enjoy the Children's museum and there are play groups and story times in walking distance.
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:29 PM
Status: "Can't wait for 2015!" (set 15 days ago)
 
Location: Midcoast Maine
4,916 posts, read 7,510,541 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellyam View Post
My family may be moving to Portland area this spring and I am clueless about the area! My dh and I lived in Boston before kids, so I am familiar with New England, but I now have different priorities.

Can anyone tell me the best neighborhoods in Portland and vicinity in terms of affordability (I think we are middle of the road), safety, schools and fun things to do? I would like to be able to walk to shops, restaurants if I can. We also are thinking of downsizing to one car. Is this an easy city to do that?

I have heard good things about North Deering, but have noticed that South Portland appears more affordable.

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!
Hi there, and welcome to the forum! We're practically neighbors: We live in Holly Springs, and are also planning a move to Maine! Hope everything works out for you!
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Boston
5,401 posts, read 9,442,326 times
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If you're looking to downsize to one AWD for an entire family, the Subaru Forester and Outback seem to be the state cars of Maine. They're practical, fuel efficient, safe, and not too ugly (I'm not a big fan, but taste is a personal thing).

From your second post it sounds like you'd LOVE Munjoy Hill. Beautiful Ocean Views, a great Park (right on the ocean) and it's not TOO pricey. It's also within easy walking distance of everything downtown. Back Cove has some nice water views as well, but not nearly as scenic as Munjoy Hill.

If you adore Portsmouth, you'll probably love Portland. IMHO Portland is the far prettier of the two and there's a little more to do in town. The schools in Portland are better as well.

From what you've mentioned, it seems like you'd be better off in Portland than in a surrounding town. It's not a big city by any stretch, and it only takes 10 minutes (by car) or so to be completely out of the urban area, so you'll never feel "trapped" in the city. Also, there are only a few towns within easy commuting distance (especially if you'll only have one car) that have nice town centers for shopping, dining, and walking (Saco and Gorham to name a few that are nice, but Gorham is a college town). Many town centers are pretty, and picturesque New England, but don't offer TOO many things to do. Downtown Portland is the hub of activity for the region, and it's very nice, but again, not too large to make you feel trapped.
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:33 PM
 
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This all sounds wonderful! I have seen some pics of Munjoy Hil and it looks great, perfect for us. I am not seeing a lot of houses for sale though, is real estate scarce there? Are there more condos? I wouldn't have a problem with a condo, but we have two dogs and a cat. The dogs are older, so don't need a lot of space, but a single family home would work best for us.
Quote:
If you're looking to downsize to one AWD for an entire family, the Subaru Forester and Outback seem to be the state cars of Maine. They're practical, fuel efficient, safe, and not too ugly (I'm not a big fan, but taste is a personal thing).
Ahhh, I think these are so ugly too, but it's what dh wants... I don't do LL Bean either! I hope that won't be a problem! ;-)
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:49 PM
 
Location: Boston
5,401 posts, read 9,442,326 times
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^I've been here for four years. I don't own a Subaru (and prob. never will even though they're so practical) or own anything from LL Bean (and don't plan on it) and I've been fine so I wouldn't worry ;-)

I think much of the Eastern Prom/ Munjoy is Condos or two+ family homes. There are some single families in there though (many priced at around $500k but some lower. I'd look at Trulia - Real Estate, Homes For Sale, Sold Properties, Real Estate Maps if you haven't already. You can browse by the map and see exactly where homes are for sale. This: 27 Anderson Street, Portland ME 04101 - Trulia is one example of a single family close to the Eastern Prom. for sale under $200k. That one's closer to Bayside (you can google map the address) which is not the best neighborhood, but it's developing and getting better. No neighborhood in Portland is wildly unsafe, but some are better than others.

Neighborhoods like Deering will have more Single Families. I've seen lots of homes for sale all over the city so I don't think real estate is scarce, some neighborhoods just have more on the market.
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