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Old 12-27-2012, 07:52 PM
 
5 posts, read 8,860 times
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Hi everyone,
We are a family of three contemplating a move to Portland. I might have landed a job there for next summer/fall.
We are originally from Europe, and have been living in New Haven for 9 years. We really like it here. We live in a great neighborhood filled with young families and students from all over the planet, and no one has ever frowned at our accents. I enjoy the mix of nature and a small downtown filled of culture. I love that it's bikable. And New York city is close by.
But I have always dreamt of moving to Maine. We love the outdoors, the cold, the mountains, the ocean, half of our closets is LLBean stuff (:-0 ) and I keep hearing wonderful things about progressive, beautiful Portland. But I feel a bit worried hearing that Maine is also one of the least diverse states in the US. How is Portland itself? How hard is it for a newcomer to get to know people? Are there many transplants ?
In terms of size and culture/things to do, it looks like New Haven and Portland would be pretty similar. How would they compare in terms of mentality?

We would be looking for a family friendly neighborhood, where we can walk/bike to downtown (library, bookshops, museums etc) with ideally a farmer's market and access to nature by foot (like playgrounds, forest, trails..). From what I see online, Deering and South Portland look like great matches. We will be visiting Portland soon to get a more precise but in the meantime, I'd love to hear informed opinions.
Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Boonette.
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:33 PM
 
85 posts, read 160,938 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoonetteCT View Post
But I feel a bit worried hearing that Maine is also one of the least diverse states in the US.
...

I don't get statements like this. Anyone can look at the ethnic makeup of an area thanks to the U.S. census. The statistics are out there. You obviously know that Maine is very white. That isn't going to pick up and somehow magically change because you feel threatened by it. Portland just is what it is -- mostly caucasian, just like the rest of the state. That doesn't make the people bad, it doesn't make them wrong, and it doesn't even make them less sophisticated or cultured than any other part of America.

So much of City-Data's regional inqueries revolves around this ridiculous hand-wringing regarding diversity, and it makes absolutely no sense to me. And, in fact, its positive attributes remain to be proven. The last time 'diversity' was foisted somewhat artificially on Maine was in 1999, when the Somali refugees relocated to Lewiston-Auburn. Is Lewiston-Auburn more diverse now? Oh yes. Are the towns better off with their imported underclass? I don't know -- and the answer really depends on who you talk to. I do think, however, that the color of someone's skin doesn't somehow automatically add spice to the world. We should feel blessed to be around people because of who they are (hopefully good natured), not because of what they look like. Thus, it is for this reason that I think a number of the people seeking diversity for diversity's sake alone are racists.

Portland is very liberal. It is far and away the most liberal part of Maine. So, chances are, OP, you won't be descriminated against for an accent -- not that that would happen in the red parts, either (seriously, who makes fun of an accent?). Like anywhere else that's on an even keel, you'll be judged for who you are, and what kind of a character you have. That doesn't have anything to do with white, black, red, yellow, green, diversity, lack of diversity, whatever -- it just 'is.'

But if diversity remains a big deal for you, no, there is no booming Chinatown or Little Italy or whatnot. There's just Portland (which is a far, far nicer city than dingy, dirty New Haven), and that should be enough.

Last edited by ShastatoBaker; 12-27-2012 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Cape Elizabeth
425 posts, read 425,825 times
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I think your instincts about moving to Maine will be pleasantly rewarded. We moved here in 2010, after growing up in Brooklyn, then raising our kids in NJ, 25 miles from NYC. Our daughter married and moved to So. Portland where she loves living. I really dont know anyone who is not happy here. All of our friends and family who visit from all around the Up.S. also love it here. You can't beat the natural beauty, the beaches, near and far, the friendliness and the relaxed atmosphere. See my post to Amit about some diversity issues.
I am becoming quite the cheerleader for Maine on this site, but there isn't a day that goes by, that I am not happy with my decision.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:58 PM
 
Location: Gorham, Maine
1,910 posts, read 4,623,031 times
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Welcome to the forum, come up while it's still winter while the hotels are cheaper (first big snow on Wednesday) and check out the restaurants, catch a minor league hockey and/or basketball game, check out the snow sports (if you're into that), dress warmly and walk around the areas you mentioned. The climate is similar to New Haven, winter might linger a few more weeks and there might be more snow here, but you probably knew that. There's something to do almost every weekend whether it's celebrating MLK day, Chinese New Year Celebration (shameless plug - my 6 year old will be dancing), or other cultural events.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:16 PM
 
177 posts, read 369,061 times
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It's easy for people to state how diversity doesn't matter when they are not the person being stared at. Even though most people are open and nice, being the only "xyz" family in the neighborhood has its challenges - but those that don't experience it can't understand what I'm talking about, but I totally get why you asked.

That being said, we've had no issues living here as an interracial couple. People do generally double take when they look at us and the baby, and it's annoying but that's as far as it goes - this is a very friendly and accepting place. New Haven has nightlife that you won't find here - I haven't seen actual nightclubs, just bars - so if you're into that, you'll be disappointed. But
literally everything you asked for can be found in South Portland (which is a separate city, not a neighborhood).
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:55 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
9,279 posts, read 17,322,416 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoonetteCT View Post
Hi everyone,
We are a family of three contemplating a move to Portland. I might have landed a job there for next summer/fall.
We are originally from Europe, and have been living in New Haven for 9 years. We really like it here. We live in a great neighborhood filled with young families and students from all over the planet, and no one has ever frowned at our accents. I enjoy the mix of nature and a small downtown filled of culture. I love that it's bikable. And New York city is close by.
But I have always dreamt of moving to Maine. We love the outdoors, the cold, the mountains, the ocean, half of our closets is LLBean stuff (:-0 ) and I keep hearing wonderful things about progressive, beautiful Portland. But I feel a bit worried hearing that Maine is also one of the least diverse states in the US. How is Portland itself? How hard is it for a newcomer to get to know people? Are there many transplants ?
In terms of size and culture/things to do, it looks like New Haven and Portland would be pretty similar. How would they compare in terms of mentality?
I lived in Portland until about 3 years ago and very nearly moved to New Haven afterward (one of my exes lives there and I have family in the area). Great city. Easily one of the most underrated places in the Northeast.

I consider New Haven and Portland to be VERY different. Head to head, New Haven is quite a bit larger than Portland. The downtown area is larger and busier than central Portland by a good margin. There are more dense, urban residential neighborhoods in New Haven than there are in Portland."Urban" Portland inc. (downtown, the Old Port, and the adjacent residential neighborhoods) accounts for about 3 square miles. Outside of that three square miles Portland quickly becomes suburban and fades into a semi-rural built environment within the small 21 square mile city limits. The urban environment in New Haven extends quite a bit further (beyond the city limits). The fact that New Haven is so close to New York City and as well as other sizable cities (i.e. Stamford, Hartford, Bridgeport, etc.) and is so well connected to those places via highway and multiple rail options, makes it feel much much busier. Portland is almost sleepy by comparison.

I think that in order to choose which one you would enjoy more depends on which things are more important to you. If it's the urban amenities (cultural institutions, dining, nightlife, diversity, etc.) than New Haven is the easy choice. If it's the outdoors, Portland is the easy choice. Both cities offer a decent mix of both, but New Haven definitely gets a big edge in terms of better shopping, dining, nightlife, museums, etc. whereas Portland gets a big edge in terms of natural beauty and access to the outdoors. Portland packs a good punch for a city of 65,000 in terms of culture, but it's not on the same level as New Haven when it comes to dining, nightlife, shopping, museums, etc. You'll be making a small sacrifice in that department in order to have more access to a variety of outdoor activities. This is even more true when you factor in the proximity to other places like New York, Stamford, Hartford, etc. Portland is 2 hours driving (3 by train) from Boston. Much further from any other sizable city. So it's a trade off.

In terms of "feel," Portland has a little more of a granola vibe. Part of that has to do with the fact that it's not nearly as racially diverse as New Haven and part of that has to do with the fact that it's sort of a last outpost on the edge of a natural wonderland (Maine is gorgeous). I think one of the toughest adjustments to make will be the fact that much of downtown Portland (particularly the Old Port), while aesthetically pretty, is very touristy and teeters on the brink of being kitsch. New Haven, on the other hand, isn't a tourist destination (at least no nearly on the same level as Portland) and is a true college town in every sense of the definition. General experience in both cities leads me to believe that Portland is quite a bit more laid back than New Haven. The general pace is slower.

No, Maine is not diverse by any stretch of the imagination. Portland, while definitely more diverse than the rest of the state, is still pretty lilly-white. You will not find nearly the same variety of nationalities represented in Portland that you are currently exposed to. This is obvious in the dining options (what passes for "Mexican" or "Chinese" is laughably bad) and the shopping options (though there are a few small ethnic markets). It's also obvious in the cultural festivals (which are smaller than what you'll find in more diverse cities). Still, it's not 100% non-hispanic white so you will run into people from other races and ethnic backgrounds on a daily basis. You'll also find that Portland is pretty friendly towards people from different ethnic boundaries. I've been to far more diverse cities and see much worse blatantly open racism.

Portland does have a decent number of transplants for such a small city, but the populous is largely Maine-born. As a state cultural and economic hub, many residents are from other parts of the state, but most people are from within Maine. I was from outside of the state and had very little trouble making friends. Portland and the Portland area are very family friendly. People seem to get married young, so I would not recommend Portland as a great place for young singles, but I do think it's a great fit for families as it's safe, clean and there are a lot of young families in the area.

Quote:
We would be looking for a family friendly neighborhood, where we can walk/bike to downtown (library, bookshops, museums etc) with ideally a farmer's market and access to nature by foot (like playgrounds, forest, trails..). From what I see online, Deering and South Portland look like great matches. We will be visiting Portland soon to get a more precise but in the meantime, I'd love to hear informed opinions.
Any help will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Boonette.
South Portland has already been suggested and it's a good fit. It's an older suburban community right across the Fore River from Portland. Much of it is walkable (especially closest to downtown Portland) and you can walk or bike to downtown Portland over the Casco Bay Bridge.

I'd also consider Deering (particularly Deering Center). It's an older suburban neighborhood within the city limits of Portland. It's walkable and quiet. There are also a lot of nice older homes in that section of town. A strip of Stevens Avenue has the closest thing you'll find to a neighborhood center in Portland (a few little shops and eateries as well as a library branch).

Portland and the Portland area are VERY bike friendly. Lots of bike lanes and a strong bike culture. There are some walking/biking trails in the city along the Fore River and at the Eastern Promenade. South Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough are great for biking and walking (kayaking the Scarborough Marsh is fun too). And as you know, the foothills are within an hour and the mountains just a little over an hour away.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:38 PM
 
5 posts, read 8,860 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you so much to all of you.
Your help is very much appreciated.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:33 PM
 
5 posts, read 8,860 times
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I wanted to add that we'll be visiting Maine at the end of the month.
Thank you all again for your replies.
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:13 PM
 
912 posts, read 1,874,550 times
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I would do it, I'm quite familiar with both cites and Portland has far more to recommend it. The only advantage of New Haven is its proximity to NYC. Also explore smaller cities like Bath and Brunswick. Great deals to be had on real estate market there as well. When you visit Portland, don't forget to get a bowl of chowder and a local beer on tap at J's Oyster Bar.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:42 PM
 
5 posts, read 8,860 times
Reputation: 10
Thank you!:-)
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