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11 Things You Should Know About Living in Portland, Maine

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Portland is a waterfront city located in Casco Bay. Don’t switch it up with Portland, Oregon, since the distance between those two is 3000 miles, and the population in Portland, Maine, is smaller by around 600 000 people! This is precisely the reason why Portland is called a big-small town.

It is a mixture of small-town mentality and big-town benefits. Popular for its lobsters, red brick buildings, and beautiful lighthouses, Portland is poetic and practical at the same time. Rugged coastline, clean air, and a significant influx of new residents give Portland its charm!

Lighthouse Portland Maine
Portland lighthouse in the evening, Maine

Quick city facts:

  • Portland is Maine’s economic capital.
  • Portland is the largest city in Maine by population and area. Portland is home to around 67 000 residents.
  • Portland had a population increase of 1.06% from 2021. to 2022.
  • The average yearly household income in Portland is $81,634.
  • Portland has a humid continental climate with cold and long winters as well as short summers.

These are 11 essential things you should know before moving to Portland.

1. Cost of living

Is it expensive in Portland?

It depends on your perspective but let’s put it this way- Portland is just 8% more expensive than the national average. For comparison, New York City is 95% more expensive than the national average!

Portland is actually on the more pricey side in Maine. The more north you go, the more affordable living is.

In Portland, average energy bills are $155, a loaf of bread is around $3.79, and doctor’s visits are $127. Compare it with your local prices, and you will get a feeling of how your spending would look like here.

Market in Portland, Maine
Harbor Fish Market in Portland, Maine


2. Housing prices

Compared to the national average, Portland actually does have affordable housing. On the side of the fact that the global economy affected housing prices all over the states, you can still find your dream home on the shore with an ocean view!

The median home price per square foot is $360. For a three-bedroom house, you can expect to pay everything from $300,000 to a couple of million, depending on the location.

3. Renting prices

You may want to try living in Portland for some time and if you don’t have plans to buy a house yet, renting can be pretty affordable here.

Depending on the location, you can expect to pay an average of $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment and around $1,950 for a two-bedroom apartment. You can share it with somebody, and if you don’t like the cold climate, you should look for a place far from the coast. It is cheaper there too!

Red brick homes
Red brick homes and gorgeous autumn leaves are reflected in a calm lake under a cloudy sky.

4. Portland’s neighborhoods

Portland consists of 21 distinct and interesting neighborhoods. From the ones near the Ocean to the more isolated areas, Portland has a big range from which you can choose.

West End is noted for its Victorian architecture and brick homes and can’t leave you indifferent. Imagine living in those surroundings and enjoying the scenery every morning! Here you can visit a fantastic Mexican restaurant El Rayo Taqueria or walk by the shore in the mornings. Be aware that this area does come with a higher price tag!

Old Port’s cobblestone streets are filled with nightlife destinations, plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars. Located on the bay where ferries depart, Old Port has a unique atmosphere to it. You can enjoy fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants in the area or take a walk and try to be a tourist for a day. There is a reason why Old Port is a must-see attraction for tourists! You need to see it for yourself!

Downtown is considered a core of the city. Congress Street is where many shops, galleries, and cafés are located. It is a hotspot for vegetarians since it has a lot of excellent vegetarian restaurants! Here is also the city’s artistic heart; every time you walk by, you’ll see some local art on the streets. It Is a part that gives this city a metropolitan feel to it.

Portland, Maine downtown
Portland, Maine, downtown city skyline in the afternoon.

5. Education is quite promising here.

With everything from public elementary schools to colleges, Portland is student-friendly!

With its 81 public schools, Portland Public Schools makes one of the biggest school districts in the Pacific Northwest.

When we talk about colleges, there are 12 colleges in the area. Some are the University of Maine School of Law, the University of New England, and the Maine College of Art and Design.

6. Job market

Portland had a long transition from the working-harbor community, popular for its northern bay that doesn’t freeze in the winter, to a community of young professionals.

Today It is a hub for advertising agencies, web designers, and commercial photography studios. Also, it has a developed service and tourist industry.

Another thing you should know is that locals in Portland live by a ‘Buy Local’ commitment. This made a lot of small businesses glow up throughout the city!

Some of the highest-rated companies in the city are i-Comm Connect, VIA Group, and Converts.

7. Restaurants

This one is a huge one! Portland has been a big tourist attraction for decades, and the food scene is one of its main reasons. In 2018. Portland was named the best restaurant city in the U.S. by Bon Apetit.

Located by the Ocean, you can find fresh seafood like nowhere else! Everyone likes Portland’s lobster rolls and clams, which are affordable too.

Besides excellent restaurants, Portland residents live a healthy lifestyle. Farm-to-table is quite popular, and farmers markets are always crowded. Being a big vegetarian and vegan city, you can find many veg restaurants! Check out the Green Elephant Bistro, which serves appetizing veg Thai cuisine.

Also, Portland is home to many microbreweries and Root Wild Kombuchery, giving it the hipster vibe all cities need.

For a diversity of flavors, you can visit one of many food festivals (yes, they do a lot of food festivals around here). The Festival of Nations is great for trying many different cuisines in one day. Greek and Italian street festivals bring the Mediterranean to your doorstep! Maine Veg Fest is quite visited too!

Portland Maine Lobster
The Sign of Portland Lobster Company after sunset. Portland Lobster Company is a historical seasonal waterside lobster shack at Portland

8. Weather

Prepare your double socks, gloves, and puffer jackets since winters in Portland last more than 3 months! The average low in January can get to 17 degrees! Summer’s short and mild, so if you are not a fan of humid and hot weather, this is the place for you! The warm period is from June to September, and the average temperature is 78 degrees.

Residents still swim in their lakes in October, but a month after that, the lake freezes. So you should consider your preferences since you will need an extra vitamin D there!

9. Transportation

Manageable traffic and controlled roads are the most often things locals brag about. In their words, traffic gets congested only during rush hour.

Another benefit of living in a small city is that you can get out of it within 5 minutes. Also, you drive along a beautiful coastline, so time flies by fast.

If your kids want to learn to drive, Portland Is a great place for that. There are no crazy drivers here since people aren’t in a rush like in some bigger cities.

For those inclined to public transportation, METRO provides bus service all around the city.

Portland Maine Fishing Boats
Lobster fishing boats docked behind stores in a canal in Portland Maine

10. Activities to do

One thing is sure, and that is that you will not be bored in Portland. The small community knows how to spice things up! There are plenty of accessible and affordable cultural events to visit.

The Arts District is a section of downtown where, as the name says, you have many galleries and street artists. Portland Museum of Art and the Maine College of Art, Portland Stage Company, and Portland Symphony Orchestra are located here. There is an event called ‘First Fridays’ where all the local artists put their art out on the public street. It is incredible to see all the local talent and shows the city’s soul!

You can visit the Portland Farmers Market that takes place every Wednesday in Monument Square, Saturday in Deering Oaks Park (May- November), and Saturday at The Maine Girls Academy (December-April).

Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine
The lake in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine

11. Nature and parks

If you are more of an open-air and deep-breath person, you should know that Portland has a lot of nice trails and parks! It consists of more than 700 acres of open space and public parks. Deering Oaks Park, Eastern Promenade, Western Promenade, and Baxter Boulevard are the most popular.

When you feel like driving out of town, you can check the White Mountains, which are 1.5 hour drive away.

Portland is also home to Portland Head Light, the most photographed lighthouse in the U.S. Here, you can enjoy the view and meditate looking at the beautiful Ocean.

Portland Maine Long Distance Movers
Roadway long distance movers truck in Portland, Maine

Moving to Portland?

So If you are charmed by this big-small city where there is no crowd or traffic, and people are living relaxing lifestyles, you should pack your bags.

Portland provides you with a lowkey and laidback life and good universities and job options!

This mixture is what makes it different than other neighborhood countries!

Portland is calling; pack your bags!

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