What You Should Know Before Living in Portland, Maine
Living in Portland, Maine is not like living anywhere else in the country. Once known as a beautiful place to visit, it’s now one of America’s favorite places to reside. It’s an active and vibrant community full of families, artists, teachers, brewers, fishermen, shop owners, and business people. If you love the scenery but are wondering whether Portland is right for you, here’s what you should know before moving here:
Portland’s Economy is Built Around Small Businesses
Most of what goes on in Maine is centered on Portland. However, unlike most economies, which are led by large corporations, Portland’s is dominated by small business owners. The city has over 3,000 companies employing less than 100 people, one of the largest concentrations in any American city.
Most local shops are geared towards tourists. People flock here during summer, drawn by the city’s scenic buildings, sandy beaches, and old-growth forests. Besides lighthouses and lobsters, the city is famous for its eclectic, one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Sustainable fashion, vintage clothes, hand shaped surfboards, not to mention specially crafted bags, jewelry, furniture, and leather goods ‒ Portland is a community where small business owners find support for exciting and innovative ideas and products.
Which is not to say the city has no place for people interested in big business. It operates the largest hospital in the state, Maine Medical Center, and is one of the busiest regional distribution centers on the Atlantic Coast. More tonnage passes through Portland than anywhere else in New England. It’s a major partner of Maine’s pulp and timber industry as well.
Two of the region’s largest banks, Bank North Group and UnumProvident are located here, as is its largest insurance company, Unum Life Insurance. L.L. Bean has its headquarters in nearby Freeport and its flagship store attracts over three million visitors a year.
Portland is also investing heavily in advanced technology. It’s already a major center for semiconductor manufacture and in 2020, Portland’s mayor announced construction of a new research institute devoted to artificial intelligence and machine learning.
One of the Safest Cities in America
Portland is the picture of idyllic, small town America. When it comes to crime and natural disasters, people living here don’t have much to worry about. According to Wallethub, it's the sixth safest city in the nation.
Great Access to the Outdoors
Portland is sandwiched between white sand beaches and green, wooded mountains. The Appalachian Trail ends just a few miles outside town. Residents can spend their days hiking, camping, cycling, hunting, fishing, swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, or sailing out on the ocean. In winter, they ski, ice skate, snowshoe, snowboard, or ride around on their snowmobiles. Maine is a large, sparsely populated state and living in Portland gives you easy access to some of its most stunning locations, such as:
- Acadia National Park. Acadia’s natural splendor is overwhelming. Hike, bicycle, or kayak along windswept coastlines, pristine lakes, towering cliffs, and richly colored trees.
- Bradbury Mountain. A year-round attraction with over 21 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails. Though the mountain is only 485 feet high, it offers sweeping views of Casco Bay and the surrounding forests.
- Pleasant Mountain. The tallest mountain in Southern Maine has great trails for both experienced and beginning hikers. During winter, the park is open for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
- Fort Williams Park. 90 acres of rugged and magnificent coastline. Experience the power of the Atlantic Ocean and explore Portland's most famous landmark, the Portland Light Head. Perched at the entrance to Casco Bay, this historic lighthouse was built in 1791 and is still in active service, protecting ships as they sail into the city.
- Crescent Beach. This brilliantly white beach has some of the best swimming and fishing in the state. Moderate waves, grassy dunes, clear views, and rocky outcroppings make it the perfect place to relax during long summer days.
Winters are Snowy but Summers are Perfect
Portland gets around 60 inches of snow during winter. Residents bundle up, but don’t stay indoors. Snow has an almost magical effect on the city. Its cobbled streets and old buildings are even more enchanting with a fresh dusting of powder. But during Christmas, with the town lit up and trees and fireplaces glowing, it's nothing short of astounding.
However, snow doesn’t last forever and Portland summers are when the city comes alive. The weather is warm, but never hot. Temperatures are high enough to pack the beaches, but not high enough to bake in the shade. And the city’s long sunny days give you more time to play.
Its Downtown is Easily Walkable
Walking's a pain in most cities, but not in Portland. Its downtown is extremely compact and most attractions are within easy reach of each other. A short stroll will take you to:
- The Eastern Promenade. Designed in 1905 by the Olmsted Brothers, famous for Central Park and Boston Commons, this oceanside park offers uninterrupted views of Casco Bay and Portland Harbor, as well as trails, basketball courts, tennis courts, baseball fields, and playgrounds that are open to visitors year-round.
- The Waterfront. A mix of fisherman, ferries, freight, and industry set amongst some of the city’s finest Victorian architecture. The piers and wharves bustle with activity throughout most of the day. For residents, they’re a gateway to the islands off the coast and home to some of the city’s best restaurants and history.
- Arts District. Portland’s cultural hub, where you can explore galleries featuring paintings, photos, and sculptures from local artists. You can also tour the city’s museums, such as the Portland Museum of Art, Children’s Museum of Maine, and the African Tribal Art Museum. Or you can stop for a show at one of the area's many theaters, nightclubs, and concert halls.
- Back Cove Park. Perfect for walking, jogging, or biking, this 3.5 mile trail wraps around Back Cove and connects with the Eastern Promenade and Peyton Park in the north. Enjoy relaxing views of the Portland Skyline as you get in your steps and breathe in the fresh air.
The City’s Alive at Night
Partygoers generally avoid small towns, but they love Portland. While it’s not a city that never sleeps, it certainly knows how to have fun. There’s hardly an evening when there's not something going on ‒ outdoor concerts, jazz exhibitions, comedy shows, plays, and symphonies. If you’re looking to have fun, be sure to check out:
- Blue. A lively and intimate venue for jazz and Irish folk music. Enjoy a close conversation over burgers, wine, and tapas, then soak up the incredible sound from the band onstage.
- Aura. A mind-blowing, neon-coated concert hall that hosts touring artists from all over the country, including Henry Rollins, Billy Ocean, Panorama, and the Brothers Doobie.
- Bubba’s Sulky Lounge. Portland’s biggest, loudest, and liveliest dance club. Wild DJs and 80s throwbacks make it the best place to find fast-paced, high-energy entertainment.
- Merrill Auditorium. A 1,900 seat theater and concert hall home to the Portland Symphony Orchestra. International and Broadway musicians perform regularly, as well as big-name comedians like Daniel Tosh and Joe Gatto.
- Portland Stage. A non-profit theater group that puts on unique, off-beat shows from a diverse range of American and international playwrights.
- Lincoln’s. Portland’s most popular speakeasy. Hidden away on Market Street, it offers cheap beer and great comedy.
Brewery Capital of America
Living in Portland, Maine means more breweries per capita than any other American city. The beer here is both plentiful and drinkable, made by meticulous craftsmen experimenting with the finest hops, grains, and yeast. Portlanders drink to stay warm in winter and cool in summer, with some of the best stouts, lagers, and sours in New England.
Finest Schools in the State
Families love living in Portland, Maine, not only because of its small town charm, but also for the quality of its education. Portland schools have a low teacher-student ratio (11:1) and a rigorous academic program that prepares students for successful college careers.
Moving to Portland, Maine
Whether you’re moving to Portland from across the country or just down the coast, let us help you get there safely. Allied's professional moving teams cut the stress of relocation, while saving both time and money. Working together, we’ll create a personalized moving plan for your household, one that gets everything where it needs to go on time, at a price you can afford. Contact us today for a free estimate!