Portland Head lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth-mehling-7I9aCavB8RI-unsplash

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth (Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash)

When you think of Maine, what comes to mind? Definitely lobster, probably the chilly Atlantic, and maybe even Acadia National Park. Now, which cities come to mind if you think of moving to Maine? This list probably doesn’t come as easily, but not to worry, because we did some research for you. For those of you looking to move up north to the beautiful state, we searched the web to find the best places to live in Maine, according to experts, and we’ve listed them here for you. But before we get to our list, we need to talk about the benefits of spending time in the natural outdoor settings that are so abundant in Maine.

A recent study shows that enjoying a half-hour in natural outdoor settings maximizes feelings of happiness and refreshment. Study participants felt more connection to nature and these positive feelings were highest when they spent time in rural or coastal areas or in protected or designated natural areas, such as national parks. Luckily, Maine has no shortage of all of these natural beauties.

The northeastern gem of the United States is renowned for its stunning landscapes. Known as the “Pine Tree State,” Maine boasts an abundance of dense forests, rocky coastlines, and charming lighthouses, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike. Additionally, Maine is famous for its delectable seafood, with lobster being a prominent culinary highlight that draws foodies from all over the world to savor its succulent flavors.

Now that you have even more reasons to move to Maine, let’s get to that list. Below is our list of the five best places to live in Maine, according to travel experts. Of course, we want to hear from you. Which spot in Maine top your list? Comment below to let us know!

The List: Best Places to Live in Maine, Per Experts

1. Portland

If you’re looking for big city living in Maine, Portland may just be the spot, according to Home Snacks. “Augusta may be Maine’s capital, but Maine’s biggest city, Portland, is the real economic and cultural hub of the state. With a heady mix of artistic expression and outdoor adventures, Portland is the perfect balance of style, sophistication, and sincerity. Just be sure to stock up on flannels if you want to fit in here. Downtown Portland is a vibrant and dynamic place that’s just as much fun after 10 years as it is when you first move. Beer-lovers will enjoy seeing how the magic happens at Allagash, while the artsy crowd will be delighted by the ever-changing exhibits at the Portland Museum of Art. The cobblestone streets lined with locally-owned shops and restaurants in the historic Old Port neighborhood are downright delightful, both aesthetically and economically. The walking trails and pristine outdoor spaces of Back Cove neighborhood are probably more tempting for you joggers and cyclists out there. Or if you prefer a quieter neighborhood rich in grandeur, the stately West End ought to suit you just fine.”

Overlooking the water in Portland, Maine
Overlooking the water in Portland, Maine (Photo by Jennifer R. on Unsplash)

Bucket List Journey writes, “Maybe one of the more well-known cities in Maine, Portland has a reputation for a reason. It’s not only a popular destination during the warmer months, but also boasts some of the most stunning landscapes in the autumn. You truly can’t invent scenery like this. On top of that, the community of Portland has a growing craft beer industry, and is of course home to the delicious Maine lobster. It’s a home-sweet-home community the moment you arrive, and the sunrise from the Portland Head lighthouse will seal the deal. With so many fun things to do in Portland, you’ll never want to leave, and the community will happily keep you.”

“Standing strong and proud on the peninsula of Casco Bay, we find the city of Portland, Maine. The Old Port area has become very popular for affluent Maineiacs to invest in the converted warehouse apartments. Portland is one of the state’s largest cities and one of the best places to live in Maine. This charming coastal town is a hot spot for tourists during the summer and has easy access to its beaches, forests, and other gorgeous landscapes in Maine. Despite its small-town feel, Portland offers waterfront communities, coastal lighthouses, award-winning restaurants, art shops, and much more! The most popular beaches in Portland are Old Orchard Beach, Crescent Beach, and Willard Beach,” adds The Crazy Tourist.

2. Cape Elizabeth

Niche notes that “Cape Elizabeth is a suburb of Portland with a population of 9,448. Cape Elizabeth is in Cumberland County and is one of the best places to live in Maine. Living in Cape Elizabeth offers residents a rural feel and most residents own their homes. In Cape Elizabeth there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many retirees live in Cape Elizabeth and residents tend to lean liberal. The public schools in Cape Elizabeth are highly rated.”

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse
Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse (Photo by Keith Luke on Unsplash)

If you’re looking for a town that’s going green, Cape Elizabeth is well on its way. Apartment List shares that “Cape Elizabeth is one of the best Portland, Maine suburbs and one of the best Maine beach towns, known for its stunning sandy shores, lighthouses, and commitment to sustainability. The town has implemented various initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, ban single-use plastics, and promote alternative transportation methods. It also has a thriving arts community, making it an ideal location for those interested in cultural experiences and a diverse community.”

Placeaholic ranks Cape Elizabeth their top place to live in Maine. Why? “The spectacular shoreline, the artistry of a small town, the mesmerizing backdrop due to salty marshland and rugged beaches, as well as its proximity to an attractive city like Portland, convinced us to award Cape Elizabeth first place. Slow down, take a closer look around, and soak it all in. Cape Elizabeth is a verdant, charming village located near Portland on the Casco Bay shoreline. Home to the stunning Fort Williams State Park, the scenic Portland Head Light, the world’s most recognized lighthouse, and miles of coastline, Cape Elizabeth is highly regarded as a premier tourist destination, but is also a year-round residence, with popular beaches and an amazing educational structure. Residents enjoy an upmarket yet easygoing existence due to the low crime rate, direct connection to the coast, and peaceful areas. Both The Inn by the Sea and The Good Table serve exceptional food. This quiet village is more than its appearance, however. Cape Elizabeth is outgoing. If it were a person, it would be the one who tells jokes and has a lot of fun.”

3. Bar Harbor

Retirees welcome! “With a 22.6% 65+-year-old population and a small, intimate population of under 6,000, Bar Harbor town is an idealistic spot that’s perfect for retirees. Located in Hancock County, this little town is nestled on Mount Desert Island, offering a picturesque view of the Maine coast. It attracts visitors from around the world, which is exciting, but it also maintains a tranquil and idyllic lifestyle for its residents. One reason people live in or visit Maine’s Bar Harbor is that it’s close to Acadia National Park, the ‘Crown Jewel’ of the Atlantic Coast, where visitors and residents alike can enjoy trekking, hiking, biking, boating, and even skiing in the winter. And even when you’re not in the park, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful surroundings, gardens, and outdoor recreational opportunities right in town. It’s truly a dream destination for nature lovers seeking a slower pace of life, especially if you’re privileged with an income on the higher side. And if you’re a fan of lobster, Bar Harbor is the perfect spot for you, as it’s home to tons of restaurants where you can get lobster in all forms – lobster rolls, lobster mac & cheese, lobster bisque, lobster quesadillas – you name it! The Highroller Lobster Co. is a great place to start,” writes exp Realty.

Geddy's Pub in Bar Haror
Geddy’s Pub in Bar Haror (Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

Bar Harbor is well-known even by many people that don’t live in Maine, as Planet of the Paul points out: “When you ask people what towns in Maine they know, Bar Harbor is always near the top of the list. Bar Harbor is a picturesque coastal town located on Mount Desert Island. It is home to the extremely famous Acadia National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the country, as well as numerous restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Bar Harbor is a popular tourist destination in the summer months, but it also offers a great quality of life year-round and the surrounding communities on Mount Desert Island (MDI) are home to some of the country’s most well-known biomedical research labs.”

According to HomeiA, “Bar Harbor is located along the scenic Frenchmen Bay, a seven-by-14-mile body of water with almost 40 islands and thriving commercial and recreational boating industries. Bar Harbor is home to just 5,594 people, so the coastal community feels tight-knit. Safety is critical here, as crime rates are 54% lower than in the rest of Maine. Bar Harbor schools are considered exceptional. The students’ performance is significantly better than the national average. There’s plenty of access to medical services and many opportunities with low unemployment and several industries taking root here. The biggest knock on Bar Harbor is the cost of living. It’s higher than most other places on this list. It’s the same story for the home costs. The median average home will go for about $433,000.”

4. Yarmouth

If you want to soak up nature’s health benefits, you may want to consider Yarmouth. Zumper writes, “If you’re looking for a small New England town with gorgeous natural scenery, Yarmouth is the ideal place. Gentle rivers, lush forests, and an expansive coastline are some of the natural highlights. Yarmouth also has a strong community vibe with families who have lived here for generations.”

Yarmouth, Maine
Sparhawk Mill, formerly a cotton mill house exterior by bridge street dam in Yarmouth, Maine (Photo by Shanshan0312 on Shutterstock)

And for some history on this beautiful location, Placeaholic shares that “Though ship manufacturing was the primary driving force of commercial expansion and subsequent progress in the area, Yarmouth is now a vibrant town and one of the state’s most popular vacation sites. Not only does it have a rich tradition and cultural identity to impart to the globe, but it also serves as a wonderful portal to the Atlantic Ocean and other nearby outlying locations. At the peak of summer, it is great for group barbecues and observing kayakers and sailboats. People who live in Yarmouth are welcome to enjoy the benefits of small-town living and explore the many recreational areas in the region.”

The Crazy Tourist might just sell you on this town. “Situated between Portland and Freeport, you’ll find the town of Yarmouth, one of Maine’s finest towns that people love to call home. This quiet town is located near the coastline and has gorgeous homes that look like they’ve been pulled right from a postcard! Yarmouth has an excellent school system, which continues to attract families from all over the United States. One of the best things about Yarmouth is its convenient location, within walking distance of local shops and restaurants. With most residential homes only twenty minutes from downtown Portland, Yarmouth is one of the best places to live with its easy commute!”

5. Scarborough

Consider Scarborough if varied coastlines rank high on your must-have list. Only In Your State notes that “Scarborough boasts three different coastal areas: the lovely and very family-friendly Higgins Beach, a traditional Maine rocky coastline and other sandy beaches. There are also many businesses that call the town home. In 2013, it was named an ‘eCity’ by Google, an award given to the digital capital of each state.”

Colorful autumn foliage next to Scarborough Beach State Park
Colorful autumn foliage next to Scarborough Beach State Park (Photo by EQRoy on Shutterstock)

“Scarborough is a town located in southern Maine. It is known for its beautiful beaches, great schools, and easy access to Portland. The town lies only 6 miles from Portland, but still offers more outdoor activities and a relaxed vibe. Many families enjoy living in Scarborough,” adds Planet of the Paul.

Apartment List writes, “Residents enjoy a suburban lifestyle with easy access to the city and breathtaking views of the North Atlantic Ocean and marshy areas. Scarborough’s Pine Point Beach, Higgins Beach, and Ferry Beach are local favorites, and the town also boasts the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for those seeking excitement. So it’s no wonder why people call it one of the best coastal towns in Maine.”

The Crazy Tourist calls this one of Maine’s best places to live. “With its gorgeous ocean views, sandy beaches, and convenient transportation access, Scarborough is one of Maine’s best places to live. Scarborough thrives with its twenty-one thousand residents, over sixteen thousand jobs, and over one thousand businesses. Scarborough, Maine remains a vibrant town to live in and provides many recreational opportunities for residents of all ages. The town has many diverse businesses, scenic neighborhoods, and natural landscapes. With some of the best beaches on the coast of Maine, budget-friendly attractions, and a peaceful atmosphere, Scarborough is one of the best places in Maine to call home.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

About Joe Vitiello

Content Strategist at Skyward IT Solutions
Freelance Writer & Photographer
Precision Nutrition Level 1
Introvert Level 10
Student for Life

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Wayne says:

    Great places to keep the people moving here it’ll keep the rest of the state from being contaminated!

    1. Lucy Heft says:

      You got that right

  2. Dan says:

    So basically, Portland and Bar Harbor…

  3. Dan H says:

    So basically Portland and Bar Harbor

  4. fletch f. fletch says:

    if you have money, are from out of state, and have no clue about maine aside from what you read online in a mag geared for tourists then sure, by all means, these are the places to live.

    imo, if you rely on articles like this, you dont want maine……you want the fantasy of maine. this is a wild, wonderful place full of beauty, but it is also cold, dark, and harsh on its people. we re a prideful people, and thats because we eek out a living and stay despite the challenges. we are not part of the quaint ambiance……this is our home, and outsiders who buy up our seafronts and live without any regards for their neighbors will earn our contempt, which unlike in other parts of the country, we make no effort to conceal.

    1. Sophisticated says:

      well said

  5. Sammy Brown says:

    I’m not sure you your description of the Cape Elizabeth residents ” leaning liberal” is very accurate.
    Don’t disappoint readers .
    It is a wealthy enclave and out of reach for many Mainers

  6. Susan Goulding says:

    Portland Maine is not like it used to be, at all! Total lack of rentals except the ones with sky high prices! Our 1 bedroom went from $1100.00 to a disgusting $2800.00! We’re in nearby Westbrook not actually Portland but still. We can’t pay that much and can’t find anything else!

  7. Jane says:

    What about Windham and the lakes region! A slice of heaven and close to Portland makes it a virtual paradise in my opinion.

  8. Sandy says:

    Do these people know what Bar Harbor is like in the winter? And have they ever tried to drive off MDI at 3pm?

  9. Richard says:

    Yes let draw more rich folks who could care less about our state. They come here to buy up our shore line and keep us off of it. They buy up our lakes a build huge homes. Sure you read this article and most Mainer can’t afford to live there.

  10. Jon says:

    Portland is the rectal orifice of Maine! Every REAL Mainer knows it.

  11. C says:

    These towns are not “Maine”. They have a suburban feel and are basically oasis’s for rich people who don’t want to get their hands dirty. Anywhere else in the state is “the Real Maine” where residents works hard and scrape to get by,but are happy because they have a little piece of land and some general privacy. (Other than tourists in summer). Let the flatlanders come live in the top 5 places and not experience Maine. The rest of us are fine with that.

  12. Grumpy says:

    The are other fine places to live in Maine that are not on the coast.

  13. C T S says:

    Top most expensive communities in the state. There is so much more to offer here in Maine

  14. Surfg says:

    Just by reading the comments. What this review neglects to mention is how most Mainers are miserable, rude and are very unwelcoming. So if u move here don’t expect a welcoming hand. 😁🤣

  15. Lucy Heft says:

    Good to keep people away from the rest of our unspoiled state.I love Maine for its open country.lets keep it that way.