Maine, otherwise known as the pine tree state, sits above Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the New England section of the United States. The state offers beautiful scenery, cold winters, and a less than average cost of living, making it a desirable place for many to live.
However, just because the average cost of living in the state is below the national average doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a fine-tooth comb to the specifics that go into factoring that statistic.
For example, if you’re considering moving to the state, you might want to look into the cost of living concerning the specific city, healthcare, real estate, and food.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered on all fronts. Below, you’ll find your complete guide to navigating the cost of living in Maine.
Real Estate Market in Maine
Maine’s real estate market has launched into an upward trend with over 9,000 homes for sale in the state. However, market trends differ depending on the area within the state. For instance, houses might sell like hot cakes in Bangor but struggle in York.
For a clearer idea of what you can expect from the real estate market when you sell a house and move out of state to Maine, we’ve outlined the details for some of the state’s major–and most populated–cities below, including Portland, Bangor, and Lewiston.
Portland, Maine, is the most populated city in the state, making it a popular housing destination. As of 2021, the median listing price for a home in Portland is roughly $479,000 at $272 per square foot. However, homes in the area can range from a minimum of $75,000 to upwards of $6.5M.
Over the past several years, the average house sale price in the city has trended upward. For reference, the median listing price was only $375,000 back in September of 2019. That’s over a $100,000 difference.
As far as renting’s concerned, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Portland resides around $1,280.
You can still find lower home prices in some neighborhoods, such as Riverton, East Deering, Nasons Corner, and Libbytown. You might also want to venture to South Portland for lower prices. There, the average home price is only about $430,000.
Bangor, while much smaller than Portland, Maine, is one of Maine’s most populated cities. As such, housing prices have steadily increased over the past few years. The 2021 median list price for a home in Bangor is $199,000, while only $165,000 in September 2019.
If you’re looking for a home below the average, you might want to consider looking in the West Side Village and Outer Essex neighborhoods in Bangor. Areas like Broadway and Mount Hope tend to cost more along the lines of $250,000.
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Bangor is $932. However, prices can range anywhere from $200 below or above the average, depending on the flat.
Lewiston is another populated destination in Maine. Much like Bangor and Portland, listing prices for houses in the area have trended upward for the past few years. In September 2019, the median list price for a single-family home was $159,900. The cost in 2021 is nearly over $150,000 more at $210,000.
Prices can range from $20,000 to $500,000 in the area too. Since 2018, rent costs have risen 20% in Lewiston. As of 2021, renters can expect a one-bedroom apartment to cost around $800.
Costs of Living in Maine
While Maine’s real estate market might fluctuate frequently, the general necessities for the state’s cost of living remain relatively stagnant, no matter the city.
Bills and Utility Costs
Despite the harsh winter season in Maine, utility bill costs fall below the national average. The utility bill encompasses electricity, heating, water, cooling, and waste. The national average for utilities is $240 per month. In Maine, you can pay anywhere between $100 and $185.46.
Keep in mind; your utility bill typically reflects how much energy you use too. Plus, these numbers don’t include other utilities you might want, like cable and internet access. While cable and internet vary for different companies, you might pay between $64 and $80 for 60Mbps internet or cable.
Housing Costs in Maine
Before utility and other extraneous housing costs, the national average for a home is $291,700. In Maine, you can expect the housing cost to be slightly higher at nearly $302,000.
However, the median listing price will vary depending on where in Maine you search for a home. Areas like Caribou, Presque Isle, Gardiner, and Belfast have considerably lower average housing costs.
The average renter in Maine can expect median rental prices well below the national average. For example, a two-bedroom apartment in Maine is nearly $900 per month, while the national average lies around $1,000.
You can also save on housing costs if you use a non-traditional means of selling your house. For example, instead of going through a realtor, you can research various companies that buy houses in Portland, ‘we buy homes Auburn’, or ‘buy my house Maine’ to avoid the average 5.45% commission costs that realtors acquire.
Since Maine suffers through cold winters, Maine residents might need to rely heavily on transportation services, whether public buses or personal vehicles. For an individual, transportation costs typically equal about $10,618 per year. One-thousand of that price goes toward gasoline.
Car insurance premiums vary from state to state. In Maine, much like their rental prices, car insurance premiums cost less than the national average. An individual can expect to pay about $1,450.
If you live in one of Maine’s larger cities, such as Portland, you might find that you can save on transportation costs thanks to public transportation or alternative modes. However, you might find commuting to work in the winter via alternative transportation modes quite difficult due to the significant weather Maine gets.
Food & Shopping
Food and shopping costs might come as an afterthought to some other living costs, like rent and healthcare, but contribute heavily to the state’s overall living costs.
For the average single Mainer, you might expect to spend about $300 a month on groceries. As for a standard family of four, you might expect to pay triple that of a single person each month.
When it comes to shopping for groceries and general necessities, you should factor in sales tax. Fortunately, Maine has one of the lowest sales tax rates in the nation at only 5.5%.
Healthcare and Medical Costs
If you have medical insurance, healthcare costs will vary depending on your coverage. However, for standard out-of-pocket healthcare costs, Maine is nearly equivalent to the national average of $4,266 with annual expenses of $4,467 per year.
Average Cost of Living in Maine
When factoring in the cost of living for any city, various factors, including healthcare, utilities, transportation, housing, and food costs, add up to a national average of 100. Maine currently sits below the national average with a 96.5 average price of living grade.
Of course, you might think that some other variables, including entertainment, dining out, and other day-to-day necessities, should also account for the cost of living. However, those factors coincide more with the quality of life rather than the price.
While there are many considerations to factor in when determining a place’s cost of living, the main takeaway for Maine is that the price is below the national average. Ultimately, the low cost means that it is a reasonably affordable state when pitted against some others.
You should also note that the cost of living and quality of life are two separate entities. Just because a place has low living costs doesn’t mean you will love living there. Instead, consider the living costs then weigh them against the quality of life factors to determine whether or not that location is the best choice for you.