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Updated: August 28, 2023

Maine’s national profile goes beyond lobster and lighthouses

U-Haul truck COURTESY / U-HAUL Maine was highly ranked as a move-in destination by two national moving companies.

Take a look at any state with a high profile — California, New York or Massachusetts. In all of these cases, you’re looking at a state that’s also expensive to live in when factoring in housing costs, living expenses or the cost of insurance. In that respect, for many years Maine held an edge. It was cheaper to live here, so when you combined the nice quality of life, it was an attractive, affordable option.

Things aren’t quite as cheap as they once were. For instance, you may still pay less for a house in Maine, but you’ll pay quite a bit more than you would have before the pandemic. As recently as 2017, Maine’s median home price was $200,000. It’s now $375,000 and if you’re looking at most of southern Maine, you’re talking $475,000 or more for the median home cost. But Maine still offers many attributes, as you’ll see below and as you’ll see throughout this issue of the Fact Book: Doing Business in Maine.

How Maine stacks up against other states in some key areas

Photo / Courtesy of Atlas Van Lines

In the past three years, Maine has ranked in the Top 3 of destinations for households that moved, according to Atlas Van Lines. In 2021, it was No. 1, fueled by a wave of pandemic refugees. It fell to No. 2 in 2022, supplanted by North Carolina. In Maine, 63% of households were moving in last year, with 37% moving out. Another mover, United Van Lines, had Maine at No. 17 and U-Haul had it as the No. 29 destination.

Mainers are typically the largest buyers of Maine homes, according to Maine Listings and Benchmark Real Estate. But when it comes to out-of-state buyers, in 2022 the top 10 states were Massachusetts (with 1,430 buyers), New Hampshire (669), Florida (366), New York (303), California (301), Texas (211), Connecticut (195), Pennsylvania (172), Virginia (149) and New Jersey (132).


Although home prices remain high and affordable housing is in short supply, Portland ranked No. 7 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Places to Live. The list ranks metropolitan areas based on desirability, job market, quality of life and other parameters. Green Bay, Wisc., took the top spot. San Juan, Puerto Rico, was last.


Photo / Wikimedia Comons/public domain

Maine’s “hottest town” for home sales was Rockland, where median sales price soared 40% from $225,000 in 2021 to $317,000 in 2022, according to Maine Life Real Estate in Scarborough. The top 3 was rounded out by Kittery, where the MSP was $594,000 (a 23% gain), and Old Orchard Beach, where the MSP was $445,000 (up 22.75%).


For working moms, Maine ranked No. 9 based on 17 key metrics looked at by WalletHub, a personal finance website. New England states did well overall, with Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut in the top three spots.


Maine ranked among the top 10 states for summer road trips as shown in a WalletHub scorecard that looked at 32 metrics. Maine also ranked No. 1 for safety.



Maine has six “high performing” hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report, which looked at 5,000 hospitals nationwide.

WalletHub’s report on “2023’s Best & Worst States for Health Care” puts the Pine Tree State at No. 7 overall, based on 44 measures of cost, accessibility and outcome. And it ranked Maine No. 1 for access.


Photo / Fred Field

Camden, a seaport town on the midcoast, and the York County town of Ogunquit have both made Tripadvisor’s list of 15 “trending” destinations in the United States “on the up and up.”



Ogunquit Beach, a popular York County summer destination, ranked No. 9 on Tripadvisor’s list of the top 10 U.S. beaches in 2023, sandwiched between two California seaside destinations, Coronado (No. 8) and La Jolla (No. 10).


Beachgoers may wince at this ranking, but Maine has three of the priciest beach towns, as measured by the room rates at area hotels. Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor and Portland are all on the list, which is based on findings by of worldwide destinations with a minimum of 20 hotels or inns and at least one beach. Nantucket topped the list.


Maine is middle-of-the-pack when it comes to credit card debt, ranking No. 26, with median debt of $2,247. Alaska was No. 1, with median credit card debt of $3,517, according to WalletHub.



Maine ranked No. 27 among’s list “Best places to retire.” The ranking weighs out a half-dozen criteria, including affordability (where Maine ranked low at No. 34) and weather (at No. 44). But it did well for low crime rate (ranking at No. 2) and overall “well being” (at No. 10). Iowa ranked No. 1 on the list and Alaska was at the bottom.


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