questions about Maine : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread


I know there are some Mainers on this board.

We live in northern Mn, which is pretty quiet. We have a homestead in the country on 10 acres.

Believe it or not, we are starting to feel like the sidewalks are encroaching. We're 1/4 mile down a dirt road from a paved two lane which used to go nowhere. But a road extension was put through and now that road is busy, particulary with summer tourists and casino traffic and logging trucks and commercial trucks and the road now is the main connection between two small towns. We DO NOT like the increased noise. It's sporadic, but when it's there it's bothersome and stressful. (this from a former city person -- me -- that probably once endured all kinds of noise.)

We could get further from the sidewalks here (and may) but have also toyed with the idea of Maine. We love New England, have seen a little of Maine and much of NH and VT and have family there on my husband's side. I've been told that Maine is much like MN with the fierce winters, bugs, landscape, etc. From preliminary looking, prices are low like they are where we live now so we wouldn't have to go into sticker shock if we moved. My husband feels the pull of New England (I think all New Englanders do). I love it out there for the variety of landscapes (mountains, hills, ocean, wilderness).

So..a real general question for Mainers or those who know Maine or Maine and MN both (and I know these are general...but)

what is Maine like? What are the people like? Is it possible to find lots of land for quiet (very very very quiet) and reasonable prices? Can any of you compare Mn and Maine? Can you suggest a section (s) of the state to focus on or avoid? Obviously we would avoid living on the seems expensive and crowded. Western Maine seems like a possibility because it's not too far from family in VT and it possible to get remote and quiet there? How is the gardening? Where we live now, we are almost in Zone 2 (pretty darned close). Is it a tolerant state? Are outsiders who are willing to pitch in and get along and be good neighbors accepted, even if values and beliefs vary?

How are the rural phone lines there for internet access? (this is for my home business)

Again, I know these are tough questions and may have no answers. But I'm trying to get a sense for the state. It's a tough decision. We know MN, know where to go if we need more quiet. But New England pulls at us too. I've never totally gotten used to the flatlands here...I'm originally from PA.

Thanks for the input! I may have more questions.

-- Cathy in Mn (, August 20, 2001


I'm in Central Maine. I love the climate and scenery. We have 10 acres in a small town that has one Mom and Pop type store and one more with a sit-in diner(maybe 3 tables)/gas station that closes by 8 pm. Quite a few horse owners and farmers on my road. Town offices and PO are combined in one building. We have 3 selectmen instead of a mayor, etc. Their hours are brief as well. It is really quiet here, we don't have a police force and rely on the county sheriff and staties from other towns. Internet connection is fine on a regular phone line as I have. All this, yet 2 miles down the road is an entrance ramp to the highway and a bigger town with grocery store, Walmart, Irvings, fast food, etc. As for the people, it is different with each person. Some won't hire people from "Away", others could care less where you're from. Small towns have traditional small-town personalities. Many are related and families have lived here for many generations. Neighbors didn't bring jello molds and introduce themselves, but they all knew who we were, where we were from, where we worked, etc by the time we unpacked. We've been here almost three years and I'm finally feeling like a part of the community. Kids help that way because they gravitate to other kids. It's easy to find wooded lots for sale real cheap as long as you want to do the clearing. I know a few families that live on dirt roads right outside of towns without electric or running water, building codes are more relaxed the more rural you get. Say it's a camp for code breaks and then just live there year round seems to be the method many use. Maine does have one of the biggest state governments out of the 50 states(we're 2nd), the taxes on income are high, and the child protective services have one of the highest rates of removing kids from their homes and putting them up for adoption. The "Good Ol' Boys" club is strong in state government. Schools in Maine took the lead in instituting the UN education agendas in the 70's and the curriculum is very liberal. Homosexuality is part of the curriculum from kindergarten up(The kids fill out questioneers and compare family arangements like: Do you have two mommies or a mommy and daddy?). Abortion was mentioned by the 9 yr olds I babysit, so it is introduced at a young age. I love it hear, but do consider moving to a more conservative state on occassion.

-- Epona (, August 20, 2001.


My husband and I have lived in Maine now for 24 yrs. and have never regretted our move here from Mass. Ironically, Mn. was one of the states we thought about moving to (along with northern N.Y. Mt. and other northern tier states). But it is hard to get N.E. out of your system!!

We live on the "downeast" coast...just lucked into our property here. Our weather is tempered by the ocean. Average temps in winter is 20 to 30 degrees, with the occasional single digit days during Jan. and Feb. Summer temps average about 80, but have been as high as 98! Usually, humidity is not a problem.

I'm in zone 5. We start planting at the end of March...if the snow is off the garden and can harvest til late Oct. Maine is 90% forested and we have driven through western and northern areas. It is really beautiful, remote and WILD!! Probably property in Arroostook county is the cheapest, as the economy is not that great up there. Folks told us years ago that the economy was terrible in all of Me. but that didn't stop us! Maine's unemployment rate is 3.8%.

Moving here from Mass, we were apprehensive as to whether we'd be accepted. Like you said, if you are willing to pitch in and get along and don't push your "ideas from away" (I don't mean you specifically!!!) on to the locals, you'll find that Mainers are the nicest bunch of people. We have had NO problems with folks accepting our values and beliefs.

My town's population is about 1200...up about 200 since we moved here in '77. We have one general store, a small take-out seafood diner, town offices are open occasionally and we have yearly town meetings. No police...just a county sheriff. Average class size is 6 to 18 kids (grades 1 thru 8). High Schoolers are bused out of town. I think many towns in Me. are similar to mine.

I know that taxes in Maine are supposed to be among the highest in the country, but I'd rather be paying taxes on my 95 acres here in Me. than in Mass. :-)! Sales tax is 5%. We happen to have a very good accountant so we pay little or nothing for taxes come April 15th!

Sorry to have rambled on so. Hope this answers some of your questions!! Good luck!

-- Marcia (, August 20, 2001.

I know this does not really help much, but we spent 2 1/2 years in Maine when I was 8-10 years old. In looking back over my childhood homes (Maine, New York, Pennsylvania), I count Maine as my favorite. We lived in one of those old farmhouses with attached barn--perfect for hide-and-seek on a rainy day as the house attic connected with the barn attic. The people we knew then were very friendly (except my third-grade teacher). I don't remember any one picking on us because we were "outsiders". My favorite places were the small-town library and our friends' apple farm. Every body knew who I was. We used to hang out at the post office after school with other kids collecting their family's mail. I was never allowed to take our mail, though, because our church's mail came in our box (my dad was the pastor) and the post lady thought I might lose it. The scenery is beautiful. Actually, that word isn't good enough, but I can't think of one better. We shopped at the little general store if we needed something during the week; the nearest shopping center was a half hour's drive away. I would recommend settling near a small town set away from any interstate or larger town/city. Be known for reaching out without being nosy. Ask oldtimers for advice. Share with the neighbors. If all the conservatives steered clear of Maine, the whole state would be lost.

-- Cathy N. (, August 20, 2001.

I live in southern Maine, which is the most crowded area of the state. Even here there is plenty of room to stretch your legs and if you go just a little further out (read away from the coast) I think you could find your very very very quiet place even here. You may want to steer clear of ski areas to avoid the traffic. You will also want to locate yourself away from any east/west corridors since there can be a lot of thru-traffic to the beach in the summer and to the mountains in the winter. I think you would find northern or western Maine to you liking if you could make a living there.

I'm borderline zone 4/5. If I mulch or protect it, I can plant zone 5 plants. This year I didn't start planting my veggie garden until May since I had snow on the garden through April. (I got fed up in mid-April and dug the snow off the parsnip patch so I could have some fresh veggies!!)

I find that the most tolerant people are from Maine and the least tolerant are from away. (I say that with sincerity, but also a little toungue in cheek since I'm from away!) People from away want to regulate more than natives do.

Although I didn't get a cake when I moved in from my neighbors, I was welcomed with very open arms at the closest church. Now, 13 years later, I'm on a town committee to help re-write the 10-year plan for the town so I guess I'm considered acceptable to most.

My brother-in-law lives in New Jersey and works for AT&T, and he says he gets better internet connections here than he does at home.

-- Sheryl in Me (, August 20, 2001.


I'd have to concur with Epona on Maine. Now, if those types of things don't bother you....then this is probably a good place for you to relocate.

Do NOT think about moving to the Southern portion as house prices are skyrocketing. Western or northern is best if you want seclusion, but both areas are having a hard time keeping natives in the area because of the politician's in Augusta. The population in those areas are being depleted because the Southern pol's hold most of the power. It's no different than any other rual state in that sense. Southern politician's run the state, and the Western/Northern portions get hosed every time.

Maine DOES have the highest per capita tax burden in the country. Also know that Maine's per capita income is among the lowest in the nation as well. This doesn't bode will for most Mainer's.

Depending on what you intend on doing for work, will probably dictate where you want to locate. If you own your own business, you can live anywhere. However....if you want to live off the land will find it tougher sledding than most areas to find work.

Also, the "Great Woods" (upper portion of state) is slowly and surely being taken by land trusts and govt. forces. Timber people, fishermen and others that rely on those industries are being forced out of business in increasing numbers.

The largest trac of land was purchased recently with the intention of being able to use it for recreational purposes. However....the track record does not support that. Time will tell.

I love the natural beauty of the state and the Mainer's, but IMNSHO, most people from away have put a huge damper on living here.

If those things would change, I'd never think of moving. However, they appear to be getting worse, and if my wife would agree to move...we'd move tomorrow.


-- lew (, August 21, 2001.

Hi Cathy!

I think you probably could find just what you're looking for here in Maine. I'm from Central Maine and I'm not sure about the growing zone over in the western part of the state. It's a bit mountainous in some parts, which might subtract from your growing season. I'm a zone 4-5, depending on yearly conditions. The western part of the state is much less developed than the south or central areas. Land should be cheaper, as should taxes. Seriosly though, the farther from civilization you want to get in order to have the privacy you crave, the more problems you might encounter as far as electricity and phone services and such. I know of lots of places in my area of the state where there is neither.

I'm a Maine native. Lived here my whole life. We joke about folks "from away", but yes, I'm sure you'd be accepted as part of whatever community you choose. You'll most likely find that if you want community involvement, you'll be welcome, and if you want to be left alone you can pretty much have that as well. Being "From away" as you are, you'd be labeled as such as long as you live here, but all in good fun. It's not meant in a mean way, but as a strange way of letting you fit in. Sort of like accepting you as an adopted daughter. It's hard to explain. :) (You could lie and say you were actually born in Maine, but if you were ever found out, you'd never live it down!)

I don't homestead as I live in a small town (pop 400) on a quarter acre town lot, but I do own a 10 acre wood lot and I love doing such things as gardening, berrying, making jams, beer, wine, etc. My latest project is a wood cook stove that my husband and I are restoring. I plan to cook with it some this winter. Right now it's a pile of pieces in my garage. I love the back-to-basics sort of lifestyle. When we had the ice storm back in 1998 and lost our electricity for 4 days, we were all set up for it anyhow. Except for hot showers! If I had to live without electricity I wouldn't mind except for hot water for showers and dishes and electricity for laundry.

My internet provider is a company called Mid Maine Communications. I don't know how much of the state they serve, but they are expanding all the time. You might have a problem with a provider the further from civilization you get. You might find yourself in a situation where you'd have to pay a toll call for a provider. Here's a list of providers I just found that might prove helpful.

Yes, Maine has high taxes, high electric bills, high everthing it seems! The lumber mill where my husband has worked for the past 22 years just laid off 90% of it's workforce last spring and might shut the doors for good anytime. We were forced to look statewide for possible alternative employment, but Maine is not a growing state. People are being forced to move out of state more and more. Out of state jobs are paying much higher wages.....but it's not Maine! I'd prefer to stay in Maine because I love it here. It's home. I feel I have everything I could ever want right here.

If you lived close enough to the New Hampshire border, you could shop over there and not pay any sales tax. Just a thought. I know people who drive 4 hours to New Hampshire to do their Christams Shopping only to avoid sales tax.

Winter temps are average around 20-30. Can drop to 30 below at night in February. Snow generally starts falling after Thanksgiving and keeps on falling until March. Last frost in May, First frost in September. Summer temps generally in 70-80 range. Some heat and humidity the past few years. It was in the 90's here last week! The weather varies quite a bit from Southern Maine to Aroostook County. Most times Portland (in the south) will get hardly any standing snow, and in Presque Ilse (north) the wind never stops blowing all winter long! Brrr! I spent a winter at the university there 21 years ago. I haven't been back since!

I don't know if any of this helps you decide. I hope you choose Maine.

-- Nancy in Maine (, August 21, 2001.

Thank you very much for a LOT of good information. I appreciate the time you took to write.


-- Cathy in MN (, August 22, 2001.

I lived in Maine for several years, gearing up to go back. I lived in Biddeford (considered to be one of the 'armpits' of the state, Lewiston-Auburn being the other), Millinocket and Winterport. I liked Winterport the best as its pretty close to Bangor and work is available there. Not the highest paying jobs, but jobs none the less. When you live up there you learn to manage with a little less, so its not that big a deal.

Living in Millinocket was nice as well. Kinda cool being that close to Baxter state park. If you've never been to Baxter its pretty cool, it also has the highest point in the state.

Biddeford is pretty close to Portland and there are alot of good paying jobs there. Problem is, property is high unless you live a ways out of town. In Winterport, I knew more then a few people that drove back and forth to Portland for the higher paying jobs.

I think Maine has 2 seasons, Tourist and Winter. Lots of good people up there, I never had a problem fitting in and I've lived everywhere. I'm even an official transplant.

I'm looking for something up there right now as well. Somewhere around bangor, but further north. Within a hours drive of Bangor for commuting. Moores seems to be a decent little real estate outfit, but most of what they offer is too far north for me. Lots of good deals in 'The County' now. Really, anywhere above Augusta you can find decent prices on land if you shop around.

I'd prefer to live alot further north, but being realistic will need to be somewhere close to Bangor. Houlton is a nice small town, but not alot goes on there. I love Machias as well, but same thing. Not a lot of good jobs. Same with Eastport and a lot of other places there.

One other thing to remember, your (mine) hour long commute in good weather might be alot longer at certain times of the year. The other thing is jobs, I already have my old job back 'if I want it' so I don't have to worry about that much. As long as I live close to Bangor that is.

-- Uriah (, August 23, 2001.

My answer is much shorter. Good place. High taxes. Great people. Old "New England" attitude. Self-sufficient folks. You can keep to yourself, or be out going - just don't get too overbearing. DO NOT try to bring the niceties of your "city" with you. And to get acquainted - come to the Maine Get-to-gether next year, which might very well be a lobster bake again. This depends upon the charter members - we know we are "gonna" do something - just not sure exactly what yet. GL!

-- Brad (, August 23, 2001.

thank you, everyone again, and thank you, Brad!

I was wishing I could come to the lobster bake this year, and I didn't even mention it to my husband; he would have keeled with grief at the thought of good lobster, being a New Englander himself. We can't get decent seafood here at all!!

You are very right about the "city attitude" stuff. My husband never liked the city anyway and I've gotten it out of my system. Northern MN has been a good training ground.

-- Cathy in MN (, August 23, 2001.

Hey Brad...Hubby and I have just sent in for our lobster license. Maybe next year we can "donate" some to your lobsterfest!!?? We WILL be there!

-- Marcia (, August 23, 2001.

Ho! More lobsterfest next year talk! hehe! We offer our place for the next gathering, the only reluctance being that we haven't the experience of Brad and Maggie! We have only been here for two years, the first dedicated to getting by, the second to pasture for horses, and next year the garden(and possibly chickens thanks to the visit to Brad and Maggie's). I still haven't sold bill on the rabbits. he will never consent to cows(he says), and pigs have not been aproached:)

-- Epona (, August 23, 2001.

Although from Nova Scotia originally, I've had an opportunity to live in Maine on and off for 7 years now, first up in northern Maine (Caribou), then on the coast (Tenants Harbor) and now in central Maine (Waterville). I absolutely love this state. I haven't quite decided if I'll settle down in Nova Scotia or not, but I know if I do stay in the States, it'll be Maine. I enjoyed my 5 years in Caribou. The people were very nice. Land is extremely reasonable. Winters are harsh. There's a lot of potatoe farming there. Lots of woods and lakes. The coast was insanely touristy in the summer. Don't even ask about traffic on Route 1. Land prices seemed high. Waterfront...forget it! It's a very beautiful area, though. Quite artsy. Winters quieter than summers. I am currently enjoying living in Waterville. Land prices seem in between the north and the coast. Within an hour to hour and a half I can drive south to Portland, north to Bangor, east to the coast or west to the mountains. Don't think I'd enjoy living in southern Maine, too crowded. The occaisional trip to Portland is fun, though!

-- Colleen in Maine (, September 23, 2001.

I've looked into Maine. I'm no native, so I only have statistical info. One thing I get concerned about is all the methylmercury that is thrown into the air and on the land by industry, especially paper plants. This is a problem all over the eastern states. The other thing is the pesticides they use on the tree plantations. Private corporate timber land is a big chunk of Maine. Of course, the government sprays its own forest holdings, too. I've never come across the long term effects of pesticide drift, but it can't be beneficial.

Otherwise, this is one of those states a very wise and good mentor of mine would always say "Shhh, don't tell anybody it!" whenever the subject turned to her beloved native state. She had good reason to feel protective about Maine. It is beautiful.

-- Catherine (, October 20, 2001.

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