Things to Know About Living in Portland, ME

Are you moving to Portland, ME? Not only is Portland one of the best places to live on the East Coast, but it’s also considered one of the best small towns in America. This booming coastal city has a growing job market, great public transportation, an amazing art community, and more. Here are 12 things to know about Portland, ME!

Invest in Portland’s High Quality of Life

As an East Coast city, Portland is not necessarily budget-friendly—but its quality of life, healthcare, outdoor recreation, and more make it an amazing place to live. In fact, the Portland area is a top place to retire, specifically for its healthcare quality and access. Along with equitable access to healthcare, the city is also passionate about supporting residents with mental and emotional services, physical wellness resources, and programs dedicated to health education for families. Portland’s quality of life is further supported by its sustainability efforts, as the metro has a history of eco-conscious improvements. Whether you’re moving to Portland, ME to retire or for its health-centric lifestyle, you’ll be able to find sustainable neighborhoods with home prices around $248,000 and rent rates below $1,000.

Work in Portland’s Growing Job Market

While Portland’s 4.6% unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national average, the State of Maine is working to increase jobs in Portland with a focus on life sciences, agriculture, outdoor recreation, and more. The city’s main industries include retail and tourism—which comes as no big surprise when considering L.L. Bean’s headquarters and the state’s largest indoor mall fall within Portland’s borders. And while the city may be known for its access to lobster, Portland plays a significant role in the state’s lumber and wood, metal, and paper and pulp trade. When moving to Portland, you can also find jobs in management, food service, and sales—industries that account for a large part of Portland’s job market. Looking for a career in healthcare on the East Coast? As an ANCC Magnet-recognized system, Maine Medical Center is an excellent employer for nurses in particular, and one of Portland’s largest employers. Or join the largest independent news network by working for The Portland Press Herald.

Pursue Higher Education in Portland

Looking for great colleges or historic campuses in Portland? A handful of Portland’s schools date back to the 1800s, so you can join the ranks with prestigious alumni while still enjoying the beautiful New England campuses. Explore liberal arts and science degrees from the historic Bowdoin College. Choose from nursing, engineering, business, or other degrees at the four-year University of Southern Maine. Hone your skills in pottery, illustration, and graphic design, or pursue other programs at the Maine College of Art & Design. Study public safety, communication, business and hospitality, and more at Southern Maine Community College. Get your cosmetology certificate or learn about nail technology at Empire Beauty School. Or become an electrician at the Maine Electrical Institute.

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Explore Portland, ME’s Outdoor Activities

Living in Portland means enjoying year-round weather—which means there’s always something fun to do in Portland! Changing leaves and cool temps create beautiful fall foliage—perfect for leaf-peeping on the East Coast. Winter months average a low of 20 degrees, and the snowfall turns Portland into a picturesque coastal town. Cross-country ski in Portland on the paths at Deering Oaks, Riverside Golf Course, or Baxter Woods. In the summer, average temperatures sit just below 80 degrees, making the weather perfect for coastal outdoor fun! Tour the historic Portland Head LightMaine’s oldest lighthouse. Pitch an umbrella, rent a kayak, or spend a day soaking up the sun at East End Beach. Spot shorebirds while exploring Mackworth Island. Or end the day with a Paddleboard Sunset Tour and explore the waters of Casco Bay.

Take Advantage of Portland’s Public Transit

Moving to Portland, ME without a car? Fortunately, Maine’s largest city is very walkable, with over 70 miles of trails connecting to the greater metro area. Plus, the Greater Portland METRO offers reliable transportation with buses, trains, and subways. Tour the city as a new resident, get your bike fixed, or rent a cruiser with Lighthouse Bikes. Visit Portland’s islands with a quick trip on the Casco Bay Ferry. Easily see Brunswick or Massachusetts cities like Boston with an affordable Amtrak Downeaster ticket. Or enjoy easy access to Portland International Jetport for convenient non-stop flights to Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, and more!

Attend Events in Greater Portland

Whether you’re looking for annual traditions or family-friendly events, Portland, ME has it all. Check out the annual “gastronomic extravaganza” known as Harvest on the Harbor—and sample local eats, spirits, and diverse cuisines prepared by Maine’s top chefs every October. Join over 3,000 attendees to support local charities like Maine Children’s Cancer Program, Ecology School, Veggies to Table, and YMCA Camp of Maine during the Maine Marathon. Attend film screenings, panel discussions, networking events, and more at the 11-day Maine Outdoor Film Festival. Put on every summer, attend the student-led Community Concert by the Bowdoin International Music Festival. Celebrate the LGBTQ community during the annual festival and parade during Pride Portland! Learn from talented Maine and New England yoga teachers, attend workshops, and more during Maine YogaFest. Or cozy up in igloos, snack on local treats, and enjoy live acts at the Carnaval ME Winter Festival.

Join Portland’s Active Art District

Despite being a mid-size city, Portland’s retained its small-town feel—which you can find while visiting Portland’s Arts District. Patron one of Portland’s local galleries, or join hundreds of artists and art-lovers in Downtown Portland for the monthly First Friday Art Walk. Catch a film and view famous works by Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and more at the Portland Museum of Art. View fresh, monthly exhibits of local artists at the Richard Boyd Art Gallery. Celebrate childrens literature, Black artists, creators, and more at Indigo Arts Alliance. Attend a master class, artist talk, or performance from the musicians at the Portland Chamber Music Festival. Browse through handcrafted pottery inspired by Maine’s wildlife at Edgecomb Potters. Or appreciate the works of local artists on the streets of Portland through the Portland Mural Initiative.

Explore Museums in Portland, ME

Looking for fascinating museums on the East Coast? Embark on a unique museum experience, learn about Bigfoot, and interact with living fossils at the International Cryptozoology Museum. View extraordinary architecture, plan a guided group tour, or attend seasonal events at the Victoria Mansion. Step back in time to see how historic icons lived with a trip to the well-preserved Wadsworth-Longfellow House. Observe Contemporary art, photo exhibits, and an exploration of Maine’s Jewish community at the Maine Jewish Museum. Learn about the mast trade, Revolutionary War, and more at the Tate House Museum. Or sign up for a walking tour along Congress Street to see how Portland evolved from its British Colony roots with the Maine Historical Society.

Find Family-Friendly Fun in Portland

In addition to having nature, museums, and ample art, Portland, ME is also a great place for families to spend time together. Celebrate being a Maine resident with scavenger hunts, shopping deals, fun pictures, and more at Portland’s 207 Day—a newer social holiday that takes place on February 7th. Catch a show at Maddy’s Theatre or let the kids climb around at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. Meet your family’s favorite characters, comic book creators, and more at Kids Con New England! Soak in some seaside views of Portland, ME at the Portland Observatory‘s light tower. Hold your hand out and feel the wind while learning about Maine’s past, during your ride on the historic train at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum. Catch a family-friendly concert or practice for a strike with a game at Bayside Bowl. Go for a stroll, explore memorials, or have a picnic on the vast green space at Fort Allen Park. View blockbuster films while snacking on buttery popcorn at Patriot Cinemas. Or face your fears on the roller coasters, rides, and more at Palace Playland.

Savor Portland’s Amazing Cuisine Scene

With a handful of James Beard Award semi-finalists coming from Portland, it’s no wonder this Maine town is one of the best cities for foodies! Start your day at the only landmark diner in the city and try The Bayside Breakfast, Wild Maine Blueberry Parfait, Signature Corned Beef Hash, or Miss P’s Breakfast Sandwich from Miss Portland Diner. Get your seafood fix with an Eventide Brown Butter Lobster Roll, Fried Main Oysters, New England Clam Bake, or Bluefin Tuna Crudo from Eventide Oyster Co. Embrace Taco Tuesday with mix-and-match favorites like a Banh Mi Taco, Fried Plantain Taco, Sweet Corn Chicken Taco, and a Fried Avocado Taco at Bird & Co. Savor Maine’s produce with fresh farm-to-table dishes like Mixed Organic Greens, House Made Chilled Meats and Offal, and other daily rotations from Fore Street Restaurant. Dip your pita into Baba Ghanoush, Labneh, Skordalia, and other Mediterranean-inspired dishes at Evo Kitchen + Bar. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with unique, daily flavors of handmade gelato at Gorgeous Gelato Portland.

Sample Some Hoppin’ East Coast Brews

If you’re a fan of local beer, Portland, ME might be for you, as it has the most breweries per capita in the U.S.! Book a beer-tasting tour and sample brews like an Allagash White, Hop Reach IPA, or Triple Golden Ale at Allagash Brewing Company. Crack open a Smashed Blueberry Ale or Export Golden Ale, and join the Mug Club for exclusive discounts at Shipyard. Sip a Patina, Rally, Speckled Ax Six Grain, and more from Austin Street Brewery. Host an event, grab some merch, and enjoy a Maine Island Trail Ale, Back Cove Pilsner, or Daymark American Pale Ale from Rising Tide Brewing Company. Check out 100+ local brews like the Book Learning, Group Therapy, and Gin-Chanted Forest at Bissell Brothers. Or order a flight of Nama, Fritz, Bobo Pivo, Love’s Return, and other internationally-inspired beers from Liquid Riot.

Relish Portland’s Nightlife

Looking to unwind with some East Coast refreshments? Check out the bars along Wharf Street for some of the best nightlife in Portland! Sip craft cocktails, share small plates, or sampe wine flights at Blyth & Burrows. Try craft cocktails while sharing snacks at WXYZ at Aloft Portland. Catch a local band and order a Maine Mule, Cranberry Island Cocktail, Sparkle Pony, and other local brews at Maine Craft Distilling. Dine on pub food, jam out to the house band, and share a drink at Gritty McDuff’s. Rock out on DJ Nights, dress up for theme nights, and get your dancing in at Bubba’s Sulky Lounge. Go out for drinks, join a welcoming LGBTQ environment, and meet new people at the oldest operating gay bar in Portland, Blackstones. Or catch your favorite acts like Maggie Rodgers, Caamp, Band of Horses, and more at the music venues at Thompson’s Point.

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Living in Portland, Maine? Extra Space Storage has convenient self storage facilities located throughout Maine’s largest city for all your storage needs. Find storage near you in the Greater Portland metro!

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.

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