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Thread: Life in Maine

  1. #1
    Senior Member EarthSky's Avatar
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    Life in Maine

    Hello there.
    I currently live in the Midwest, and have been looking for a new position for some time.
    It looks like inland MAINE may be a likely option. Please share any and all experiences of the education system, culture, climate, economics, political climate, etc.! I have school age children, and would be moving to a university town.
    Thanks in advance!

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    Maine's a pretty big place, and the information you are looking for is going to be fairly localized. There are area that are quite wealthy (particularly near the ocean), some areas have a lot of poverty. Portland has a lot of cultural events, other university towns likely do as well. In remote isolated areas, probably not so much.

    Near the coast, there will be less snow than further inland. The closer to Canada, the colder it will get in the winter.

    That's about all I can say on a general level.

  3. #3
    Senior Member flowerseverywhere's Avatar
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    We used to live in Southern Maine, near the coast. You won't be too far from the Ocean, but the water is cold up there. I love Maine, and being from the midwest you are obviously no stranger to cold winters. As Herbgeek said, the information you seek is very localized. I would suggest looking at what events the University offers and into the specific school systems in whose districts you might live.

    One thing was that instead of normal gym some of the schools go skiing once a week. Some areas can be very remote and moving into a small established town can be hard for outsiders. Like in every state there are pockets of poverty and poorly educated people, and areas that are educationally stimulating and full of middle class and up people.

    One year we were by the coast looking over a wall and two weather worn men came in on their lobster boats. They had on the yellow slickers and yellow hats like you see in Norman Rockwell type pictures. They were talking in such a stereotypical accent, Ayuh, Ayuh. It cracked us up, but it was just so Maine. We drove by a McDonalds that had Lobster Rolls on their menu.

    In Bar Harbor they are busy all summer but once October comes almost all the hotels, restaurants and shops actually close down. Acadia National park is beautiful, and if you like outdoors you will have lots of company as the hiking, Kayaking and skiing make many areas quite the outdoor enthusiast draw.

    Watch out for moose on the road.

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    Senior Member Miss Cellane's Avatar
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    I live in New Hampshire; my town is on the state border with Maine.

    Climate--it gets cold and snowy here in winter. Depending on where you are from in the Midwest, it might be a tad warmer than what you are used to. (My experience with the Midwest is only in South Dakota.) However, I think we have more hills and mountains out here, which can make driving during and after snow a challenge. The summers can be hot and muggy, but the higher you go up the mountains, the cooler and drier the air is. (Families who could afford it used to leave the big cities like Boston and spend the summers on farms in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont to escape the city heat.) The climate near the shore is affected by the ocean--it tends to be a bit milder and snow fall might be a little less.

    Culture--the stereotype of the "cold" New Englander isn't completely true. It isn't completely false, either. People will probably not go out of their way to greet you on the street or make friends, but if you approach them, they will most likely be friendly. Not necessarily best friends right away, but friendly and helpful. It takes a while to make a close friend, in the New England mindset. If you ask people for help, they are likely to assist you. But they will not necessarily volunteer that help, even if they see you struggling. There's a strong independent streak around here.

    If you are in a university town with a lot of in-comers, it will be completely different, as the university will draw people from all over. If you will be attached to the university in some way, the university may become the focal point of your socializing. And for things to do. Most of the larger towns and cities have stuff to do, but you have to hunt it out. There are stock theater groups and small museums and art galleries, but you have to look for them.

    The small towns are small. Many don't have a supermarket or church. Some don't have a town center; others have the old New England green in the center of town. A lot depends on when the town was settled.

    Some of the more rural high schools still close for a week or two in the fall so that students can help with the potato harvest. Some students work during those weeks, many just are on vacation. Some schools are pretty lax about attendance during hunting season, as well.

    In terms of simple living, living off the grid, growing your own food, you will find a number of like-minded people. Not everyone, mind you, but a fair number. Although Vermont is really the place to live for that.

    Random things:

    It's now possible to take the train from Portland (and other cities) down to Boston.

    The fall foliage can't be beat.

    Real maple syrup. 'Nough said.

    Lobster.

    The flagship LL Bean store is in Freeport. They have an outlet store there, too.

    Kittery has been overtaken by the outlet malls. Thirty years ago, there were about 10 outlet stores there--and they were real outlets, with decent quality products at very low cost. This area used to have a lot of shoe factories and they all had good outlet stores. Now there are what I call the "chain outlets" with all the major players--J Crew, Pottery Barn, etc. A friend of mine has dubbed it "Shopper's Paradise." But there are still a few good outlet stores there. Okay, since it is only about 20 minutes from my house, we shop there a couple of times a year, but only in the tourist off-season, and only at specific stores, to get socks and my annual Fuller Brush fix.

    Maine is on the boarder with Canada. Quebec City would be about a 5 to 6 hour drive from Portland.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bastelmutti's Avatar
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    I have never been to Maine, but would love to visit after reading the Soule Mama blog - she makes it look like heaven on earth!

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    I lived in Orono for 4 years, and really liked it. The winters ARE long and cold, but compared to NYC where I came from, they were much easier to take. The town knew how to handle snowfalls and took care of the roads and sidewalks(yes, they had sidewalk plows!) with dispatch. It seemed to me that the snows mainly fell at night, my memory of the winter days was clear, cold and sparkling. None of that clammy cold that made NYC so uncomfortable. Spring comes late (remember "June is bustin' out all over"? I never realized what that meant until I lived in Maine.) and lasts about a week with everything blooming at once and then suddenly it is summer, with black flies! The air is fragrant with pine scent, I loved it.
    We left Maine reluctantly; at the time the U of M professors were paid very little and when our 2nd child came along we HAD to leave or starve. Shortly after that the state raised the salaries to a living wage, and I often wondered how it would have been if we had stayed, as I would have liked.

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    I grew up 10 miles west of Portland and spent four years in school at Orono.

    Maine is a very tough place to earn a living and the taxes and living expenses other than the initial cost of buying is very expensive.

    Outside of Portland and Bangor forget about public transportation. The bus both coastal and from Portland to Boston is good.

    November and March/April can be dreadful, think 40 degree rain! As long as snow is on the ground winter is enjoyable altough I recall January of 1982 when it didn't get above 10 below for two weeks.

    Rural Maine is very depressed. Don't get sucked in from cheap housing.

  8. #8
    Senior Member crunchycon's Avatar
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    I spend a fair amount of working time in Maine, as part of my company is headquartered there. It's a beautiful state with nice people. It also has long, cold winters, not to mention the "mud time" that comes after the snow finally melts. I'd have to agree with San Onofre Guy - the economy there is not great, and it is an expensive place to live (think about heating costs alone). I hope your proposed employment situation is reasonably secure. If I had a boatload of money, I might want to live in Maine - or just visit in July or August.

  9. #9
    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    I understand the winters there are a Three Dog kinda Night.


    Well I never been to Maine
    But I kinda like the music
    Say the ladies are insane there
    And they sure know how to use it
    The don't abuse it
    Never gonna lose it
    I can't refuse it
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

  10. #10
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    You might want to read The Beans of Egypt Maine by Carolyn Chute. This was written in the mid 80's and is a fictional story about living in rural poverty in Maine.

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