Located on the tip of New England and dangerously surrounded by Canadians, Maine is ruled by a benevolent lobster king. Wait, that's not right. Lobster merely rules the Maine imagery that springs to mind when thinking about its rocky shores, comforting seafood, wind-whipped lighthouses, and staunchly independent people. Main is a small state -- 39th in total area out of the 50 United States. It ranks even lower in population, at number 41 with just over 1.3 million calling the state home. Originally occupied by Native American people from several tribes, Maine was first settled by the French in the early 1600s. It was the site of some territorial wrangling during the war of 1812, but we all know who won, and Maine is firmly Team USA. Okay, actually, we're apparently still fighting with Canada over a few islands, but no one has taken up arms -- yet. Over 80 percent of the state is covered in forests -- hence the nickname "The Pine Cone State." Mainers enjoy warm, humid summers and wicked New England winters, which are great for ambiance and snow shovel sales.
The Pine Cone State
Paper and wood exports, form the basis of Maine's economy, along with naval shipyards. The remainder of the state economy sounds like a literal cornucopia of products: dairy, eggs, the famous wild Maine blueberries, maple syrup (giving Canada a run for its money!), and potatoes (take that, Idaho). Commercial fishing is still around, though not quite as much today as in previous years. Maine lobsters are just as popular as ever throughout the United States.
As seems to be common with American states, no one is really sure where Maine's name came from. Modified Native American word? Modified French word? Modified nautical term? Sure, why not. But the name has been around since before Harvard's founding, so it's here to stay.
Stephen King fans will recognize Maine as the setting of many of the horror writer's works. Maine also served as inspiration for resident E.B. White and his children's novel Charlotte's Web. Though Murder, She Wrote was filmed in California, it was set in a fictional Maine town.
In case you find yourself facing a final Jeopardy question on Maine, you should know that the Maine state animal is the moose, its insect is the honeybee, and the state cat is, of course, the Maine coon. Oh, and it has a state berry, presumably so Mainers can talk about their blueberries just a little bit more.
Finding an Apartment in Maine
Not every available rental home in Maine will be a romantic seaside cottage or vacant lighthouse (though we're sure there must be some of those, too). You'll find the usual mix of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments for rent along with rental houses and townhomes in any of Maine's populated areas. The further you go from the major city centers, the fewer neighbors and more land you'll have. We're sure you'll find the perfect environment for you and whoever moves with you to the Pine Cone State. Coastal living comes at a premium, and the further you head inland, the more you might save.
Allow a month or two for research and your apartment search. Getting to know neighborhoods is easiest with an in-person visit, of course. As with any city, you'll need the regular renter documents like your credit history, references, proof of income, and the like. Come prepared, just in case you find that dream residential lighthouse or blueberry farm.
Maine's Main Cities
Augusta: Augusta is the state capital of Maine and the easternmost state capital in the U.S. It is home to some great golf courses, and a host of other outdoor activities like canoeing, fishing, and hiking. History buffs will love Augusta's museums on topics like military and local history. It is home to the University of Maine, Augusta. Major growth in the mid-20th century stole some of downtown Augusta's architectural history and threatened to change its character -- however, never fear, plenty of what makes Augusta a quintessential New England town thrives to this day.
Neighborhoods in Augusta run the gamut from central city digs to modern suburban tracts. The city's relocation guide describes five distinct neighborhoods in which residents can enjoy seclusion or downtown action. Check out our Maine city guides for help on finding your perfect Maine match.
Portland: Portland recognizes some twenty distinct neighborhoods each with a unique character ranging from, much like in Augusta, vibrant city center life to slower-paced, rural living, or even academic environs surrounding the university.
Portland is the largest city in Maine with a population of around 500,000 in the greater Portland area -- that's about a third of the entire state population. Chock-full of history and nestled along the Portland Harbor, the city emblem is, fittingly, a Phoenix -- a nod to its having been nearly wiped out by fires four times over its history (don't worry, we hear the fired department is great these days.) Giving San Francisco a run for its money, Portland claims to have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the country. Portland has a strong arts community for when you need a quiet day in an art gallery, as well as two minor-league baseball teams for when you need to hear the roar of the crowd. Carve out time in your calendar for yearly festivals like the Italian Heritage Festival, Maine Brewers Festival, and the Maine Vegetarian and Vegan Food Festival.
Living in Maine
When you think of Maine, you think of lobster, blueberries, leaf peeping (yes, that's a thing), wild Nor'easter storms, Moose, lighthouses, and probably imagine most residents looking like they hopped from the pages of the latest L.L. Bean catalog. Well, you're not wrong to think of those things, because Maine is every bit the postcard you imagine it to be. Mainers also have a distinct local jargon and accent that's hard to imitate.
Maine thrives on tourism and its proud heritage, with locals joking that "you know you're a Mainer if your house becomes a B&B during the summer every year." It's no wonder the state's unofficial nickname is "Vacationland." A great truth is hidden in that joke -- the Mainer's crusty reputation belies a generosity of spirit grown in the fresh sea-and-pine-scented air. No matter where you live, dive into your community and you'll be a local in no time flat.
When it's not dumping snow, get outdoors. The famed, stunning Acadia National Park is in Maine, as is Cadillac Mountain (is it any wonder that automakers pull names from this fabled region when they want to sell something with a sense of adventure or prestige?) You could dedicate several months to lighthouse visits and when it's too cold to be at the beach, it will be time for leaf peeping (just what it sounds like) in arguably the most stunning center for fall foliage in the United States. If you like snow, hit the slopes at Sunday River or Sugarloaf Mountain. The mountains aren't as tall as what you'll find near that other Portland, but there's still plenty of snow.
Whether you like trees, maritime history, seafood, salty sailors, or wild blueberries, you're sure to find something in Maine for you. Check it out, and you just may end up making this state your "Maine" squeeze.
ME Renter Confidence Survey
Here’s how ME ranks on:
Apartment List has released Maine’s results from the third annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. This survey, which drew on responses from over 45,000 renters, provides insight on what states and cities must do to meet the needs of 111 million American renters nationwide.
"Maine renters expressed general satisfaction with the state overall," according to Apartment List. "Interestingly, ratings for Maine vary widely across categories such as commute time and state and local taxes."
Key findings in Maine include the following:
- Maine renters gave their state a B overall.
- The highest-rated categories for Maine were social life and pet-friendliness, which both received A+ grades.
- The areas of concern to Maine renters are weather (D) and recreational activities (D).
- Maine did relatively well compared to other New England states, including Vermont (D), New Hampshire (C+) and New York (C).
- Maine earned similar scores to other states nationwide, including Tennessee (B), Arizona (B) and Pennsylvania (B).
- The top rated states nationwide for renter satisfaction include Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho and Minnesota. The lowest rated states include Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana.