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Thursday, September 7, 2017

What to Know Before Moving to Maine

maine vibes mug
Mug is from E&H Creates 

As of today it's been two years since I moved to Maine from Florida. Life in the Pine Tree State has been treating me quite well, though I'm still adjusting. Some days I feel like a true Mainer and some days it's even more obvious to me that I'm "from away," but one feeling always remains the same-- I freakin' love living here. I've had quite a few people ask me what to know before moving to Maine, and of course it differs by area, but I'll try to break it down for ya.

Before I continue, I think it's important to mention where I was before Maine so maybe you can understand my perspective a little. I spent a good portion of my life living in Williamsburg, Virginia and also Vero Beach, Florida. Both towns have populations around 15,000 and are tourist destinations. In case you don't know where I am now, I'm currently in Maine's Midcoast region and I previously lived in the mountains of Western Maine. The population of my town is under 2,000. I have to drive for at least an hour and a half to get to the nearest airport, malls, concert venues, etc. I have never lived in one of Maine's bigger towns, I've always lived in rural towns, so that is the Maine lifestyle that I'm used to.

I hope that helped, now I'll get to it.

Acadia National Park autumn fall foliage

People might try to talk you out of moving here. They'll try to convince you that it's boring here, that you can't handle the winters, it's too far away, blah blah blah. If you really want to move here, don't let people pee on your parade! 

They'll also frequently invite themselves to visit. You better have a guest bed made up during the summer and fall-- company is coming.

There is more to Maine than Portland. Don't get me wrong, Portland is great. The Greater Portland area is where all the "stuff" is-- like shopping, entertainment, jobs, etc. That's where everyone flocks to when they move here. I considered moving there then I remembered that, simply put, city life isn't my thing. The point is, Maine is a big place with a lot to offer.

There's also more to Maine than the coast. I think I've made it pretty obvious that I love living on Maine's coast. I've always been an ocean girl and it feels weird to be away from it. But...have you seen inland Maine?! Although I hated being away from the ocean, I loved living in Western Maine and miss it so much, especially after my recent trip to Baxter State Park reignited my appreciation of inland Maine. The coast is great, but so is the rest of Maine-- don't overlook it, there's so much to see. 

Less is more. After growing up in places where there was a Starbucks on every corner and I could do a Target run whenever I wanted, living in rural Maine was hard for a long time. It's not that I miss shopping-- I miss the convenience, familiarity, and the ritual. Every day I get more and more used to being without all that stuff, not to mention, I'm saving a ton of money. I know what town I want to buy my first house in and it's nowhere close to a Target, but it has so many amazing things to offer that I don't care. I love this area of Midcoast Maine and truthfully it wouldn't be the same if big chain stores were here.

portland head light christmas

You have to prepare for winter. I don't just mean switching out your summer wardrobe for your winter wardrobe. I mean investing in warm, high quality winter clothes (flannel shirts from Forever 21 won't cut it), if you have a woodstove/fireplace you have to get cords of wood, stack them, and possibly split them. Invest in a good snow shovel or even a snowblower. If you live on a private road, the town/state might not salt or plow your road and they definitely won't plow your driveway, so get in touch with someone who provides those services well before winter, as sometimes they stop accepting new clients.

Winter really isn't a big deal if you're prepared. Maine is stuffed to the gills with tourists during the summer, so I try to embrace winter and the solitude it brings. I'm not saying the winters aren't harsh, but after you survive your first winter here, it will seem like nothin'. Just turn your house into a well-stocked little hygge-haven and you'll be fine. Get into winter sports or just shovel snow, it's great exercise! 

Let's talk about need one, even if you live in a city. I recommend one with 4-wheel drive and using snow tires, but many people say 4WD isn't necessary. It definitely depends on where you live, your car, your tires, your driving skills, etc. I think having 4WD provides a little more peace of mind. On a related note, if you're from a place where snow isn't a common thing, many towns and driving schools offer affordable winter driving courses. If you're lacking confidence about driving in the snow, that may be something to look into.

I've mentioned drive times already because that's a big thing in Maine. It takes a while to get pretty much anywhere, which I had a hard time adjusting to at first, but I don't mind it at all anymore. Ever heard the expression, "you can't get there from here"? Well, you can get there from here, but it will probably take half an hour.

You've probably heard that Maine has pretty awesome food and that is correct. Portland especially is known for the booming food scene, but incredible restaurants are all over the state, whether they're 5-star New American or a tiny roadside pizza place. The fresh produce will also blow your mind, and not just the blueberries. And yes, the lobster is apparently great, but I wouldn't know.

Speaking as a vegetarian, I was pleasantly surprised when I moved here. I'm able to find great vegetarian options or at the very least, one decent option, which I was afraid I wouldn't be able to since everything is so seafood-centric here. Restaurants seem to be pretty accommodating for plant-based folks. It also helps to use Foursquare to find vegetarian-friendly places.

We have some of the coolest festivals and fairs. I can't even list them all, but here's an idea: yoga festival, hot air balloon festival, beer festival, artisan bread festival, lobster festivals (of course), veg*n festival, blueberry festival, clam festival, tons of music festivals, whoopie pie festival... As for fairs, they're all over the place and no fall season is complete without going to at least one.

You will develop a love for L.L. Bean. I grew up shopping at L.L. Bean and worked there for a short time (it's a great company to work for, by the way) but my love for L.L. Bean grew immensely when I moved here. Their flagship store in Freeport is huge and wonderful and they have outlets scattered around the state, too. You can bet that I'm wearing at least one thing from them at all times. From flannel shirts to flannel sheets, from boots to luxurious beds for your will love it.

stephen king's house bangor maine

Lovers of creepiness, rejoice! You probably know that Stephen King lives here and has based many of his books in Maine. That's because Maine is kind of a creepy place. This article goes more into it, but with the all the old buildings, cemeteries, and general solitude, Maine can get pretty creepy sometimes. If you want to find a creepy old house to live in, we have tons of those here. Want to find some spooky things in Maine? Check out Atlas Obscura and Roadside America.

Real life still happens here. Maine is often portrayed as a quaint, magical fairy tale land where everyone is an organic farmer, a lobsterman, or an L.L. Bean model. While Maine certainly is magical in a sense, it's not any different than anywhere else. There is racism in Maine. There is crime (though the crime rates are pretty low). There is poverty. There are politicians sabotaging helpful initiatives for their own personal gain. We don't all own sailboats or alpaca farms. Just be aware that living in Maine won't always be like a week at camp or brunching in the Kennebunks.

Do I see myself ever moving out of Maine? Well, I certainly see the merits of spending winters in Florida, but at this point in time I can't see myself living anywhere else. I love the scenery, the towns, the food, the more relaxed way of life, and the small population, honestly. I could have moved anywhere and I chose to move here.

female moose in maine

Want some more tips? 

11 comments on "What to Know Before Moving to Maine"
  1. I've always wanted to visit Maine, but now I REALLY want to visit. Hopefully I'll be able to in a few years time. Looking forward to more posts about Maine

    Naomi xx

  2. I think I'm moving to Maine!

    The pictures are just beautiful, and I could definitely use a break from Target. My mom grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so she always dreaded the winters. Sounds like y'all have it down pretty well though! I look forward to more gorgeous pics of Maine!

  3. It looks pretty wonderful, if you're not careful you might end up selling Maine to everyone :P I love the idea of living in a town that doesn't have Starbucks or a McDonald's on every corner. I've just moved to a town just outside Edinburgh; the town definitely isn't as small as yours but it feels friendly and like there's a community there.

  4. Your pictures are stunning and make me seriously consider making the trip at some point!
    Britt |

  5. I'm from Maine and I just moved to Roanoke, VA. I'd say your post is pretty accurate :) and making me feel homesick! Any tips for moving to Virginia? Roanoke is not quite so small as your hometown (it has a population of 100,000), but it's still a big adjustment for me

  6. You are so right about not listening to advice from folks that have never set foot in Maine, never crossed the big green bridge but are still experts on all the reasons you won't like Maine. When they visit, they change their tune.

  7. I'm actually thinking about relocating my family from Florida to maine. It's just too hot all the time here. Thanks for your insight!

  8. Im about to move from Florida to Maine its very nerve racking as im in my late 40s. Everyone has tryed to talk me out of it, but if i don't like ot i can always move back. Maine here i come!

  9. Im about to move from Florida to Maine its very nerve racking as im in my late 40s. Everyone has tryed to talk me out of it, but if i don't like ot i can always move back. Maine here i come!

  10. I'm a Hoosier for 47 years. Just visited Maine this past July and I didn't want to leave. I've been trying to convince my husband to move ever since I got back. Need a job for him up there and we'll be back!

  11. Thank you for your insight! I definitely want to take the Maine plunge!


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