The Pine Tree State certainly lives up to its nickname, with 83 percent of the land covered by forest. But when you think of Maine, you likely think of its Atlantic coastline that gives the state one of the most idyllic landscapes in all the United States — beautiful Northeast coniferous forest combined with rocky, windy seashores. To put it in a word: breathtaking. And with 3,500 miles of coastline, the deepest lake in New England, and plenty of green space to explore, if you love nature, deciding to settle in Maine should be a no-brainer. But where should you put down roots? If you’re looking to experience the state in a friendly, low-key way, you can’t go wrong moving to one of the best small towns in Maine.
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Fast Facts About Maine
- The U.S. News and World Report ranked Maine as the #1 state in public safety.
- As of July 2022, Maine’s population was around 1.4 million, a slight increase over 2021’s number. However, Maine is growing more slowly than other states, perfect for those looking to keep things low key.
Big Maine Cities vs. Small Towns in Maine
When it comes to popular cities in Maine, you probably think of Portland. It’s the largest city in Maine and even ranked the best place to live on the East Coast. But while Portland residents and city slickers, in general, might have easier access to amenities like fine dining, festivals, and fancy marinas, there are also setbacks to living in these areas — more traffic, increased crime rates, and a higher cost of living, to name a few.
By choosing to move to a small town instead, you get to enjoy a more tight-knit community in a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. In fact, some of the state’s best-kept secrets can be found in its small towns!
Here are some of the advantages to living in one of the best small towns in Maine:
- The community is friendly
- Local traditions are common
- You can avoid expensive tourist hotspots
- There’s easier, direct access to activities like skiing, hunting, and fishing
- You can get more space for less money
Small Towns in Maine - FAQ
Q: What is the best small town in Maine to live in?
A: Known as the city of artists, Bar Harbor is a standout seaside town full of great shops, restaurants, and galleries. The town even has an A+ rating on Niche.
Q: What is the most quaint town in Maine?
A: When it comes to quaint towns in Maine, Cumberland tops our list. Besides the most beautiful coastline in the region, the close-knit residents of Cumberland enjoy various recreational activities like walking, cycling, and playing tennis or golf at the town's recreation centers. And during the winter season, the town's residents can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Q: What is the nicest place to live in Maine?
A: It’s hard to beat Cape Elizabeth when it comes to the nicest places to live in Maine. After all, Niche ranks it #1 in several categories: Best Places to Raise a Family in Maine, Places With the Best Public Schools in Maine, Best Suburbs to Live in Maine, Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in Maine, and Suburbs With the Best Public Schools in Maine. Wow!
Q: What is the prettiest village in Maine?
A: Scarborough is a beautiful coastal community, featuring rolling hills and green pastures characteristic of a classic New England setting. What makes it stand out, though, is the massive Scarborough Marsh, home to over 3,000 acres of wetlands. Thousands of ducks and geese visit the area each day. What a sight!
Best Small Towns in Maine
Small towns in Maine each have their own unique charm and have a variety of special places to explore. Whether you’re just starting out, have a family in tow, or are getting ready to retire, check out these best small towns in Maine to live in!
Food for thought: A small town is considered to have a population of 5,000 or less, but some of these towns might have a higher population to give you some additional options. Any town with a population over 25,000 will be noted.
1. Bar Harbor, ME
- Average rent: N/A
- Average home value: $588,300
- Great for: Outdoor activities, safety, families, young professionals
Residents enjoy the outdoors, where the majority of people spend their free time cycling, camping, and hiking. During the summer, the area is visited by a large number of tourists who come to board cruise ships.
Although it's a relatively quiet community, families are still attracted to its peaceful environment and safety. There are plenty of restaurants and movie theaters within walking distance, along with a variety of shopping opportunities.
2. Cape Elizabeth, ME
- Average rent: N/A
- Median home sale price: $620,000
- Great for: Beaches, parks, strong school district, families, commuters
The area of Cape Elizabeth is known for its beautiful beaches, waterfront, and Fort Williams State Park. It also has a variety of beautiful multi-acre inland homes that are situated on working farms. Ranked the #1 suburb to live in Maine, Cape Elizabeth is a great place to raise a family and commute to work, as it is just across the bridge from Portland.
Fort Williams State Park is a popular place for people to gather. It offers 94 acres of land for families and visitors to explore.
The school system of Cape Elizabeth consists of three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. It is regarded as one of the best public school systems in the state, and the high school is also known for its impressive athletic programs.
3. Yarmouth, ME
- Average rent (one-bedroom): $1,875
- Average home value: $689,300
- Great for: Young professionals, retirees, laid back atmosphere
The town of Yarmouth is located in Portland's coastal satellite region. It has a lot of tree-lined streets and large homes, but it also has more opportunities to rent both condominiums and apartments than its sister town of Cape Elizabeth.
The area around Portland is relatively quiet, but it has plenty of good restaurants and pubs to satisfy its residents. Getting to the city of Portland is also quite easy, since it's only 12 miles away.
4. Freeport, ME
- Average rent: N/A
- Average home value: $575,400
- Great for: Hiking, biking, tourists, shopping, retirees
Freeport is a popular tourist town located north of Yarmouth. During the summer, things get busy as people flock to this area for vacations. The town is known for its beautiful outdoors, with plenty of hiking trails and bike paths in and around downtown. The Desert of Maine is also located within the city limits.
To top it off, shoppers in Freeport can enjoy a variety of outlet stores, including brands like L.L.Bean, Coach, and Talbots.
5. Cumberland, ME
Cumberland is a small town located on Casco Bay, which is surrounded by the most beautiful coastline in the region. It is also one of the safest places in Maine. Despite its small size, the town's proximity to Portland gives its residents the opportunity to enjoy all that the area has to offer.
Besides the beautiful coastline, residents of Cumberland have the opportunity to enjoy various recreational activities like walking, cycling, and playing tennis or golf at the town's recreation centers. And during the winter season, the town's residents can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
6. Bangor, ME
- Median rent (one-bedroom): $1,300
- Average home value: $242,400
- Great for: Restaurants, night life, friendliness, young professionals
The downtown area of Bangor has a variety of bars, restaurants, and coffee establishments. The Hollywood Casino is located here, and it draws in a lot of people from around the state for its Vegas-type atmosphere.
With a population of almost 32,000, Bangor is among the largest towns on this list.
7. Scarborough, ME
- Median rent (one-bedroom): $2,200
- Average home value: $597,800
- Great for: Lots of housing options, wetlands, beaches, retirees
Situated about 15 minutes from both Old Orchard and South Portland, Scarborough is a beautiful coastal community. It features rolling hills and green pastures characteristic of a classic New England setting, with plenty of waterfront real estate options available, as well.
The massive Scarborough Marsh is home to over 3,000 acres of wetlands, which are very important to Maine's ecology. Thousands of ducks and geese visit the area each day. It also has several public beaches, including Higgins Beach, along with Ferry Beach and Scarborough Beach State Parks.
8. Belfast, ME
Belfast is a town of about 7,000 people located on the banks of the Penobscot Bay, with plenty of charm and coastal views. It used to be a major shipbuilding center during the 1800s, and was also the site of many large mansions.
This coastal town is known for its waterfront and modern amenities, such as a natural foods cooperative. For those who enjoy trips to the big city, Portland is only about two hours away.
9. Biddeford, ME
- Median rent (one-bedroom): $1,700
- Average home value: $426,500
- Great for: Restaurants, young professionals, families
The town of Biddeford, Saco's sister city, used to be a textile mill town where workers would carouse after a hard day's work. Today, it is experiencing a resurgence. Some of the projects carried out in the area include the renovation of a former mill into loft apartments, as well as retail space for more than one hundred local businesses.
The town has also attracted a lot of attention due to its growing number of restaurants and breweries. It plans on adding more hotels and apartments to the area, as well.
10. Brunswick, ME
- Median rent (one-bedroom): $1,350
- Average home value: $442,400
- Great for: Outdoor activities, students, young professionals
The town of Brunswick is known for its healthy lifestyle and outdoor activities, with a tight knit community that’s highly active. It also has an educated workforce, with several universities and colleges operating in the area, such as Bowdoin College and the University of Maine.
11. Kennebunk, ME
This area of rural Maine has a strong sense of community, which is easily seen in its variety of organizations and churches. The area's schools are outstanding, and one of them has the only IB (International Baccalaureate) program in the state.
The town is known for its many beaches and attractions that include the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge, the historic Shipbuilders' Inn, and the Brick Store Museum. There are also over 1,500 acres of nature trails.
12. Wells, ME
The town of Wells is named for a cathedral city in Somerset, England. The town's waterfront is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and includes rocky promontories and sandy beaches. It’s also surrounded by a tidal river that flows through gold and green marshes, along with distant hills and forests.
One of the town's most prominent attractions is the Laudholm Wells Reserve, which has over 2,000 acres of protected land. There are also various trails that go through the woodland and grasslands surrounding the parking area, which include the Forest Learning Trail and the Salt Marsh Loop.
Let PODS Help You Move to Small-Town Maine
If you're planning on relocating to a small town in Maine, then you should consider renting a portable storage container from PODS. This service allows you to pack and load your items at your own pace, and they will deliver them to your new residence. The best part? One month of storage is included in every move!
Editor’s Note: Monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100 for ease of reading.