The Best Places to Live in Maine

Cape Elizabeth, Calais, and Gardiner are among the best places to live and buy a home in Maine.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Aug 22, 2022
Excellent schools, low unemployment, affordable home prices, and stunning landscapes make cities like Cape Calais, Gardiner, and Auburn among the best places to live in
. But is life in the Pine Tree State worth relocating for?  
Job growth is on the rise in Maine, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to a burgeoning economy, Mainers enjoy access to world-class natural recreation, great schools, and the East Coast’s major attractions. Before you decide to relocate, it’s important to find the best place to live in Maine according to your needs.
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—but we’re also pretty serious about research and travel. This guide can help you find the best places to live in Maine based on your circumstances and priorities. 
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What makes a good place to live? 

Price is important, yes—but it isn’t everything. Sure, it would be nice to live in the cheapest place in Maine, but it’s also important to consider culture and safety
Your personal preferences and future needs play a role, too. If you have or plan to have any children, then you will need an area with great schools. Perhaps you dream of quiet evenings overlooking your garden, or maybe you prefer a city with museums and great restaurants. It’s important to choose a place where you’ll feel at home for many years to come.
To help you out, we’ve assembled a quick guide to eight unique towns that are considered to be the best places to live in Maine: Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, Caribou, Calais, Gardiner, Kennebunkport, Auburn,  and Wells. You will find cities and small towns on our list, and we’ve tracked the following factors for each location: 
  • Median home price
  • Cost of living
  • Quality of schools 
  • Crime rates
  • Healthcare
  • FEMA risk index ratings 
Using those metrics, we’ve narrowed down the best places to live in Maine into three categories: the best places for families, the most affordable places, and the best places to buy a house and put down permanent roots. 

The best places for families to live in Maine

Families need safe communities. If you are looking to relocate with your family—or start a family—then check out these three cities. They stand out as having the best schools, lowest crime rates, and most active communities.

Cape Elizabeth

Location: Cumberland County
Population: 9,322
Median household income: $98,438
Median home price: $684,200
Just 20 minutes from
is the beautiful seaside community of Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth has seen recent positive job growth here and low unemployment (only 3.2% as compared to 6% nationally). For those working in the community, the average commute for Cape Elizabeth residents is less than the national average. Additionally, properties are appreciating, so this could be a good time to buy.
While the cost of living here is 26.1% higher than the U.S. average, you and your family will enjoy an excellent quality of life. Cape Elizabeth public schools invest $13,694 per student, more than the national average. The student-teacher ratio is good, too, with about 11.9 students per teacher.
If you lean left politically, you may appreciate that Cumberland County (where Cape Elizabeth is located) swung overwhelmingly Democratic in the last Presidential election. 
Crime rates are very low here, and there are a lot of family-friendly activities in Cape Elizabeth. Take the kids to the Two Lights State Park and enjoy the blustery Atlantic air. Just 20 minutes away is the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine. Twelve minutes to the west is Ketcha Outdoors, a summer day camp for kids. You won’t have to travel far from home in Cape Elizabeth to find farms, parks, wharves, and the best attractions that Maine has to offer.


Location: Cumberland County
Population: 8,529
Median household income: $89,984
Median home price: $374,600
Located on the scenic Royal River, Yarmouth offers an excellent standard of living in a suburban environment. Most locals own their own homes, and there is a high percentage of retirees in Yarmouth. This town leans liberal.
Yarmouth has a high cost of living—you’ll pay about 30% higher than the national average to live here. However, the cultural attractions, the public schools, and the outdoor recreation are well worth the additional cost.
Public schools in Yarmouth are very highly rated, including
Yarmouth High School
, which features local produce like wild Maine blueberries. There is a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in this school district. The
North Yarmouth Academy
is another reputable school, with co-ed college prep for toddlers through 12th grade.

The most affordable places to live in Maine

If you’re looking for the cheapest places to live in Maine, you should look toward the Canadian border. Prices are lower in Caribou, Calais, and Gardiner—but snowfall is higher and entertainment options are limited.
We’re calculating affordability based on median home price and cost of living. 


Location: Aroostook County
Population: 7,710
Median home price: $90,700
The town of Caribou has the honor of being the most northeastern city in America. It’s just 17 minutes from the Canadian border in New Brunswick. Caribou has at least two federally recognized
indigenous tribes
including the Mi’kmaq.
Here, you can find the least expensive homes in Maine (less than $100,000 on average). Even better, locals spend a small percentage of their income on their homes in Caribou. Rent is about $600/month here. This is definitely a budget-friendly area!
To save money on housing in Caribou, you’ll have to put up with a few disadvantages. Caribou is fairly isolated, and winter can be cold and extreme. The small Caribou Health Center and Cary Medical Center are the closest medical facilities, meaning emergency services aren’t as accessible.
Nearby entertainment options include the
Nylander Museum of Natural History
, the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, the Caribou Performing Arts Center, and various farms along the Aroostook River. 


Location: Washington County
Population: 3,011
Median home price: $94,400
If affordability is a major priority, Calais has some of the cheapest houses in Maine—though it’s not a great city for renters.
Calais is located in an area of stunning natural beauty along the St. Croix River. There are three border crossings with Canada here which keeps the economy chugging along. While Calais includes a large rural area, a short drive into town puts you in range of a Walmart Supercenter, historic sites, and creature comforts like restaurants and riverside coffee shops.
You can entertain yourself for pennies in Calais if you’re willing to embrace the wilderness. Check out a whitewater canoe trip to St. Croix Island or explore the 30,000-acre
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
This area tends to lean conservative.


Location: Kennebec County
Population: 5,670
Median home price: $149,800
Gardiner is a suburb of
, the capital of Maine. This area is fairly affordable for both renters and homeowners. The income to rent ratio is 70.2x and the home price to income ratio is 2.9x. 
If you want a reasonable cost of living while still living in a city, Gardiner is the place for you! Gardiner has distinct architecture and a very active community. You can enjoy fireworks at
Waterfront Park
, great entertainment at
Johnson Hall
, and much more in this revitalized manufacturing town. Gardiner is so charming and authentic that it is an accredited Main Street America community.
Head to Gardiner to enjoy historic appeal, top-notch hiking and fishing in the Kennebec River, and vibrant culture of artisans and craftspeople.

Best places to buy a house in Maine

Looking to buy? Here are the three of the best places to buy a house in Maine, based on the housing market (via and climate predictions (via FEMA Risk Index). 


Location: York County
Population: 3,600
Median home price: $657,000
Kennebunkport has a high cost of living, but your money buys you excellent quality of life. This real estate market is hot, with about 70% more properties changing hands in 2020 than in 2019. Even better, the FEMA risk index is relatively low at 10.52 with the highest risks for lightning and riverine flooding.
It’s clear to see why Kennebunkport is so attractive. It’s located next to the ocean and plenty of other prestigious destinations. The University of New England, the
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
, Goat Island Lighthouse, and the
Wedding Cake House
are all located near Kennebunkport.
There is a strong focus on preservation here, both for natural areas and historic sites (the Seashore Trolley Museum is well worth a visit). A classic New England lifestyle awaits you in Kennebunkport.


Location: Androscoggin County
Population: 23,200
Median home price: $198,500
Become a true Mainer and embrace the economic opportunity in suburban
. A whopping 55% of this city is still undeveloped, so now is a great time to relocate while housing prices are still low.
Auburn is well-positioned for commuters—just 30 miles from Portland on the Maine Turnpike. This city has lots of entertainment options, high-quality educational institutions like
Central Maine Community College
, and protected areas of natural beauty in every direction.
The FEMA risk index in Auburn is low, at just 9.80 with the highest risks for drought and landslide.


Location: York County
Population: 60,867
Median household income: $58,682
Median home price: $355,00
Founded in 1653, Wells is the third-oldest town in Maine. It was called Webhannet by the Abenaki Indians who originally called this area home. 
Real estate prices in Wells are rising rapidly to acquire property in this attractive area. This area is popular with out-of-staters who have summer homes in Wells. 
In Wells, you can take advantage of free events at
Wells Harbor Park
, hit a ball at one of the local golf courses, and dive into classic Mainer fare at world-class restaurants like
With scenic beaches and antique shops galore, Wells is a resort town—but who says you can’t enjoy resort living all year round?

How to find affordable homeowners and car insurance in Maine 

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