You have to have a certain mindset to want to live in Maine.
It’s not an easy life for most of the year. But if you ask people who live there, they are fiercely protective of their state. After all, Maine is one of the most beautiful states in America. They stick together up there, and would probably rather flatlandahs stay right where they are.
But is it all great in The Pine Tree State? Of course not. Just like every other state, Maine has its trouble spots. The purpose of this post is to use science and data to determine which cities in Maine are the least desirable to live in.
Of course, many of the cities on this list would rank highly if they were in other states. But nonetheless, according to science, these cities are the worst places you could possibly live if you make Maine your home.
After analyzing 20 of the state’s most populous cities (over 2,500 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Maine:
- Augusta (Photos)
- Lewiston (Photos)
- Calais (Photos)
- Biddeford (Photos)
- Bangor (Photos)
- Ellsworth (Photos)
- Waterville (Photos)
- Auburn (Photos)
- Gardiner (Photos)
- Presque Isle (Photos)
What? Where are these places you wonder? And before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case.
We understand there’s a lot of good in every place.
However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty and ‘friendly people’), there are far better options in the state for making a place home. And the worst place to live in Maine? That would be Augusta.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2019.
For more Maine reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Maine
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Maine
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Maine
How we determined the worst places to live in Maine for 2019
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that people like the following things:
- Good education
- Lots of jobs
- Low crime
- Low poverty
- Nice homes
- High incomes
- High population density (Lots of things to do)
- Short work commutes
- Health insurance
We broke crime down into violent crime and property crime to give violent crime a larger weight — if you did a simple calculation of all crimes per capita, property crimes are normally 7x more common and really bias that ranking.
Furthermore, only cities with at least 2,000 people were considered — leaving 20 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 20 for all the criteria with a #1 ranking being the worst for the particular criteria.
Next, we averaged the rankings into one “Worst Place To Live Score”.
Finally, we ranked every city on the “Worst Place To Live Score” with the lowest score being the worst city in Maine — Augusta. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Maine.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Augusta is the 5th most dangerous city in Maine. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 33.4 chance of being the victim of some sort of robbery when within city limits every year. That’s lots of stolen cell phones, guns, snowmobiles and lobster traps.
Besides the crime, there are a few other factors why Augusta might be one of the worst places to live. The home values here are pretty cheap. Why is that not a good thing? Because the salaries of people working in Augusta are really low. People here earn about $40,181 a year per household.
Additionally, the public schools in Augusta are some of the lowest funded in the state.
When all is said and done, you could find much more desirable places to live in Maine than in Augusta.
The main problem with Lewiston is with the public schools. If you value a good education for your kids, then Lewiston isn’t your place. The student expenditure rate is the lowest in the state of Maine here, and overall, education spending and teacher support combined are the 4th lowest in the state.
Crime, property values and the overall general economy are all far below state averages as well.
If you live in Calais, you’re either going to fiercely protect your town, or you agree that it should be on this list. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because science says it’s the 3rd worst place to live in the state.
You’ve got the 9th highest crime rate in Maine, which saw 5 violent crimes last year. You have a 1 in 37.7 chance of being robbed and a 1 in 603 chance of being attacked, raped or killed here for every year you spend in the city limits of Calais.
Plus, folks are simply out of work. Calais sports the state’s 9th highest unemployment rate (5.5%), and families bring in a combined $34,845 a year, which is far below the state average.
No wonder homes are cheap; you can get one yourself for only $91,600.
Biddeford, ME needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 5.4%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 3rd highest in the state. You have a 1 in 29.5 chance of being robbed here every year.
You could find a much better place to call home.
Say what you want about how beautiful Bangor might be. The fact is that the economy here is one of the worst in the state.
The unemployment rate rankss 3rd highest in the state at 7.4%. Homes are the 8th lowest priced ($150,100), and the median income per household is just a tad over $40,071.
The fact is most of the people who live here are having a hard time making ends meet, when you consider their earned incomes and lack of jobs.
Ellsworth places 6th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Maine.
You can imagine it’s a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 13th cheapest in the state, and at $181,200, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (5.2%) is the 12th highest in Maine, and income levels are far below the state average. And 11.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Ellsworth has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Maine?
You might be surprised to hear that Waterville has the 7th highest crime rate in Maine. People who live here have a 1 in 20 chance of being robbed. That means if you live here, and you didn’t have something stolen from you, someone on your block probably did.
The schools in Waterville are very poorly funded, and the homes here are very cheap, which is a sign of demand. There are no ‘bargains’ here. Unless you want to buy a cheap house and turn it into a moose lodge
Just don’t leave the door unlocked.
Welcome to Auburn, where criminals go to make a living. Auburn has the 6th highest crime rate in the state. When you’re within Auburn city limits, you have a 1 in 32.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime such as a car break in or home invasion robbery every year.
Plus, there were 40 violent crimes here in 2019. For a city of 22,941 people, that’s absolutely off the charts high. You have a 1 in 573 chance of being raped, attacked or killed when you’re in Auburn every year as well.
Located on your way to somewhere else you’d want to be, Gardiner has few options for some sort of entertainment.
The main issues here are economic and education. The unemployment rate is also sky high here (5.7%) and homes are the 5th cheapest in the state ($137,400).
Say what you want about ‘cheap living’, the fact is, homes are priced by demand, and there’s absolutely no demand to live in Gardiner.
Just south of Caribou is Presque Isle. Things are a tad bit better economically, but the crime rate in Presque Isle is noticeably higher. Residents have a 1 in 58 chance of being robbed. At least that’s what it was back in 2019. Hopefully things have improved here
Incidentally, when we said Augusta was the most dangerous earlier, Portland isn’t too far behind. Every year, you have a 1 in 25 chance of being robbed when you’re within Portland city limits.
Wrapping Up The Worst In Maine
If you’re looking at areas in Maine with the worst economic situations, where there’s higher than average crime, and not a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
And in the end, Augusta ranks as the worst city to live in Maine for 2019.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maine:
- Belfast (Pop. 6,680)
- South Portland (Pop. 25,431)
- Hallowell (Pop. 2,453)
For more Maine reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Maine
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Maine
- 10 Safest Places In Maine
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Maine
Detailed List Of The Worst Places To Live In Maine