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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:
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 Biddeford.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2020.
For more Maine reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Maine For 2020
Biddeford is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we're aware that it's beautiful and "fun". But that ignores important things like jobs and income.
Biddeford residents earn the 12th-lowest salaries in the state. At $50,327 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $223,300, which means there isn't a lot of demand.
Crime is the 4th highest in Maine per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 6th highest in the state, at 5.6%.
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Augusta is the 2nd most dangerous city in Maine. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 30.2 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 $40,340 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.
Calais ranks as the 3rd worst city on this list.
Calais has the 6th highest crime rate in Maine, where residents have a 1 in 33.7 chance of being robbed every year. Homes are the cheapest in the state ($87,300), and the uninsured rate here is far below average as well.
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.
There's probably not many people in Maine that would be surprised to see Auburn on this list. In fact, if Auburn wasn't somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Auburn has the 3rd worst crime rate in Maine. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 50 violent crimes in Auburn in 2020. Residents here had a 1 in 461 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Auburn are the 9th cheapest in the state ($155,900), the unemployment rate is the 15th highest (3.6%), and the annual household income is 10th lowest in Maine, at $48,924. That's basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
The same problems that plague other cities on the list also affect Bangor. The only real difference is Bangor is a tiny bit safer, and the schools are rated a lot higher in terms of resources for students.
However, the unemployment rate in Bangor is at 6.6%, which is the 2nd worst in Maine. And households earn a combined $42,115 a year, which is far below the state average. An average home in Bangor is merely $150,700.
Bangor is across the Tangier Sound on Route 50.
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 2020. 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.
you're looking to live in Maine, Ellsworth might not be the best choice as it places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2020.
Ellsworth doesn't have the worst crime in the state, but it's sure up there. And when you factor in one of the lowest household incomes in the state and a sky high unemployment rate, Ellsworth may not be your first choice for a vacation.
You can't blame them for living in Rockland since it's really beautiful, but there are sacrifices you make to live in the boonies. One of them is income.
Not only is the unemployment rate the 3rd highest in the state here (6.6%), the residents in Rockland earn the smallest household income in the state of Maine. At a combined income of $41,308, families of four are barely above the poverty line.
In addition, the crime here is really high for a small city in Maine. Rockland has the 12th highest crime rate in the state.
Sure, Caribou is beautiful. But science doesn't measure beauty. It measures facts, and the fact is Caribou has some serious issues. The unemployment rate here is 8.7%, which is the second highest in the state. And the median price of a house here is under $100,000.
It's hard to get a local economy going when you look at those numbers.
Additionally, the public schools in Caribou are the 11th lowest funded in Maine in terms of financial support and student-teacher ratio.
How we determined the worst places to live in Maine for 2020
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 -- Biddeford. Read on for a detailed look at the 10 worst cities in Maine. You can download the data here.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased.
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, Biddeford ranks as the worst city to live in Maine for 2020.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maine:
- Bath (Pop. 8,320)
- Hallowell (Pop. 2,506)
- South Portland (Pop. 25,515)
For more Maine reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Maine?