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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 2,400 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 2021.
For more Maine reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Places To Live In Maine For 2021
Biddeford needs some tough love.
Years ago, someone told me the sun never shines in Biddeford. That's not true, of course, but you can understand why she might say that when you analyze certain facts about Biddeford. Of the 20 cities considered in this ranking, Biddeford had the least to be proud of across the board.
Not only does Biddeford have Maine's 17th lowest home value rank, but it also had the 11th and 4th highest rankings in unemployment and crime respectively. Statistics like that will certainly make the sun shine a bit dimmer, and it will win you are in contention for title of "Worst City in Maine."
If you know anyone in Biddeford, tag them on Facebook and tell them you love them. They can probably use it right about now.
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.
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 31.7 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 $43,796 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.
If you're looking to live in Maine, Calais might not be the best choice as it places 4th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2021.
The unemployment rate here is 7.0%, and households bring in a combined $32,601 a year in income. That's not too far from the poverty line, even though money goes a lot further in the boonies of Maine.
Crime is the 12th highest in the state in Calais as well. Just not a very desirable place at all to make home.
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.
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 2021. 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.
The city of Ellsworth is the 7th worst place you can live in the state of Maine in 2021.
It's unlucky for Ellsworth, which has the 15th highest unemployment rate (3.5%), the 14th lowest household incomes ($53,324) and the 13th lowest home prices in the state ($178,400).
Basically, a lot of people in Ellsworth are out of work. And crime is certainly a factor here as well. Although it's not one of the most dangerous places we'll look at, it's in the top 20%.
Add it all up, and this is truly one of the worst places you could live in Maine.
Bangor places 8th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Maine. Here, 7.0% of the adult population lack's even a high school degree. That makes Bangor have the 10th highest adult drop out rate in Maine.
Income levels are also near the poverty line, and home prices are around $157,000 each -- the 8th lowest in Maine.
As you can imagine, there's not a lot of demand to live here.
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.
Gardiner needs some tough love as it ranks as the 10th worst city to live in Maine for 2021.
Crime in Gardiner is the 18th highest in the state, where 1 in 134.7 people have a chance of being the victim of a property crime, according to the latest FBI numbers.
Additionally, the income is almost dead last in Maine.
If commute time is important, Gardiner residents have the 1st longest commute of any residents on our list.
How we determined the worst places to live in Maine for 2021
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 2021.
If you're curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maine:
- Bath (Pop. 8,319)
- South Portland (Pop. 25,548)
- Saco (Pop. 19,497)
For more Maine reading, check out:
Where Are The Worst Places To Live In Maine?