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:
- Lewiston (Photos)
- Augusta (Photos)
- Calais (Photos)
- Bangor (Photos)
- Gardiner (Photos)
- Waterville (Photos)
- Presque Isle (Photos)
- Biddeford (Photos)
- Caribou (Photos)
- Auburn (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 Lewiston.
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 — Lewiston. 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.
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 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.
There’s probably not many people in Maine that would be surprised to see Calais on this list. In fact, if Calais wasn’t somewhere in the top 10, most people would start to wonder if our data was accurate.
Here are the statistics. Calais has the 9th worst crime rate in Maine. No surprises there. How dangerous is it though? There were almost 5 violent crimes in Calais in 2019. Residents here had a 1 in 603 chance of being killed, raped or attacked. Just wow.
The home values in Calais are the 2nd cheapest in the state ($91,600), the unemployment rate is the 9th highest (5.5%), and the annual household income is 1st lowest in Maine, at $34,845. That’s basically at the poverty level for a family of four.
Bangor takes the 4th worst place spot on this list for a number of reasons — below average education, income, unemployment, and student expenditure statistics.
But what gives Bangor its main thrust toward the top of this shameful list is its crime index — the 2nd worst in the whole state.
Gardiner is just a tiny place in the middle of nowhere where people have a hard time making ends meet. Folks here earn barely more than $47,475 a year, which is barely over the poverty line. And for Maine, a 5.7% unemployment rate is really high.
Crime is also the 17th highest in Maine here. Meaning people need to stop breaking into homes and start looking for jobs.
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 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.
Sure, it’s in a beautiful area, and there’s lots of culture, especially in terms of music. But, if you’re measuring desirability, it’s the 8th worst in Maine.
Biddeford residents had a 1 in 29.5 chance of being the victim of a property crime. Meaning lots of stolen laptops, cell phones and sports jerseys.
The unemployment rate in Biddeford is through the roof, as more than 5.4% of the population can’t get a job. At least their mortgages aren’t too high; at $211,800, Biddeford has the 16th-lowest home prices in the state of Maine.
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.
While numbers in Maine are clearly better when you compare them to the rest of the nation, the fact is when you compare Maine cities against one another, you see big differences.
Home values in Auburn average $152,400, which is the 9th lowest in the state. Say what you want about ‘cheap living,’ the fact is homes are priced by demand, and there’s not a lot of demand to live in Auburn.
Plus, 15.2% of the population here lives below the poverty line.
Plus, the crime rate is the 6th highest in the state here. Every year, when you’re within Auburn city limits, you have a 1 in 32.2 chance of being robbed. That’s a lot of broken into cars and homes.
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, Lewiston 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:
- Saco (Pop. 19,127)
- South Portland (Pop. 25,431)
- Hallowell (Pop. 2,453)
For more Maine reading, check out:
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities 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