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:
- Augusta (Photos)
- Bangor (Photos)
- Waterville (Photos)
- Lewiston (Photos)
- Presque Isle (Photos)
- Calais (Photos)
- Belfast (Photos)
- Auburn (Photos)
- Ellsworth (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. Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and see how your city fared in 2018.
How we determined the worst places to live in Maine for 2018
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 2,400 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.
Population: 18,691Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $138,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (4th worst)
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Augusta is the 3rd most dangerous city in Maine. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 27.6 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 $40,555 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.
Population: 32,491Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Values: $148,600 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (3rd worst)
You can sure expect that Bangor is going to be a pretty rough place to live, it comes in 2nd in our analysis. It is. In fact, Bangor has the 1st-highest crime rate in the state. Probably no surprises there.
There were 75 violent crimes here in 2015, and residents have a 1 in 24.2 chance of being the victim of a property crime. That means, most likely, if you live in Bangor, either you or someone on your block had their home or car broken into last year.
You can also imagine that the economy here is in the pits — the unemployment rate sits at 7.9% which is the 3rd worst in Maine.
Population: 16,134Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $121,300 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (1st worst)
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.
Population: 36,277Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $143,500 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (6th worst)
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.
5. Presque Isle
Population: 9,298Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Values: $102,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (14th worst)
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 2015. 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.
Population: 3,018Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Home Values: $88,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (16th worst)
If, by some reason, you were driving through Calais, after stopping to ask for directions, you may have noticed that things aren’t so peachy keen here.
It’s tough out there for people to stay afloat when their income levels are so low ($32,885) and they can’t get good jobs (5.3% unemployment rate).
Calais ranks as the 6th wost place in Maine.
Population: 6,641Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Home Values: $209,200 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (2nd worst)
Belfast is another place in the Pine Tree State that has some real eye-opening numbers. The unemployment rate in Belfast is a staggering 9.8%, but at least those who have jobs earn a modest salary ($40,625 a year). Homes are actually priced respectfully at $209,200, but still far lower than the state average.
Crime in Belfast is bad, but not horrible.
Population: 21,341Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Home Values: $211,400 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (11th worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Maine, Biddeford came in 8th. Let’s see why.
When you’re comparing the unemployment rate to the rest of the nation, Maine residents are very hard workers. But when comparing the unemployment rate among cities in Maine, you can see some really big differences. In Biddeford, the number of people out of work is 5.8%
In Maine, that’s the 11th highest in the state.
The residents in Biddeford have the 12th lowest incomes in the state. Folks in Biddeford average $47,265 a year. Which isn’t too shabby in comparison to the other ‘lowest’ income cities in most other states.
Additionally, the homes are valued at $211,400 on average. That’s the 17th lowest in the state.
Population: 22,943Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Home Values: $152,200 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (14th worst)
Yes, every dog has a few fleas. But the crime in Auburn is actually quite atrocious. Some of the punks there who are causing trouble need a time out. It’s that simple.
Residents here have a 1 in 533 chance of being the victim of a violent crime, meaning raped, attacked or murdered. And they have a 1 in 31.4 chance of being robbed each year. That’s off the charts high.
And the unemployment rate is at 5.5%, which isn’t horrible, but the 14th-highest in the state. Plus, residents here earn about $46,976 a year in combined household income.
Population: 7,879Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Home Values: $182,600 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (5th worst)
you’re looking to live in Maine, Ellsworth might not be the best choice as it places 10th in our ranking of the worst places to live for 2015.
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.
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 2018.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maine:
- Brewer (Pop. 9,284)
- South Portland (Pop. 25,397)
- Hallowell (Pop. 2,427)
For more Maine reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Maine
- These Are The 10 Most Redneck Cities In Maine
- If You’re From Maine This Will Be The Most Jaw-Dropping Thing You See Today. Guaranteed.
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Maine