There are lots of people who throw the term ‘ghetto’ around. But which of the largest cities in Maine are the most ghetto of all?
How do you decide if a place is ghetto or not? You ask the internet. According to the Urban Dictionary, a ghetto is defined as:
“urban; of or relating to (inner) city life” and “poor; of or relating to the poor life.”
Using that criteria, it’s not hard to scrape the internet, run some scientific data on where ghettos might exist in a state, and then put out a list.
After analyzing the largest cities here, we came up with this list as the most ghetto places to live in Maine:
- Waterville (Photos)
- Lewiston (Photos)
- Augusta (Photos)
- Old Town (Photos)
- Westbrook (Photos)
- Portland (Photos)
- Bangor (Photos)
In case you’re wondering, Cape Elizabeth is the least ghetto city of all we measured.
Read on below to see where your hometown ranked and why.
For more Maine reading, check out:
What ghetto criteria did we use?
In order to rank the most ghetto places in Maine, we had to determine what criteria defines a ghetto city or neighborhood.
Since a ghetto is defined as a poor area, we used income levels, crime and education levels as a guide to determine where the most broke citizens of a state live.
Additionally, the staples of inner city life include cheap and discounted retail outlets.
We started by making a list of cities with populations over 5,000 based on the 2014 American Community Survey. That left us with 50 cities in Maine to measure.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using Yelp and Area Vibes, this is the criteria we used:
- Household income levels
- High school graduation rates
- Number of convenience stores
- Number of drug stores
- Number of discount stores
Note: For the sake of getting reliable numbers, we counted places within a city’s border, as well as within a short driving distance.
All of these results are listed in a per capita basis. Meaning number of stores per person in a state. Additionally, high school graduation rates are determined by looking at the total number of people who live in a city, not the current graduation rate of an area’s high schools.
Income: 10th lowest
Drop out rate: 23%
Crime: 8th worst
When you look at the unbiased data, the village of Sanford is the most ghetto place in Maine. Let’s see why.
First off, Sanford’s high school dropout rate is really high, especially for Maine. Nearly a quarter of the population here doesn’t have a high school diploma, which is the 3rd highest rate in the state.
As a result incomes are really low – the average family in Sanford earns about $35,000 a year.
And crime is the 8th highest in the state, where you had a 1 in 28 chance of being the victim of a property crime for every year you spent inside Sanford city limits.
Income: 6th lowest
Drop out rate: 19%
Crime: 7th worst
This Kennebac County city north of Augusta has a higher crime rate, per capita, and its residents are even poorer than they are in Sanford. The high school dropout rate is slightly lower, but still high: 1 in 5 residents is without even a high school diploma by the age of 25.
Income: 12th lowest
Drop out rate: 24%
Crime: 14th worst
Lewiston is the second ‘dumbest’ city in Maine, where 24% of residents has never completed high school. Only Lebanon, down near the New Hampshire state line, has a higher percentage of dropouts. To put that into perspective, in Kennebunk, only 5% of residents are considered dropouts.
Lewiston is a bit north of Portland, along I-95.
Income: Lowest in Maine
Drop out rate: 22%
Crime: 11th worst
Skowhegan is north of Augusta as well, also off of I-95. Here, residents are the poorest in the state, averaging $27,000 each per year. The government says a family of four needs about $25,000 a year annually to remain outside the poverty line, so it’s close here.
Nearly a quarter of the population never finished high school.
There weren’t many #ghetto Tweets coming from here, but this one stood out:
“I’m going to Skowhegan in my pajamas + I have no makeup on. But its okay because everyone there is ghetto anyhow.”
Income: 5th lowest
Drop out rate: 18%
Crime: Worst in ME
Unfortunately, the capital of Maine is a fairly ghetto place when you look at the data. Why? First off, there isn’t a place in the state where you have a higher chance of being the victim of a crime than Augusta, where you had a 1 in 17 chance of a property crime affecting your life in 2014.
Incomes are some of the lowest in the state, and there are a high number of discount shopping experiences per person in Augusta. Sociologists have indicated that these types of stores are a staple of inner city life.
Income: 9th lowest
Drop out rate: 21%
Crime: 15th worst
Crime isn’t as bad in Houlton as in other cities on this list, but incomes and education levels make it hard for many families to get by on a monthly basis, even on a Maine budget.
Houlton is right on the Canadian border off of I-95.
7. Old Town
Income: 4th lowest
Drop out rate: 15%
This city just north of Bangor is the ‘safest’ of the other cities on the list. But still, incomes are really low, and a large percentage of the population is without a basic education.
Income: 24th lowest
Drop out rate: 18%
Crime: 5th worst
The last three cities on this list are all in the top 5 for danger hotspots in the state of Maine.
Westbrook, a Portland suburb, is the 5th worst place in the state for danger, where you’d have a 1 in 29 chance of being the victim of a property crime for every year you spent inside of its city limits. That’s according to the FBI’s 2014 data.
Income: 22nd lowest
Drop out rate: 13%
Crime: 2nd worst
Sure, there are large pockets of Portland that are just fine, but the fact is there are areas in Portland that are, by definition, more ghetto than entire small cities in other parts of the state.
There was only 1 murder in Portland, which is great news. The problem is with property crimes. Every day, 7 people in Portland had their cars broken into, a laptop stolen, or some other crime that involved money. That’s really high for Maine.
Incomes aren’t as low as they are in other cities we mentioned earlier.
There were quite a few ghetto Tweets coming from Maine over the last year or so. Like this: “Why is Portland Maine so ghetto?”
Income: 11th lowest
Drop out rate: 13%
Crime: 4th worst
Bangor led the way with the number of #ghetto Tweets in Maine. Example: “I’ve been living in Bangor’s ghetto for 6 months now and haven’t been robbed once. I am so raw.”
Bangor is the same as Portland, when it comes to danger. One murder, and a far higher chance than average of being robbed.
Other Highlights From The Study
Falmouth: and York are the least ghetto ‘big’ cities in Maine. Each has low crime, and less than 10% of its residents dropped out of high school.
Not ghetto at all: The following are the least ghetto areas in the Pine Tree State: Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, Kennebunk, Cumberland, South Berwick.
There You Have It
If you’re measuring the locations in Maine where there are a high number of poor and uneducated residents, and where there are a high number of discounted shopping stores, this is an accurate list.
We also wrote about the 10 Drunkest Cities in Maine if you didn’t happen to see it.
Desktop users, below is a chart of all large cities in Maine, along with their crime numbers.