These Are The 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Maine For 2018

We used science and data to determine which places in ME are really ghetto.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

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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:

  1. Sanford
  2. Waterville (Photos)
  3. Lewiston (Photos)
  4. Skowhegan
  5. Augusta (Photos)
  6. Houlton
  7. Old Town (Photos)
  8. Westbrook (Photos)
  9. Portland (Photos)
  10. 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
  • Crime

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.


1. Sanford

Source: wikipedia

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.

2. Waterville

Source: wikipedia

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.

3. Lewiston

Source: wikipedia

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.

4. Skowhegan

Source: wikipedia

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.”

5. Augusta

Source: wikipedia

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.

6. Houlton

Source: Public Domain

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

Source: wikipedia

Income: 4th lowest
Drop out rate: 15%
Crime: 22nd

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.

8. Westbrook

Source: wikipedia

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.

9. Portland

Source: wikipedia

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?”

10. Bangor

Source: wikipedia

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.

The Most Ghetto Cities in Maine with detailed information


Desktop users, below is a chart of all large cities in Maine, along with their crime numbers.

City Overall Rank Dropout Rate Crime Rate Incomes
Sanford 1 23.00% 98.7 $35,639
Waterville 2 19.00% 99.1 $35,048
Lewiston 3 24.00% 96.6 $36,600
Skowhegan 4 22.00% 97.6 $27,826
Augusta 5 18.00% 124.6 $35,030
Houlton 6 21.00% 96.4 $35,581
Old Town 7 15.00% 75.6 $34,353
Westbrook 8 18.00% 101.7 $45,544
Portland 9 13.00% 115.6 $44,487
Bangor 10 13.00% 106.5 $36,246
Biddeford 11 20.00% 112.4 $43,060
Rockland 12 21.00% 92.2 $35,500
Belfast 13 17.00% 95.7 $34,035
Presque Isle 14 15.00% 96.9 $37,630
Auburn 15 16.00% 96.7 $44,118
Paris 16 20.00% 66.2 $35,483
Caribou 17 20.00% 69.6 $42,359
Old Orchard Beach 18 18.00% 100.8 $44,801
Brunswick 19 15.00% 62.1 $43,470
Orono 20 10.00% 47.1 $33,864
South Portland 21 8.00% 97.9 $53,394
Bath 22 12.00% 76 $44,410
Ellsworth 23 16.00% 97.7 $47,799
Winslow 24 16.00% 66.6 $46,419
Saco 25 13.00% 82.7 $55,873
Gardiner 26 12.00% 91.5 $49,071
Lebanon 27 25.00% 46.7 $52,258
Lisbon 27 17.00% 48.2 $44,414
Turner 29 5.00% 70.9 $65,561
Windham 30 10.00% 74.3 $63,726
Buxton 31 14.00% 52.4 $59,094
Brewer 32 13.00% 79.3 $47,940
Poland 33 11.00% 70.3 $57,685
Waterboro 34 11.00% 54.8 $58,075
Wells 35 8.00% 42.3 $62,151
Topsham 36 10.00% 41.2 $58,259
Standish 37 4.00% 50.6 $38,611
Standish 38 4.00% 50.6 $38,611
New Gloucester 39 10.00% 44.1 $64,284
Hermon 40 10.00% 41.1 $62,356
York 41 7.00% 48.9 $71,081
Gorham 42 4.00% 52.1 $69,799
Eliot 43 6.00% 29.9 $75,904
Falmouth 44 4.00% 44.2 $91,477
South Berwick 45 8.00% 35.2 $76,773
Cumberland 46 4.00% 33 $92,262
Kennebunk 47 6.00% 43.7 $69,397
Yarmouth 48 5.00% 47.2 $71,107
Cape Elizabeth 49 3.00% 41.5 $85,604

About Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson earned his masters in Business Administration from the Drucker School At Claremont Graduate University. He has written for 39 publications across the country and ran the media relations department at Movoto, a real estate portal based in San Francisco. He has been featured in over 500 publications as an expert in real estate and as an authority on real estate trends.

Nick's the creator of the HomeSnacks YouTube channel that now has over 260,000 subscribers and is an excellent source to learn about different parts of the country.