These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Maine For 2018


We used science and data to determine which cities in the Pine Tree State are the real pits.

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This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out that we updated it for 2018.

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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:

  1. Augusta (Photos)
  2. Bangor (Photos)
  3. Waterville (Photos)
  4. Lewiston (Photos)
  5. Presque Isle (Photos)
  6. Calais (Photos)
  7. Belfast (Photos)
  8. Biddeford (Photos)
  9. Auburn (Photos)
  10. 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.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the worst cities in America or the worst states in America.For more Maine reading , check out:

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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

The data comes from the Census’s most recent American Community Survey and from the FBI Uniform Crime Report.

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.

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1. Augusta

Augusta, Maine

Population: 18,691
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Values: $138,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (4th worst)
More on Augusta: Data | Photos
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.

2. Bangor

Bangor, Maine

Source: Public domain

Population: 32,491
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Values: $148,600 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (3rd worst)
More on Bangor: Data | Photos
Out of all the places to live in Maine, Bangor ranks as the 2nd worst — not something to brag about.

Bangor’s unemployment rate stands at 7.9%. While the income levels out here are some of the lowest in the state. Residents earn a combined $37,987 a year in salaries. That’s not enough to really get ahead in life.

Additionally, the homes are the 8th cheapest in the entire state at $148,600. Again, some people like the cheap cost of living, but housing is priced on demand, and the fact is, there’s not a lot of demand to live way out in Bangor. Plus, what do you do for fun here anyway?

Crime is the 1st worst in the state. You have a 1 in 24.2 chance of being robbed here and a 1 in 433 chance of being attacked or raped. Yikes.

3. Waterville

Waterville, Maine

Population: 16,134
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Values: $121,300 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.5% (1st worst)
More on Waterville: Data | Photos
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.

4. Lewiston

Lewiston, Maine

Source: Public domain

Population: 36,277
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Home Values: $143,500 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (6th worst)
More on Lewiston: Data | Photos
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

Presque Isle, Maine

Population: 9,298
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 4)
Home Values: $102,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (14th worst)
More on Presque Isle: Data | Photos
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.

6. Calais

Calais, Maine

Population: 3,018
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Home Values: $88,400 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.3% (16th worst)
More on Calais: Data | Photos
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Calais 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 29.0 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 Calais 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 Calais are really low. People here earn about $32,885 a year per household.

Additionally, the public schools in Calais 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 Calais.

7. Belfast

Belfast, Maine

Population: 6,641
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Home Values: $209,200 (16th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.8% (2nd worst)
More on Belfast: Data | Photos
Belfast, ME needs a big hug right now. The unemployment rate here is 9.8%, the median income is just above the poverty line, and the crime is the 18th highest in the state. You have a 1 in 55.8 chance of being robbed here every year.

You could find a much better place to call home.

8. Biddeford

Biddeford, Maine

Population: 21,341
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 3)
Home Values: $211,400 (17th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (11th worst)
More on Biddeford: Data | Photos
When you’re looking at things from purely a scientific standpoint, Biddeford is the 8th worst place in the state of Maine.

The U.S. defines the poverty line at $24,600 a year for a family of four. Biddeford is right on the verge of that when you look at what the average citizen there earns a year. And the home values are eye-opening low. On average, the home value in Biddeford are the 17th lowest in the entire state.

And when you factor in high crime and a high tax rate, it really can’t get much worse in Maine.

9. Auburn

Auburn, Maine

Population: 22,943
Rank Last Year: 13 (Up 4)
Home Values: $152,200 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.5% (14th worst)
More on Auburn: Data | Photos
Auburn is also a pretty crummy place to live, when you look at the numbers. Yes, we’re aware that it’s beautiful and “fun”. But that ignores important things like jobs and income.

Auburn residents earn the 11th-lowest salaries in the state. At $46,976 a year, people here most likely have a hard time getting ahead in life. And the average home costs are $152,200, which means there isn’t a lot of demand.

Crime is the 6th highest in Maine per capita, and the unemployment rate here is 14th highest in the state, at 5.5%.

10. Ellsworth

Ellsworth, Maine

Population: 7,879
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 4)
Home Values: $182,600 (13th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 6.7% (5th worst)
More on Ellsworth: Data | Photos
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Maine, Ellsworth came in 10th. Let’s see why.

Located in Hancock County with a population of 7,879, Ellsworth has the 5th highest unemployment rate in Maine. Crime is high for the state as well, coming in as the 7th most dangerous.

Additionally, 1260.0% of the population lives below the poverty line.

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:

  1. Brewer (Pop. 9,284)
  2. South Portland (Pop. 25,397)
  3. Hallowell (Pop. 2,427)

For more Maine reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Maine

City Rank Population Unemployment Rate Home Value
Augusta 1 18,691 7.4% $138,900
Bangor 2 32,491 7.9% $148,600
Waterville 3 16,134 11.5% $121,300
Lewiston 4 36,277 6.6% $143,500
Presque Isle 5 9,298 5.5% $102,600
Calais 6 3,018 5.3% $88,400
Belfast 7 6,641 9.8% $209,200
Biddeford 8 21,341 5.8% $211,400
Auburn 9 22,943 5.5% $152,200
Ellsworth 10 7,879 6.7% $182,600
Gardiner 11 5,670 5.7% $132,600
Caribou 12 7,902 4.7% $88,900
Westbrook 13 17,969 6.2% $204,300
Portland 14 66,649 5.7% $248,000
Rockland 15 7,220 6.3% $158,600
Bath 16 8,334 5.3% $164,600
Saco 17 19,008 2.8% $232,200
Hallowell 18 2,427 5.9% $198,900
South Portland 19 25,397 6.2% $229,400
Brewer 20 9,284 5.0% $160,800

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27 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Worst Cities In Maine For 2018

  1. Your data is flawed by its incompleteness. Anyone can make a list like this come out any way they wish if the skew the data input. I have lived in Augusta, raised three children (great schools) all to productive adulthood, coached at all levels of baseball (best facilities in the state) and find that our city government is approachable, diligent and trustworthy. We are a religious center for all religions to peacefully worship as they choose or not. The restaurants are second to none and shopping is both big-box and VERY MUCH local, as well (all surviving together). Nope! I think your data is definitely flawed, skewed and holds no real value in deciding where in Maine to live. But, hey, thanks for trying.

  2. There are a lot more towns in Maine than 49. And you didn’t appear to pick the 49 cities based on population, because places such as Bridgeton or Farmington have a thriving population compared to Houlton. And you didn’t just pick the largest city in a given area, because Fort Kent or Jay should be added to spread out your map. I’m guessing you just picked cities on 95, maybe?

    There is no way you can even say this is based on data, when you pick and choose the points to examine. You need to state the criteria that you choose these 49 cities. This article needs to be renamed: “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live Out of 49 Cities in Maine”.

  3. I was raised in Caribou and myself and another high school classmate are now doctors and another is even an astronaut. There is something to be said about small towns and not all of them suck. However, your ranking system certainly has a lot to be desired.

  4. Anyone who has the audacity to use the term “lobster cages” (which FYI isn’t a thing) in reference to Augusta (which has a long history of… not lobstering) has either A. Never been to Maine before or B. is trolling. Say what you will about “using data from the internet” because we all know if it is on the internet it must be true.

  5. Your data is a bit skewed. Maine is well-known for being a poor state, but that doesn’t mean everywhere is a poor place to live.

    Of course Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland and Falmouth are superior to every other place, they have the highest median incomes of the entire state. That also means they’re the most expensive and least affordable places to live.

    Nice try, but no cigar.

  6. As a person who was born and lived in Worcester Massachusetts, I can say without doubt that the worst city in Maine is still far better than most of the cities in Massachusetts in all aspects but access to jobs, which is the biggest problem Maine has. It is silly to measure education by how much is spent per student. The quality of the teacher and the involvement of the parents is the deciding factor in a child’s education. Money spent per student could be considered to show throwing money at problems trying to fix them with the result of getting very little return in reference to actual improvement in student retained knowledge and test scores.

    Population density is another flawed measurement. You assume that “indoor entertainment” is the criteria a majority of Maine residence value in a city. This cannot be taken seriously because if that was the case, why would people from out of state leave their bastions of indoor entertainment and flock to Maine in the summer? The amount of camouflage clothing seen and pickup trucks registered in the state of Maine should be a very significant clue as to what many actual value in a city:
    Access to Maine’s natural and most profitable resource, OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT.

    Crime rate is a legitimate measurement but again flawed. Compared to cities in other states of New England, the crime rate is merely a blip on the screen. Also when a per capita measurement is used, it does not consider WHERE in each city you live. If you live in a high crime rate part of a city known to most of us as a”bad neighborhood”, you will have a higher risk of being a victim than in other parts of the same city. I live in Waterville and I do lock my doors at night but that is out of habit from living in Worcester, not fear of being robbed in Waterville.

    There is no doubt most cities in Maine need a better economic situation. Only jobs will fix this issue. It is Maine’s only shortcoming. The quality of the people living in a city is its only true measurement. Honest, hard working, down to earth, and a bit eccentric people are the qualities that make a Mainer a Mainer, and what I strive to be as a transplant. This is the majority of the population in every city. Therefor no city in Maine is a bad city.

  7. I find it absolutely HILARIOUS that the person who wrote this truly thinks that they’re right. People like the author of this deserve to be smacked across the face sue to their stupidity.

  8. Apparently the higher spending per student mean higher quality education. If so we should all move to D.C. where they spend the most per student in the country and get marvelous results. If you think that a high population density increases the quality of life then you don’t really understand Maine culture, and please don’t move to Maine.

  9. Ok, so Falmouth is one of the best places, yet the Washington Post just wrote and article declaring one of the most drug infested place in AMERICA!!!!! Just shows that the “facts” here are purely subjective. Portland is a pit and the line “You might be surprised to hear that Waterville has the 7th highest crime rate in Maine” tells you that. Why would it be a surprise??? It shows a lack of outside knowledge here. Since all of the population figures are wildly wrong (a simple look at wiki could have helped here) it tells us that the “facts” are iprobably wrong as well. That “fact” is, this article is a piece of garbage, and I don’t live in ay of the communities mentioned. It is bias from a Portland point of view, which is a sh;;ty little city with nothing to offer besides a cultural divide of white people who think they are racially integrated. Visit the Old Port some sunny Sunday and see if that is true or not;)

    1. Amen! Portland has to be lived in, if you really want to know what a horrible place to live it is. I prefer any other city on the East coast and I was raised in Maine’s real midcoast. Two towns away from Peyton Place is looking better and better.

  10. lived in Brockton Ma[west side] ,Brunswick,Minot,Waterville, Boston Ma[south end], North Dartmouth Ma , and Skowhegan,Maine

    Skowhegan was the WORSE:
    Theft and burglary rates are high
    Halfway Houses on every other street
    Intoxicated subjects walk the streets day and night
    Air polluted, Water polluted
    10% of the residents have COPD
    Loud exhaust pickup trucks barrowling down residential streets 24/7/365, cops afraid to stop them because they are relatives of town employees

    Skowhegan is a living nightmare
    ex-town manager told me all about the place,there are 3000 people that work, leaving 5000 layabout welfare loafers with too much time on their hands

  11. Waterville Maine is not bad. There are some small secluded middle class neighborhoods left.

    I moved out of Maine because i retired to Florida

  12. I was born in Lewiston and raised in Greene, Maine. Nothing mentioned about this great town. I think the list leaves quite a bit to be desired do to the fact that those few towns mentioned do not give a good clear picture of the great state of Maine!!!

  13. I live in Eastern Maine and this report says one of the worst places to live is in Eastern Maine yet they have no even come close to mentioning not even 1 of Eastern Maine’s cities on this.. Heck not even Bar Harbor which is west of us all and advertised as Down East ( which burns us real Down Easterners ).. So take this report anyway you want but surely it is bogus just by the way it is written up..

  14. I do not live in Maine but the same questions popped up when researching where to move to (I am from the deep south and my wife is from Russia). Anyone have any real opinions on the best places to live where it is close for my wife to commute to work where we can get some land with our house purchase?

  15. If you are from Massachusetts or “away” I recommend you don’t make a permanent move to Maine, buy a 2nd home for seasonal or weekend visits. Maybe not all towns, but certainly the town I purchased a home in has become the most unwelcoming and perhaps the biggest nightmare experience of my life. I regret investing money into this property to take from the dump it was to what it is now.

    The problem in this town and probably many others is the local town politics and it so-called “politicians”. They don’t believe an “outsider” and especially a “Massole” should have any type of business, after all it may cut into “locals” piece of the pie. They make up rules as they go and this has been confirmed by many attorneys who have had to represent people that have been wronged by the town of Denmark, Maine. Then they change their mind and tell you that you have been operating illegally when 3 selectman and 2 Town Managers told you what you are doing is fine and cite you with court actions. They make up nonsensical rules even though State engineers have proven they are wrong.

    Then there are the fights they have among themselves politically. When a Selectman doesn’t play by their rules and do exactly as the “locals” instruct they launch recalls. These locals have run around towns with their nasty petitions and publicly published such nasty comments about who they are trying to oust in the local town paper. They run unbiased Town Managers out of town because he didn’t play by the “locals” rule but rather the rule of law. They will lie straight to your face totally unabashed by it.

    They accuse you of running a business that you are not although their local “friend” is running exactly that type of business, a Bed & Breakfast. This person has no town permit nor state licensing required for that type of business. Another “local” is running a small engine repair shop along with sales of used equipment which is prominently displayed in his yard throughout the spring, summer and fall months and they have the audacity to say “I have never seen that”. They also allow their town manager to conduct his so-called job based on personal vendettas.

    I feel like I am living a horror show in Denmark, Maine so before purchasing any Real Estate property in small town Maine – do you homework, research just what goes on in that town beforehand. I could have saved myself a lot of headaches if I had done so. Many of these small towns want you money but in truth they don’t want you here – but truth be told they couldn’t survive without it.

  16. Burglary and robbery are two very different crimes. I infer that you used the word “robbed” in place of theft and property crimes. The key element to robbery is to “take by force or threar of immediate/imminent harm” (in laymans terms). I highly doubt people are getting rolled on the streets of Augusta like it’s the combat zone of a big city. Look up some definitions before you write articles.

  17. Maine is a poor and dirty white trash type state. People are mostly extroverted, but not friendly, usually the fart a few insults out of their mouths in each sentence or comment. and they like to comment.
    they will fiercly defend their shithole though, and blame you if you don’t like it, even though they don’t like it.
    There are no jobs unless you want to work at a fast food place or similar for minimum wage, maybe some seasonal low paid unskilled work. there are about 4 good jobs posted every few months in Portland though.
    Prices are pretty high, especially house prices, compared to the economy.
    You actually do NEED a car if you live outside of Portland or Westbrook, because there is no public transportation to any place else.
    Most lakes to go swimming in and also beaches are almost totally privately owned, and you have to be a neighbor to go to them, or have a house on the water.
    people are very defensive and in general Mainers just like to fight, and if you like to fight too, don’t give a sh%t, dress poorly and stuff like that, you will make friends and join their clique here.
    Be sure to talk like you miss a few teeth too which is how some of the Maine dialect sounds like in places.

  18. You forgot Madawaska, ME there is no hospital there which means you have to take a 20-30 min. drive to Fort Kent for the nearest hospital so if you live in Madawaska and are having a heart attack or stroke that could mean the difference between life and death. There are no public transportation in Madawaska such as a bus. A shortage of doctors, specialists, nurses and complete quality healthcare in general. Let’s also say for the entire state of Maine where people should complain. Why? If you own a car and you live on fixed income of $12,000 per year then you have another person who has the exact same year and model car but that person makes $50,000 per year both people have to pay the exact same excise car taxes per year with no breaks for the poor. How screw up and sick is that? Why aren’t more people making complaints to the state? Why doesn’t the State of Maine in general advertise more in other states and target wealthy areas to encourage more tourism to generate more income for for the state? Some might even invest. Everyone needs to complain to state government and senators.

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