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 21 of the state’s most populous cities (over 1,400 people), we came up with this list as the 10 worst places to live in Maine:
- Augusta (Photos)
- Waterville (Photos)
- Bangor (Photos)
- Lewiston (Photos)
- Ellsworth (Photos)
- Belfast (Photos)
- Presque Isle (Photos)
- Caribou (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 2017.
How we determined the worst places to live in Maine for 2017
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 1,400 people were considered — leaving 21 cities.
We then ranked each city from 1 to 21 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: 18,772Home Values: $133,900 (6th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.7% (8th worst)
This may or may not be a surprise to you, but Augusta is the 1st most dangerous city in Maine. For such a small city, there are an astounding number of property crimes. Residents here have a 1 in 19.8 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 $39,544 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: 3,038Home Values: $87,200 (1st worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (6th worst)
If you’re looking to live in Maine, Calais might not be the best choice as it places 2nd in our ranking of the worst places to live in the Pine Tree State for 2015.
The average family earns $33,906 a year out here, and 14.8% of the population is below the poverty line. Nearly 7.9% of the population is out of work.
And when you consider the crime, it’s just crazy to think of how dangerous it is to live way out here. When you’re in Calais, every year, you have a 1 in 25.3 chance of being robbed. Can you imagine? Perhaps it’s an economic factor, or the fact that the people out there are so isolated, but the fact remains, it’s the 4th most dangerous place in the state, per capita.
Population: 15,989Home Values: $124,700 (4th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 13.2% (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: 32,695Home Values: $148,600 (9th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.3% (4th worst)
Bangor places 4th in our ranking of the worst places to live in Maine.
You can imagine it’s a pretty simple life down there. Which is fine, unless you look closely at the data.
Homes are the 9th cheapest in the state, and at $148,600, just about anyone with a pulse can buy a home here. However, the unemployment rate (9.3%) is the 4th highest in Maine, and income levels are far below the state average. And 17.8% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Would you have guessed that the area around Bangor has one of the highest crime rates, per capita in Maine?
Population: 36,356Home Values: $144,300 (8th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.8% (7th 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.
Population: 7,832Home Values: $180,200 (14th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (5th worst)
Welcome to Ellsworth, which might be one of the poorest areas in Maine. Residents average $44,556 a year in combined income, which is right at the poverty line. In fact, 11.5% of Ellsworth residents live below the poverty level.
Homes here go for an average of $180,200 and the unemployment rate hovers near 7.9%.
Population: 6,668Home Values: $194,700 (15th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 9.9% (3rd worst)
When you’re looking at the worst places you could live in Maine, Belfast came in 7th. Let’s see why.
Located in Waldo County with a population of 6,668, Belfast has the 3rd highest unemployment rate in Maine. Crime is high for the state as well, coming in as the 7th most dangerous.
Additionally, 15.6% of the population lives below the poverty line.
Population: 1,365 Home Values: $137,500 (7th worst)
Unemployment Rate: 11.2% (2nd worst)
Tthe small town of Eastport has the 1st lowest income levels in the entire state. At $32,188, many of the people are having trouble making ends meet, and the unemployment rate is 11.2%. Additionally, 10.1% of the population lives below the poverty line.
The cost of a home here is bottom barrell at $137,500.
At least the crime is very minimal here.
9. Presque Isle
Population: 9,378Home Values: $103,600 (3rd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.2% (19th 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: 7,960Home Values: $88,000 (2nd worst)
Unemployment Rate: 5.7% (17th worst)
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.
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 2017.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best cities to live in Maine:
- South Portland (Pop. 25,304)
- Brewer (Pop. 9,341)
- Hallowell (Pop. 2,514)
For more Maine reading , check out:
- These Are The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Maine
- These Are The 10 Drunkest Cities In Maine
- These Are The 10 Most Boring Places In Maine
Detailed List Of The Worst Cities In Maine