When it comes to researching the cheapest places to live in Maine, we have some fresh data for 2023. Using Saturday Night Science, we identified the affordable gems that stand out like a Maine Lobster.
We looked at Maine’s Census data on home prices, incomes, and rents and cross-referenced them with data on the overall cost of living to find the cheapest places to live in Maine. Many of Maine’s most affordable places are also some of their safest.
These affordable places also offer skiing at Bridgton’s Shawnee Peak in the winter or a beach day at Bar Harbor in the summer. Just wait for the Groupons.
The 10 most affordable places to live in Maine
What is the cheapest place to live in Maine for 2023? The cheapest place to live in Maine is Caribou for 2023 based on our analysis of the Census data for Maine cities.
Want to know more about the most affordable towns in Maine? We suggest you take a ferry from North Haven to Owls Head, grab a lobster roll at Rockland’s Lobster Festival, and read on.
Check out some more reading about Maine and the cheapest places in the country:
The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Maine For 2023
We kick our tour of the most affordable places to live in Maine with Caribou, the most northeastern city in America. In Caribou, you’ll find the first least expensive homes in Maine, at a median price of $99,300. What’s more, residents of Caribou spend the smallest percentage of their income on homes. If you just want to make sure you can brave the cold and snow before settling down here, rent in Caribou goes for about $628/month.
Thrill-seekers and beer-drinkers alike will find something to love in Caribou, because it’s one of the best places for snowmobiling in Maine as well as the home of Northern Maine Brewing Company. Small heads up for those considering Caribou, though; it’s the most conservative place in Maine.
Median Income: $39,375
Median Home Price: $111,600
Median Rent: $433
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x
Rent To Income Ratio: 0.13x
More on Eastport: Real Estate
The easternmost city in America, Eastport, ranks as the second cheapest city to live in Maine. Eastport consists entirely of islands, so you if you want something different than fishing Maine’s rivers and lakes, the deep-sea fishing on offer in Eastport is sure to be a nice change of pace. Speaking of the sea, Eastport celebrates both the Salmon and Seafood Festival and the Pirate Festival every year, so we hope you’re ready to party before moving here. Eastport has the third least expensive homes for sale in Maine, with a median price of $111,600. For both renters and buyers, Eastport is in the top ten statewide for housing to income ratio.
We’re taking a short drive south from Caribou to arrive at the third cheapest place to call home in Maine, Presque Isle, the commercial center of Aroostook County. Buying a home in Presque Isle will set you back about $119,600, the fourth lowest price in Maine. As far as home price to income ratio goes, Presque Isle is the second best in the state. Presque Isle is home to Arastook State Park, so you’ll never have to go far to get away from it all.
If you’re looking for the absolute lowest home prices in Maine, look no further than Calais. Homes in Calais go for a measly $100,300, so if you’re coming here with some savings, you’ll have the mortgage paid off in no time flat. Calais residents spend the third smallest proportion of their income on homes statewide. On the downside, Calais ranks as the least affordable place to rent on this list. As for cheap entertainment options in Calais, taking a white-water canoe trip to St. Croix Island always makes for a good day out.
Gardiner is popular with tourists, and it’s not hard to see why. This Augusta suburb is known for its old architecture and distinct culture. It doesn’t matter what you’re into — shopping in Gardiner’s historic downtown, catching a show at Johnson Hall, or a fireworks display at Waterfront Park — Gardiner has something for everyone. If you come as a tourist and decide you want to try living in Gardiner for a bit, rent will set you back about $824/month. It probably won’t take you long to fall in love with the city and decide to settle down here permanently. If you do decide to buy, the median home price in Gardiner is $153,900.
We’re finishing our list of cheapest places to live in Maine in Ellsworth, a happening little city that’s on the rise. We named Ellsworth one of the best places to live in Maine thanks to its impressive schools, safe streets, and solid markets for jobs and homes. Affordable rent is Ellsworth’s primary distinction; paying $827/month on a median income of $58,029 gives Ellsworth the second best rent to income ratio in Maine. If you’re planning on moving to Ellsworth, you may want to expedite the process, because the secrets out on Ellsworth and it’s one of the fastest growing cities in Maine.
Life in a bustling area does not have to cost a pretty penny and Lewiston is a perfect example of that. The city, which is home to five higher education institutions, including Purdue Global, offers a high quality of life at a reasonable price.
The median household income of $48,069 goes a lot further in Lewiston than it would other places, especially when it comes to housing. There is no sticker shock here. Homes have a median value of only $157,500. Plus, the city’s firm grip on crime means you can settle down in various parts of town without looking over your shoulder or constantly double-checking the lock on your door.
Don’t let the affordability fool you, Lewiston is also rich in history and things to do, like watching a hockey game in the building where the famous Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston fight occurred.
Located across the Androscoggin River from Lewiston, Auburn comes in as the eighth cheapest place in Maine. Winter sportsmen and women will be happy to have the Lost Valley in their backyard, while everyone can enjoy the Auburn Riverwalk. The median rent in Auburn is $814/month and the median home price is $190,000. For both categories, Auburn is safely in the top ten for housing to income ratios.
Located in the heart of maine, Bangor is a great place to call home. With a population of 31,920, it offers an affordable cost of living. The median rent in Bangor is only $883 and the median home value is $162,900, making it a solid option for those looking to buy a house.
In addition to its affordability, Bangor has a strong sense of community and plenty of amenities. The city is home to a variety of restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions, including the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the annual American Folk Festival.
Waterville is a city in Kennebec County that offers affordable living to its residents. With a median home value of $137,100 and a median rent of $805, Waterville is a great option for those looking to save money. Additionally, the income to rent ratio is 51.24, which means that residents can comfortably afford their rent while still having money left over for other expenses.
Home to Colby College and Thomas College, the city has a diverse population of 15,872 people and is situated on the west bank of the Kennebec River. With its picturesque location and bustling downtown area, Waterville is a great place to live for people who value convenience and affordability.
Cheapest places to live in Maine FAQs
The county in Maine with the lowest cost of living is Cumberland County. The average living wage in Cumberland County is $102,589 according to MIT data. Cumberland County has the lowest cost of living because it has relatively less expensive childcare and housing costs compared to Maine as a whole. Childcare costs $19,660 a year in Cumberland County for two children compared to the Maine average of $16,757. Housing costs, defined as a blend of the average rent and average mortgage payment, are $17,631 per year in Cumberland County compared to $12,883 on average in Maine.
The cost of living in Maine is 4.6% higher than the US average. According to MIT, the required living wage for a family of four with two working parents in Maine is $93,871 vs the national average for a family of four with two working parents of $89,744. The median income of a Maine household is $59,489.
The cheapest housing market in Maine is Caribou. The average home value in Caribou is $93,100, the lowest in the state. The average home value in Maine is $198,000, almost 2.1 times higher than Caribou.
Methodology: How we determined the most affordable places to live in the Pine Tree State for 2023
Determining affordability for places in Maine boils down to two factors:
- How much money do I make?
- How much does it cost to live here?
You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make to determine affordability. For example, imagine a place in Maine where median incomes are $100,000 and housing costs $200,000 to buy. That’s more affordable than living in a place with a median income of $50,000 where houses cost $101,000. The ratio of income to home prices is higher in the first example.
With that logic in mind, we derived several cost of living statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2017-2021 for Maine. The cost of living statistics are:
- Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Rent / Median Income (lower is better)
- Median Home Price
You can include median home price as a stand alone variable because high home prices generally correlate with higher costs for all goods and services (heating, electricity, food, etc). You then compare these cost of living metrics for each place in Maine to figure out which is the least expensive.
We aggregate those rankings into a “Cost of Living Index” for each city in Maine. The “Cost of Living Index” allows you to rank all of the 22 places in Maine that have more than 1,000 people from least expensive to most expensive.
The place in Maine with the lowest cost of living according to the data is Caribou.
We updated this article for 2023. This reports reflects our tenth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Maine.
Maine Affordabilility Summary
This is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Maine for 2023, if you’re looking at the cost of living numbers in Maine.
Here’s a look at the most expensive cities in Maine according to the data:
- South Portland
For more Maine reading, check out:
Cheapest Places To Live In Maine
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