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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Portland, Maine

Rich New England History, a Charming Old Port Area, an Artsy Vibe and Scenic Beaches Await in Picturesque Portland, Maine

Portland (population 68,000), once home to poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sits along Maine's southern coast and brims with history, character and authenticity. Dating from 1633, it has spent most of its days as a seaport, a pirate hideout, a rail hub and most recently as a popular tourist spot. With a thriving arts scene, a picturesque setting, a charming downtown, outstanding restaurants and a working waterfront, Portland shapes up as a place many retirees want to call home.

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Of the population, 37% is age 45 or better. Forty-seven percent of locals hold at least a four year college degree. Politics lean very much to the left. Portland has grown by 1% during the last decade. The crime rate meets the national average.

The cost of living is 16% above the national average, and the median home price is $495,000, reflecting a 19% increase since last year. Housing includes Cape Cods, Colonials, bungalows, Craftsmans, cottages and Victorian residences, many beautifully restored (Better Homes and Gardens has featured several). South Portland, a southern suburb, is the fastest growing area, and new construction is found here.

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Mainers are down to earth bunch, and these characteristics are in abundance in Portland, although recent transplants from New York and Boston have brought an added touch of sophistication. Bon App├ętit Magazine has named the city "America's Foodiest Small Town" for its fresh seafood eateries, fun microbrewery beers, artisanal bakeries and some of the best breakfasts served anywhere in America. More money is spent per capita in Portland restaurants than in any other U.S. city except San Francisco and New York.

Portland's delights are not just confined to the palate. The Old Port downtown district along the harbor is impossibly quaint with cobblestone streets, art galleries, restored 19th-century red brick buildings, green awnings and sidewalk cafes. The areas is a magnet for tourists and locals alike.

The city also boasts the Maine College of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the Portland Stage Company, the Maine Historical Society and Museum, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the University of Southern Maine and a campus of the University of New England.

Ferry lines offer summer cruises around many of the 200 islands that sit just beyond Portland's Casco Bay. Portland Head Light, just a few miles outside of city limits, is the most photographed lighthouse in North America. Summer produce markets, roadside apple cider stands, lobster bakes and antiquing are all part of the delightful ambiance of coastal New England.

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East End Beach is Portland's primary beach and has picnic tables and a boat launch. Nearby beaches include Crescent Beach and Willard Beach, which is dog-friendly. The city maintains an extensive network of walking and bicycling paths to encourage residents to get outside and exercise. Old Orchard Beach, 20 minutes south, is a funky summer playground (lots of arcades, carnival rides, food stands and an 1898 pier) with a honky-tonk feel to it.

The Southern Maine Agency on Aging offers a good selection of services and programs, including healthy aging classes, meals delivery, transportation to doctors' appointments, luncheons, travel outings and independent living assistance.

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Greater Portland Transit provides public bus transportation, but service is limited.

The Maine Medical Center is a Level One Trauma Center and a teaching hospital. It is the largest hospital in the state and accredited by the Joint Commission. Medicare patients are accepted.

The average July high is 80 degrees, and the average January low is a frosty 13 degrees. The city receives 40 inches of rain and 72 inches of snow per year. Autumns are simply breathtaking.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Maine Tax-Friendly at Retirement? No

A gorgeous setting, fun downtown, beautiful homes, nice beaches, excellent eateries and more make Portland a spot to consider for retirement.

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Maine:

The most northern state of the seven states of New England, Maine is characterized by a rugged, scenic coast, rolling hills and thick forests. Parts of Maine are very remote, not easy to reach by train, plane or automobile. Other areas, most notably the southern coastal and mid-coastal towns, are easily accessible and often very crowded during tourist season.

Vacationers come for the amazing scenery. In fact, Maine has some of the prettiest coastal areas in the entire country. Vacationers also come for the lobster and other tempting seafood. Some of the most popular tourist towns include Portland, Camden, Bar Harbor, Boothbay Harbor, Kennebunkport and Freeport, where L.L. Bean and dozens of outlet stores are located.

Northern and inner Maine are dotted with pristine lakes and rivers that are far from the madding crowds. Apple cider stands, winding country roads, friendly, down to earth people and roadside cafes that serve delicious blueberry pancakes and sumptuous lobster dinners are highlights of the Maine that few tourists ever see.

Summers are humid but not too hot, and autumn's crisp, cool air begins to arrive in late August. Winters are not for the faint of heart, but they are breathtakingly beautiful.

Mainers like to say, "Ayuh, you can't thare from here," but everyone should get to magical Maine at least once in his lifetime.

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