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retire

Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!

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Bar Harbor, Maine

On Maine's Rugged Coast, Picturesque Bar Harbor Boasts a Wonderful Downtown, Lush Neighborhoods and Breathtaking Ocean Views

Situated on Mount Desert Island along the scenic, rock-bound mid-coast of Maine, picturesque, touristy Bar Harbor ("Bah Habah") might be the most charming town on the East coast. It began in the mid- to late-1700s and has been a shipbuilding center, a fishing village and agricultural hub. Its breathtaking views of the Atlantic and nearby islands have inspired writers and painters for years.

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The darling downtown is chock full of fun shops, inns, bookstores and art galleries that line narrow, hilly streets. Eateries range from touristy lobster roll shacks to cozy, 5-star bistros. New England maritime culture permeates every corner, and all kinds of pleasure craft bob in the marina. Colorful B&Bs, once home to sea captains and titans of industry, stand tall on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Once out of the busy central district, lush neighborhoods are crowded with stately Cape Cods and shabby-chic Victorians. Wealthy Easterners started building summer estates in the 1860s, and even today, families named Rockefeller, Vanderbilt and Astor have homes in or near Bar Harbor. The College of the Atlantic is here, too, lending intellectual heft.

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Truly beautiful Acadia National Park, brimming with woodlands, lakes and trails, is just outside of town and is home to Cadillac Mountain, one of the first spots in U.S. to see the sun rise each morning. When the fog rolls in over the Park, as it often does, Bar Harbor feels as it must have years ago, when lobstermen plied their trade and tall ships set sail for open water.

Population:  5,800 (city proper)

Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 42%

Cost of Living:  53% above the national average. 

Median Home Price: $695,000

Climate:   Summers are short with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Winters bring temperatures in the teens and 20s. Rainfall reaches 50 inches each year, on average, and snowfall can reach 65 inches each year. Winter ice storms are common.

At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes

At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission?   No. The nearest accredited hospital is in Bangor, 40 miles away. Mount Desert Island Hospital is, though, accredited by the Maine Medical Association.

Public Transit:   Yes. Island Explorer is a free shuttle bus.

Crime Rate:   Meets the national average

Public Library:   Yes

Political Leanings:  Liberal 

Is Maine Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement?    No

Cons:   Tourists come in droves via car and cruise ship from spring into fall and clog the narrow roads, the restaurants, Acadia National Park and more.

Notes:   Bar Harbor has grown 5% within the last decade, and home prices have increased 11% since a year ago.

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Recommended as a Retirement Spot?   Yes

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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. People 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.

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