Everything You Need to Know About Moving to Portland, ME

Everything You Need to Know About Moving to Portland, ME

Historically tied to the commercial shipping industry and now home to over 1,000 active Airbnbs, Portland, Maine, is one of the most beautiful cities in New England. Portland promises newcomers a potent mix of artistic exploration and outdoor adventure. The seat of Cumberland County is famous for its seafood restaurants and has long been a bed-and-breakfast destination for travelers along the Eastern Seaboard.

Moving to Portland can catalyze personal growth, exploration, and a fresh start. Like its coastal counterparts Portsmouth and Newport, Portland blends urban convenience with a laid-back maritime charm. With its vibrant community, stunning land- and seascapes, and unique cultural offerings, Portland and its real estate are highly sought-after destinations.

In this guide, courtesy of trusted local agent Lauren Jones, we'll delve into everything you need to know about moving to Portland.

Discovering Portland's Unique Appeal

The Portland region has had breathtaking scenery since time immemorial. The peninsular part of the city was once home to Algonquin-speaking Native Americans, and the Casco Bay area was settled as a fishing and trading village in 1632. Portland was established after the British razed the neighboring city of Falmouth during the Revolutionary War.

The winds of change eventually calmed, allowing Portlandites to get comfortable in Maine’s most populous and scenic city. From the iconic Portland Head Light to the serene beauty of Crescent Beach State Park, Portland’s oldest landmarks have laid fertile ground for nature enthusiasts. Whether you enjoy hiking, kayaking, or simply taking in the sunset over the harbor, Portland's outdoor offerings will become a cherished part of your daily life.

Perhaps the best place to enjoy the outdoors in Portland is the Fore River Sanctuary. The 85-acre escape has several miles of trails through freshwater marshes and open meadows toward Jewell Falls. Hikers explore the remnants of the historic Cumberland and Oxford Canal. The sanctuary is home to wildlife like ducks, geese, and turtles. It’s open year-round — the autumn foliage and winter snow are beautiful backdrops to a day’s hike.

A Culinary Haven

Portland has earned its reputation as a culinary hotspot, showcasing diverse dining experiences. The city's bustling food scene is celebrated for its fresh seafood, farm-to-table ethos, and innovative culinary creations.


Twelve elevates Maine cuisine with Chef Wyatt's seasonal creations. Expect a modern ambiance with waterfront views, featuring innovative dishes like roasted beets with pistachio yogurt and grilled Wagyu ribeye. Twelve also has an exceptional wine list.

Evo Kitchen + Bar

Evo Kitchen + Bar brings a modern twist to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. Their chic, energetic vibe combines fine and casual dining, perfect for enjoying mezze plates or full meals. Expect bold flavors and a unique interpretation of familiar ingredients.

Crispy Gai

Crispy Gai delivers a vibrant slice of Bangkok to Portland. Expect a hip setting with tin ceilings and tropical vibes. Savor fresh flavors, spice kicks, and sticky rice alongside colorful cocktails. Casual, fun, and bursting with Southeast Asian energy, Crispy Gai is a must for spicy food lovers and fans of vibrant atmospheres.

Eventide Oyster Co.

Eventide is a Portland mainstay and seafood haven. This casual oyster bar boasts raw bar delights, iconic brown butter lobster rolls, and creative New England fare. Savor fresh oysters, dive into creamy clam chowder, or indulge in their famed lobster roll, lauded by James Beard himself.


Leeward offers a cozy Italian escape in Portland's Arts District. Think vibrant pasta made fresh daily, alongside fresh Maine seafood and rich vegetable dishes. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails in a bright, airy space, or indulge in a leisurely dinner on the outdoor patio.

Don't miss the chance to explore the historic Portland Public Market or indulge in a lobster roll at one of the many waterfront eateries. With many restaurants, food festivals, and farmers markets, Portland invites you to savor every bite.

Navigating the Job Market

Portland is Maine’s economic capital because the city has the state’s largest port, largest population, and is close to Boston.

A Hub for Innovation

Portland's economy thrives on a combination of traditional industries and a burgeoning tech sector. The city is home to various businesses, from small local enterprises to international companies. The burgeoning tech scene draws professionals seeking dynamic opportunities in a supportive community. The city has numerous universities; Northeastern University’s Roux Institute is one of academia’s leading lights in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Key Industries

Over the years, Portland has transformed from its roots in fishing, manufacturing, and agriculture. The city has modernized into more of a service-based economy. Healthcare, education, and tourism are valuable components of Portland’s balance sheet. Institutions like banks and the Maine Medical Center provide ample job opportunities. With a relatively low unemployment rate and a diverse job market, Portland offers a welcoming environment for career growth and exploration.

Exploring Neighborhoods

Old Port: Historic and Hip

Old Port, with its cobblestone streets and historic architecture, is the soul of Portland. This waterfront district has the city’s highest concentration of restaurants. From trendy boutiques to quaint cafes, Old Port blends the old and the new, creating a lively atmosphere that appeals to residents and tourists alike. Living in Old Port means being right in the action, with cultural events and festivals adding to the energy.

Munjoy Hill: Scenic Serenity

For those seeking a quieter residential vibe with stunning views, Munjoy Hill is the perfect choice. Overlooking the bay and boasting the iconic Portland Observatory, this neighborhood offers a peaceful retreat while still being close to the city's amenities. Munjoy Hill is known for its sense of community, with parks and green spaces fostering a welcoming atmosphere for residents of all ages.

The Eastern Promenade

The Eastern Promenade (just north of Munjoy Hill) is Portland, Maine's crown jewel, offering stunning views of Casco Bay, a scenic multi-use trail, and a vibrant community atmosphere. The waterfront path yields fresh saltwater breezes and views of gliding sailboats. The Promenade, its gardens, and the tide pools are family-friendly. Better yet, visit one of Portland’s several dozen food trucks and bring the haul to a picnic at the Promenade.

Navigating the Housing Market

A Mix of Styles

Portland's housing market ranges from historic Victorian homes to modern condominiums like Hobson’s Landing. The city's neighborhoods allow you to find a living space that aligns with your lifestyle and preferences. Whether you're interested in a waterfront apartment in Old Port or a cozy bungalow in Deering Center, exploring the different neighborhoods will help you discover the perfect place to call home.

Price points in 2023-24

Portland is one of the nation’s top emerging luxury markets. Per the Wall Street Journal, the city was the hottest metro area for luxury buyers in the third quarter of 2023. Combined with the high performance of real estate in Boston and Providence, the steady demand for upscale homes in Portland reflects increased interest in New England among luxury buyers.

More specifically, demand in Portland is outpacing the supply of homes, especially luxury homes. The latest market data bears this out. As of February 2024, there were 72 properties publicly listed in Portland. The market shows only 21 single-family homes ranging up to $2 million in asking price. The median list price is just over $700,000. Fewer than two dozen data points is a relatively small sample size, so the MLS makes the local housing market seem volatile. Still, for that median price, you can expect around 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms. Portsmouth also supports a robust market for condos.

Embracing the Community

Festivals and Events

Portland's community spirit is alive and well, evident in the numerous festivals throughout the year. With fixtures like First Friday Art Walks and events like the Portland Wine Walk, the city wears different outfits throughout the year. Engaging with the local community through these events is an excellent way to make connections, build friendships, and immerse yourself in the Portland experience.

Arts and Culture

Portland's commitment to the arts is evident in its thriving cultural scene. The city has several intimate live music venues. Geno’s in downtown Portland has a grungy feel and hosts mostly metal and punk bands. One Longfellow Square hosts national acts that are building an audience. Munjoy Hill Tavern has an outdoor stage ideal for summer nights.

You can see touring acts at Thompson’s Point, the State Theatre, and Cross Insurance Arena. The Merrill Auditorium has a 1,908-seat capacity for various acts, including concerts, comedy shows, and theatrical performances. The Portland Museum of Art is open Wednesday through Sunday with free admission after 4 p.m. on Fridays. The Portland Art Gallery represents over 50 Maine artists, and Greenhut Galleries brings local art exhibits to Old Port.

Whether you're a fan of live performances, contemporary art exhibitions, or local indie bands, Portland's cultural offerings ensure there's never a dull moment for the artistically inclined.

Navigating the Education Landscape

Quality Education Options

For families making the move to Portland, education is a crucial consideration. The city boasts a range of quality schools and educational institutions, from well-regarded public schools to private academies. The commitment to education extends to higher learning, with institutions like the University of Southern Maine providing diverse academic opportunities. Portland's education landscape ensures that students of all ages have access to excellent educational resources.

Your New Beginning in Portland, ME

In conclusion, moving to Portland, Maine, offers an unparalleled blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and community warmth. The city beckons newcomers with open arms, from the coastal charms to the vibrant neighborhoods. Navigating the job market, housing options, and community events will set the stage for a seamless transition. Embrace the opportunities that Portland presents, and you'll find yourself not just relocating but embarking on a new chapter filled with adventure, growth, and the unique charm of this Northeastern jewel.

Ready to embark on your real estate journey? Trust Lauren Jones to guide you with unmatched commitment and expertise. Whether you're a seasoned buyer or a first-time seller, her personalized approach ensures a seamless experience. Contact Lauren today and let her turn your real estate aspirations into reality.

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Lauren is remarkably devoted, driven, and enthusiastic about every opportunity she gets to help others achieve their goals. Every client has a unique story, and she strives to add to each of those stories in a positive and enduring way.