Cheapest Places To Live In Maine For 2020


We used data and science to determine which places in Maine go easy on your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the cheapest places to live in Maine.

Three new cities moved into the most affordable places to call home in Maine according to our HomeSnacks 2020 report although the Pine Tree State has some of the highest rent in the country.

So, if you're going to move to Maine, we suggest you already have employment and that you buy a home. Maine's unemployment rate does come in slightly under the national average, but its residents say that jobs are difficult to come by and wages are low Now, don't get it twisted; just because these Maine places are affordable, doesn't mean they're unsafe. It's actually quite the opposite. Honestly, many of Maine's top ten most affordable places to live are also some of their safest.

The upside to living in this New England state, it has a 5% sales tax and there's a bunch of cool, local stuff to do. Heck, you don't have to leave the state to take a vacation--no matter the time of year! You can ski Bridgton's Shawnee Peak in the winter or head to Bar Harbor for a summer beach day. Want to know more? We suggest you take a ferry from North Haven to Owls Head, grab a lobstah' roll at Rockland's Lobster Festival, and read on.

How did we determine Maine's most affordable places for 2020? We consulted Maine's most recent census data. We also looked at cost of living, home prices, and the recent crime statistics for places with 5,000 or more residents.

The competition was fierce to say the least. Many of the Maine's top ten most affordable places boast great home prices and safe neighborhoods. However, there can only be one number on most affordable place in Maine, and that would be Caribou.

So, if you care about home values and affordability, take a look at the list below to see where your Maine dollar will go the furthest. And if you don't find your favorite there, head to the bottom.

And if you already knew these places were cheap, check out some more reading about Maine and the cheapest places in the country:

The 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Maine For 2020

Caribou, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 7,749
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.4x (1st most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.9x (8th cheapest)
More On Caribou: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 second least expensive homes in Maine, at a median price of $91,200. 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 $597/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.

The median household income in Caribou comes in at $38,168 and the median home value is $91,200 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.4%.

Presque Isle, ME

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 9,162
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (4th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 63.3x (9th cheapest)
More On Presque Isle: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

We're taking a short drive south from Caribou to arrive at the second 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 $107,000, the third lowest price in Maine. As far as home price to income ratio goes, Presque Isle is the fourth 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.

The median household income in Presque Isle comes in at $37,401 and the median home value is $107,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.4%.

Brewer, ME

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 9,123
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (2nd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 72.9x (2nd cheapest)
More On Brewer: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

The sister city of Bangor, Brewer, ranks as the third most affordable place in Maine. The price of housing in Brewer is a bit more expensive than other cities in the top five, but that's not really a problem when you're one of the richest places in Maine, with a median income of $58,403. The median home price in Brewer is $162,000 and the median rent is $801. For both renters and buyers, Brewer offers the second best housing cost to income ratio statewide. Being able to cross the Penobscot River into Bangor is a nice perk, giving you access to all the amenities Bangor has to offer for a fraction of the price.

The median household income in Brewer comes in at $58,403 and the median home value is $162,000 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 2.6%.

Gardiner, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 5,667
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.9x (5th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 65.3x (6th cheapest)
More On Gardiner: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $738/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 $139,700.

The median household income in Gardiner comes in at $48,212 and the median home value is $139,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.2%.

Eastport, ME

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 1,351
Rank Last Year: 15 (Up 10)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.2x (7th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 60.8x (10th cheapest)
More On Eastport: Real Estate

The easternmost city in America, Eastport, ranks as the fifth 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 fourth least expensive homes for sale in Maine, with a median price of $110,900. For both renters and buyers, Eastport is in the top ten statewide for housing to income ratio.

The median household income in Eastport comes in at $35,147 and the median home value is $110,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 9.0%.

Calais, ME

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,998
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 2.8x (3rd most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 56.2x (17th cheapest)
More On Calais: Real Estate | Crime Rate

If you're looking for the absolute lowest home prices in Maine, look no further than Calais. Homes in Calais go for a measly $87,300, 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.

The median household income in Calais comes in at $31,078 and the median home value is $87,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 5.0%.

Belfast, ME

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 6,696
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.1x (6th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 75.1x (1st cheapest)
More On Belfast: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

Located on the coast about 35 miles south of Bangor, Belfast ranks as the seventh most affordable place to live in Maine. Wandering the seaside villages of Belfast is a favorite among tourists, especially the Harborwalk that goes along Belfast's downtown coast. So is visiting some seriously impressive farmer's markets. All this activity is part of why we named Belfast one of the best family cities in Maine. While Belfast's median home price of $189,700 is the highest you'll see on this list, so is the city's median income of $60,993. Combining those stats gives Belfast the sixth best home price to income ratio in the state. The news is even better for renters, who pay $812/month and enjoy spending the smallest percentage of their income on rent statewide.

The median household income in Belfast comes in at $60,993 and the median home value is $189,700 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 7.1%.

Auburn, ME

Overall SnackAbility

6
/10

Population: 23,064
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.2x (8th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 64.5x (7th cheapest)
More On Auburn: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $758/month and the median home price is $155,900. For both categories, Auburn is safely in the top ten for housing to income ratios.

The median household income in Auburn comes in at $48,924 and the median home value is $155,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.6%.

Old Town, ME

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 7,549
Rank Last Year: 11 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.2x (9th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 59.8x (11th cheapest)
More On Old Town: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

You'd never believe you were living in one of the states with the most expensive rent in America if you're lucky enough to call Old Town your home. Not when you're paying $708/month for an apartment, less than half the average rent in Maine. Old Town also has the sixth cheapest homes for sale in Maine, and is in the top ten statewide for home price to income ratio.

Old Town is a suburb of Bangor.

The median household income in Old Town comes in at $42,342 and the median home value is $135,900 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 4.0%.

Ellsworth, ME

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 7,960
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 3.2x (12th most affordable)
Income To Rent Ratio: 71.7x (3rd cheapest)
More On Ellsworth: Real Estate | Crime Rate | Cost Of Living

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 $770/month on a median income of $55,191 gives Ellsworth the third 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.

The median household income in Ellsworth comes in at $55,191 and the median home value is $179,300 for 2020. The unemployment rate sits at 3.9%.

How We Determined The Most Affordable Places To Live In The Pine Tree State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In Maine
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in Maine to figure out which is the least expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 22 places in Maine that have more than 1,000 people.

The place with the lowest cost of living in Maine according to the data is Caribou. You can download the data here.

There You Have It Mr. Or Mrs. Maine Cheapskate

If you're looking at the cost of living numbers in Maine, this is an accurate list of the most affordable places to live in Maine for 2020.

Here's a look at the most expensive cities in Maine according to the data:

  1. Portland
  2. South Portland
  3. Biddeford

For more Maine reading, check out:

The Most Affordable Places To Live In Maine

Rank City CheapScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Caribou 3.67 7,749 2.4x 63.9x
2 Presque Isle 5.33 9,162 2.9x 63.3x
3 Brewer 5.33 9,123 2.8x 72.9x
4 Gardiner 6.0 5,667 2.9x 65.3x
5 Eastport 7.0 1,351 3.2x 60.8x
6 Calais 7.0 2,998 2.8x 56.2x
7 Belfast 7.67 6,696 3.1x 75.1x
8 Auburn 8.67 23,064 3.2x 64.5x
9 Old Town 8.67 7,549 3.2x 59.8x
10 Ellsworth 10.0 7,960 3.2x 71.7x
11 Waterville 10.33 16,515 3.2x 56.6x
12 Hallowell 10.67 2,506 3.2x 68.8x
13 Lewiston 12.33 36,097 3.4x 56.9x
14 Bath 12.67 8,320 3.3x 59.1x
15 Augusta 12.67 18,635 3.5x 57.3x
16 Saco 14.0 19,342 3.6x 66.0x
17 Bangor 16.0 32,098 3.6x 52.7x
18 Westbrook 17.33 18,417 4.1x 57.6x
19 Rockland 17.67 7,190 4.0x 53.9x
20 Biddeford 19.0 21,452 4.4x 54.3x
21 South Portland 19.33 25,515 3.8x 53.9x
22 Portland 21.67 66,735 4.8x 52.8x

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.